Marney Gellner shares the lessons learned from her breast cancer scare (2024)

Marney Gellner was reflecting on 20 years working in this market and the variety of roles she's held at Bally Sports North (formerly Fox Sports North, as it was when she arrived in the fall of 2002).

In that span of time she's seen her profile grow, she's had two children and she's come to appreciate even more the advice Timberwolves TV analyst Jim Petersen always gives her and others: "Don't wish time away."

All of us are tempted at times, particularly during a temporary struggle, to imagine a better future and to want to fast-forward to that undefined point. Gellner says she has been guilty of it at points in her career or at challenging ages for her kids, now 13 and 15.


"I'm trying not to wish time away," Gellner, 49, said on Tuesday's Daily Delivery podcast. "Live in the moment."

Gellner said she wishes it didn't take life-altering moments to have life-altering perspectives, but that's often how it goes. For her, the preciousness of time came to the forefront earlier this year when she was diagnosed with breast cancer.

Now that she's cancer-free, Gellner — a self-described optimist — is trying to help herself and others live better.

On a personal level, it means creating a better work-life balance.

"I've always been talking to myself, my husband, my family about 'I have to cut back.' I have to figure out what season to lighten up on. I work a lot, and we get busy, and everybody does," Gellner said. "What it really made me do, I feel like for me personally, was OK, now I am going to figure that out and here's how I'm going to do it."

Gellner's job had already changed in recent years from sideline reporting on Twins and Wolves games to hosting Wolves programming and doing play-by-play on an increasing number of Lynx games.

“I'm trying to be a voice, trying to be an advocate, and at the same time I'm trying to move past this and not be defined by it.”

Marney Gellner

This summer she's working fewer Lynx games to give her a chance for impromptu travel with her husband Matt and their kids or for less-structured but valuable time at home.

An example: They are planning a trip to Duluth, somewhere the family has never been in the summer — a departure from a travel schedule often dominated by the kids' sports seasons or Gellner's work.

"We're just doing that instead of talking about maybe someday making time to do that," she said. "That's, I feel like, how it's affected me and a way of thinking in my life."

On a public service level, Gellner has been very open in talking about her diagnosis. In processing it during the early stages and keeping it a secret before she knew exactly what she was facing, Gellner said the silence felt "hideous."

It felt much better when she was able to talk about it openly on social media and during weekly radio appearances on KFAN, and it helped others as well.

"I have had several women message me that they went to get their first mammogram, or their first mammogram in five years, or they finally got their mom to go, or a husband finally got his wife to go," Gellner said. "Then it was, 'Oh, this is not just for me trying to make good radio or talking about it because I want to talk about it'. It was me going, 'OK, maybe I helped a couple people here along the way'. ... So I'm trying to be a voice, trying to be an advocate, and at the same time I'm trying to move past this and not be defined by it. I'm trying to find the balance, and it's not super-easy."

Indeed, it can be challenging to be authentic and confront the vulnerability that comes from trying to live in the moment.

But Gellner is proof that it doesn't have to take away your optimism. One final bit of evidence: I asked her, as I do a lot of people, to predict which Minnesota team will be the next to win a championship.

It's a very future-focused question, and one that's nearly impossible to answer. Gellner thought for a long time before the answer just came to her:

"I'm going to say, out of left field, NFL champion Minnesota Vikings."

Reusse: Home in any broadcast booth, Gellner gets shot at the Twins Friday will be Marney Gellner's first time doing play-by-play on a Twins broadcast, after filling in with the Timberwolves for the first time in December and her work with the Lynx.
Marney Gellner shares the lessons learned from her breast cancer scare (2024)
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