When people only see a projection of you it can be really difficult to help them understand your truth, the you in a sea of smiles on social media. I’ve felt, and still do to some extent, as if I’ve had to justify myself during my cancer journey. I gave the world glimpses of treatment…the parts that I knew could be dealt with, the smiles…the fact you on the other side never saw the tears, sickness, not being able to move, hurting all over, the cold, the sweating, the fatigue…the fear. I know I don’t have to justify myself to anyone…no-one would want to walk in my shoes and it would help most not to know the down side, how dark the darkness is. I can only presume that I do it to try to say I’m suffering – hear me, I’m scared – talk to me, I’m lonely – look at me!!!! I’ve started being able to brush my hair…or rather having to.
It’s nice, I touch it ALOT…but I’m also absolutely terrified of waking up to find it falling out again. I spent a flippin fortune having it chopped off in September, got used to having a fab new style and then we started chemo. Losing it meant I lost part of me and felt very uncomfortable, bald however was soooo liberating…funny eh! So now I’m gaining hair, and I looked at some photos on Wednesday and realised just how fast it’s growing. It’s great and so nice to start to look normal again, heck the other day I wore an outfit based on my hair…not just putting stuff on but genuinely thinking about how it looked! That was huge…and scary because I’m having to get used to looking normal and feeling like hell.
So again a picture with a smile, a projection of someone I’m getting used to a little more but trapped in a body that says no. If I didn’t train…gosh what would have happened and how much longer recovery would be…I feel like no-one really gets that apart from the professionals who are over the moon at how I’m doing, no-one really gets the fact I’m working my arse off in order to try to aide my recovery along aswell as rebuild myself AT THE SAME TIME! This week I’ve cut myself some slack and:
I got up one morning and felt okay,
Another day I walked a mile and afterwards I wasn’t breathless, drained, dizzy, nauseous or a combo of all of those,
I sat and read for an hour and didn’t need to sleep…and remembered what I was reading
…yes that all still happens and is why I’m not back at work just yet, why I don’t see people a lot, why I can’t yet travel far…but just like my curly locks, there’s progress.
One of the bigger things for me is that I can look in the mirror a bit more too – gone is the girl who hated her body, I’ve cried a lot over what I ended up with post treatment! However slowly slowly something else is forming…I’m hoping I’ve left the caterpillar behind, I’m still in my chrysalis not quite the butterfly yet…but by god I’m growing my wings!
Sunday – My recovery day and my left leg was aching from getting up. I had my first Alendronic Acid tablet to take…on an empty stomach and nothing for half an hour after, only remembered it half way through chopping up a pear…and yes I’d eaten a tiny piece before I remembered the pills!
I rested well and made sure to do little other than foam roll and relax.
Monday – I had a really good, strong recovery run in the pouring rain…given the temperature the rain was a wonderful relief.
I spent the day catching up with a friend in Sheffield, taking quality time to laugh, cry and helping each other in the best way possible…communication! She lifted my spirits no end and I hope I was able to do likewise.
Tuesday – Due to my leg I had a short but high intensity 15minute Pop Sugar strength training session, then 40minutes of yoga following a session to increase blood flow and then another for the lower back…another part of me I feel needs a little work and TLC due to my sciatic issues.
I spent the day typing up more of my journal notes for my book, it’s really hard going and causing a lot of emotions and thoughts to come forward! Thankfully I was pleasantly interrupted by a call from the Weston Park Cancer Support Centre Manager, who I’d seen after I’d completed my half marathon in Manchester and ahead of her 10K. She ran to raise funds for the hospital and centre and raised just over £1000! So rewarding to have been able to meet her the day I did but also great to spend a bit of time being able to talk properly.
My afternoon spin session went well but I made sure not to push my left leg too much, I was able to fully take part though which felt quite a victory. Walking back across the carpark I had a dull ache at the back of my knee, thankfully eased by my foam roller once home.
Wednesday – I was going to start splitting my longer mid-week run in two as I’ll need to once back at work, however I’ve time to get myself used to that and given how tired I’ve been since treatment ended I decided to just go for one run.
I’m wanting to be as self sufficient as possible during my Ultra and know I need more fluid for that, so I got my other half to dig one of his water bladders out on the Tuesday evening to run with it Wednesday morning. I’d never used one before at all and usually I run with silicone bottles that I’ve pockets in the front of my hydration vest for.
They always say you live and learn and I certainly did – I literally filled it, thankfully walked around the house a few times with it in my vest to get used to the weight – then merrily went and did 14.5K in it. I didn’t think to factor in weight distribution and…well just weight! So the first kilometre was really hard work, I then had to work out how to drink from it around 6K in and was immediately frustrated when I couldn’t get any water out. By 12K I’d more or less gotten used to the weight and how the bladder worked, and by my split times you wouldn’t tell I’d got it on at all for that run….overall I was really pleased but if I’m going to use it in 7 weeks time I need to get used to the weight!
