Running to Chemo Made Me Feel Strong
When I was diagnosed with breast cancer, one of my worries was the likelihood that running, one of the ways I cope with tough life events, would not be practically available to me. I am not a fast runner but it is something that brings me a lot of joy. I’ve met many of my closest friends through weekly neighbourhood jogs and through travelling to races. I anticipated I would be too unwell to run during chemo and the recovery from surgery and radiation.
On the day of my first chemo infusion, I got up early and ran 5km and kind of felt like I was saying goodbye for now to this part of my life. I wondered if I would get to run again within a year – I hoped so. It was a lot and by halfway through I was crying on the empty early morning streets of Toronto.
That first cycle was tough. I barely had the energy to stand or climb the stairs. I had to lie on the floor and rest after taking a shower, but a few days in I started to feel a little stronger. One of my pals came by and took me for a walk around the block. I started feeling stronger. A week in I wondered if a jog might make me feel a little better. And it did! I had a whole team of friends joining me for little runs that made me feel a whole lot better. They would plan their routes to pass by my house, pick me up for a little loop and then continue on home. They got their run in, I got to spend some time with a pal and felt a whole lot better.
One day I was talking to my friend Chris and we hatched a plan to run to the Princess Margaret Cancer Centre together. He would run the 8km to my house at 7am, we would run the 5km to the hospital together, then he would carry on home and another friend would sit with me during treatment and drive me home. I didn’t know if I would be able to do it but I knew I could call a taxi if things went badly and Chris was going to carry my backpack with a change of clothes, my premeds and snacks.
In the end, the runs to chemo ended up being a very positive experience. I arrived at my infusion feeling strong and ready for the rough few days ahead. The exercise even helped me sleep and relax, and I believe, recovered more easily.
For my last cycle we picked up a few more friends and ran as a group, it was a nice sunny day and I felt so well after my last dose that we even walked home too. – Cheryl White