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Don't Just Sit There

In “The Beauty of Dusk,” New York Times columnist Frank Bruni writes about losing his vision but gaining insights after a stroke left him blind in one eye and unsure if he would go blind in the other. Though blindness and blood cancer don’t have much in common, his words are likely to ring true for anyone facing a health challenge.

“When they happen (the hard times), you’re tested, and you can either determine that as long as you’re alive, you have to keep moving,” Bruni writes. “Or you can be thrown by how much less easily you move that you go nowhere at all.”

Reasons to keep moving

I thought about these two different paths recently when it was time to register (or not) for a charity 5K run that I’ve done for four years. The Hot Chocolate Run for Safe Passage raises money for an organization that combats domestic abuse.

It’s a serious cause, but people have fun supporting it. They dress up in crazy outfits and hats. A marching band plays as you round a big corner. Runners push strollers. Upon finishing, you get a mug designed by syndicated cartoonist Hillary (“Rhymes with Orange”) Price. Each year, it’s a different scene of polar bears and penguins enjoying winter sports. You get hot chocolate and a variety of fun food at the end.

Don't want to keep moving

I was in Sulk Mode. That’s because I was so diminished by a year-long bout with shingles that I had stopped running. It reminded me of my struggles after blood cancer treatment. I could walk two miles or volunteer at the race, but Ms. Sulky’s voice said, “Nope. A runner who can’t run is NOT going to go to a race.” I forgot about the main purpose of the event, which is to raise money for the organization’s important work.

“It will be fun!” my friend Amy said when I told her I was on the fence. One year, it started to pour. Amy and I had come with a team but ended up running it together. We put on the blue ponchos they gave us and trotted through the rain. We talked. We laughed. It rained so hard I was afraid that my contact lenses might pop out. But we finished.

Less energy after cancer treatment

After cancer treatment, it’s normal to have less get-up-and-go than before. A little more I-don’t-feel-up-to-it. A bit of you-go-ahead or maybe-next-year. I know I feel better when I break out and do the thing. But it’s sure not easy.

I told Amy I would do the walk.

Back home, when walking the dog (black Labrador puppy Gracie), I picked up the pace. I started to think I could do the Fun Run. It’s the same distance ¬ 5K, or 3.1 miles –– as the serious run … except for it not being serious. Nobody cared about your time. In the old days, I cared a lot about my time. I am working on letting that go.

Working with the body that I hane

Meanwhile, I was taking a “better balance” class at the local YMCA. As I was leaving the class where we practiced exercises such as standing on one leg at a time, I mentioned to the teacher that I was sad about how much slower I was than before. At that point, I was in Sulk Mode. I said that if I couldn’t run, I didn’t want to go.

“You have to deal with the body you have now,” she said.

“Hmmmm,” I thought. “After surviving four stem cell transplants, am I going to let shingles get me down?”

As I sometimes said to my kids, when they were little and asking for stuff they couldn’t have, No and no, no, no no!

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This article represents the opinions, thoughts, and experiences of the author; none of this content has been paid for by any advertiser. The Blood-Cancer.com team does not recommend or endorse any products or treatments discussed herein. Learn more about how we maintain editorial integrity here.

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