Pacing the Tiger’s Cage

My legs want to move, my brain says it’s time to do something, but my incision and internal organs say, heck no, all we want to do is lay around on the couch. Grrrr.

I definitely overdid things on Thursday after getting good news from the doctor. The staples came out, we found out the cancer had not spread to the lymph nodes or internal organs, and I thought I was all that. Okay, I still had cancer, and a rare form at that, but death wasn’t knocking on my front door. Heck, he wasn’t even in the neighborhood!

So what did I do? I had lunch with my sister, my son, and his girlfriend. I went to Half Price Books, walked around the store, and bought knitting books (full disclosure: I did have to text everyone and tell them to come find me under the Arts and Crafts sign, sitting in a cushy, padded, wingback chair, probably fast asleep by the time they got there). I met my running group for drinks. I had a late dinner with some of them. I had brunch the next morning with my closest friends.

Beer at Fuzzy's Tacos

Some of the WRRC when they’re not running.

I had a blast. Seeing friends and family has kept me sane throughout this entire experience. But yesterday I was exhausted. My incision hurt and it was uncomfortable to walk. Today is the same. Setback. I was doing so well. A rock star. Now I’m just restless and impatient.

I haven’t had a really bad day since this all began. I haven’t had a meltdown about having cancer. I haven’t gotten angry and shook my fists at the gods screaming, “WHY ME???” I’ve been surprisingly accepting and realistic about the whole thing.

Cancer can happen to anyone.

I’m reading the Gilda Radner bookย It’s Always Something about her battle with ovarian cancer. It’s a great book, but shocking that it took almost a year before she was diagnosed. Things are better now, almost 30 years later, especially as far as treatment, but I can’t help but be saddened that there is still NO screening for ovarian cancer.

Dr K told me that being diagnosed as stage 2 is very rare. She only has ONE other patient who is a stage 2. The majority of her patients are either stage 1, when the cancer was caught early either accidentally or because of torsion (twisting) and pain, or the more advanced stages 3 and 4. To me, that’s shocking.

The torsion, rupturing, ย and pain I experienced were the best things that could have happened to me. They literally saved my life. On the flip side, I have a rare form of ovarian cancer, and I fear that the doctors won’t know exactly which drugs to treat it with during chemo to send it into remission. I will get more information the next time I go to the doctor, but it scares me.

A good run would do me a world of good, but that’s out of the question. In the meantime, I’ll keep pacing the tiger’s cage, back and forth, over and over, until I can one day break free and return to my “normal” life once again.

Photo courtesy of: Dcoetzee (Own work) [CC0], via Wikimedia Commons

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37 comments

  1. Thomas

    *tsk tsk tsk. You gotta give yourself time to recover. Out of curiosity, do they give you a set of exercises to do for your recovery period? I was wondering considering how hard the surgery was on you, if they did something like that.

    • Mind Margins/Run Nature

      No, they just told me the more active I am the faster I will heal. They know I’m a runner, and were adamant about not running before I was healed enough (and believe me, I have no desire to run at the moment) but they did say walking was the best exercise post-surgery. They had me up and walking the day after surgery. I did some very easy yoga yesterday for the first time since surgery and it helped a lot. Resting so much has taken a toll on my back.

  2. Beverly

    Saw your blog on the NOCC site and read about your journey so far. Keep the faith…it does get better. At 52, I was diagnosed in February, 2012. Like you, I was/am very active and I think that actually helped me recover faster. I had the surgery to remove a grapefruit size tumor. I have a zipper belly but my scar looks amazing now. lol Fortunately, I was stage 1A. All my pathology came back clear. I had the chemo, too. I can totally identify with your comments about being surprisingly accepting and realistic. I didn’t lose it or have any ‘why me’ moments. I figured ‘why not me’. Nothing special about me to protect me from this dreadful disease. You are right, too, in that it is a gift in a way. The support and love that I received still overwelms me. I wonder how I will ever repay such an outpouring of love. We are blessed. I love your positive attitude and look forward to reading more. Bad diagnosis–excellent prognosis. You go!!!!

