About Me

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What started as a little experiment in blogging has evolved into my renewed love for writing the raw, gritty truth. Running has always had so many parallels to life's ups and downs. As a new cancer survivor/fighter, running and writing has continued to be there for me in my quest to always move forward, always try to be better than yesterday. Find me: http://www.curetoday.com/community/kate or on facebook: running, cancer, and everything in between or on twitter: runliftbreathe

Thursday, June 25, 2015

The Sweet Spot: a runner adjusts after multiple surgeries for Metastic Melanoma

  The sweet spot in running is what I refer to when you are racing, and you are cruising along at that perfect pace you've been training for & everything feels smooth, easy...so easy, in fact, you have to hold yourself back...you've done the training, it's race day, everything is perfect. You run at your race pace feeling like it is effortless....the sweet spot. Runners pray to the running gods before each race for this moment...it's a beautiful place to exist.

  My sweet spot right now cannot be found out on the pavement...it's in my bed probably about minutes before I awaken from sleep. I'm conscious of my body, but I am not yet fully awake. I feel no pain. I don't feel the drain hanging from my leg that makes it near impossible to be comfortable in the night. I don't feel the swelling above my leg where they removed all of my lymph nodes...that during the day feels like I've survived a horrible fire. My legs don't feel heavy, filling with lead with every half limp step I take. For a brief moment before I fully awaken...I feel like myself...my former self before cancer...cruising along, light on my feet, passing people as I go...just smooth and easy.

  When I do wake, I am brought back to reality...snapped right out of the sweet spot. It's almost immediate, & it still surprises me each morning when it shakes me right back. I am no longer smooth and easy....even paced...passing people. I can't walk without a limp right now, and that's a significant improvement these past two weeks...me walking, without help.

  I've won little victories along the way...driving down to Pic n Pay to pick up a treat from the bakery for my kids....all the while, trying to maintain composure as I limp across the parking lot. I've had people stare at me, either from recognition wondering what the heck happened to me, or complete strangers concerned asking me if I needed any help. "Oh no, I am fine, thank you"...as I limp, hobble back to the bakery, back straight, head up high..as if they are crazy that this is anything but normal.

  You know that person in a race, the one who is not running even paced in the sweet spot...the one who is way in the back...in obvious pain, but refuses to walk it off. The volunteers offer up water, ask if he/she needs a medical tent..."No"....he/she usually responds and continues on. He will probably be the last one to finish the race, but he will finish....

  My reality as I continue in my recovery is just like that person in the back of the pack in the marathon....barely hanging on...in so much pain, but refuses to quit...refuses the medical tent....is determined to get to that finish. It has not been easy to maintain that kind of perseverance.
It is a roller coaster of a ride daily to hang on to that kind of determination...the will not to quit....

  I do still think on a whole, even before my diagnosis, that I have always had an excellent perspective on life...these past two weeks, though, I have gained some new perspective...I've walked in other people's shoes. I spent one night on the bathroom floor vomiting for 14 hours straight. I've had to have two grown adult men help me into my daughter's school for graduation because I was too weak to walk on my own. I most recently fought back tears behind my sunglasses as I tried to walk across a parking lot with my girls on our way to a movie. I've looked in the mirror at my swollen thigh & hip & cried, wondering if anyone could ever look at me and see someone strong and beautiful. I've been to that rock bottom dirt floor, wondering if maybe, if it does come back and it's to the brain.....I would be better off just dying a respectable death in Vermont or Oregon.

  I have learned that perspective is not just your view on life...perhaps a good perspective is being able to see it through any eyes. Perhaps good perspective is also acknowledging the struggle, the struggle of others.....the uneven, often painful to watch...but gutsy grit and fight that all kinds of people go through all the time, often unknown. Perhaps my sweet spot will change....because of where I have been, and what I have yet to still conquer...perhaps this new set of eyes will not only allow me the strength to persevere, stronger than ever...perhaps it will help me recreate a new sweet spot.


Tuesday, June 2, 2015

Perspective, perception and the marathon....

