Being alive kicks ass

I went for a long walk today, and even tried a light jog. It was slow, it was embarrassing, I looked like a fool because I wasn’t wearing any of the right equipment, but I DON’T CARE. I am constantly amazed at the mood-lifting power of a little exercise and a little sunshine. Thank you, Lord, for giving Southern California 330 days of beautiful weather a year. And also for inventing iced tea. Amen.

The body is an amazing thing, and I think even more so in the wake of a cancer diagnosis. Here’s this earthly vessel, this flesh and blood that I only get one of, this little 5’2″, 100 pound sack of meat and offal, that one moment tried to kill me and the next spent four weeks miraculously healing me from a traumatic surgical wound.

Of their own volition, my cells saw the holes in my sides where the drains had been, the pokes in my hand and arm where the IVs went, and patched them up, little by little rebuilding what had been destroyed.

One month before my diagnosis, this body carried me to a 1 hour, 51 minute finish in my first ever half-marathon, a time that shattered my goal of two hours and exceeded my wildest expectations of what I was capable of achieving. From August to December, I had the incredible privilege to be a member of Richmond’s X-Team, a group of incredible individuals who wake up each morning at 6am to dedicate an hour of their day to working out in the grass and dew. I was diagnosed on a Friday; the Wednesday before, I ran 17 miles, prepping for my first full marathon. All that time, all those hours I was building muscle, eating kale, doing push-ups, running laps, my body was simultaneously improving and dismantling itself on a cellular level. What a paradox this life can be.

It’s such a cliche to say that having a brush with death will change your outlook, but I’ve found that it’s a cliche for a good reason. I’m not saying I treasure every single second of life, because sometimes, I’m still pissed off about the DVR not recording this week’s episode of Girls or opening the fridge and being out of Greek yogurt. But overall, being alive rules. It just rules, you guys. Basically, my post-cancer plan is this:

Step 1: Live.

Step 2: ???

Step 3: Never die.

I’ve been staring at this post for a while, feeling like it’s not quite up to snuff. I was staring at my computer and my notepad for a while this morning, trying to come up with something awesome to say, and failing over and over again. (I think I did okay in the end, though, right guys? Guys?) Frustrated, I went back to just Googling medicines that I have to take, which is something I do with alarming frequency. I’m on something called Tamoxifen, which is part of my fertility drug regimen and will also be a part of my post-chemotherapy five-year hormone therapy. I’m not joking, one of Tamoxifen’s side effects is “reduced cognitive function.”

Are you kidding? “Reduced cognitive function” is like a get-out-of-jail-free card. Assuming my cognitive function doesn’t become so reduced that I endanger myself by, say, injecting myself with vodka seltzer instead of my fertility drug cocktail, no one can get mad at me for being an idiot for the next five years!

So if you thought this post sucked, blame the drugs, because they’re literally making me dumber.

14 thoughts on “Being alive kicks ass

  1. fransiweinstein says:

    You’re far from dumb. What you are is inspiring and smart as hell.

  2. SDS says:

    Don’t ever think that your posts are anything less than amazing. I make the constant mistake of reading them in the office which without fail causes me to either – A. tear up and then loudly announce I am allergic to paper, or B. tell my office mates that if Michelle can be so graceful and humorous under so much stress than they better get over not wanting to do such-and-such a project and be HAPPY. I think everyone believes I am becoming unhinged. (Possibly because I have not clearly articulated who “Michelle” is.) I’ve also started hanging motivational posters about being happy all over the place. Like nowhere near my own office. I am the happiness obsessed Banksy of Chuck. Annnnd I digress. Anyway, if you can induce one of your oldest friends to see you in a new light through your words and be even more proud to know you… don’t second guess your posts my little churro lover. You keep writing and I’ll keep being crazy. And we’ll both love churros.

    • Michelle says:

      I love you. This comment means a lot to me.

      When you come visit let’s play a game called “How many churros can we eat?” I don’t want to spoil it for you, but I’m gonna win. Also, never stop sending me cat pictures.

      • SDS says:

        Imma let you finish – but my Steve is the best churro-eater of all time. While you have been slimming down to New York Fashion Week proportions I have been dedicated to growing my Steve so we’ll see just who out eats who. (My money’s on Steve.)

        P.S. I am going to spam you with pictures of baby munchkin cats as soon as I get out of the office.

  3. Cathee says:

    Hi Michelle,

    I’m sure you don’t remember me. I ran with you at Pocahontas State Park – they day you never even broke a sweat. I was last but ran more that day than I ever had in my 43 year life. X-Team has be life changing for me. Just wanted you to know that your X-Team Family is praying and thinking about you. Can’t wait to have you back. Keep the great attitude and keep kicking ass!!

    • Michelle says:

      Hi Cathee, I remember you! What a gorgeous run that was! I cannot believe that is the furthest you’d ever ran. You handled it like a champ! I’m sure that if we ran it again now you’d beat the pants off me. X-Team was absolutely life-changing for me, as well. There is no doubt that I can thank X-Team for a lot of the strength I have in facing this challenge. I miss it every day. Any chance Bob wants to start a California branch??? 🙂

  4. CodeForConfession [Kristen] says:

    Lol! That’s a good excuse as any! I would love to one day run a marathon but I need to get in shape first. I can’t even jog on a treadmill for more than a few minutes without getting short of breath. In a high stress situation at work? Running is no problem. But I’m sure it won’t always be like that. Good for you for staying positive! Delicious greek yogurt helps. :]

  5. Mogatos says:

    Haha. To answer your question … yes, you did OK. 🙂

  6. Jenny W says:

    This post was wonderful!

  7. amb says:

    Hi Michelle! I found your blog when it was Freshly Pressed and have been reading along ever since. I think you’re inspiring and wonderful, but more importantly, right now we have to talk about the lack of suckage of this post. Honey, listen – on an off day you’re already SO FAR ahead of most of what else is out there in the blogsphere, you’ve got nothing to worry about. Keep writing! 🙂

  8. szdavis says:

    So glad that I found your blog. Hate that you are going through this. I absolutely love your writing style, candor, and wit. My mom is a breast cancer survivor and from watching her the best advice I can give is stay positive and stay as active as you can. Best of luck as you kick cancer’s ass.

  9. Kate says:

    When you think you don’t have the right words to say or that you’re post is dumb, think of me because I read each one with excitement and amazement. There will always be someone in the world looking forward to what you have to say, even if you don’t think its up to snuff 😉 Love you ‘sister’!

    PS- I am totally behind on emails from this wonderful cancer & hate responding from my iPad but can’t wait to chat more with you!

  10. ywandf says:

    I don’t even know you, and want you to know that your blog posts inspire me. I started my own blog as a way to get things off my chest, but really-I have nothing to complain about. My best friend battled cancer and has been cancer free for over a year now, and it amazes me how those with the toughest battles are the most positive people. Your positivity and general outlook on life motivates me to stop my complaining and bitching! Because I agree with you, being alive is awesome!! Keep up the amazing blog posts!! You are touching more people than you know 🙂

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