Before I started chemotherapy, my morning exercise routine was to get up early, head off to the gym to enjoy a 30 minute swim. Once home, I'd follow that up with a 1.5 mile walk with my husband. I did this without much effort. In fact, before my cancer diagnosis, I was thinking I needed to add something more challenging to my regime.
Boy, have things changed.
I learned the hard way that swimming and walking are an either/or choice now. I tried to do both a while back and barely made it through the day, I was so tired and exhausted. And it's only gone down hill since then. Lately, I've skipped the pool and opted for the walk with my husband, and increasingly, even that has become hard. Though it's just an easy walk through our neighborhood, I huff and puff as if I were climbing Mt. Tam. And when I get home, I'm making a bee-line to my office chair to get off my feet and rest.
Today, I went for a swim instead, and it's as if 5 years of swimming fitness is gone. I'd gone back to the easier swim routine I did when I first started at the pool, and even that was a challenge.
And it's not just exercise. This long Memorial Day weekend, I felt good enough to take on the project of creating a decorative area for the fountain my husband bought me for my birthday. I spent two days making the wooden backdrop for this and putting together the plants. Hubby did all the hauling and placing of the stone pavers--I knew better than to even try to help.
While I love the outcome and enjoyed getting out and "being my old self" for a couple days, I definitely paid the price. I spent Memorial Day in my recliner, barely getting up to take a shower, and I was still tired and beat on Tuesday.
It definitely feels as though my days of being fit and active are behind me, which is an extremely depressing thought.
My oncologist continues to tell me that all this is temporary, but my psyche doesn't believe it. Chemotherapy has knocked me on my ass, and I know that fatigue is the primary side effect of the radiation therapy that comes next. I've also read that the hormone therapy that will follow radiation therapy for me can also drag you down. Add all this up and I will be over 60 years old before I'm done with all this cancer treatment--and that's if the cancer doesn't come back. Now, I know that 60 is hardly considered old these days, but when you're 55 and already feeling like your body is 80, thoughts of finally getting my energy back after the Big 6-0 does little to perk my spirit.
So is there an upside to all this? I really don't like putting up a post that serves no purpose other than to bitch and gripe about my situation. So in the spirit of ending on a high note, I need to remind myself that all won't be as bleak as it seems today. Most people who went through it all say that radiation is far less taxing on the body than chemotherapy, and I hope that is my experience also. I'm only at the 1/2 way mark through chemo (something that feels more daunting than good right now), but after my last infusion, I will have 6 weeks off before I start radiation. I'm hopeful that I can start some sort of recovery in that 6 week period, and that any recovery I do accomplish won't get wiped out once I start rads. Unfortunately for me right now, only time is going to tell!