    • Mind Margins/Run Nature

      Thanks so much for reaching out, Beverly. It’s so nice to hear from someone who’s been through almost exactly the same thing I’m going through. You are so right about ever repaying all the love and support I am receiving from my family and friends. I am so happy hearing how well you are doing. I have been accepting of my diagnosis, though I did have a rough weekend recently when I felt impatient, restless, and quite frankly, just plain tired of having cancer. It passed, though I’m sure there will be other days. Thanks for reading!

  3. therunningtherapist

    You will get there! Let you body heal because as you said in an earlier post, it will be a battle still! Try some stretching or some things that make you feel active and remember set backs are normal. You’re doing great.

    • Mind Margins/Run Nature

      I did some very easy yoga yesterday and today and it felt amazing to be doing something again. We also had a little cold front (low 90’s and low humidity) blow in, so I took a nice walk this evening. Thanks for your support!

  4. Our Life In 3D

    It does seem contrary but it can happen to anybody. You do and live a healthy living to side step thing like this. Like the old saying, I know I’m strong I am just tired of proving it over and over again. ๐Ÿ™‚ Great pics! Looks like you had a great time!

  5. MikeW

    Good to hear you talking this way! That said, I concur with the R&R you have earned. Heck, doing ultra’s even if you’d never undergone this particular physical endurance event, you’d have still earned R&R points.

    Suggestion: get your inspirational music on Pandora, plug it in, find your most comfortable seated position with some ability to adjust, even lying down…

    And totally visualize yourself in the following intervals:

    1. Lacing up, suiting up, and padding-out a running rhythm in any location you wish in the world. Close your eyes and hear your breathing, heartbeat, the breeze, smell the ionized air after a storm, or in melting snow; see the tree leaves refreshing themselves in the wind, shading your path, passing through them; brooks and streams bubbling as you lightly clear them, with perfect form…

    and alternately…

    2. Mentally entering into your body systems, imagining and willing your immune function to detect and respond to everything that should not be hanging around in your body, and for your healthy cells to draw up defenses in just the right measure to make your healing the most efficient, the most effective, and for the greatest purposes you can imagine yourself dedicated to on this side of existence.

    Movement…clarity…healing…purpose…mental, imaginative future running in the present…how is that possible?

    Spiritual too. Let us know, if you want, where you found yourself running! How with each stride, something else came to mind…maybe it will make your training journal, or, maybe a book, or, maybe it stays with you and yours. It’s all good.

    • Mind Margins/Run Nature

      Thanks, Mike. I saw the chemo room today and I will have a bed, a recliner, a TV, DVR, we can bring in food, and pretty much do what we want while we’re there. I will certainly keep all your suggestions to heart. I plan on doing a lot of visualizing, sleeping, writing, reading, and maybe even some knitting during chemo. This is all uncharted territory for me, so I don’t really know what to expect, but you know I’ll share everything I learn! ๐Ÿ™‚

      • MikeW

        I look forward to reading all you have to write. I like that thing about bringing in your own food. During chemo, a number of friends and family in times past have said red hots or Lemonheads help during chemo..with people wearing Wonder Woman defecting bracelets and Lemonheads, you will prevail!

  6. monica

    i thought some of the best advice my husband got post-surgery was – listen to your body and understand what it is saying. it sounds like you are. I remember the set-backs my husband had after his brain surgery. it was a crazy game of – I feel good let me do everything – followed by – I feel like $hit now that I did all that – to – I can’t do anything – to – I feel great let me do everything and on and on and on. that lasted about six months before he could really listen to his body and understand what his body was telling him! one of the hardest parts of his recovery was learning to rest when he needed it and learning the new patterns of rest that he needed. i’m so happy to see you are up and about and that you are ready to face the challenges! yay you!

