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My name is Jerry. I am a 54 year old cancer survivor. As promised in my post on the "Introduce Yourself" forum, this is my report on a half marathon I recently ran. Originally I thought this would be a description of the race itself but during the race I realized the true story here is the journey up to the race. So, here we go:

After surgery and several chemo treatments, I took a look at myself and saw a 53 year old male who had COPD, one and half lungs, a "weak" heart, was overweight, physically unable to walk any great distance without breathing difficulties and scared of what my future looked like. I had fears and uncertainties in relation to how cancer was going to control my life and what my quality of life was going to be. It was at this point in June of 2006 that I decided I was going to address these issues through some form of exercise. To do nothing would certainly not improve my situation. I started walking - first day was to the mailbox and back (maybe 200 feet). The next day I added a few more steps, and a few more the next day, and a few more the next and so on until, in September of 2006, I was able to walk a mile. I was starting to feel better - breathing was easier, walking was easier, I had more strength and my attitude improved. I wasn't able to "control" whether cancer returned but I could certainly make myself as healthy (both physically and mentally) as possible to fight it if it did re-occur. Here is where I announced my first goal to run a 5K race (3.1 miles). I accomplished this in October and subsequently set additional goals to run greater distances. In January of 2007 I announced my ultimate goal of running a half marathon (13.1 miles). I also discovered during this time that running was becoming something that helped me deal with the anxieties of the next follow-up x-ray, CT scan, blood work, etc. Again, I had no real control over cancer but my attitude to deal with it was getting stronger, as was my running - I was feeling better about myself! That's not to say I didn't have my "bad" days during all this but knowing I was doing something positive and enjoyable made it easier to get through them. I also found myself turning to running to deal with these anxieties. My best work outs were probably days I was most anxious. I just used this to motivate to do better - the more anxious I was, the harder I ran. There were also days where I just couldn't do what I had scheduled. On those days I did what I could, recognized that there would be days like this and continued to work toward my goal. On November 11, 2007, 14 months after starting to run, I found myself standing among 2170 other runners in Nags Head, NC in 45 degree weather and wind gusts coming off the ocean at 18 miles an hour. At 7 am the race started. Two hours, 23 minutes and 24 seconds later I crossed the finish line. Mission accomplished. Goal completed. But the journey continues....and I still run.

It took a long time for me to progress to this point but in accomplishing this goal I find I have a much more positive attitude towards life as a cancer survivor. I'm still nervous and anxious before each medical follow-up but I am more comfortable in dealing with the potential results.

I'm not a good writer but the message I am trying to convey here is that by choosing an activity that promotes physical and/or mental well being, by setting realistic goals and working to achieve them, this cancer journey is much more tolerable. The activity doesn't have to be a "physical exercise", I just happened to choose running. I read where another LCSC member is thinking of playing the harmonica to improve lung function - what an excellent idea to promote a positive change, both physically and emotionally.

Thank you for taking time to read this. I have also found that putting ones feelings and thoughts in writing is a therapeutic exercise in itself. Try it -share yours with us.

Thank you - Jerry

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