I worked a lot on my art piece during the day, making real headway with it and feeling very proud of how it now looks…ideally I’d like to submit it towards the start of the month but know that may mean I’m actually putting too much pressure on myself.
I spent a lot of the day feeling really low, empty and unfulfilled – painting was a good release as I didn’t know the true deep down reason why I felt low. I never admitted it to anyone until a dear friend had her own moment later on…I wished I’d contacted her sooner in the day. I’d not thought about what my key goal for the day needed to be, not seen the bigger picture – taking the time to be still and creative was all my day needed. I’d made a promise to myself to go out the next day, incorporating my run into it. I decided to stick with that plan so even if I only got as far as parking the car up, I’d feel like I’d achieved a good strong value.
Thursday – It felt good to have a leisurely start. My mood had lifted and I’d slept so much better then I realised I had the Tuesday night to Wednesday morning…potentially all that was wrong the day before was the fact I was so tired!
I had breakfast while listening to it rain and the birds sing, packed both my bag and vest slowly and then set off just after 8am. By the time I parked up in Edensor the sky had cleared and it was a beautiful day. My run was slow, therapeutic and just a bit wonderful…with of course beautiful views as I pootled through Chatsworth Park.
They were setting up the flower show but apart from the background noise of a few drills and hammers the world was just mine, with the odd dog walker and hyper pooch. I changed at the Tea Rooms and had a coffee in the sun then strolled back to the brow of the hill in the Park and watched the world go by for an hour.
Once home it felt nice to just sit, watch a film, rest then pick up my paintbrush again.
Friday – A very special day as it marked a little boy turning five, catching me up in dog years at last.
I did my usual upper body strength training session, feeling a little like my arms were falling off afterwards I found myself a different half an hour yoga video on my Yoga With Adrienne subscription…doing Yoga To Gain Perspective. I felt a deep sense of calm awareness afterwards and really awake.
I drove to Buxton and for the first time I was able to drive there and back AND listen to music…my chemo fogged concentration hasn’t allowed for that before and it felt huge to be able to do it. I’d wandered the Town and popped into the Pump Room to try and capture the light through the stained glass window more, in a hope it may help with finishing my art piece. On the way back to the car I found a hidden garden within the grounds of the Methodist Church, a little oasis of calm tucked amongst the trees and so easy to overlook. It was wonderful to be able to sit and watch the world go by completely unnoticed.
Inspite of the rest after my walking I got out the car drained once home, I felt guilty for the quick wave to my neighbour instead of being able speak a little but my brain felt muddled. It was nice to get indoors and rest.
I completed my painting to the point of needing to re-do the lead work…I plan on a calm day, no distractions and not to much coffee at some point over this weekend, so that my nervous hand can get the lines both in…and straight.
Due to it being the end of the month I sat and filled in my running journal, realising just how much my pace and times are slowly changing…thankfully for the better. Plus I’d got to 496.4miles for the year, May’s mileage being my highest to date at 127miles. Knowing 1st June long run would break the 500mile mark felt like something extra to celebrate.
Saturday – I felt oddly detached from my run when I got up, as if doing 18 miles for the first time hadn’t sunk it…it soon did on what seemed like an endless ascent from Pindale round to the junction just before Tideswell. I was sensible and walked most of the hills in order to conserve energy and be efficient. Once on the Monsal Trail I had the nose for home but by my last gel at 24K I had a dull ache in my hips, my body telling me to slow down…thankfully I listened, mostly in part to having again hit the wall a little at 22K. It’s as if my body knows how to run a half marathon fine, then realises I’m still going and takes 2K to work out what’s happening, then 24K hits and I get a second wind. It will be interesting to see how it responds to 50K in 6 weeks time and if there will be another wall! I arrived in Bakewell a few minutes before Mum, Dad and Stan pulled up with icy bottles of water for my legs, fluid, bananas…and hugs…the best bit. I talked them into leaving me with Stan at the car and stretched as they wandered into Bakewell to shop. Just a few minutes of stretching and I was good to go…infact I realised I could have set off running again if need be…quite a confidence boost! Instead Stan and I strolled the carpark then sat and rested in the shade.
We had a wonderful lunch at Edensor Tea Rooms, Stan enjoying a little cake with us for dessert, before heading home for more tea and chat…and lots of resting.
Sunday – A very lovely lazy start to the day has meant I can catch up on the news a little. Yesterday details were released of a study which has been carried out on the drug – ribociclib. Scientists have found that adding ribociclib, a targeted drug that disrupts cancer cells, to standard hormone therapy was found to boost survival among premenopausal patients who have an advanced form of the disease. Please please do not read the details and think it a cure…it’s not…but it is prolonging lives of those in my age range, at that pre-menopausal stage, who have been diagnosed with life limiting cancer. One thing not mentioned in articles I’ve read is side effects, knowing how brutal cancer treatment can be I’m under no illusion that something to prolong a life won’t come without a degree of cost to that life. However, being able to give someone even just a few more years with their families is pretty priceless.
A wise girl knows her limits…a smart girl knows she has none! – Marilyn Monroe