The wildest thing has happened, which is that I’m done with active treatment for cancer and I’m already able to do things with my body I kind of feared I wouldn’t be able to do again. The last six months were brutal in so many ways, and also less brutal than I was expecting, but as I emerge on the other side of this round of cancer treatment, I’m getting back to living as I used to live. My sister and I have been talking about those stories of people who survive cancer and then reinvent themselves in amazing ways. We agree those are likely people who didn’t like the lives they had going all that much. Me? I loved the life I was living, and getting parts of it back so quickly is a huge gift. I’ll take that over being a SuperSurvivor any day.
And the best return is the bicycle commute. I think I likely could have done some bike riding throughout treatment–and I did do some, including rides to and from radiation treatments when I didn’t also have to get out to work. The problem was that I couldn’t trust my body in any way whatsoever. There were days–weeks–when I would get out of breath and need to sit for a half hour to recover from walking the laundry down a tiny flight of stairs and hoisting it into the machine. Ride three miles uphill after a workday? Nope, not going to happen.
But now it’s happening again, and it feels amazing. Friday’s ride took me over to Druid Hill Park to check out the work on the new water infrastructure project (dusty), Monday’s to check out a hula dance class at the local move-your-body-in-new-ways-and-see-how-it-feels place (it hurts so good), and Tuesday’s down the hill to check out the cheap gym, up to Mount Vernon to meet a friend for an afternoon beer, and then home again (joined the cheap gym, ate tacos and drank one beer, rode slowly home). These are normal rides, and when I leave to take them, I’m not worried I won’t be able to make it back. I’m in the part of cancer where I get to establish a new relationship of trust with my body, even though its trying to kill me. It is a wondrous place to be.
I snapped this picture on my way home on Tuesday as I waited in the cycletrack at North Avenue. There’s a lot of talk about investing in remodels of markets all over the city–Cross Street, Lexington, Hollins–but I wonder what this market used to be. It was an idle thought until the light turned green, I said my how-you-doins, and huffed and puffed up the rest of the hill (I’m not back to my pre-cancer fitness, that’s for sure!), a right on 27th, and the pleasure of pedaling along flat ground after that steady incline.
My twin sister had surgery for her breast cancer while I was out riding around town. I’m sorry she has to do this, but she’s got this on the other side–a heightened awareness of what a great day it is to be alive. I wouldn’t wish it on anyone, but it is what it is.