Marathon Mile 23

by Bridget on October 26, 2011

One accomplishment I admire tremendously (although I have never had the desire to achieve it myself) is the completion of a marathon. The amount of strength and endurance it would take to run and/or walk 26.2 miles in a matter of hours boggles my mind. I have several friends/family members that have completed one (remarkable) and know a select few who have completed more than one (utterly amazing….or they’re gluttons for punishment).

I kind of see this cancer journey as my marathon. A stretch of time. Unexpected physical and emotional hills and valleys. My training an accumulation of previous life experiences which have required endurance and strength. This marathon spans testing/diagnosis, surgery, chemotherapy and radiation.

One week post-last-chemo I began the tapering off of my steroids. It is at this point that I hit the wall of my cancer marathon.

With the last of the chemotherapy still pumping through my veins, but without the same effectiveness of my pain medicine, I was physically hurting. Every joint ached with an overall soreness similar to the flu. I had trouble sleeping at night with a wake-up at anywhere between 3AM and 5AM without being able to return to sleep because of the discomfort. Regular hot flashes dripping sweat off my naked head and neck. My neuropathy created a nearly constant numbness in my hands, feet, lower back, butt, tongue and lips. Stairs and even just walking felt unnatural. I was miserable 24/7. Even picking up my kids from school felt like a monumental chore. One which I fortunately received assistance from some very kind friends on more than one occasion.

On a particularly tough day last week, I called my loving and wise friend, Beth (who has run 2 marathons), from the lobby of the hospital before I entered the consultation meeting with my new Radiation Oncologist. I was feeling ready to quit all the ‘stupid cancer treatment’. (Funny how I resemble my children when I’m exhausted and feel shitty.) I knew I couldn’t stop without the radiation, but yet another stage of treatment, when I was still feeling horrible from the previous stage felt truly overwhelming.

Beth gently reminded me that I was on mile 23 of my marathon. The mile where the desire to stop is overwhelming and an emotional response is inevitable because of the physical demands on my body. I would just have to put one foot in front of the other to keep in motion. Focus on that and I would be at the finish line before I knew it. So I did that. For a whole week….one foot in front of the other. Do what I can, ask for help when I can’t, and just keep going. She got me through a whole week with that imagery. Like I said, wise lady.

So now I am two weeks past the last of my chemo. And, I am only now starting to feel some minor relief. I still ache and I’m still constantly fatigued. But, ibuprofen worked for the first time today and I was even able to go for a walk. So, I am starting to see the light at the end of the tunnel. However faint.

I begin my radiation treatments next Tuesday, November 1. I went in for a CT scan and ‘mapping’ today so they know just where to position the radiation when I come in every morning. I will pop in five days a week for almost 7 weeks, after which I will be at my cancer mile 26.2.  And, I will have earned my ‘medal’ for crossing the cancer treatment finish line by simply putting one foot in front of the other.

{ 3 comments… read them below or add one }

Deb October 26, 2011 at 7:34 pm

How strong you are girly! Keep the faith. You will break through the wall and march forward no matter how slow or fast. Love you. Deb

Bev October 29, 2011 at 1:14 pm

You can see the finish line!!! Your strength and determination have carried you this far and the rest will be a piece of cake (chocolate preferrably) Lots of love and prayers are coming your way! Smile that beautiful smile and take a moment to let the sun hit you in the face and feel the warmth. Its the hopes and prayers of everyone that are embracing you!! Love You!!

Beth Schuman Jones December 6, 2011 at 8:18 am

Just reading your blog (on your birthday of course) and want you to know you have been in our prayers many, many times. I have run 3 marathons (yes, definitely a glutton) but yours has lasted months and the determination and sheer will to move forward required a million times more mental toughness. You are truly amazing and the world is so blessed by you!!! I am sure I will run more marathons….until my body tells me to stop probably….and you have truly inspired me to keep on running and appreciate all our bodies can do….and all we can push our bodies to achieve. Enjoy that pit hair :)….and be well – in time for Santa and his Elves! Hugs!

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