I’ve learned many lessons this year. For instance, time flies even when you’re not having fun. Nine months have come and gone since my breast cancer diagnosis. For those just beginning, I promise you, it’s not easy, but you can get to the other side and it happens in a blur. The blur might have something to do with chemo and pain meds but the point is, it goes by faster than you imagine.
These days, I am finally starting to feel more like myself. Here’s another cliché that has proven to be true; Time heals all wounds. Sure, it took me five minutes to recall the word “cliché” but my brain and body are finally starting to resemble the old me. On that note, as I sit crossed-legged on this chair, I know it will take me about two minutes to straighten them out to walk. My muscles are a little bit resentful that I neglected them for most of the year and they’re letting me know about it. Every time I get out of bed in the morning, I hobble down the stairs like I’m in my 90’s. Thankfully, it doesn’t last long and I’m back to normal by the time I put the coffee maker on.
The labour day weekend started with a heart scan on Thursday and finished with a Herceptin infusion on Tuesday. Strangely, the ongoing trips to Juravinski hospital don’t fill me with dread. I always manage to meet someone new who inspires me in one way or another. Sometimes it’s me who can put a smile on someone else’s face. Even as I recover, I want my days to be purposeful. The hospital visits are obviously a reminder of the cancer, but the rest of my time is spent just being the old me.
September always seems to be a month of new beginnings. I think it’s the back-to-school mentality. We get a restart on our year and I’m feeling this more than ever this time around. My eldest has just graduated from college and my youngest begins high school. There’s a lot to look forward to. I’ve always been more of a summer person than a fall but this year is different. Winter was chemo, spring was mastectomy and summer was radiation. Fall is my getting back on my feet season. It’s the season I intend on returning to work. I get that I have a second chance on life and I’ve been waiting patiently to feel better so that I can get back in the groove.
One of the things I’ve decided to do is go back to the gym. I’m not sure why this felt so monumental to me. When I got sick, I stopped working out completely. I did manage to walk my dog but even that was difficult at times. I hated how weak I had become through all of this and how much the trifecta of chemotherapy, surgery and radiation affected my body. Anyone who has ever started a workout routine from scratch knows how intimidating it can be. I had no idea what I could do physically but I was tired of just waiting around and healing. It was time to take action and control.
I’ve also been struggling with sleep. I used to hit the pillow and be in dreamland in 12.4 seconds but that’s no longer the case. I can manage keeping dark thoughts at bay during the day, but at night they creep in with a vengeance. The truth is, I haven’t been able to sleep without medication for months. This is another reason why I wanted to get back to the gym. I thought it might help me shut it down a lot easier at night.
I know I won’t be able to show you any dramatic “Before and After” photos. My goal isn’t to lose weight or be ripped or to have a bikini body. My goal is to be strong again, to have energy again, and to sleep at night without a prescription. I also hope to join a breast cancer survivor dragon boat team which is also motivating me to get into shape.
Starting anew at any gym is never easy when you’re starting from zero, but I finally put my fear aside, and stepped into Ideal Bootcamp last week. I have a trainer, Mark, who will help me do this the right way.
This is the same gym where my friend, Kim (pictured here), who has Parkinson’s Disease, works and trains. She is a huge inspiration to me and many others. It’s hard to make excuses when I see what she has done first hand. She’s in her early 50’s with Parkinson’s and she can probably bench press my husband. It doesn’t hurt that she looks like a movie star either. I had one of those “I’ll have what she’s having” moments.
So here I am, hair starting to grow, scars starting to heal and fear starting to fade. I’m grateful that my body stood up to cancer and won, but I’m still resentful that it took such a toll. I’m sure I’m not the only one trying to get back into an exercise routine this September. We are in this together. If I can do it, so can you. No more excuses.