In August of 2017, I had seen an ad for the Susan G. Komen race for the cure and I because I had no desire to participate, I remarked to my husband, “I am not being a very good cancer survivor.” His response, that still echoes with me today, was “you’re doing a great job at not dying.”
But I was not doing a very good job at “living” either. Mainly because I was in a lot of pain; healing from multiple surgeries and the deep to the bone pain in my muscles and joints from the letrazole. My favorite place was on the couch or in bed. Lying down was all that I wanted to do, not that it completely eased the pain, but being horizontal lessened it.
I was also in a funk. I tried to not outwardly project the “why me” feelings that were going through my head all of the time and to combat the depression, but it was hard. Why did cancer attack my body twice? Or why does it attack anyone? I have no answers for that and at the time, it was really hitting me hard. It took every ounce of energy that I had to get up, make sure my son got off to school and to deal with the dog and throw in a load of laundry. Then it was back to bed for me. The thought of walking, let alone running, in a 5K was SO not even a possibility in my life.
I halfway participated in a 1K walk with my husband’s company for support of the Seattle Children’s hospital in September, but mostly so I could see where J was when he ran it. He ran to the end and then ran back to me and we finished it together. That alone left me physically exhausted for the rest of the weekend.
Then it was deep into fall and winter. In the Pacific Northwest, that means rain and a lot of it. I love the rainy weather, but mostly when I can be inside, curled up with a blanket and a book, not out walking or exercising. Slowly as spring came around, I started to venture outside and go for walks. My dog and I had both gotten “fluffy” and we needed to shape up! First it was to the end of the block and back, then to the end of the street. We live at the bottom of a large hill and getting the energy to even walk up the long, mellow incline was a challenge at first. Finally, I conquered that and would continue up the hill and around after seeing J off on the bus. Next, I added walking down to the local field where I could throw the ball for Apollo. He was in heaven and it was good for me to just move. As we were walking, I would do the PT exercises to work on the range of motion for my left shoulder, trying to “heal” my whole body. Slowly, I had gotten a little bit of stamina back. Not that I will be running any marathons in the near future, but I can walk around the block and do a mile without wanting to take breaks every few minutes.
This fall, the charity 5K sponsored by my husband’s company and the Komen Race for the Cure were the same weekend and I participated in both. I walked the 1K for each, but it was a huge accomplishment for me. It was a crazy weekend, driving up to the Seattle area on Friday afternoon, participating in the event for Seattle Children’s and the 1K on Saturday, touring around the Space Needle area, coming home, up at 5 am on Sunday to help set-up and man the Breast Friends booth with two of my tribe members at the Race and then walking the 1K. At the end of it, I was a hot mess, but I made it. I came home and slept for 4 hours that Sunday afternoon.
While at the Race, I helped out at the Breast Friends booth, talking to survivors, women newly diagnosed and family and friends of loved ones that have been lost. It is so worthwhile to me to be a part of this organization that gives back in this way, supporting women emotionally as they go through possibly the worst time in their lives.
I almost accidentally tried to walk the 5k that day with friends; I thought they were wanting to o the 1K walk so we started off. When I realized what their intent was and gauged how bad my leg were already hurting, I chose to turn around and do the 1K when it started. I knew that I would not make the 5K, as much as I wanted to. So I walked with another survivor and her daughter and it was great. To cross that finish line felt amazing. Emotionally amazing. Physically, I was in pain, just from the entire weekend’s activities, but I did it. Seeing the variety of people there, young and old, in support of those affected by breast cancer was amazing.
It was a milestone for me and my goal for next year is to do walk the 5K with a team and fund raise for it. Maybe one day, I will run it, but eh, I have never been a runner so I don’t want to go too crazy.
A hugs thanks to my friends Joleine Sigler and Jen Wynn for outfitting me for the race and to Kelly Gallagher for running for me! Love you!