I love to walk beside the ocean and breathe in the fresh air, (unless it's low tide and I am near Birch Bay Village... just saying. Sorry Village People) I love to hike and feel like I am going places and enjoying beautiful trees, mountains and looking out over large bodies of sparkling water. And as you know, I love to run. I don't love the training phase so much, but hear me on this. I am not talking about the interval season where I have to start over and feel like I will never be able to just enjoy a good run. I am talking about the kind of run where I can lube up my feet, put on my cool socks and running sneaks, shimmy into my running skirt which helps to make the look official (not to mention I feel faster when I wear it), and to secure by whatever means necessary the unruly sisters so that there is no, I repeat NO movement, and head out to just enjoy the run because it feels good. Recently I have noticed however, that several of my favorite hikes, walks, and runs all start with a lovely downhill slope. This makes me feel strong and active and good. I can totally do this, chemo or not. I am out moving and exercising and it feels great. And yet on the way back, guess what is always waiting for me on the home stretch... the unavoidable incline. It's always there. Some days I am aware it's there and I enjoy the challenge. I can power through with some extra huffing and puffing and get it done. I feel strong. Other days it feels like work and it burns, but I got it. Then there are "those" days. You know, one of those days where the coffee has run out, the toast you just took a bite of is mildewing, you lost your car keys, and you should have stayed in bed or at last on the couch with a good reliable book kinda days. Some days, I head out thinking "This really is so good for me and I really need the exercise and I will feel so much better when I am done." Then I begin to approach the hill. I would rather not have to go up this hill today. I would like to go around this hard spot not up it. Maybe someone will come pick me up and I can pass jail and go directly to "Go" and collect the $200. But I can't. Not if I want to get back to my car. Sometimes I stop and look around to see what my options are. Funny thing... they don't ever change just cause I want them to. Turning my back on the path back home doesn't make it disappear... it's just temporarily out of my field of vision. And while at that moment, it might feel like a relief, it is not reality. So I turn back around, and move forward. I might be moving a bit slower, but I am moving.
I am a cancer survivor/fighter. And I realized that for me, being a cancer survivor doesn't mean that I am assured that my cancer will never come back and my future health and wellness journey is a weedless path that is guaranteed to be all downhill, beside the ocean, at sunset, with no low tides. It means that as I walk along the path that is my life, the way in front of me may unexpectedly and without warning wash out at the precise moment that I step forward again . This requires another shift in plans. It means I may end up on another detour that I didn't even realize was there and I have a choice. I can become toxic and poison to all those around me with the the negativity of my circumstances or I can live the day that I am given and do it with a smile on my face. I have made the choice to actively move forward regardless of the hill called cancer that looms in front of me. Chemo is cumulative and each week, recovery is harder and takes longer, and each week I have to choose to walk that route or not. That's what makes me a survivor. Choosing to move forward when it seems like such a long road. I make the choice because it is what my medical team feels is best for me and God has given me peace to trust their decisions. I make the choice cause I have 4 incredible kids, (not to mention all the other amazing kids and young adults in my cheering section). I make this choice because I am afraid not to and this feels like the right direction to go. I make this choice because it is part of pressing on and running the race that is set before me to attain the prize. Who knew my race would be more like doing hurdles in a dress with high heels (I hate hurdles btw).
My weekly trip to the spa was again made special by a dear friend who brought a bag of pedicure supplies. I sat there taking in my chemo, while my girlfriend gave me a great looking pedi. It was so thoughtful and I have gotten lots of compliments. Going to chemo weekly, for several hours at a time is a drag. The after effects of the drugs are exhausting and wearing, and sometimes quite painful. In spite of these mosquito bite like frustrations, my friends have found ways to make these weekly trips not only tolerable but fun! It is precious time with great friends that is sometimes hard to come by. I am down to 4 more chemo treatments. After that I will have daily radiation for the max treatments which is 7 weeks and a Herceptin infusion every 3 weeks for the next year. Yes, I did say the next year. The good news is that the side effects from the Herceptin should be minimal, the unfortunate news is that's not the end. I am still looking at a few surgeries. Some optional, some not. And then there will be several years of another drug which can be a little tricky. But that is not today. Today is sunny. There's a light breeze and I get to enjoy it. My lips are not so ducky, which is great contrary to the facebook craze of duck pose photos. Tomorrow, I get to go sit with a friend while she has her final infusion of chemo. Again, these are not paths I would have voluntarily sought out to walk and yet there is so much unexpected beauty along the way.
Thank you to friends and families that have supported us recently through the garage sale and the walk a thon. With all the trips into town for all the different appointments, I feel like I have a new job.... but I sure don't remember applying for this position.
Consider it pure joy, my brothers, whenever you face trials of many kinds, because you know that the testing of your faith produces perseverance. Let perseverance finish its work so that you may be mature and complete, not lacking anything.