Am I fine? Am I sick and don’t know it yet? Will Wednesday morning bring my long run or will it bring phone calls to schedule more surgeries, chemotherapy, or radiation? I’ve been in this place before many, many times. For a dozen years, it would occasionally make me a little anxious, but there was never any reason. Everything came back negative every three months, then every six months, then once a year. Then last fall, the routine (to me) MRI that I hadn’t given a second thought revealed a second cancer. Life diverged for a few months. Tomorrow is my first 3-month cancer check since my chemo and radiation ended.. I’m getting a CT scan for the Thymic Carcinoma, blood work to look for breast cancer tumor markers, and I see both my oncologists.
These check-ups aren’t scary to me, but this particular one has my attention. I still feel like I can’t fill my lungs all the way, and my Kili Cough hasn’t gone away. Dr. Shroff in Orlando suggested getting a chest xray to rule out some kind of infection, but I passed on it, since I have had tomorrow’s appointment scheduled for, well, for three months. Not being able to breathe has been a great excuse for me to not keep up with my triathlon training partners, but it is getting a little old. Not to mention, Emmitt Smith and Lucy are weary of hearing me cough. When I told my mom about this symptom, she said she hopes it’s pneumonia. (To be fair, I had told her that a cancer recurrence is always a possibility…. But I think it’s funnier out of context. She probably won’t think it’s funny at all.)
An aside about wellness, or reaching wellness again after cancer treatment. Earlier this month, I was in Orlando taping Growing Bolder’s “Surviving and Thriving” show, which airs on WKMG, Local 6. The show is about people who demolish life obstacles, and make their lives even better on the other side. It’s inspiring and cool. Traffic reporter Jessica Sanchez came in to the studio to tape a segment with me. She recently finished treatment for Non Hodgkin’s Lymphoma and is fighting back to her new normal. It’s a tough fight. She mentioned that she asked her doctor why it was taking her so long to get better when I climbed Mount Kilimanjaro 10 weeks after chemo and radiation. Her doc told her that I’m not normal (!), that healing takes different amounts of time for different people. We sometimes (often) get caught up in how fast we can get back, how much we can tolerate, how we compare with others going through similar experiences.. But that’s all wrong in this situation. There are few more important times in your life when you should FEEL your way. That goes for living through cancer treatment and recovery. Pushing too hard in either will have consequences. You can’t be passive, but you have to be patient. I don’t know how I was able to get my body well enough to climb a mountain so soon after treatment… Maybe my body is used to getting knocked down so it gets back up more quickly? Or maybe Jessica’s doctor is right. Not normal.
Circling back to my tests tomorrow. I am not anticipating bad news, but I will be practical if I have to. I know what adventures and commitments I have in the next few months. If I have to, I will be good at going into action to to reschedule, cancel, or cover whatever I have to. I’ve had a bit of practice doing that. It’s what I do. It’s what lots of us do. I’m the producer/director of my life trajectory. And that trajectory is going to include a 10-mile run on Wednesday morning. I’ll tell you all about it.