Physical activity has always been a big part of my life and now with cancer cells taking residence in my bones, my body has been compromised and not able to handle any prolonged exercise. To deem it frustrating is putting it mildly. ^#*$($# is what I say on those days when moving hurts or getting out of bed is a struggle.
What happens when your identity--an active maniac--has been stripped, shredded and spit out as undoable? I loved pushing myself to the limit and getting that "high" from the exertion. There is nothing like sporting a sweaty body, bursting lungs and then collapsing from exhaustion after a hard workout. Presently, even a minor exertion is completely out of the picture as I struggle to hike a mere few miles without repercussions the next day.
But then something happens and I rethink my limitations. What began as an easy five mile hike turned into an adventurous nine miler as we tried to find the elusive car in a mountainous desert area. Every trail looked the same, no one was around to help us out so it was planting one foot ahead of the other as we tried to climb our way out of this maze. Was I concerned about my old cancer-filled body not making the journey and crumbling in a heap to be food for the desert rats? Perhaps a moment or two made me cringe with moderate terror, but on the whole, the camaraderie of the group sharing hilarious stories motivated us all and eventually the lost car was within hiking range. I, for one, was ready to get down on my knees and kiss the blessed mode of transportation but didn't want to look too much like a drama queen. I pictured the headlines to read something about a terminally ill woman dragging her friends on a death march.
While I was hiking I thought of the similarities of hiking and cancer. Day to day it is one step forward, a couple steps back. When my blood work is in the pits and my treatment is temporarily suspended until the white blood count behaves itself, I must be reminded to keep on going. The oncologist knows what he's doing and, as frightening as it seems, he tells me the cancer isn't raging through my body with the stoppage of medication. We will get to the goal of finding the right combination, however, are not there yet. For a metster, it is a scary time.
I must take a deep breath, and even though cancer--the ripper of dreams and who I am--tends to be my primary focus, I must remember those days when a nine mile hike unfolds in front of me and I conquer it. Reconfigure and redo with new hobbies to be discovered is now my mantra while others are laid to rest. It is not what I wanted but it's what has been handed to me. Frustrating? Yes, but not life stopping so will continue onward with a half smile/ half grimace on my face. Let the good times roll when they can.
As always, go to UW Carbone Cancer Center and donate so I may hike many more hikes but will promise to have a compass in my back pocket.
Thanks for reading # 506 of 7777.