Time marches on, and some fabulous friends who have become runners

I have completed cycle #5, treatment number 15 of chemotherapy. I am really happy about that. My official end of treatment date is June 16, 2014. I have three treatments left following an off week this week.

I continue to run, or run/walk. On Monday, Steve and I ran before treatment. We have taken a picture every week except once when we were running behind schedule and we forgot. I used to be one of those women who hid from the camera, but now I want pictures. I want to preserve the memories both for myself and for my family. I hope my female friends are paying attention when I tell them to take pictures of themselves or have others take them. Years from now, your family won’t care if you had on make up or nice clothing. They will appreciate that you left them with proof of your existence. You don’t have to be perfect. Just show who you really are. Some day, your kids will be thankful you did.

We took a pathetic and ridiculous selfie at chemo to send to our teenaged daughter. I kept it because it makes me smile.

I had minimal nausea this week, which was wonderful. I ran or ran/walked every day again this week. Most of the week, however, I was experiencing widespread muscle and joint pain. On Thursday, I was hurting so badly that I only left the house when It was really necessary. Somehow we made it through the week. I am looking forward to not having chemo this week, although a part of me wishes I could just knock out the final treatments NOW and be done with it.

This was graduation week for schools in our district. The weekend was filled with parties, all of which were a lot of fun. I cannot help but feel a bit of melancholy as I look at my own kids. When they were little, I had moments where I thought they were going to be little and dependent forever. Now, time is moving way too quickly. My older daughter is finishing up her sophomore year and I know her graduation will be here before we know it. Somewhere along the way, my teenaged daughter because more than just a daughter to me. She also became my friend. I know parents are not “supposed” to be friends with their kids. I think that transition comes along at different points in every parent-child relationship. For ours, I believe it really came about this year. My daughter has always had a good head on her shoulders, but this year has changed us all dramatically. We appreciate each other more. I enjoy her company because she is introspective, intelligent, and thoughtful. I know when the day comes, I will celebrate her graduation and be excited and happy for her. But I am dreading the day she leaves home. For now, I will hang on to the chance I get every morning and every night to say, “I love you”. I will hold close the conversations we have when driving somewhere together, or over breakfast. When she was five, she used to tell me that she and her future husband would live with me forever. I know that time has passed, but I hope she always stays close to me.

I have to mention some special runners this week. A while back, my friend Susan lost 50 pounds. She and another friend, Kathy, decided to start a “couch to 5k” program. Susan lives on the west coast and Kathy on the east coast. Throughout their weeks of training, we all exchanged emails. I looked forward to hearing about their progress and I tried to help provide some guidance when problems arose. I am so proud to report that both of these terrific and tenacious women completed their respective programs. This past weekend, Susan ran her first official 5k race, wearing the “team Tonia” pancreatic cancer awareness shirt that is currently traveling around the country for runners to wear during races. Ironically, Tim, who created and wore the shirt at the Boston marathon, just happened to be running the marathon that accompanied Susan’s 5k. They were able to meet and snap a picture together after Tim finished his race. 

My friend, Lynn, was one of my closest friends growing up in upstate NY. We lost touch for many years, and found each other through the magic of the Internet. Lynn lives on the west coast these days. She has had her own serious battles with health issues. We have talked many times about how discouraging life can become when you do not feel well long term. Lynn joined a running group in her area and has now completed several races up to and including the half marathon distance. This weekend she ran her first trail race. She was successful, and had a great time despite falling and scraping up her shoulder and chin pretty badly. I am proud of her because she has faced significant challenges and obstacles, and yet she still maintains a positive attitude. Now, she sees herself as a real runner and that is pretty darned cool!

I am proud of these three ladies. They have all overcome challenges of their own. This has not been an easy journey for any of them, but they have made a commitment to their own physical and emotional well being through sticking to an exercise/running program. Their determination shows that it is never too late in life to become a runner. I am glad to know that our communications via Facebook, email and/or phone calls has helped them tough it out over the last few months. Once again, the supportive nature of runners and the running community makes me proud. I love how my running friends, some of whom have never met, are able to cheer each other on and celebrate one another’s success.

Now onward to the last few days of school and my last few weeks of chemotherapy.

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