He caught the Cancer…

It’s crazy to think that it’s been two months since I have published a post. I have written many private posts or drafts, but none have met my mental criteria to be put out there for the world to see. I vowed to myself that today I would put a stop to that.

I suppose this story starts in mid-November. My long-term boyfriend had a surgery to remove some swollen lymph nodes on his neck.

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The nodes would be biopsied, and the doctor assured us that it was most likely a benign type of tumor. Optimism ensued.

On the weekend before his 42nd birthday, we celebrated alone together at the Cheesecake Factory in downtown Seattle. We each had our favorite, the steak diane, with several Blue Moon Ale’s and a lemoncello cream torte for dessert. I remember how he wore his grey beanie instead of a ball-cap. For some reason all of these details stand out to me as if they are important, when they aren’t. I think I have committed them to memory because I clearly remember his smile as the glow of his candle hit his face, right before he blew it out. I remember that moment and thinking that he seemed happy.

The day after his birthday, he met with his doctor to get his biopsy results and was diagnosed with follicular B-cell non-hodgkin’s lymphoma.

I was at work when he told me the news via text. I felt like I was in a time warp while the rest of the world kept on going. It seemed impossible to keep performing day to day tasks while my world was seemingly hanging on by a thread. Memories of my parents came to me over and over again. A bedside commode next to a frail body. Pill bottles covering an entire table. Tar black coffee to be my only meal as I sat in the hospital for an entire afternoon.

I really just wanted to break down, but that seems entirely selfish. Sure, I have my own part in this. I have to play the role of caregiver, once again. I have to helplessly watch my loved ones suffer. I don’t want to be one of those people that makes it about them, though. I am not the one that has to go through chemo.

After his diagnosis, he had to have a PET/CT scan to determine where the Cancer had spread throughout his body. The doctor told us at the time that he probably had stage 1 or 2, and might not even need chemo. Optimism ensued.

Before the scan he had to eat a low-carb diet. I was in HEAVEN because in my efforts to fit into skinny jeans I have researched diets galore and finally had someone to bore to death with my findings. For three days we both ate a Ketogenic diet, and after his scan we enthusiastically ate a full breakfast of biscuits and gravy, fresh fruit and juice from the hospital cafeteria. Hospital food had never tasted so good.

Yesterday he met with his oncologist and was told that he has stage 3A lymphoma. 

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People say to remain optimistic but if you expect the worst you will never be disappointed.

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Okay, it’s not that I expect the worst. I mean, I don’t think we should start picking out caskets or anything. The new diagnosis was simply a slap in the face considering we have been told every step of the way that it was likely a better outcome. It seems like trying to remain optimistic is a jinx.

The next step is a bone marrow biopsy to see if the Cancer has spread there, and if it has he will become a stage 4. The doctor said that she doesn’t think this is the case because he has no symptoms and his blood work is great. I am not going to be fooled into optimism this time, though. Fool me once, shame on you…

I keep wanting to throw a pity party. Every time that I see him tearing up. Every time that I think about going through the Cancer rodeo again. I keep wondering why this is happening again, but I don’t think I will ever have these answers.

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Regardless of this staging I am hopeful about the prognosis. I know in my heart that we have many years left together.

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Making strides.

Twenty-five days ago I quit drinking, and most people told me to start AA meetings or sign up for therapy. I started running instead.

I am not an athletic person whatsoever. I don’t work out and I’ve never trained for anything. Even as a child, I never participated in sports. I couldn’t even tell you how most of them are played. The 3-block walk to the grocery store to pick up potato chips for my Netflix marathon is usually plenty of activity in my book. That said, starting this running regimen has been kind of a big deal for me.

I suppose before I started the C25K program I had a romantic idea in my mind of what I thought running was like. The expectation was that I would leisurely jog down tranquil beaches in cute exercise clothing while sporting killer abs and hardly breaking a sweat, just like the girls in pictures. The reality is that I would drag my 20000lb, heavier-than-stone, aching body through the grass for fear of breaking my shins on the concrete, in the grubbiest clothing that I own because they will be so nasty that I will want to burn them in the fires of Sauron when I’m finished, all while praying nobody noticed my fat jiggling to the tune of “Get your freak on” on my Ipod.


Running is hard.


I know, I know. You’re probably thinking: You fool! You should go to AA. That seems to be the common thought among society. I did try a couple meetings, but sitting in a moldy church basement with a bunch of strangers and listening to someone’s struggle that was brought on from their dead cat simply isn’t therapeutic for me. Don’t get me wrong, I can see why a lot of people like the program. There is that sense of community when everyone greets you, listens to your woes and shakes your hand at the end. You even get coins, and who doesn’t like prizes?!  Well, this loner could do without.

The road is a fairly good listener and I get to tell my tale to the most important audience: myself. On my first run, I noticed right away the amount of positive self-talk involved to get through a session. It sounds really cheesy, but telling myself, “Don’t stop- you can do this!” has done wonders not only for my running but my self confidence.

You can get through this.

This pain is temporary.

You are strong.

These are all things that I think on my runs and I’m now starting to apply those same thoughts when I have other challenges in my life. As a drinker, I was only familiar with negative self talk and sabotaging myself into not doing anything that could result in failure. The mind is a very powerful thing. If you can train your mind to keep going even when your body wants to quit, you can achieve some incredible things.

I’m not sure how long I will have to train before I can consider myself a “real” runner. Right now, I am on week 4 of the C25K program and I find it quite challenging. Sometimes in the middle of a jog interval I have asked myself, “Is this really jogging or am I just hop-walking?” but finishing is all that matters so I keep going. I never regret a run. Even if my energy sucked and I come home feeling like I totally sucked, at least I tried.

The saying goes that you have to get through hell to reach heaven. Like all things worth pursuing, you are going to get knocked down, stepped on, and rejected along the way.  Maybe this is part of the journey to get to my goals. Sometimes it’s more about the journey than the destination, anyway.

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Obligatory photo of my running shoes and heart rate monitor.