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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.


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