Our struggles determine our success…if we only want the reward and not the process, the victory but nit the fight…we won’t succeed. – The Subtle Art of Not Giving A F*ck, Mark Manson.
Today is Mothering Sunday, in my last blog I discussed what motivates me and told of my Dads cancer story…but as they say “behind every great man is an even greater woman” and in our family that’s very true.
My Mum has been to hell and back more than once and struggles with her own health. She’s had more than her fair share of loss and heartache too! Throughout it all though she remains calm, stoic and just pretty much gets on with whatever is needed…with an air of “you just have to do what you have to do”. She is calm, rational and methodical, has the patience of more than one saint and a kind, caring, thoughtfulness like no other I know. She has taught me so much in life and it’s only as I’ve gotten older that I’ve really started to appreciate that. I think when we’re young we’re so blasé, dismiss the sound advice too readily and never admit that we’re wrong. As I’ve gotten older I so often think “what would Mum do”, “how would Mum tackle this”. When I was diagnosed my second thought (the first being if I could still run!) was how would I tell my Mum. See Dad, now that’s easy and I knew it may take more than one telling but he’d just go for the “it’ll be alright, they’ll do what they need to and you’ll do what you need to” approach…and I was right. But Mum would take it in, think about every eventually and the what ifs and then speak. It felt like I’d slapped her that afternoon, it was awful…but you know what we got our logical hats on, made a cup of tea and cried a bit and then decided we’d just see what happened and get on with it a step at a time.
My Mum has taught me that in life it doesn’t matter what you’re going through, you still need to appreciate others and their struggles…there will always be someone worse off than you. For that and everything else…thank you Mum! One day hopefully I’ll learn how to become as patient as you.
Sunday – My day was one fabulous lazy recovery day and I barely left the house apart from to take things out to the bin. It was a day for some “us” time after a few days apart. I’d felt really emotional when I’d got home on Saturday and so Sunday helped ease us away from that, reconnect us and ease us both into the busy week. I’d managed a lie in but made sure to nap during the day. Eating freshly and nutritiously to me is always crucial but a recovering body needs this even more, you can’t out run a bad diet and if you put cr#p in that’s all you’ll get out! It was nice to be able to spend that little bit longer in the kitchen and ramp up the creativity a bit.
Monday – I started the week with a 6.5K trail run across the fields.
It was great but I couldn’t keep to heart rate and so just ran and loved it! On the way back I had the pleasure of a chat with the Chatsworth shire horses…they live in a field near us and it’s always a privilege to get to see them.
I had my first radiotherapy treatment in the morning and it went alright…they needed to do an image so that they could check I was in the right place and breathing deeply enough…but the machine broke down five minutes in! They had to put the lights back on, cover me up and get the technician in to reboot it…it was hilarious! Once it was sorted there was a lot of machine noise as they moved it into place around me, then getting me to breath in and hold for 30secs at a time during the treatment. It was over as quickly as it had started in the end.
Once home I felt tired but that’s post chemo body issues, going out for lunch after and the car journey back and forth more than anything. If no chemotherapy is needed you may well feel fatigued by the radiotherapy but everyone is different, the same with how sore your skin may get. The radiotherapy damages cells so your body is trying to repair constantly but there’s no real time in between treatments…between that and just getting yourself there and back that’s why fatigue sets in. With chemotherapy beforehand the cells are already damaged and body drained, then you add in more damage so it effects chemotherapy patients more.
The hardest part of the day was not the treatment though…it was the going out for lunch afterwards. Thanks to chemo and infection control, I hadn’t been into the City since October of last year. I was excited about the touring Leonardo Di Vinci exhibition and eager to see it and browse the shops. I loved being able to wander the art gallery and look at everything…but once in the City centre it was like being in a nightmare. It was SO busy, people were jostling me all over and I felt scared and anxious, I was so glad to get back to the car. Small steps are sometimes huge leaps without us realising!
Tuesday – I found a bodyweight training session for my strength training, it felt good to work every part of my body instead of concentrating on one area. It was 40mins of hard work, especially the 50 push ups in the middle, but I felt great afterwards.
I went to radiotherapy alone for the first time and felt a little lost. I wondered when it would start to feel normal and routine, there were others there who you could tell that for them it had become a “new normal”. Thankfully no machine breakage and so I was in and out very quickly.
Once home though I felt wiped out and slept for over an hour before getting up and ready for spin class. Proudly this week I kept up with everyone else, and maintained the sprints instead of having to back off.