    • Mind Margins/Run Nature

      That sounds very familiar. I’m getting better at listening to my body and being more patient with myself. I can’t rush my recovery, I can’t make the incision heal any faster just because I want it to, and I can’t keep myself from falling asleep as long as I’m on pain meds! What would the family laugh about if I wasn’t snoring on the couch with my mouth hanging open??? ๐Ÿ™‚

      Thanks for all your great advice, Monica, and thanks for all the support! AND CAN I BORROW YOUR AWESOME BLUE WIG??? I may need it soon!

      • monica

        hahaha! YES! y’know the bloggess wildly famous “red dress?” we could start a “blue wig!” I actually have them in several colors. ๐Ÿ˜‰ you know how much I love Halloween, and they do come in handy. ๐Ÿ˜‰

  7. kruzmeister

    You will get to break free soon enough, and just think how sweet that will be, in the meantime, take it easy, consider this a recovery phase after a big marathon! ๐Ÿ˜‰

  8. melissabluefineart

    I can see how you’d feel like that beautiful, but caged, tiger. Being a runner sidelined for the moment must be driving you nuts!
    I know they are making amazing discoveries all the time with cancer. I guess now all that tiger energy must be directed inward, to healing and to courage.

  9. Irish Katie

    Acckk on over doing. That is soooo easy to do isn’t it? Especially when you are fit and used to doing a lot. I soooooo want to go on some long bike rides…but grrrss….I cannot at the moment. (On Monday I went in to work. BAD MOVE! I felt suddenly like hell, came home and laid curled all day. I am thinking the anti nausea pills work TOO good because I felt super good on Sunday. Sheesh. I am logging things so I can map what happens for the next treatment.)

    Staging … *raises my hand on the stage 2 thing* …though I believe I already mentioned that to you. I was told the same thing…that MOST are diagnosed in 3 or 4. Though…I was not far from that I believe. The silent … *shrugs* … does not want to go there.

    Oh, I almost forgot about that Gilda Radner book you mentioned to me. I think I will order it for my Kindle nod nods.

    Heyyyy, when we have BOTH whupped this thing, we should look into doing a Relay Tri …I wonder if they have some kind of cross-national event…that would be so cool. I’d take the swim leg and/or biking leg. I’ll give you the running one!

    • Mind Margins/Run Nature

      Deal, Katie! Let’s make it happen. I’m definitely up for that. You can’t get the Gilda Radner book on Kindle, only in book form. It’s pretty cheap, though. I bet you could get it from your library, too. I picked up my anti-nausea meds today from the drugstore. I worry about nausea the most since I seem to be susceptible to that. You need to take care of yourself as well. Stay away from work until you’re ready, young lady! Logging your reaction to treatment and meds is a very good idea. Hang in there!

  10. Frank

    Great that you had a wonderful day that included time with friends. Pacing is good, but on the other hand, don’t challenge time.

  11. iRuniBreathe

    Stick with what you know, but also know that your mind is both your biggest enemy and your strongest asset. Be the Tiger — know when it’s time to fight and when it’s time to rest. Hang in there Sweetie!

  12. joannevalentinesimson

    Actually, Angela, your cancer is gone. They got the tumor and there was no evidence of metastases in any lymph nodes or adjacent organs. So the treatment will simply be to try to mop up any single, “out-of-control” remnant cells that might have broken free and could be floating around in your blood stream. That means your recovery probability is very high. Just be careful of your lungs, because some of these “mop-up” drugs can cause serious lung damage (in some individuals). If you have trouble breathing, let the docs know immediately.

  13. WordsFallFromMyEyes

    I am truly glad for your good news. Yes, cancer can happen to anyone. I wonder if it is happening more nowadays? I don’t know, have no idea, but it just seems to be everywhere. It’s horrific.

    I wish you health this year, though, continued well – happy new year ๐Ÿ™‚

    • Mind Margins

      I have wondered the same thing, or is it simply there are more people around than there was in the past? I do know the death rate has remained about the same. It also seems as if more younger women in their 20’s and 30’s are getting cancer than before. I’ll have to ask my doctor.

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