Cancer sucks. A venous thrombosis that makes your leg from the groin to the toes blow up like a giant redwood and feel as hard as concrete to the touch sucks. Prior to those two events occurring in one 15-month period back in 2015-16, I had reached a couple of milestones in my life physically and related to my overall health.
500 pushups in one day. Bench-pressing over 300 pounds. And training to run my first half-marathon. Six months prior to the race, I received a diagnosis of thyroid cancer. I heard people offer their sympathies with words like, “If I had to have cancer, I would choose to have thyroid cancer.” I always said thank you. Internally, I was screaming, “No, you wouldn’t! If you had a choice, you wouldn’t have cancer.”
They caught mine early. Which turned out to be fortuitous because the whole gland was riddled with cancerous cells. Fortunately, it had not gone into my lymphatic system or into my blood. Unfortunately, the surgery paralyzed half of my vocal chords. When that happens, you cannot breathe properly while training for a half-marathon. I had the surgery in December and ran the race less than 120 days later…slowly.
I had to wait to get back into weight-training. That made me anxious. Once you get a routine established, it is hard to go against it. So, I got back into it. Eventually. I trained hard. The goal was to bench 400 pounds. Then, as I progressed further into training for my first triathlon, my groin started hurting, and I thought I had strained the muscle. The Saturday before the race, I pulled out. The pain was too much. Sunday morning, the clot broke loose and jammed up in my IVC—which thankfully I suffer from some genetic malformation, and my veins are all messed up, making it too difficult for the clot to get to my heart. As it was, Sunday morning found me being rushed by ambulance right through the race participants with which I had planned to compete. Not win, just finish.
Six months after the blood clot, I ran my second half-marathon. Even more slowly than the first. My training went out the window. I found it difficult to achieve the same level of passion I possessed before the events.
I’m nearing the half-century mark. It is hard to get my drive back at this point. I tried to push myself into it and damaged my left elbow and shoulder. My runs became non-existent. Until three months ago, I hadn’t done a single pushup in over a year. But as they say (who, I’ve never known anyone who actually said it), no time like the present.
For the last two months, I have been walking. And not on flat surfaces either. If you turn right out of our neighborhood, there is this long, steep hill…going down. But if you live on top of the hill, you get to defy physics—what goes down, must come back up. My times are getting better. And after some consultations, I am starting the walk with a minute run. Two weeks later, it will be two minutes. Another two weeks, it will be three minutes. And on, and on.
Additionally, over the last month I have been doing my pushups. I stretch seven times a day. I am going to get back into it. Still need to work on my left elbow and shoulder, and once that is taken care of, back into the gym I go. Ultimately, the goal is once again, 500 pushups, 400 pounds and a FULL marathon!