Back in October I purchased a one-year family membership at a local gym. This isn’t the first time we have been members of a gym, but the last time was a bit of a disaster since no one (read: Randy or I) ever actually took advantage of the membership and went. I always found it easier, faster, and much more convenient to do my fitness activities at home or in my neighborhood. During my cancer treatments last year, however, I began to think about my health in a much more pointed and specific way, and at some point I decided that I needed to step up my health regime once I was able to do so. When I joined the gym a few weeks before my last treatment I was completely bald and feeling very weak. I had not been able to do much of any kind of physical activity for awhile because of how awful I felt most of the time and it was hard for me to imagine that there would come a time when I would feel good and strong again. But I signed us all up and then started looking forward to the time when I could actually use my membership card.
My first visit to the gym came in November about a week after my last chemo treatment when I attended a yoga class. As I wrote here, it was a little difficult for me at first, but I kept going. It felt so good to be doing some kind of physical activity with my body for the first time in months, but I was still tired and weak and unable to do much of anything. I attended yoga classes sporadically through the holidays, but as the new year rolled around I decided that I was ready to step up my game a bit.
As part of our membership, each member of the family received one free session with a personal trainer. We were able to choose whether we wanted an orientation visit or an actual consultation with the trainer about our fitness goals. I choose an orientation visit, but ended up consulting with the trainer about my situation and what I wanted to accomplish.
It quickly became clear to me during that first meeting with Greg that working with him for more than one session was something that could benefit me and that would give me some clear direction and fitness goals. So I signed up for more. I told him during our first session that I needed to build my strength back up and that I eventually wanted to be able to run a 5K in October of this year. He told me that he could have me ready to run a 5K by April of this year. I was doubtful since I have never, ever been a runner, but I humored him and began working out.
Since January I have been working with Greg on a weekly basis. He has designed a program for me to help me build strength and endurance. I am doing some weight lifting and walking (and running!), as well as taking some various fitness classes. I am simply amazed at what all of this activity has done for me and at how my body is responding. Physically I no longer feel like a cancer patient, and every day I get a little bit stronger. I am training to walk in the 3 Day in August and to run in the Susan G. Komen 5K in October, and I am also training to run in a 5K this April.
Last April my brother and my nephew ran in a local annual 5K race. The rest of my family met him and his family afterward for breakfast and my dad took pictures of all of us that morning. It is haunting for me to look at the pictures of myself from that day because two or three days earlier I had first discovered the lump in my breast. On the morning of the race, I hadn’t told anyone at all about it except for the receptionist at my doctor’s office when I called in tears to make an appointment. When I look at those pictures of myself today, I can see in my face that I was completely preoccupied with the fear of what that lump might turn out to be.
This year—almost exactly one year later—my family is planning to meet on that same race-day Sunday for breakfast after the race. This year, though, I will be running in the race with my brother and his son and my three children. This year I will be thinking about the lump at breakfast, but I will be thinking about how far away I am from it now. I will be thinking about how each step on the treadmill and on the road takes me one step further away from breast cancer. Crossing that finish line in April will be, for me, a symbolic continuation of my journey far, far away from cancer.