Thursday, September 5, 2013

By the inch it's a cinch

September is National Blood Cancer Awareness Month. So for all of those out there who are in treatment, starting up treatment, helping someone who is in treatment, or just interested, this battle can be really hard and overwhelming. When I first started on this incredible journey, I would listen to my nurses, coordinators and doctors describe what was to come. All the doctor visits, tests, medications, and other things that were in store for me (aka "my treatment plan"). It would make my head spin. All I really heard was "wah wah wah wah wah." Finally, I stopped them. "Just tell me what's coming up over the next week," I said. And that helped. One step at a time. If I had to stare at everything before me, I just couldn't do it. Which brings me to my latest...

After some 20 months of treatments to fight Multiple Myeloma, I am quite weak. I've done my best to stay active during this time but I'm not nearly where I want to be. Now that the girls are back in school, I have more time to focus on me. In addition to wanting to get stronger physically, I also like to get out and explore Utah. So on Tuesday, William and I hiked up to the Timpanogos Cave and on Wednesday, we hiked up to the big Y above the Brigham Young University campus. Both hikes were strenuous for me, but the hike up to the Y was really hard. It challenged me and kicked my butt.

Oh my gosh... I hiked all the way up there! It took forever for me, I can't say I looked pretty or graceful doing it. But I tried it, I did it, I jumped for joy! Ok, I didn't have the energy to actually jump, but I wanted to!

On our way up, I had to stop several times to take a break. As I was panting, trying to catch my breath, and sweat was dripping into my eyes and nearly blinding me (I looked really pretty, let me tell you), William was barely breaking a sweat. How unfair was that? He decided that he was going to be my workout coach. And as we marched up this very steep trail, William told me a story that I won't soon forget. And I'd like to share it with you:

Years ago when William lived in Seattle, he was at a church sermon and the preacher was sharing a personal experience. The guy was a portly, heavyset guy and he was riding his bike on a trail. He came to a part that was very steep and quite a distance. There was no way he could get up that hill. No chance. He wasn't up for it. He wasn't strong enough. But he started peddling, put his head down and stared only at his front tire, and refused to look up to his destination. By just staring at the small section directly in front of him, he took it one tiny bit at a time. He made it up the hill, much to his surprise. He said that if he had looked up at how hard and far it was to his destination, he would have given up and never made it. Lesson learned.

And William said that walking up to the top of the mountain up to the Y should be the same for me. Keep walking. If I got really tired, don't stop, because starting back up again would be that much harder. Slow down, take one tiny little step after the next, and just keep going. Stop looking at my destination and just look at what was directly in front of me. Good point, I tried it. And guess what? From that point forward, I didn't stop. Not once. Not for a second. I made it the whole way up to the top. I looked and smelled scary but there I was, all the way to the top! And the view was spectacular and I felt like a champion! Whoohooo for me!
Here I am. Hot, sweaty, smelly, dirty and tired. But I conquered my own mountain. I needed a huge long nap afterwards but so what? Personal goal: met!

So that's my advice to you, fellow cancer warriors or champions... or to anyone. As my dad likes to say, "By the yard it's hard, but by the inch, it's a cinch." Keep your eye on what's in front of you, keep going, and don't give up. The reward at the end is amazing.