You starting down the road leaving me again
The threats you made were meant to cut me down
And if our love was just a circus, you'd be a clown by now
Don't you know, I'm still standin', better than I ever did
Lookin' like a true survivor
Feelin' like a little kid
No, I'm still standin', after all this time
Pickin' up the pieces of my life without you on my mind
I'm still standin'
Yeah, yeah, yeah
-Elton John, I'm Still Standin'
I've had an unexpected week off training. That horrible head cold I had hit me really hard, and then the stress of this week knocked my on my ass. I'm finally getting back on the bike tomorrow; I didn't see any reason to push myself back into illness with a race next week.
The good news is, I got a lot more time to do my homework. That 5-8 hours a week I train most average weeks doesn't seem that much, but I guess it is when it comes to time I needed to get ahead.
Most people who know me consider me disgustingly positive. I'm the kind of person who, just moments after being dealt some really shitty news, will turn to the guy next to me and say, you know, the good thing about this is . . . . (It's almost had me slapped a few times.)
That being said, I also consider myself a realist. And a realist knows that not every year is going to be a year for personal records, improvements, promotions, new romances, general luckiness, etc.
Still, 2012 spoiled me so much, and my overall recovery from surgery and radioiodine was so good, that the first 4 months of 2013 have thrown me for a loop. For one thing, my training just hasn't gone the way I wanted overall, partly because of where I live now (holy CRAP is it hard to get regular bike rides in during the weekdays in an urban area) and partly because of how I've been feeling. For another, as much as you familiarize yourself with the stats (35% of thyroid cancers recur; the survival rate of best-case-scenario stomach cancer patients is 50%), it is hard to wrap your arms around the idea that you or your family might be part of that 35% or that 50%.
To me, the most frustrating part of dealing with a serious illness is not fear, or worry, or depression, or sometimes even the illness itself, but the constant waiting for answers. It has taken me the last three silent months to get from my first set of diagnostic tests to this most recent, apparently confirmatory round. It seems simple: if the cancer is back, then I get surgery and/or radioactive iodine - but it might be another 3 months before we even know that. Depending on what oncology decides, I may go for biopsies, PET scans, radioactive iodine scans, and more, before we even get to the surgery and/or radiation. And then I have to find out which one it is; and if it's both, I will spend most if not all of my vacation and sick time on the surgery and isolation.
You spend a lot of time waiting for things to settle down so you can resume your normal routine, or waiting to get to the next step, which inevitably comes with multi-stage hurdles, hoping you'll have a final answer soon and just return to normal. I can't tell you how many times Mom's chemo port has been re-scheduled or they've changed their minds about how many lymph nodes were involved. Arnie's mast cell tumor had been removed twice, and we still don't know if his current medicine will keep it gone or I'll need to give him kitty chemo.
The truth is, with cancer, you never really have answers.
The truth is, in life, you never really have answers.
So the benefit of cancer is that you learn to accept a certain uncertainty. You learn to stop expecting everything to be explained. You learn to stop waiting for the next lull. You learn, in some ways, to just let go.
Next post, we return you to your regularly scheduled triathlon blogging - I have to return to the training before I have some training to blog about. In the meantime, I'm still standing.
Yeah, yeah, yeah.