My Little Bs Have the Big C

A Breast Cancer Blog For Young Women

Getting Into The Spring Of Things


There’s nothing like starting to exercise again after a long hiatus to make you feel like a total and utter failure.  In your mind, you can sprint for miles while in reality, your body will only take you to the next tree, or car, or lamppost.  It’s discouraging to say the very least.

I know that I should be forgiving and kind to myself.  Not that long ago I underwent a huge surgery and this is after 6 months of chemo and radiation.  That’s not a small thing.  And the recovery from this particular surgery, the DIEP Flap, was especially rigorous and intense.  I couldn’t move for weeks.  Exercise was out of the question.  I mostly lay on my couch and binge watched Scandal, The Good Wife and How To Get Away With Murder.

I did all of this without caring much for what I was putting into my body.  I didn’t go crazy or anything but I certainly didn’t measure the amount of ice cream that I was ingesting.  Well, I guess I could measure it but in pints rather than small measuring cups.  I did try to eat a balanced diet with lots of veggies, though.  But when you’re not moving it doesn’t matter so much.  Between being a couch potato and the side effects of the tamoxifen, I have gained a little weight and I’m really unhappy about it.

Getting out and exercising is really hard.  For starters, between work and raising my son, I don’t have a lot of time left over to exercise.  I would love to take a class but my husband works long hours so he’s not home in time for me to get to a class.  I also don’t know what kind of exercise I can do without hurting myself.  The last time I tried to exercise in a slightly vigorous way was during chemo.  I put on The 30 Day Shred on my dvd player and somehow, despite low hemoglobin counts, got through the video.  But it wasn’t long after that my cording and lymphedema developed.  I’m positive that this vigorous exercise is what triggered the issues.  I was told by doctors to exercise.  I was told to take it easy.  So I modified the pushups and did some of the exercises with light or no weights.  But that wasn’t careful enough.

I didn’t have any guidance when it came to how I should exercise.  When I am told to take it slow or easy, what does that look like?  When can I get back to the things I love to do, like boxing?  I love the idea of punching something but I can just imagine swinging my right arm out for a hard jab and feeling that awful pull of the cord that begins in my breast and goes all the way down into the pit of my arm and to the webs of my hands.  I don’t need more cords and I don’t need my lymphedema to worsen.

So, that leaves me with running.  I hate running.  No.  You don’t understand me.  I HATE RUNNING!!!!!  But, my husband loves running.  He loves it so much that he runs half and full marathons.  He makes me come out and watch him.  He talks about running constantly.  CONSTANTLY!!!!!  If you know and love a runner, I know you know what I’m talking about. A runner has a myopic view of life…running is great and everybody should love it.  They can not, in their egocentric state, imagine how one can not love running.  They live for the euphoria that comes from pushing through the pain.

Me?  I never hit that euphoria.  My endorphins don’t kick in.  They never have after a run or workout.  In fact, it’s the opposite.  I get pissed of when I run.  Like, really angry!  I curse, I cry, I hate it.  Does this happen to anyone else?

But here’s what I do love.  I love being outside.  I love watching all of the people in the park with their babies, children, friends….I love seeing the trees bloom in the spring and the leaves turn bright oranges and yellows in the fall.  I love it more than I can express.

Today, I went out and ran for the second time since my surgery.  It was awful.  I barely made it through.  But as I huffed and puffed through Prospect Park, I noticed some of the trees were pink with flowers that must have just bloomed.

It’s spring.  It’s time for a fresh start.  It’s time for things to begin their cycle toward life and beauty again.  Some of the trees are still bare, with not a bud in sight.  They are lagging behind.  I know how they feel.  But inevitably, in their own time, they too will bud and grow leaves.  If all of these things in nature can grow and have their fresh start, why can’t I?  So I will go out again soon.  I will do my best.  I will try to be kind and loving to myself.  Even when I’m running.IMG_5586IMG_5587


6 thoughts on “Getting Into The Spring Of Things

  1. Walking? I would say start with a lot of walking. Once you can walk, whatever, 5km, at a good pace and feel ok after then maybe you can start some other exercise. I was doing kayla itsines bikini body workout before all this and would like to get back to it but my plan is to start with 7min sessions vs the full 28min sessions, then 14, 21 and then 28. Just go slow I guess, listen to your body and be patient….yeah yeah I know nothing new there 🙂

    • I walk everywhere. I’m a New Yorker! 🙂
      I’m just trying to build up my endurance and stamina. It’s a bit tough but I’ll keep working at it. Slow and steady…

  2. I can’t wait to get to Prospect Park! I love riding my bike there every summer. That exercise I can do with no problem. I love the idea of running, but like you, I can’t do it. Someone tried training me on how to run years ago and he failed…or I failed. I am a fast learner but I get frustrated when I can’t perform well at something I wish I was good at; then I eventually give up. Running is not for me, I guess. But I dream of being a runner. I also can’t take stairs without feeling like I need an oxygen tank. It’s so discouraging. But I have no excuse. You’ve been through so much the last few months.

    I’ve gained weight too because of Tamox but I’ve also been doing bad with my diet. Doctors tell me I MUST exercise to help prevent a recurrence. One thing I’ve been trying to do is stretching. (I love boxing too, BTW!) I say give it some time. I bet by summer time you will feel more confident. The key is to never stop trying, even if in small steps. xo

    • I need a new bike. Mine was stolen last summer. My friends pitched in for a new bike for me and it’s very pretty but I don’t love it. It’s pretty heavy so it’s hard to ride and take up and down stairs. I really want a new bike.
      I’m not on a diet but I am on, what I call, “project quinoa.” Instead of the sandwiches I usually make for myself for lunch, I’ve been eating quinoa salads that I make with roasted veggies and other goodies. It’s been so delicious. For tomorrow’s quinoa, I added my son’s dinner that he didn’t eat…peas and turkey burger. I might as well call it “garbage can quinoa.” But it’s so good.
      Small steps…I hate small steps….but what choice to I have.

  3. Oh, Carrie…lordy. I’m a physical therapist, as well as a person with breast cancer, so I’ve invented more exercises than most people have ever done. And believe me, 8 years after diagnosis, and after 8 years of cancer-related fatigue (which is better, I think), I still have trouble getting ‘enough’ exercise. I hate to end up so frequently sounding like I’m pushing my own profession, but honestly, you might want to ask for a referral to a physical therapist, preferably one with experience helping cancer patients and post-reconstruction patients, to help you out. Because it’s not easy. For any of us. Especially after DIEP surgery. That’s a huge thing. Huge. And any surgery that involves your trunk or abdomen is huge and deserves some informed guidance about exercise. I think the hardest part of all this is accepting, once again, that we’re not who we used to be. I used to be a ball of fire. Now, I’m more of a wet noodle.

    I’ve written a lot about this subject. Here’s a link to a post I wrote last year. You may feel like you’re beyond this, but it might help on those days when just being vertical is a challenge. I can still walk a long way myself, but anything else still requires a lot of willpower and self-forgiveness. Less is more, but it still counts, maybe more than you think. xoxo, Kathi

    • Kathi, I can’t wait to read this post. And if you invented exercises, you should write about it or post a youtube video so we can all join in the exercises! Just a thought.

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