Cancer, Running and the Gift of Friendships

I have been toying with running a race this fall. I am still trying to determine what distance I am capable of training for and completing. I will likely either attempt a 50k or a 50 mile. My preference would be the 50 mile because I love that distance. However, I just do not know if I am capable of getting adequate training for a 50 miler between now and race day. This week, I did two medium distance runs a few days apart. I ran a flat 16 miler alone one day, and then a hilly 15 miler in cheyenne canon with my husband four days later.

I am not concerned with my running pace right now. I am just allowing how I feel to dictate my pace. The only time I break out my Garmin is if I am just interested in figuring out how far I have run. The heat continues to be a real issue for me. I am hoping that I will adapt with time. Monday was particularly warm, but I managed to log 16 miles.

On Tuesday, I ran four miles with Phil, who is coming back from an injury. Even though he has taken six weeks off from running, I still feel like he could potentially leave me in the dust. That evening, my husband and I went sans children to Jack Quinn’s running club.  It was almost like a real date! We ran the 5k and hung out in the pub for a bit, chatting with other runners.

On Wednesday, I met up with Kathy and Clancy for a ten mile run and conversation. On Thursday, I suffered in a way I had not all week. I guess my exuberance was starting to catch up on me. I cut the run a little short, and added some walking breaks in because I knew I had a more ambitious outing planned for the next day.

On Friday,  Steve and I headed off to some of my favorite trails in Cheyenne Canon. I had originally figured we would run 10-14 miles. I surprised myself in that I felt better than I thought I would and I did not have to hike as much as I had anticipated. We knocked out 15 miles Friday morning. My legs got pretty tired on the downhill on our way back to the car, because my hill running has been very limited for months now. I have really missed these views and am so happy to be physically able to make it back here.

Saturday morning, my husband and I ran together again. Friday’s adventures had caught up with me, so I did a fair share of walking. By Sunday morning, I had recovered enough to not have to walk at all during my ten mile run with Vanessa.

The pattern, if it is not already obvious, is that I seem to have energy just about every other day. I am thinking that this likely will mean I end up signing up for the 50k instead of the 50 mile. I think I will be able to get in some progressively longer runs as long as I allow myself time to rest and recover. I do not know if I will have the physical energy to do back to back longer runs that I deem personally necessary to run a decent 50 mile race. I still have a little time left before I have to make a decision, but I feel like my body is making it for me right now.

One issue I dealt with over the last couple of months of chemo that continues to give me problems is mouth sores. Prior to chemo, I never had problems with these painful sores. Towards the end of my treatment, I started developing them. This week I had another bunch crop up. Eating, drinking and even talking have been extremely painful all week. I hope the sores subside and do not come back beyond the fact that they hurt like hell, I really hate missing meals.

In non-running news for the week, I got to have a “girls night” with Riley on Thursday.

Since it was just us that night, we had intended to watch a movie and go to bed early. Instead, we ended up staying up late talking. I feel so fortunate that we have the kind of relationship where we enjoy discussions about meaningful concepts (love, marriage, relationships, as well as illness, death, God). It is far better to lose out on a little sleep and be present in those moments when they come. I hope I am always able to be here for my daughters. I am pretty sure when my girls are grown and gone, I will always remember and hold dear the conversations we have shared.

I have long had a network of close running friends. Somehow, my cancer diagnosis seems to have widened that circle of friends. I continue to be humbled by the love and openness of the friends I have known for many years, and by the new friends I have made over the last several months. I have wondered at times why anyone would want to start a friendship with me while I am dealing with something so time and energy consuming. I have worried that my “baggage” would frighten people off. Yet it has not. Instead, I have forged several new and wonderful friendships over these last few months. Maybe it’s because I feel that my experience has helped me to cut through formalities. I don’t want to waste time on superficial discussions or meaningless pursuits. Or maybe it is the realization that my time is not infinite. I feel the need to fill my life and my heart with good people. Or maybe my experiences have just helped open my heart more, and to make me seek out kind and giving people. Whatever it is, I am glad my circumstances have deepened older friendships and brought the gift of new ones.

I started my blog months ago in large part because when I went looking for other pancreatic cancer survivors, there was not a whole lot that I could find that had a positive outcome. I started writing and sharing my story because I wanted to find a way to connect with other people in my situation or in a similar situation. I was hoping that somewhere down the line, my story would give hope and comfort to another person facing challenging life circumstances. Since I have started writing, I have been contacted by several people who have been newly diagnosed with cancer. Some have been fellow pancreatic cancer patients. Others have had other forms of cancer. The common theme is that people want to connect with others who understand the fear that comes with being diagnosed with cancer and the uncertainty of what the future might bring. I feel privileged that so many people have chosen to contact me and share their stories with me. Please keep connecting with me and honoring me with your stories. I have enjoyed being inspired by every person who has chosen to share their struggles and challenges with me.

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