Wednesday – The stretching out of my legs thanks to spin class the day before worked a treat…just like the good old days BC!
I copied my hill repeat run route from the week before, but with an extra 1K of hill repeats and 1K run at nearly half marathon pace added in. Running to heart rate has been hard since my hormone injection last Tuesday but I maintained running to zone 3 throughout my warm up and cool down, stayed under 170bmp for the hills and paced sections and kept everything within either the aerobic or anaerobic zones.
I’d noticed a dull ache in my ribs on the left where treatment is taking place, getting up I felt tender and made sure to speak to my team when I arrived at the hospital. I’ve been assured that the feeling is normal…not helped by reverse burpees the day before at all! but normal.
I felt really tired but knew that if I had lunch and stayed in the City I could go to the Cancer Support Centre for the crafting afternoon. I’m so pleased that I chose to stay and attend, gone was the anxiety of the day before. Not only was it great to get out, but I meet some fascinating new people and did silk painting for the first time.
My radiotherapy times are a bit all over, but my aim is to attend the session as many Wednesdays as I’m able before I go back to work.
Thursday – My note for the day reads as follows….”I’m SO tired!!!”
I woke up tired, ran tired, had breakfast tired, travelled tired and went to my appointments tired. Not a tired a normal person would know, I was back to chemo tired and felt angry and frustrated at that.
On the day going into the City I felt grumpy and emotional…but a bus journey gives you time to reflect. I’d got up, I’d been for my 6.5K run and ran trail both ways to test out my new shoes. I’d sat in the sun during breakfast, I’d arrived early enough at the bus stop to drink my coffee instead of trying to balance it and everything else on a busy bus and I’d had a sunny walk to the hospital…daring to bear my head in public properly for the very first time.
Happiness is not something we should come to easily. It, like life in general, is a struggle…if it wasn’t we wouldn’t feel it as much, but sometimes we get caught up in the struggle and only see the negative.
A day spent feeling tired meant sitting when I could, taking things slowly and pretty much doing what my body needed…giving it a break!
I had time after treatment for a darn good fika. I shall forever be grateful of my lovely cafe find by the bus stop, Smorgas is heaven…if you ever get the chance to do pop in and see them. I had Kanelkake with a hot chocolate on the side, sat and read in the window while the radiator warmed my legs.
When I got home I realised how little I’d been to the loo during the day…very unusual for me. I was a little dehydrated and so took action with water and my sports rehydration tablets.
Given how tired I’d felt all day I announced an early night was needed to ensure we both got a really early, good nights sleep…rest of any kind is necessary for a healthy active person but for anyone with a body that is recovering from something and/or those in substantial training, it is a must…we don’t repair if we don’t rest well!
Friday – I grabbed my mat just before 6am for a strength, cardio, pilates training session with an arms and core focus. Purposefully so my legs were fresher for Saturdays long run. Plus I needed something slower paced after a some busy, tiring days so that my body had a break.
It was a blissfully sunny day and great to sit at the bus stop and bask in the sun for a while. I felt deflated on arrival at radiotherapy when I read one of the machines was down and there was a delay, however I got called early enough to get in, dressed and back to the bus stop so that I was home for lunch in the garden for the first time all week.
Being home earlier meant I could have the nap I needed in the afternoon, which in turn meant a better evening.
Saturday – Long run day and I was up with the birds at 5.30am for porridge and stretching. A cool start but knowing it was going to be sunny I donned shorts with my thermal base layer top.
My route took in 357m of elevation within the first 30 minutes and finished with a good 183m before my 2K downhill to home. My aim is to ensure I have steep elevation on my way out, and a hill finish, on most of my training long runs so that I’m copying what the elevation will be on the day of my Ultra.
Once home and a cold bath had, with food and fluids to boost me back up, I settled in for my parents and pooch arriving for the day.
We had a wonderful, restful, early Mothers Day with lunch out at The Old Hall in Hope, a slight stroll in the sunshine in the village and then back for cups of tea and a good natter.
Sunday – I’m having the day to myself for some much needed rest after yesterday’s run and a busy week. There’s a few things to organise ready for the week ahead and my end of month paperwork to do.
All month I’ve been running for MIND, raising funds for them by taking part in the #challengethenorm running challenge, doing something that brings me mental peace and relaxation. I’ve just submitted my monthly run data and yesterday took me to 101.7 miles for my March total – well over the 54 miles I’d set as the target to achieve by today so I’m feeling very proud. Hopefully there should be some shiny bling arriving very soon to show off ready for next weeks post.