Normalcy, or what’s left of it

“Will you do me a favor?” my adorable boyfriend, who will hate being called adorable here but deal with it, babe (cancer card), asked me this morning. “Circle one: yes, no, maybe.”

“Yes,” I said, because I love him.

“Go for a run.”

He was the second person to urge that I run today, and who can ignore that kind of cosmic coincidence? Certainly not I.

Not run as in “run away,” although I wish I could – run, as in get back to my life before cancer came in and tore apart everything I thought I knew. Before all this BS got started, I had just gotten into the habit of being a pretty serious runner. I had just completed my first half-marathon in November, and I was training for my first marathon. (I ran that half with cancer, although I didn’t know I had it yet.) I was up to 17 miles on my long runs and feeling pretty great about the whole thing, or at least as great as one can feel about undertaking a physical feat that killed its original athlete.

But after December 21, I couldn’t bring myself to get out of bed, let alone go out and exercise. I knew it would probably make me feel better, but all that time alone with nothing to distract me from the NASCAR race of horrible fears going ’round and ’round inside my cranium was just too daunting. I preferred to lose my body in a fort of pillows and blankets and lose my mind in reruns of some mindless TV drama. You know the one I mean. God, I love Benson and Stabler.

This afternoon, I met with my second oncologist, a lovely, reassuring man in a calming blue suit who told me with an uncommon combination of diplomacy and empathy that I’ll indeed be getting all the horrible, gritty details I’d read about on everyone else’s cancer blogs – the creepy port giving nurses access to the veins in my chest, the excruciating Neulasta shots that’ll keep me from getting a life-threatening infection. I couldn’t keep myself from shuddering as he was explaining it.

“I understand,” he said. “You’ve lost your trust in your body.”

That’s why I couldn’t run. All of the sudden, this body – this magical vehicle that’s protected me and moved me and let me do all the wonderful things I’ve wanted to do, like surf in Australia and volunteer in Morocco and signal to the bartender that yes, we’ll all have another round of shots because it’s Friday – has betrayed me. It’s gone humming along in all its stupid splendor while these mutated cells, hellbent on its destruction, have been growing and plotting and scheming in my left breast. I suppose if you’re going to launch an evil campaign against my lungs and bones, why not do it from my boob? I can’t blame you, cancer.

But anyway, I just can’t live like that. I can’t live not trusting this body. It’s the only one I’ve got, and it carried me for 17 miles of running just days before it learned about the mutiny going on inside it. So why can’t it carry me today?

It can. So I laced up my running shoes, which are a color called “electric blue” and never fail to put me in a good mood, and I’m going for a jog. The sun’s shining here in SoCal and it’s a gorgeous 70 degrees with a light breeze. I’m smiling already.

I’ll see you when I get back, homeslices.

4 thoughts on “Normalcy, or what’s left of it

  1. shikha! says:

    we should probably find you some sequined running shoes. i mean, come on. gotta do it.

    • Michelle says:

      If anyone could find them it’d be you. You’re definitely in my top 5 most fashionable friends. Don’t wanna play faves but let’s just say, I wish you’d be my personal sequin stylist.

  2. shikha! says:

    done AND done. i would have been your personal sequin stylist even without the cancer card, and now i’m searching for sequined sneakers instead of studying physiology, so this is already the best task ever. will email you with results.

  3. Peter. Vaughn says:

    Please contact me. I would love to see you. You are a beautiful writer. Wrong circumstances but remarkable consequences. The honest voice I remember so well.

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