Funny how getting diagnosed with a very real and very scary disease can evoke all kinds of words being tossed around...all with good intent of course, but being the one sorting through all this...the diagnosis and the good intents, you really start to overanalyze every little detail...right down to use of language and words. This diagnosis of Metastic Melanoma (no, this is NOT a f*&%ing journey, adventure, or bump in the road)...this is cancer...and ironically, as I deal with cancer daily, it reminds me of running a marathon.

 For one thing, yes, I do believe that attitude is everything...but let's make something very clear...I did not need to be diagnosed with cancer to have a good perspective on life. For the record, the definition of perspective is "a point of view used to look at things or attitude towards things." Anyone who has ever ran or been any kind of competitive athlete with any kind of success...has good perspective when it comes to their sport (running, team sports, etc). I have ran only two marathons...the first one to qualify for Boston, the second, running Boston. It's fair to say I have a great attitude towards the ups and downs of my running and the ups and downs of life. I never would have made it through the training to begin with if I didn't have a good perspective to begin with.

 Perception, however, is another word...often used interchangeably with perspective. Perception is the interpretation one gives through his awareness or a process of being aware through the senses. The perception of marathons from the average person is pretty fair...I will tell you that marathons and marathon training is not easy. It is hard, it hurts, and many, many times you will want to quit. Every sense you have will be taxed...and then, there are the emotional ones...you'll have good runs, horrible runs, and all other kinds in between. Physically, you'll be sick to your stomach, be ravenously hungry, cramp so bad you're not sure you can walk...let alone run...that is your body perceiving what is real stress on it. It is aware of how taxing marathon training and marathons are.

 As I sort through this diagnosis...and yet another surgery next week where they will do what's called a pelvic dissection of my lymph nodes...my perception of my body has changed....my body is stressed physically....and emotionally, I don't know when I will run again...there's a chance I may not be able to safely run ever again....and that brings the kind of emotional pain only a runner would understand.

  This is reality...this is not me having a bad perspective on my diagnois...this is my perception of what could happen based on what the surgeons have told me regarding recovery, complications and the after. My perception has already told me that this is going to suck...I already am still healing...still in pain from one of my 3 inch incisions...some days it hurts to sit, stand, walk & just be. My perception is that frankly, cancer does suck...and anyone who has been through it or loved someone who has been through it or is going through it and has an inkling of what they are physically going through...they have an accurate perception on this disease, and they will tell you, yes, it does suck....and that's without getting into the whole emotional side of what cancer does to you.

 But like a marathon, with a cancer diagnosis, you gain new and different perspectives through each mile...each one can evoke a different emotion...some moments I want to cry...cry because I physically am in pain and have no control over it. Other moments I want to cry because like the oncologists commented at my last visit, "so basically, other than this...this cancer...you can run circles around everyone"....a compliment yes, but all I can think is right now, yes, but what about after my surgery...when I'm told I cannot do anything with my lower body while I recover....and what if, what if, what if...

 When I come to the good miles, and there are some good miles...I think f&*k the doctors, the surgeons....all of them...they don't know me. Don't tell me statistics...don't tell me what I can and cannot do...you don't know me....I have a great perspective on life...I always have. I don't need cancer to give me good perpective...I just need me...becuase I am a fighter, and I don't do what everybody else is doing...I run to the beat of my own run...

 Because of cancer, my perception of the world may have changed...it is a cruel reminder that people, real people go through horrible, horrible things all the time...someone, somewhere is fighting a battle of their own...in pain physically and emotionally.... That line...of where the world is good and where real people are going through real battles...it's so fine...you just never know when you might end up on the other side.

 Before and after the diagnosis, my perspective, has remained unchanged. I am not always strong...I cry like the best of them...but I believe that overall, in most moments, I have an excellent attitude, good times and bad.  My job on this earth is to set an example for three little ladies...my goal for them is that they will always have a good perspective on life, through the good times and bad...through tears and laughter...through all the miles of the marathon...