Tuesday, April 21, 2009

Mile 4 of my Cancer Marathon

Mile 4 of the marathon is the start of the “easy” miles. It’s only called the easy miles because the pace is comfortable. But heck, you are still running a marathon, and that’s not easy! It’s important to be careful during this period to not push the pace too much or you will feel it later. And of course, be on the lookout for any hills or other obstacles that might pop up.

I had my first round of chemo on March 26. After each chemo infusion, you get a 3 week “rest” period. I use quotes around the word rest because it’s not like you are sipping pina coladas by the pool during this time.

The first few days afterwards you get predosone, a steroid pill, to boost you up. I was really hoping the ‘roids would give me the sprinting speed of Marion Jones or the capacity to go all ‘roid rage on annoying clients at work, but I really didn’t notice their impact at all. Bummer.

You are supposed to feel progressively better over the three weeks. I did not and actually felt worse as time went on. I probably did too much and caught a bad cold from my germ monsters, I mean children, which turned into a sinus infection. Normally, these maladies would be an inconvenience but due to the circumstances they knocked me on my butt.

The impact was both physical and mental. The physical can be dealt with with good drugs but the mental is a little tougher. I’ve had several minor illnesses since my diagnosis and they have all been really tough to deal with mentally. I think my mind is an all-out war with the cancer and there’s just not much more fight for anything else. So even a minor setback can send me in a tizzy.

The week I was diagnosed with cancer I also got an unrelated eye infection. Here I was dealing with cancer but the only thing I was dwelling on was the fact I couldn’t wear my contacts lenses. I was a total spazz for the two weeks I had this minor eye infection.

My hair started falling out about 2.5 weeks after my first treatment. I had got it cut short a week or so before so it wouldn’t be that traumatic when it started showing up in the sink. When it started falling out, it did so rapidly so I just shaved it off. All in all, not nearly as emotional as I would have guessed.

As I tell people, it’s my Britney Spears look, circa the crazy years. I’m sporting a wig for work and ball caps for when I am just out and about. Interestingly enough, my leg hairs continue to grow. Of course, the one place where you want to lose hair you can’t.

The only other major symptom I am feeling is fatigue. It’s cumulative, so it gets worse every day. This has been the most frustrating for me. Maybe if I had been sick before it would be easier to embrace. However, I was full of energy, training for a marathon, chasing after two small kids and working. But now, I spend most nights on the couch, can’t work a full day and have to take breaks after spending short periods of time with my children. Annoying.

I watched the Boston Marathon yesterday. It’s hard to imagine that two years ago I was making the trek from Hopkinton to Boston. I wasn’t sure how watching the race would make me feel. However, if anything I was more determined than ever afterwards. I can’t wait to get off my butt, get back in shape and make that journey again. It really lit a fire in my belly and I can’t wait to beat this cancer into submission.

I am embarrassed to say that it has taken me 4 miles before I thanked all my supporters in this race. In all honesty, I have been so overwhelmed and humbled by the outpouring of love I haven’t known what to write. But the words came to me at 5AM this morning, and here they are:

- Friends and family near and far, for letters, emails, phone calls, prayers and glasses of wine. Some of you I speak to daily and others I hadn’t spoken to in years, but the common thread is that your words uplift me every day.
- Chagrin Valley Mom’s Running Club for the meals every Monday. Each and every member has an amazing story and is an awesome woman, mom and runner.
- My neighbors for meals, babysitting and friendship. I live in great neighborhood and I know if I ever needed anything a half dozen hands would fly into the air instantaneously.
- My coworkers for letting me say I don’t need any help, pretending that I don’t need any help and then filling in for me when I do need help.
- My inlaws for their prayers and constant encouragement. While they live far away, I know they are with me in spirit. And they packed our freezer with food during Easter – score!
- My brother and sister-in-law for the babysitting, yard work and ice skating lessons for Dominic. They also live far away but have been with me every step of the way.
- My parents for laundry, babysitting, installing lights and being my personal slaves. They should be on a beach somewhere enjoying retirement. Instead, they are making weekly trips from Columbus to help us out.
- And lastly, but certainly not least, my incredible husband. It’s not easy caring for a sick, whiny wife, managing two small children, keeping a house running and working a demanding job. But he is getting it done with grace and ease. I am in awe.

Keep the focus!

1 comment:

Maria said...

A friend of mine passed your blog along to me and I can't even do justice to how incredible I think you are. You inspire hope and strength in a way that never makes you the victim. I applaud you and the way you are dealing with this obstacle.

I'm pulling for you and will continue to follow your story. Thank you for sharing.