the time i went cancer-crazy

So this morning I woke up bright and early because there was the sun shining through our dark curtains at 6 am. I proceeded to go a little nuts. I did a lot of laundry and a lot of annoying things on my to-do list. And then a call for people to run the New York City Marathon for Stupid Cancer floated across my desk. So I signed up. And paid the fee.

Umm. I don’t like to run. I’m bad at it. I’m slow. But I was resolute. I would start running, today, and I would run the NYC Marathon on November 2nd, exactly 367 days after my initial diagnosis. I was shedding the non-runner skin. I’d just do it till I liked it. I paid the fee: the $200 fee. I made my profile to fund-raise for StupidCancer. I was going to become a runner and I was thrilled with myself. I planned a kick-ass class for tomorrow and finished up my dissertation program and threw away an entire grocery bag full of cancer pamphlets about chemotherapy that I no longer need. I made Sammy a Sunday breakfast and cleared my desk space and decided I’d start running. Today. Because while November is at the end of the year and so seems far away, I realized with a start that its already the end of May, leaving me with five months that will be pockmarked with more minor surgeries to prepare for a marathon. My saving grace was not posting the fundraising page to FaceBook. Yet.

This afternoon I pulled a back-close sports bra on over my bandage and marveled at my ability to twist my arms around my back to close the clasp. This is the level we are working on: this was the first time I’d been able to twist my left arm behind me like that, until this morning, I’ve been pulling little camisoles up over my hips. The sports bra was a little tight on my fake boob and wound, but I was so excited I just loosened the strap as much as possible and ignored it. And off I went. I walked over to a dirt path in a nearby park and I started jogging oh so very lightly. Like I probably could have walked faster, but I wanted to be running. I had to work really hard to keep my torso still to avoid to much torso bouncing. Despite the fact that my left boob has no jiggle to it, which seems like would be perfect for running, the movement of the torso while running is kind of uncomfortable when you have a total of four healing wounds ranging in length from a centimeter to four or five inches in the chest area. So, you have to run very slowly and very carefully, such not to disturb any of the boobage or its related scars, when you are trying to start training for a marathon twelve days after your mastectomy. There is a small possibility I am not being realistic.

I think I went cancer-crazy. I think it must be the residual chemo. Halfway through the “run” it was apparent my marathon delusions are… delusions. I don’t do pain well, and literally, I could walk faster than today’s “jog.” Sometimes I have to learn this way. Sometimes I have to learn its not time to run yet because when I’ve run barely a mile my sports bra has to be unsnapped to release the pressure on the rock-solid boob. Sometimes I just cannot heed the words of the people around me trying to warn me.

It’s weird, because I cannot feel the rock-solid boob even a little, but I could definitely feel the pressure mounting, and it was too much this afternoon. And running with an unsnapped sports bra is totally nonfunctional, mostly because it means one boob is left to be a free agent next to the rock-solid boob imposter on the left side. I could feel the pulsing pressure starting. Various people will probably kill me if I mess up all those good-nipple vibes by giving myself an infection because I want to do something, anything with my body, so I turned home, defeated. The mastectomy won, the desire to keep the nipple healthy won, the want for a carefree summer is bigger than the immediate want of intensive exersize. I started scheming about how to play the cancer card to get back the non-refundable race fee. Maybe it’s not for me, after all. I think I’ll give it a week, see how the running goes. And then decide. If it is for me, I’ll follow the running plan, join a group. If not, something else will come along to help mark time to celebrate adventure. My cancer-buddy who is having the exact same surgery I had Monday thinks I can do it… and maybe I can convince her to do it with me. Who knows. We can be the “just finished cancer babes.”

Maybe I should get a daisy, and pick the petals off one by one- “the NYC marathon loves me, the NYC marathon does not, the NYC marathon loves me, the NYC marathon does not…” Because in the end it is about love, isn’t it? It’s about the kind of love my body can get from training like that, from accomplishing such a feat. But even I know it’s got to be big, squishy, healthy love. Painful love from the marathon isn’t really love, and love in the form of training that results in more nipple bruising just isn’t worth it. And so, we will see…. I’m gonna sleep on it.

…the NYC marathon loves me, the NYC marathon does not, the NYC marathon loves me, the NYC marathon does not….






2 thoughts on “the time i went cancer-crazy

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