Active After Cancer

Active after cancer

A few months after I completed chemo, my friend was diagnosed with diabetes. He called me in a panic, “Send me some salt substitute! Pop in the mail tomorrow!” He wasn’t joking. His diet of bread, wine and candy—and to cover all food with salt—was crashing in. In our relationship, I was the healthy, active one—the “let’s take the stairs” person. He preferred the couch when he wasn’t working evenings and weekends.

A few days ago I got an email from this friend. I now read his emails shaking my head at how tunes can change. In his recent correspondence, he mentioned his now playing tennis, going to the gym, and taking vigorous walks. Who was this man? He knew the States where on holiday, but made mention of my going to the gym, and how much progress I’m making after three years of cancer treatment.

I responded saying, “Yes, I’m back at the gym. Last month I made it there once a week—for fifteen minutes each time. Front desk staff must think I swing-in to use the restroom! Last week I went to the gym for forty-five minutes! It felt like it, too. For twenty minutes I biked three miles with resistance, then lifted three and five pounds, and worked on my balance.”

My friend responded, thrilled at the jump of endurance from fifteen to forty-five minutes, adding, “I know you’re on holiday, but I know you’ll get to the gym this week.” He and I were both amazed. His amazement is more uplifting than mine. . . It’s an honor to have people believe in you when you can’t believe how far south you’ve moved from what you used to call the norm.

I got his email Friday night. I decided the pressure of his faith in me was good for me, and Saturday I headed to the gym. Again, I worked-out, solid forty-five minutes. Elliptical machine fifteen minutes with decent resistance, chest machines (clearly not ready for this—it hurt, pulled/stretched my new implants that drag under my pec muscles whenever I move my arms in big motions – think sand paper.) Again I lifted three and five pound hand weights for biceps and triceps, then worked on my balance.

Saturday 7:30 p.m. WHAMM-O! I couldn’t keep my eyes open. I gave in and went to bed. Waking-up Sunday 9:30 a.m., I felt every muscle in my body was sore. Roll call: Advil? Here. Alpha Lipoic Acid? Here. Arnica? Here.

Today the day is cold and cloudy.  A good day for cozying-in, and maybe a few toe-touches (putting on socks and shoes, that is.)

Some are able to walk the walk, or get on the bike and ride after cancer. Some aren’t. Get off the comparisons. Physically, it can be hard to see where you were then, with where you are now. This is when practicing being present really helps. You’re doing the best you can. Focus on the here and now. This is the moment that matters.

Breathe in.

Rest in the holy instant between breaths.

Breathe out.

Rest in the holy instant between breaths.



Quiz: Are you active enough? 




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