March 21st, 2011
When I asked my oncologist how I could get on the good side of the recurrence statistics, here is what she told me:
“You will hear a lot of theories. But there are two things that we do know influence recurrence. You need to do aerobic exercise a half an hour a day and keep to your lowest healthy body weight.”
I have been a compliant patient all along. Being a compliant survivor is a little more challenging. Although they often seemed to stretch on forever, my treatments were time-limited. I could figure out ways to keep going back for the chemo that made me feel so sick or the radiation that turned my skin raw, in part because I knew it would end.
I have generally kept fit in my adult life, but like most working moms, there have been times of greater attention to self-care and times where that gets fairly neglected.
With my doctor’s words, I felt I could no longer weave in and out of an exercise regimen. It had to become like brushing and flossing, something that feels wrong to skip.
I know myself. I needed to structure this exercise task, give myself an exciting goal, cut the Rest-Of-My-Life time frame into a more conceivable chunk.
So I signed up for the New York City Half Marathon. I raised money for an organization I respect, the I’m Too Young for This Cancer Foundation. It felt like a deliberate push back to the disease that has robbed me of so much.
I got my training program lined up and wrote it in my calendar. It was non-negotiable. I had to figure out how to do my runs, whether there was rain, sleet, or a feverish child to tend to.
I got my Twitter pals involved. On days where I needed motivation (which was fairly often), I would dedicate my runs to specific friends who had shown me support or to groups of people I was thinking of. I dedicated long runs to the Newly Diagnosed, to Those Whose Suffering Cannot Be Touched by love or medicine.
The dedications would elicit cheers from my tweeps. That helped me stay more focused and determined. I even got training tips from fellow runners.
I loved training because my increasing fitness was so concrete. Since I had my last procedure at the end of December, in early January, I was unable to complete a mile without stopping to walk. As I trained, I could run 1 mile. Then 2. Then 5. I even got some speed back. I noticed my sleep and concentration improving in other parts of my life. Running felt like a direct route to my recovery.
Yesterday was a lovely, chilly day in New York City. My childhood friend and I lined up at the starting corral and chatted for the better part of 13.1 miles. We went through Central Park, Times Square, and down along the Hudson River. New York City has been a backdrop for certain phases of my treatment. I came here for my second opinion when I was newly diagnosed. I came with my family to visit friends after my chemo was complete. And now here I was, with my re-emerging health, running through this iconic landscape. I felt strong the whole way and sprinted across the finish line.
Thank you so much to all of you who supported me and helped me reach this milestone. I really feel like I am gaining an important part of my life back.
This entry was posted on Monday, March 21st, 2011 at 9:20 am and is filed under Survivorship, Wellness. You can follow any responses to this entry through the RSS 2.0 feed. You can leave a response, or trackback from your own site.