Weekly Photo Challenge: Habit

80’S CANCER JAM OF THE DAY:

St Pete Half Marathon 036 (2)

 

It’s hard to believe that this picture was taken almost exactly one year ago today, November 18, 2012. What a difference a year makes! I had just completed the St. Pete Women’s Half Marathon, my first, and I was riding high. Sweaty and disheveled, I felt no aches, no fatigue, just the pure rush of adrenaline and pride that comes with such an accomplishment. Little did I know that a monster was lurking in my body.

When I returned home to NC, I kept on running, but I noticed that I was getting tired a little sooner and not logging nearly as many miles. I chalked it up to the winter blahs, the post-race let down. I became a little concerned when I started experiencing Raynaud’s phenomenon on the really cold runs. When this occurred, the middle two fingers of my right hand would turn stark white and numb, remaining that way until I could get in a hot shower. I had enough medical training to know that this was usually a sign of autoimmune disease and definitely not normal. My immune system was working double time on something.

Flash forward to March, kaboom! The monster revealed itself in the form of Stage 3 breast cancer. In retrospect, I marvel at the idea that I was regularly running 10+ miles with a state of war going on inside me. I wonder if I would still be chugging along had I never found out about the “cancer”. It’s amazing how much the mind’s awareness can alter the body’s expression. I never felt sick or “diseased” until I knew it was a reality; I was just a little run down as we all get from time to time.

I guess I should say that I have been “chugging along” this whole year. I’ve endured a bilateral mastectomy, 4 months of chemotherapy, and half of a 6 week course of radiation to this point, but I’ve kept right on running. Not nearly as fast…or as far, but I can say with pride that I have only taken two weeks off completely. I’ve run with surgical drains attached to my body. I’ve run right before chemo. And I’ve even run with sepsis.

Running has been my friend in this long ordeal. It has been my constant in a sea of frightening new changes that I never asked for and never saw coming. It has given me some control in a life where things have been done “to me” on someone else’s schedule for the better part of a year. When I run, I’m not a cancer victim. When I run, I win.

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9 thoughts on “Weekly Photo Challenge: Habit

  1. I’m a “wannabe” runner. I luv how I feel during a good run but getting out there is the hardest part for me. I did quite a few races a few years ago but never a half! I luv hearing stories of women who stay active during treatment. I’m 4 weeks out from my BMX and I’ve been mostly walking with logging in a few miles here and there running. If you ever do this race again let me know-I’m in Tampa! Hey….maybe it could be my first half 🙂

    • Hooray for you! Anything you can do during treatment will make you feel so much better mentally and physically. Just listen to your body and rest when you need to. I could only run. 3 minutes at a time during chemo, but I kept on plugging away.
      I’m actually planning to do this race again next year for a happier anniversary. I’d love to have you join me. Check out the post “I Had To Buy New Big Girl Panties” to see the t-shirt I plan to wear. It’s at the bottom of the page.

  2. I’m so impressed that you were able to run throughout all of this! I’m sure it helped you both mentally and physically and I am in awe of you! I will never be a runner, but admire you for sticking with it. Your comment about the Raynaud’s really struck me. I had that for a couple of years… it didn’t happen when I was running, of course, but if my feet got cold, a few toes would turn very white, and get stiff, until I could get them heated. Until reading your blog today, I have never associated that with my breast cancer. Interesting that it has not happened since my breast cancer treatments began. Yes, very interesting! Thanks!

    • Not everyone wants to be a runner, but everyone has some strength that they can utilize to get through treatment and feel just a little more in control. For you, it’s food. You are so much more disciplined with your eating than I am. I can’t quite seem to kick dessert or cheese or cream in my coffee. My inner child is rebelling! I guess she’s saying “Screw you! After everything you’ve put me through, I’m having the Tiramisu”. I’m working on calming her down:)

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