Wednesday, March 30, 2016

Why this divorced mom & cancer thriver works out (and you should too)

My latest via Divorced Moms. Enjoy! Now go out for a run (or a yoga class)...

Hugs, Lizzy

Why Every Divorced Mom Should Be Working Out 
by Lizzy Smith 
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March 30, 2016
635603886765862135Fotolia_75971798_XS.jpgIn 2012, I was diagnosed with multiple myeloma (a blood cancer) and immediately left my alcoholic husband. I knew there wasn't a chance in hell that I could ever fight my disease and heal while in an emotionally abusive environment. My daughters and I moved two states away and in with my parents. Never before did I feel the almost primal need to be cared for by my mom and dad. Here I was, 44 years old and I just needed  unconditional love and safety-- a haven. 

I immediately entered treatment, receiving high dose chemotherapy and two stem cell transplants. I also filed for divorce, which turned out to be an extremely high conflict one. In between my stem cell transplants (words cannot describe how hard this treatment is, physically and emotionally), my doctor said I could take a vacation. I almost started crying when he said that. It was a sign that I was still a human, not just a cancer patient and a single mom going through a divorce. I decided to completely cut-off from doctors and attorneys and re-charge. I purchased flex Amtrak tickets and we departed from Salt Lake City in the middle of the night. First stop: Chicago-- an 18-hour trek. I brought along electric blankets and travel pillows. We settled into our seats and slept. When I woke up, I felt tired and “strange,” dizzy. I watched a few movies, read, ate lunch in the dining car, and took long naps.

We arrived in Chicago to sweltering heat and humidity. Intense fatigue and weakness set in. But sitting in our hotel was not an option for me. I was going to push beyond my comfort level and enjoy my trip. For the next 17-days, we toured Chicago, Washington, DC and New York City. And I discovered something really surprising: When I was resting, I felt awful. But when I was up and about, those symptoms nearly vanished. Here I was, just weeks post stem cell transplant and I was walking in extreme heat and humidity (temps were 110-degrees and higher) at least ten miles per day, and enjoying it.

When we got back home, I started preparing for my next transplant. It was also time to start responding to some of the filings my ex had sent along. Big breath. I could no longer ignore life, it was time to face reality again.

The thing is-- I needed to get strong for all kinds of reasons. I needed to heal from my broken marriage, and from the trauma of divorce. I knew I needed to be strong if I was going to beat cancer and win in the divorce process (at the same time, no less!). As hard as it was, that healing meant working out. As weak and as sick as I was, I needed to start somewhere, even if it was one tiny step at a time. One day at a time. Sometimes, a minute at a time. Allowing tears and anger, yes. And then getting up, moving, and kicking fatigue, sadness and side-effects in the ass.

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