When I decided to get serious about bringing more awareness to metastatic breast cancer, I was thrilled that Susan G Komen asked me to be part of a national campaign. Three women were profiled on “What gives me strength.” One got her strength from her voice, the other were her kids, and mine was fighting back. I was thrilled to be a part of this as a “lifer”. I was the only one who is stage IV and I viewed this as a conscious choice that the organization is including metastatic breast cancer. Unfortunately, it wasn’t viewed this way by all.
Some were offended by the implication that metastatic breast cancer can be beat by fighting back hard enough, but that was never how I saw it. I know that 110 people worldwide die everyday from it, fighting with everything they’ve got. I’ve lost so many of my friends that fought as hard as they could to the very end. That isn’t why I went back to the martial arts studio as soon as my radiation oncologist cleared me. My friends, don’t underestimate my neuroses.
I worked out so hard because there is no way to check to see if the radiation in my lungs worked. We couldn’t get a clear scan for three months, so in the meantime I worked out as hard as I could to see how far I could push my body. Little did I know that doubling up on the kickboxing classes softened the scar tissue and I got 100% breath capacity back. Who knew? That experiment could have had a different outcome and had been very messy.
So I kept up that pace, pushing toward the next goal and never in a million years did I think I would be testing for my third degree black belt in Tae Kwon Do. I also have to give credit to my 3 kids who take the same black belt class with me. They refused to go to class if I didn’t, so I have to admit I took some of those classes begrudgingly. They did too. It also made for some interesting sparring classes. That also could have been messy.
What am I fighting? Not cancer. I think that is the job of researchers, physicists and oncologist, and I leave it up to them and I think my team is doing an excellent job. As for me, I fight fear, anxiety, and depression. I fight exhaustion, loneliness, and I fight to keep my family together. Fighting these things back is what gives me strength. I am blessed that I don’t’ have to do this alone, I have so many in my corner.
Did martial arts change my DNA? No. Do I have an incredible community and support system? Yes. That is what helped keep me going.
At Victory Martial Arts our saying is “Yes, I can.” When it gets tough, I get tired or I want to quit, I think of my friends with bone mets that is so painful that it is so difficult to follow the doctors orders of walking around the block. In my mind I say “Yes, I can, so I do.” I’m working out for them and me. I can, so I do.