Years ago, I never thought I would have a difficult time walking up the stairs or resort to crawling up them. I never thought taking a shower would make me feel like I just ran a marathon, and have to rest on the bed afterward to regain my strength. Cooking dinner would became nonexistent. It was just too tiring to chop and stir. Walking Wally became less and less frequent. There are reasons why cancer patient’s normal daily routines become harder.
Our bodies not only become weak and tired from the cancer we have, but also by the treatments we receive to keep the cancer stable.
Depending on your type of cancer, and treatment, white and red blood counts can go on a rollercoaster ride. Chemotherapy is notorious for this. Your body will not inform you when your white counts go up and down, but you need to be very careful to prevent getting an infection. When your red blood counts go down, your body will give you signs to let you know. You may become anemic and you might feel very tired and weak.
When I had the most trouble walking up the stairs, showering, cooking, and walking Wally, it was usually due to very low red counts from a particular chemotherapy I was receiving. When they dropped too low, a blood transfusion would make me feel better…until the next time. Thankfully, I am no longer on this chemotherapy. Even though I sometimes have a bit of trouble navigating the stairs, I am no longer crawling up them. Showering, while sometimes is still tiring, no longer needs rest time afterwards. Preparing and cooking dinner, which I enjoy, comes a bit easier. If I find I am too tired, a call to Mark for takeout is what’s for dinner. Wally is getting a bit chunky, but with the nicer weather coming, I hope to have the energy to take him on more walks. How I deal with life’s daily routines, now, has to do with my new normal.
When I was first diagnosed with metastatic breast cancer, I took some time off from the gym, while I was receiving chemotherapy. The chemo made me extremely fatigued and weak. When it ended and I was put on hormone therapy, I went back to my Pilates classes and another class that combined cardio and weights. It felt great!
I noticed weeks later, during the cardio portion of class, I was having a harder time keeping up. My instructor, who is very familiar with cancer and cancer patients, looked at me and told me this was my new normal.
I hated my new normal. I hated being tired and weak most of the time. I hated taking it slow up the stairs. I hated becoming exhausted after a shower. I hated not being able to cook for my family. I hated not being able to take Wally for a long walk. Why couldn’t I do what I used to do and be who I used to be?
My new normal has gone through some changes since then.
I ended up having to leave the gym. I just don’t have the strength and endurance to participate in the classes that I enjoy….not yet. I thought I was ready last month after having a couple of good weeks and feeling strong. Unfortunately, that didn’t last too long.
The good news is I have made peace with my new normal. I will not put pressure on myself to do the things I can’t. I will cook for my family when I am up to it. I will take it slow going up the stairs. I will rejoin the gym when my body tells me it’s time. I will walk Wally when I am not tired. I will shower always, even when I am weak, because it’s just gross not to.
My Wally Dog…looking a little sad…