Saturday, March 30, 2013

Resolution Reflections: Eventually, cancer is no excuse

The further I am from cancer treatment, the further I am from being able to use cancer as a viable excuse for my lousy physical performance. I've become accustomed to falling back on the lingering side-effects of chemotherapy and radiation as an excuse for getting out of obligations. But over the past few months, a new voice has broken through that veil of survivorship. Instead of "You'll never be as fit as you were before treatment", this new voice is telling me "You're just out of shape. The next time will be better." It's the voice of encouragement, hope and optimism. And it's unfamiliar.

In trying to figure out where this voice originated, I didn't have to look far. My mother is the model of physical fitness, and she's turning 60 this year. She ran her first marathon in her 40s, finishing that decade of her life by completing her first (of three) Ironman triathlons. I told her a few weekends ago that I was considering giving up running forever. That my body just wasn't cut out for it and I would stop forcing it to do something it couldn't after such a grueling and painful treatment process. I know of at least one person who's given up on running forever (and he didn't even have cancer as an excuse). Perhaps it was my own turn to accept similar defeat.

My mother's words to me: "Oh, Stephanie, don't make any dramatic decisions like that yet. You have your whole life to get back into and back out of running."
I ran a 10K a year out of treatment.
It hurt. That's me in the middle (#510)
my mom to the left of me, and my
 big sister Kassie on the far right. 

She was right. I would run again one day. But maybe not yet.

And isn't it funny. After deciding I would temporarily remove myself from the running game, I wanted nothing more than to get out there and run! Once I got past that defeating voice in my head that listed all the excuses I had, motivation poured out of my every fibre. I ran for almost an hour the other day... After a finished a Pilates video! Before my diagnosis, I didn't have cancer as an excuse to fall back on, and I pushed myself to run even when my body was telling me something was severely wrong (uh hello... you can't breathe!) The barrier now couldn't be my presumably limited physical ability. It's the mentality I've willfully adopted as the weak, frail and recovering cancer patient who may never be where she was before treatment.

It's been two years since I had my last radiation treatment, and I can run again. And not because I've been out of treatment for two years. It's because after two years, cancer just isn't a very good excuse.

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