By cutting back on my running, I’m hedging my bet that the compression stocking I've been wearing will reverse the lymphedema in my lower left leg. I have no reason to believe I'll have long-term problems with the swelling, but I'm taking a break since I have other options for exercise. I’ve read that during a seven-mile run, each foot strikes the ground more than 5000 times at a force three to four times your body weight. Knowing that, it’s a wonder I haven't blown out the tips of my toes. I’d estimate I have an extra pint or two of lymph fluid in my ankle and foot right now.
Cycling provides a great cardio workout without all the pounding, so that’s what I've switched to for a while. I did a sweet 36-miler today from Waldport to Newport and back that included great views of the white-capped Pacific. I used to cycle a lot, but it was all that time in the sun that likely triggered my original melanoma. Not once do I remember using sunblock on my legs, where my lesion developed (on the outside of my left knee). I loved being outdoors for any reason and the danger of long-term UV exposure never occurred to me. I underestimated the power of the Oregon summer sun.
After my diagnosis five years ago it was an easy decision to let go of cycling and to find other ways to stay fit. I’ve hardly biked at all since then. I’ve had to surmount something of a psychological barrier to get back on the bike. Medically speaking, it’s like returning to the scene of a bad accident. I guess you could call me a cycling recidivist. While I’m at higher than average risk for a second primary melanoma, this is not the sort of thing someone who is already stage IV tends to worry about. I wear a helmet, I keep my bike tuned up, and I try to finish my rides before 10 a.m. And if I’m out later than that, I use full-spectrum sun block. I am definitely wiser for my experience, but I'm not fearful of making things worse.
Now that I’m moving through the world again on skinny tires, I’m feeling the familiar exhilaration that hooked me the first time. I’ve been places and seen things on my trusty Trek that have thrilled me, tested my limits, and brought tears of joy. It’s good to be back.