I'm eight weeks into Fleet Feet's No Boundaries 5K training program. The fact that I haven't given up yet has absolutely astounded me. I am 33 years old, and I have quit many things in my life, but not this. I'm hooked, yo. The tagline for No Boundaries is: Running Changes Everything. You know what? It absolutely does and it has for me.
There have been several days in the program where I just want to say, "Eh, I'm going to take a break, and I'll just do it tomorrow." That's Old Lara talking. New Lara, who's a runner, tells that Old Lara to STFU and go run or cross train. I have yet to quit or take a break, even when my ankle was kind of feeling wonky or I didn't sleep well the night before. I put on my running shoes, and I go running.
Last Saturday, one of my 5K coaches put me on the spot, and asked if I wanted to give a speech in front of the other runners. She actually called me inspirational, which made me go, "Uh, what?"
Fighting that instinct to run in the opposite direction, I got up and told everyone there that I had breast cancer and thyroid cancer, complete with five surgeries in two years, on top of chemotherapy and radiation. I just simply said that instead of being scared of my body, like I have been since I ended active treatment, I'm now feeling proud of and amazed by my body. Don't get me wrong - I'm still pretty scared of my body. The other day, I felt a numbness in my left side and when I felt that sharp pain, I immediately thought, "Oh my god, I have mets in my hip."
Before I began running, I was obsessed with knowing everything about a distant recurrence (i.e. metastatic breast cancer or stage 4). Every ache or pain, and after breast cancer you feel a lot of aches and pains, I kept thinking, "This is it. I have metastatic breast cancer." I told my medical oncologist that I was being a hypochondriac, and his response, "Hypochondria is based on nothing. You actually have something to fear."
Running has made me feel more in control of my body. Right now, this vessel is mine. Cancer doesn't have its dirty mitts on me, and I'm trying to accomplish some feats previously thought impossible. I'm always going to feel that stalking fear of a recurrence, but running has lessened that fear for me. I'm focused on running, weight lifting, stretching and trying to beat my previous run's time. I'm not crying and wondering if the pain I feel in my hip is bone mets.
I wish I had a crystal ball which would tell me whether or not this disease is coming back. Since that won't ever happen, I'm going to keep living a normal, cancer-free (aka NED) life that I can.