Tuesday, July 20, 2010

Tri for Life

This summer has been suspenseful, to say the least. The possibility of recurrence is never far from mind, but in the absence of any evidence of cancer, I’ve been free to enjoy long summer days with abandon. When you’re braced for the worst, and the worst doesn’t happen, a person can experience an amazing lightness of spirit. It’s been almost five months since the last of three surgeries in January/February. That’s a nice, long run. It’s given me time to spend with people I care about, and to get places I’ve long wanted to visit. I feel blessed to have been given this reprieve.

Exercise is one of my default activities when there isn’t serious work to be done. Running is easy for me, and I enjoy it way out of proportion to its purported health benefits. I’m fit enough to have registered for my first “sprint” triathlon on Aug. 21. That comes a week after Nick and I will have completed a 41-mile circuit around Mt. Hood on the Timberline Trail, and before I leave on a two-week trip to England. A friend has asked if I’m interested in a century (100-mile) ride in the Columbia Gorge on Aug. 7. My answer: of course I am.

Taking on challenges like these presents a problem, however: no one is prepared to believe you’re sick if you can do them. Of course, I’m not “sick” in the typical sense of the term, and what others think about my health doesn't really concern me. The last thing I want to do is fulfill expectations of what someone with stage-four melanoma should and shouldn’t be able to do. I’ve been on this journey with cancer for almost four years now and so far, the only physical effects I’ve had are related to treatment. It was two years ago that I spent a summer racked out while trying to make it through interferon. I hoped then for exactly the sort of life I’ve since been granted: appreciation of simple things, and the ability to enjoy God’s creation. I try not to forget how my prayers have been answered.

The episodic nature of my illness is clinically predictable and I’m optimistic I can continue to be “healthy,” regardless of whether or not my cancer progresses. I worry about a recurrence, but I also know that I can probably survive it. I’m in unfamiliar territory here. I don’t know what to make of it any more than my friends and family do. I accept the time I’ve had this summer as the gift that it is. And then I lace up my running shoes and head for the door.

This triathlon gig is called the Tri for Life, and I would welcome your financial support, if you’re so inclined. A sprint triathlon is designed for mere athletic mortals like myself. It includes a 500-meter swim, a 20k bike ride, and a 5k run. I’m not much of a swimmer, but I did laps at a pool last week for the first time since high school and—Lord willing—I think I can keep from drowning. This triathlon is a benefit for the Options Pregnancy Resource Centers, which I’ve served as a board member for almost 15 years. It’s an organization that does more good than will ever be known, and this should be a really fun event. You can make a donation at this site and help me raise $3000. I appreciate your support.

1 comment:

Paul and Karen said...

Tracy is training for this too!