Yesterday I had a couple recovery milestones worth writing about.
- I had a “survivorship” appointment with oncology, and all my tests confirm I’m pretty much back to normal (in my case, I suppose abnormal is the correct word but we’re talking physically, here, not mentally) other than fatigue/stamina. So other than seeing my oncologist every 4 months or so and an annual mammogram (GET YOUR MAMMOGRAMS PEOPLE), I’m done. Yay to that.
- I also got the go-ahead and thorough encouragement from Oncology to go back to kickboxing. We had a long talk about weighing the risks of covid against the risks of me being overweight and having no stamina or energy: losing weight and getting regular weight-bearing activity are two main post-cancer preventative measures, so they said be as safe as possible but go ahead and get back into things. I went back to class last night. And this is where today’s blog post begins.
I was diagnosed about a month after I started training last fall. I suppose I could’ve kept going until surgery, but honestly last October and November I was a fucking mess and couldn’t get myself to the gym. After surgery I wasn’t allowed, and then chemo started and it’s somewhat ill advised to punch things while you have a port in your chest, regardless of the rest of the side effects. Something about jostling the direct line into your central vein being a bad idea. Anyway, I ended up texting the lead instructor and we put my account on hold so I had time to decide after treatment if I was coming back.
When I got the ok from Hot Surgeon to finally go back, I texted the same teacher, Ben, with “this is (me), I’m on hold and I got the go ahead to come back. Are you still the right person to ask or did I just accidentally text a stranger in which case I’m NOT a weirdo, I promise?”
Ben responded by asking me how treatment went and he’s so glad I can come back. That threw me a little: I had ZERO expectation of anyone at that gym remembering me at all (I’d only gone four or five times), much less that I was out with cancer. Maybe I was in Ben’s phone as “cancer girl”, who knows? Anyway, I told him my stamina is absolute shit and I’m not comfy yet with the idea of MMA because 1) I’d be screwing up someone else’s training if I have to take breaks and 2) covid distancing is a thing.
So he suggested I go back to kickboxing and make a goal to last 15 minutes.
Kickboxing is an hour.
I felt nauseous-nervous going in the building last night. I REALLY hate humiliation. That’s partly why I wrote in so much detail about the indignities of cancer and treatment: I fucking HATED them for the embarrassment factor as much as dealing with them, and writing is therapeutic. Right or wrong, I anticipated being embarrassed at not keeping up with the class, and really worried MY inability to finish would screw up someone else’s workout. I mean, we pay to be there: it’s RUDE to hose someone else’s class. But my instructor, Henry, is awesome and said stick it out and just take breaks whenever I need to. Even if I do only make it 15 minutes.
As an aside: if you’ve only been to tae-bo type classes at the Y, this is somewhat different. We each have our own heavy bag (the sort on a stand full of water or sand for stability), we’re easily 6′ apart, and there’s no sparring. The workout is essentially 2-3 minutes of a combination on one side (ie right jab/cross/reset) then a minute of push ups, or sit ups, or plank, or something, then 2-3 minutes of the same combination on the other side, then a minute of something else, then 2-3 minutes of a different combination, etc.
So…the first kicking “combo” was a simple front kick/reset, “THIS IS SPARTA” style. Take the moment if you haven’t watched 300 and see what I’m saying, because this will be a useful image in a minute.
Many heavy bags were kicked over, repeatedly, including mine. We were about 10 minutes into class. (Please note, this is physics as much as power, so while it sounds impressive it’s not hard when you get enough force and height involved. The 10 year old in class kicked his heavy bag over more often than I did mine).
So I was slower and far less powered for my combinations after the first 10 minutes. I took breaks, or skipped an element of a combination here and there, or hung onto the bag and just breathed some. One of the last combinations was front kick/jab/cross.
Compared to the first front kick of the hour, this time my “this is sparta” was whispered with a soft pat on the Persian dude’s cheek.
But I fucking finished that hour long class without quitting or passing out. And in my head, every time I connected with the bag I said “fuck you cancer”. But only in my head, because again, not hosing anyone else’s class (and there were a couple kids in there).
Henry, the instructor, asked how I felt: shocked and proud.
And I cried all the way home because I’m really done and working on whatever this life will be AC.