Wednesday, August 28, 2013

Choosing What's Helpful

Do you all remember how I had to take a break from working out because of my broken arm back in January? And then how it healed just in time for me to have my expanders swapped out for implants in March? And who could forget my surgery incision opening up just four weeks after that??

I finally got clearance to return to exercise near the end of June, which means I spent HALF of 2013 recovering from one injury or another.

It was one long string of sitting on my ass, is what it was.

I know how lucky I am that I even have the desire to exercise, let alone the ability. After what I went through the first half of this year, I don't take that for granted. I have metastatic breast cancer; there are a lot of people who get so sidelined by this disease and the drugs required to keep it at bay--through no fault of their own--that exercise is the last thing on their minds. I am lucky that my metastases are small and confined to my lymphatic system. I am lucky that all of my side effects have been related to chemo, not cancer itself. I am lucky that, for now, the chemo I'm on has relatively few physical side effects.

It's amazing what you find to be thrilled about when you have cancer.

Since the end of June, I've been trying to get back in shape, walking here and there (although not as much as I should, since I signed up for this Avon Walk and 39.3 miles is no joke, but neither is summer in Phoenix, so I'm picking my battles) and going to yoga a couple times a week. I'm getting stronger, but my body is different than it was pre-cancer.

That might be the understatement of this entire blog.

This is a work-in-progress. My goal is not just to get in shape for the sake of my cardiovascular and mental health, not just to strengthen my muscles and increase my stamina, but also to stretch out scar tissue, figure out how to re-train chest muscles that have been pulled and shaped in ways they were never naturally meant to go, and prove to myself that my body is still capable--capable of hiking a mountain at 6 a.m., of keeping up with a toddler, of finding stillness and peace while completing a series of sometimes uncomfortable poses in a heated room, of walking a marathon and a half over two days to raise money so that maybe, someday we can end this terrible disease that accounts for nearly twenty-five percent of cancers in women.

I'm planning on walking a half-marathon this weekend with my good friend (and fellow Avon walker) Ginelle. Last weekend, I went on a two-hour hike with a couple of other friends who are also walking with me in San Francisco next month. Today, I'm going to try to hold a handstand in yoga for more than a half second.

My disability claim was probably just revoked, but I promise doing handstands has nothing to do with my abilities as a lawyer.

I don't exercise every day. Some days I'm too exhausted or my head hurts too terribly. But on a daily basis, I'm trying to prove to myself that I am capable of living with cancer. Exercise helps me with that. Sitting on my ass for extended periods does not.

Tell me, what does exercise help you accomplish?


  1. That is awesome! I need to pull inspiration like crazy from your example and start moving more consciously. Walking everywhere isn't going to do it - we gotta sweat! And it's about time I got (back) on it. There's really no reason not to, because like you I'm in the happy situation of being able to move & live comfortably despite cancer. ~Catherine

    1. The exercise thing is a work-in-progress, but I hope we both have many more years of moving & living comfortably!!