Let me start this post by saying the following:
*finish line dance*
Attention ladies and gentlemen, for the first time since my cancer treatments, I not only led my hiking group most of the way, I finished first! It’s a brisk-paced conditioning hike on a narrow, rocky, steep-in-places, rough-terrain trail of a little over 3 miles (5K).
Ok, now you probably need some background to understand the significance of this. Up until I got cancer I was always able to hike quickly over rough terrain and walk forever. Then, of course, surgery and radiation treatments weakened me. As a result of the surgery, I ended up with lymphedema (fluid build up), which swells up painfully when I exert myself to any degree. I was still trying to exercise all through my treatments until my doctor told me I needed to stop until after my radiation treatments were finished. So I did.
After I finished my treatments on April 19, I started exercising again, and shortly after joined the hiking group. I couldn’t keep up. I was in physical pain and very weak. I was unable to walk the 3 miles. So I walked the track in the gym instead, increasing my speed and distance slowly. I returned to the hiking group about 8 weeks or so ago. The first time back, I was able to walk the 3 miles, but much more slowly than the others. I almost didn’t make it. I was still weak, and the medicine I take to keep the cancer from returning left me nauseous most of the time. The lymphedema also swelled painfully. I hiked anyway. Every Tuesday I have hiked, and every week I have gotten stronger, and the lymphedema has gotten easier to manage. I have learned to ignore the nausea. And every week, I trail behind the others and get to the end of the trail last.
Today I was tired and nauseous, but I went hiking anyway. When I got there, something came over me, and I had a super amount of energy. I started off before the others, which I often do so that I don’t end up so behind, but this time I stayed ahead of them (about 10 people). I jogged portions of the trail, I ran up steps carved into the hills, and I stayed ahead, with only 2 people in front of me. The last part of the trail is straight uphill. As we neared the hill, I looked at the two people, assessed the trail, and took off running. I ran past the two people in front of me, straight up the hill to the trail head, and did a little jump to the cheers behind. I smiled in delight and have been smiling all evening.
Victory is sweet!