“You’ve got this” he says as he pulls himself up off the yoga mat on the floor. I try my best to wipe the look of shock and doubt off my face. He nods, smiles at me and repeats, “you’ve got this”. Slowly I lower myself to the mat and attempt to repeat the movements that he has made look so easy.
I started this cancer journey four months after having my second child. I had a busy life trying to keep up with a new baby and a very active and engaged two year old. I wouldn’t say that I was at my physical best, but I had a lot faith and trust in my body and what I could accomplish. To say that cancer has challenged that faith is an understatement. I have gone from someone who was fairly active, to someone who spends a great deal of time in bed. There are even points in my treatment cycle that I am afraid to carry my daughter up the stairs in fear of dropping her. Physically I am the weakest I have ever been and the fattest. Currently I weigh the same amount I did nine months pregnant. This is very hard fact for me to face up to.
A month ago I questioned my oncologist about my weight gain. He kindly looked at me and said, “It’s my fault. The combination of chemotherapy, steroids and spending days in bed are causing it.” Although my cancer treatment is partially to blame, I bare some responsibility in my situation. I’ve been afraid to challenge myself physically. I no longer lift anything slightly heavy, I tend to slow down when I get out of breath or when my muscles feel tired. Something deep inside of me is terrified of what I’ll be confronted with if I push myself. What if I make myself sick, what if I can’t do it, what if I die?
I have a good relationship with my oncologist. I trust him completely with my life. He seems to understand me and knows when to give me permission when I’m afraid. He does it in a gentle joking way. He leads me to a decision in such a way that I feel like I’m a driver not a passenger. “You can always run a marathon” he tells me with a mischievous sparkle in his eye. “Isn’t there one in Toronto next month.” I laugh and tell him sarcastically that I will start training right away. With one fellow swoop my oncologist has given me the confidence to push myself physically.
A couple weeks ago at breakfast Ian turns to me and states, “There is a gym near my office that I’ve set up a tour at. It’s very family friendly and even has daycare”. Two weeks later I find myself on a yoga mat with a personal trainer after having spent the last hour with him accomplishing things I never thought possible after my diagnosis. I walk away from each workout stiff, out of breath and happy with the knowledge that with time I will be able to build some sort of trust in what I can accomplish. The fear is being slowly eroded away and I’m left feeling more alive then I have felt in a long time. Somehow in this horrible situation I’m in, I’m starting to feel like anything is possible.