Meredith Rothstein plans to celebrate with droves of fierce survivors and their loved ones, by walking a lap with her husband and children in the Monster Mile for a Cause.

When Meredith Rothstein was raising her two young children while her military husband was deployed in another country, she thought about planning her own funeral.

That idea came after Rothstein was diagnosed with cancer, and she didn’t know what to do.

“I felt alone,” the Lewes resident said. “I was thinking about making sure my children knew I’d be okay and we’d get through this together. I’m telling them that. At the same time, in my mind, I was worrying about what was going to happen and if I’d be okay, because I didn’t have a lot of information about my diagnosis.”

So Rothstein wore a brave face at home during the day.

“Once my kids went to bed, that’s when I cried and was trying to figure everything out,” she said.

She is now in her seventh year as a cancer survivor. She plans to celebrate with droves of fierce survivors, and their loved ones, by walking a lap with her husband and children around Dover International Speedway in the 10th annual Monster Mile for a Cause charity walk Oct. 19. Proceeds benefit the Delaware Breast Cancer Coalition and the walk has raised over $17,000 since 2010.

On track for a good time

This is Rothstein’s first time.

The Lewes woman said she’s nostalgic about Dover’s race track, since she recalls taking multiple trips into the city to visit her mama, about a decade ago, when race traffic was much heavier.

“All four of us are super exited to go the race track,” the Lewes woman said.

“Growing up in Delaware, and even my kids definitely remember, the sounds from the race track when were in town. Even though they’d tell you not to go to Dover on race weekend, we still went,” she said.

Scarecrow survivor

Monster Miles for a Cause draws survivors from across the state -- and their loved ones and people walking in memory of those they lost -- to honor survivorship and march against breast cancer.

Many guests wear pink on the track; and some folks wear costumes, since it is close to Halloween. The walk is pet friendly and prizes are given out.

Last year over 300 people attended. There have been 2,500-plus attendees to date, said Lois Wilkinson, coalition program coordinator for Kent and New Castle counties.

In 2018, Middletown resident Cheryl Bush walked with one of her daughters and a friend. She wore a scarecrow outfit. Her costume was so adorable she won first place for best costume.

“That trophy meant a lot to me. I have never been sports-inclined, so it was funny that this little trophy made a big difference,” said Bush, a six-year survivor.

“It was really fun; not just wearing the costume and having my daughter and friend there, but being on the track is really something. It’s been 50 years that Dover has been racing there.”

That feeling of joy on the track was a stark contrast to how Bush felt when she first learned she had cancer.

“The first thought was, ‘Is it really true?’ and ‘What’s the veracity of this information?’” the 56-year-old said. “You don’t really believe this can be happening to you.”

With a strong spiritual foundation and support from friends and family, what also helped Bush during her bout with cancer was applying a lot of what she learned as a long-time registered dietitian.

The Middletown woman said it’s important to eat the right foods when a person with cancer is going through the phases of preoperative, chemotherapy and radiation treatment. Knowing what to eat three days after each phase is pretty crucial too.

Bush said she made a dietary adjustment during radiation treatment.

“I tried to decrease the number of antioxidant foods so that it would not affect my treatment and decrease the level of radiation attacking the cells,” she said. “There’s things like blueberries, raspberries and black berries. A lot of foods that are high in color are your antioxidants.”

Bush recommends all people battling breast cancer seek a registered dietitian. They can help one on one with any issues they might have, especially since some of the symptoms of eating the wrong foods can cause nausea and diarrhea.

Rothstein said altering her diet and exercising helped her a lot.

“I lost 110 pounds,” the six-year survivor said. “It was a lot of hard work. I changed my diet. Now I don’t eat a lot of processed food. I drink a lot of water and eat fiber. It’s hard because I was a pepperoni-pizza girl. I did yoga, Pilates and a lot of long-distance walking.”

‘Blows my mind’

Wilkinson is looking forward to getting her walk on at the Monster Mile, as she’s done multiple times.

“The cool thing is you see a lot of the same faces from the very first walk. They’re still healthy and they’re still walking,” she said, who’ll celebrate 18 years as a survivor in November.

Rothstein is stoked about her debut on the race track in a few days. Just thinking about it is wild.

“It completely blows my mind,” she said.