I’ve recently been inspired by a stranger. When I began to blog, which is to say when I was diagnosed with breast cancer, I searched Word Press for blogs of others who were going through what I was going through. I started following the blogs of a few women who were undergoing treatment. I’m pretty sure a search on “chemotherapy” led me to Kristina’s blog. Even though she doesn’t have breast cancer I continue to follow her blog because I appreciate her excellent writing and because a lot of the things she writes about strike a chord with me.
Kristina has 5 kids and lives in Washington State, where she gardens, crochets and bakes as she successfully battles non-hodgkins lymphoma into remission. Kristina is also an avid hiker. Not as in trails through a park – as in mountains. While I was recovering from reconstructive surgery, annoyed that the drain was preventing me from doing what I wanted to do, Kristina wrote a few posts about her progress toward her hiking goal of climbing Mount Hamilton. One post in particular spoke to me because 8 miles into one of her training hikes she thought she couldn’t rally up a steep trail but then she did.
After reading Kristina’s post, ten days after surgery, with my drain still in, I decided to hike Clayton Park (without Ralphie, in case he pulled on the leash or ran off if I let him off leash) even if Fletcher didn’t want to go. About a half an hour into my hike I was glad to be in the woods and was mentally singing Kristina’s praises, thinking what an inspiration she was. It was clear then that I could do this hike, even with my drain in, alone if I had to. It was hot but I was feeling good, strong, so I turned onto the perimeter trail, the longest and hardest one, and recalled how I used to run the entire trail.
Well just past the point of no return I realized I’d made a huge mistake. It was hot – really hot. Hello?! What was I thinking – I was recovering from surgery, and still sort of recovering from chemo. I had neuropathy in my toes. I had a tube draining fluid out of me. It was suddenly obvious that I was not Kristina. Damn her, with her writing skills and her stamina! I’d made a dumb mistake. I’d forgotten how hilly the backside is along the ravine, how punishing the roots and rocks are, the time I’d fallen and bloodied my legs and shoulder. My memory flashed back to a Thanksgiving afternoon when I sprained my ankle and had to call Fletcher to rescue me. As darkness descended, our voices volleyed and echoed through the woods as he tried to locate me and piggyback me out. Would I need to be rescued again?
It took me 85 minutes to make my way out of the woods, the scarf on my peach-fuzz-covered head actually dripping with sweat. I don’t know what made me stop and take the world’s most miserable selfie but I did.
When I finally did make my way out, and guzzled down a bottle of water, my perspective shifted back again and I was mentally thanking Kristina for inspiring me to kick my own butt! I felt more like myself than I have for the past 8 months. I did it and felt so strong and happy with myself. You don’t know me but, thank you Kristina!
I’ll continue to read Kristina’s posts. She’s written about how your focus goes to the micro level when you are undergoing treatment. During chemo I was focused not just on one day at a time but one hour at a time or the next 15 minutes. The longer view is gradually coming back –I’m up to a few days at a time now, provided that none of the days have any higher expectation for me than maybe a doctor appointment. She’s dealt with post-treatment anxiety, which I experienced a touch of last week at the mere thought of going back to work between surgery and radiation. She’s written about what I’ve been thinking: Will I be the same person that I was before when all this is done? Will I always be thinking about cancer? Here is a link to her blog if you want to check it out: http://neverlaughatlivedragons.com