This weekend my husband and are once again participating in the Fargo, ND Marathon. No, we aren’t doing the marathon, (my amazing daughter is though!) but we are walking in the 10K event. We participated last year as well. Initially, we decided we were not going to take part this year. Back in January when we first started discussing the possibility of participating again I said, “No, I don’t think I want to do it. It will bring back too many painful memories. I’m not interested. I’m not ready.” Last year I walked in this same event mere days before my bilateral mastectomy – less than a month after my diagnosis.
Well that was then and this, as they say, is now.
A couple of months ago I changed my mind. I want to participate again. I want to prove to myself I can still walk a 10K, but more than that I want to complete another circle, and it’s not a physical ability type of circle. It’s not so much this particular event or this particular distance.
Yes, I want to prove to myself I am still physically able to walk a 10K despite my recent surgery, despite the neuropathy in my feet, despite my Arimidex induced achiness, despite challenges from reconstruction, despite my slower pace, despite cancer, despite a lot of things. But it’s more than that. I want to prove I am mentally up to the challenge as well. I
want need mental closure here. I’m not even sure if that makes sense, I can’t quite put my finger on it or determine exactly what to call it.
Last year at this time my mind was not in a good place. My bilateral was looming. I didn’t know if I would need chemo or fully understand the reconstruction process. I was terrified about many things, too many to even mention here, but still I managed to walk that 10K. If I did it then, with all that heavy baggage weighing on my mind, surely I can do it now, right?
I even discussed this need of mine to participate in this event before scheduling my last surgery. “Will I still be able to walk in the 10K?” I asked my surgeon more than once. He understood and assured me I would be able to if I felt up to it when the time came.
I do feel up to it, I think.
Participating in this event makes me realize how important the mind/body connection is in cancer recovery. We need to recover mentally as well as physically from cancer (although I do not believe you totally recover physically or mentally) and sometimes the mental recovery is a whole lot harder and takes a whole lot longer. I know this 10K is only one tiny component of my recovery, but it is an important one. I also know I must be ready to accept, if in fact, I find I cannot finish the walk. I will need to be OK with that as well.
It’s more about the goal, the effort, the trying.
How many times have I said stuff like that to my students and own kids over the years?
Another fellow blogger, Julie Goodale From Fitness For Survivors, recently participated in a race called the North Face Bear Mountain 50-Mile Endurance Challenge. Julie is a ten year breast cancer survivor. She wanted to do something really big to mark her ten year anniversary as a survivor. I think she did! Even the name of the race sounds daunting to me. I cannot fathom walking such a distance! Check out her recent post about her amazing experience. The great thing about Julie is she encourages others (like me) to set small attainable goals for ourselves too. Julie understands and thinks our smaller goals are just as monumental as her own loftier ones.
And then there is a fabulous recent post about adapting, adjusting and accepting by ChemoBabe called “A View From the Back of the Pack.” Actually that’s pretty much been my vantage point my whole life in this kind of thing, so the view from the back of the pack is not all that new to me!
Finally, Cancer Free 2 B also recently wrote about running a 5K and the challenges doing so presented to her. She persevered her way through various aches, pains, doubts and actual hills to contend with; in Fargo, ND there aren’t
so many any hills! Yay!
I will think of these women and others this Saturday when my husband and I put on our walking shoes, when we are asking ourselves “What were we thinking?” and when we hopefully cross that finish line. I will also think about the women (and men) too sick from cancer to walk anywhere and about those no longer here at all because in the race that truly matters; the race against cancer, as cliche as it sounds it really is “all for one and one for all.”
Mostly, I will be thankful I am here to participate in such an event, no matter how it turns out.
I am hoping it doesn’t rain AGAIN this year though and the forecast isn’t sounding too good.
I’ll let you know how it all turns out…