Questions. Questions. Questions.
Questions circling through my mind like a horse on a racetrack.
- How will I get back in shape after cancer?
- How will I be strong after cancer?
- How will I turn this experience into something good?
- How will I inspire others to go through cancer with strength and grace and come out a powerhouse?
- What have I always wanted to do but haven’t? (Many, many things! Haha! I’m a typical Pisces dreamer. Stay on track- focus on physical feats!)
- What will make me feel like I am okay again?
- Most importantly, how can I teach others cancer isn’t a roadblock to your life or dreams?
When I thought about all these questions my mind went one place…a marathon and if I do that- an Ironman! I have always wanted to do a marathon, always. I have competed in many, many road races in the past, mostly half marathons and I used to be a 70 mile a week runner but it’s been years. It was my goal when I was a runner and I never did it. WELL, I AM GOING TO DO IT NOW!!! Having my first post baby body immediately followed by cancer, surgery, pulmonary embolisms, chemotherapy, and neuropathy can all KISS MY TUSHY!
AND NOW FOR THE MAIN EVENT!!! An answer to all of the above…
Today is the day before National Cancer Survivor’s Day, and the day after I finished chemotherapy a year ago. It feels so good to be pulling up to the start line of a marathon. I am trying very hard to contain the overwhelming emotion I am feeling. I’m getting ready to set foot on a 26.2 mile path to feeling like my cancer is behind me. I know today is going to be challenging for many reasons. My body isn’t in tip-top shape, after all this is a journey back to health. And on top of that, I haven’t ran for three weeks due to a sinus infection. And finally, I only slept two hours last night thinking about today. It is a relatively cool morning considering the past week has been wicked hot and there is a light mist in the air. I was hoping for rain.
My mom just joined us. I know her and Ryan are very nervous about me doing this race. I am hoping to put their minds at ease today and show them I am okay. I truly believe cancer is harder on the family of the patient than the actual patient. This has been a long journey for them too. I hope today will provide them strength in knowing I am okay.
Pre-Race with Ryan and Gracie, my mom, and my friend Alely:
The race began, my heart was pounding with excitement and the weight of proving to myself, my family, and my readers I can do this. With determination anyone can accomplish their dreams. I want people to know cancer isn’t a roadblock to ANYTHING!! As we took off my friend Alely informed me she was staying with me no matter what. She exclaimed I wasn’t allowed to do this on my own yet. It was so sweet. I didn’t fight back exclaiming I was okay and I am proud of myself for that. I let her pull me along. I will be endlessly thankful she was there with me today.
Here we go!!!
It was mile 10. My body was challenging me already and I had 16.2 miles left to go!
Okay, note to self- next goal, be the challenger of my body, not the challenged.
I was being challenged in ways I didn’t expect and pain free in ways that shocked me. All of the pain of my neuropathy didn’t creep back like I was worried about. It stayed at bay. I am so happy I had treatments for this. Just months ago it hurt to walk and it felt like I was barefoot on glass with every step I took. I will write more about neuropathy in a future post. My lungs were totally fine and seemingly unaffected by the four rounds of Bleomycin. I actually didn’t feel tired, but I was getting really worn down with knee pain to the point I was starting to question if I could finish. What?! Shame on me!! I will finish. NEVER, EVER, EVER, EVER GIVE UP!!!! Despite the pain I continued to smile and remember why I was doing this.
The miles continued to role on and I continued to be challenged but one thing remained intact- my determination to finish what I started. Around mile 20 I began tearing up at the overwhelming emotion that I was almost done and I was actually doing this. I started to replay the last year in my mind and everything I have been through. The tears came and went on several occasions but I am glad they were there. I am glad I had the opportunity to reflect on what has been the hardest year of my life while accomplishing one of the hardest things I have ever done physically.
Even though my race was very, very slow and I was one of the last to finish I didn’t care. I could care less what my time or place was. I will only get stronger from here. I FINISHED A MARATHON!! I FINISHED A MARATHON! I FINISHED A MARATHON! This last year has been a marathon – it is only fitting that I would finish it up with a running marathon. When I finished all I could think was, “Holy Crap, I did it!”. I am so, so proud to say I overcame cancer, and I am in great health. Perhaps it’s silly but one year post cancer it took a marathon to prove to myself I am okay. I have preached this whole time that I am okay but I feel different today. I’m a different kind of okay.
I want every cancer patient everywhere to know cancer isn’t a roadblock to your dreams. You can do anything you put your mind to. If you are strong enough to fight cancer, you are strong enough to do anything. Pick your dream. Fight for your dream. Fight for your life. Dream big dreams. Start now. You can sit and ask why or get busy living. Onto an Ironman!!
*I will write about my training plan in a future post for anyone who may be interested.