Bender Is Mended!

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My family (Josh, Harrison and Sophie) at the finish line! 

I hesitate to write/say “Bender is Mended,” because I question whether I am or will ever be “fully mended.” Truth is, I question whether any of us are ever fully mended from whatever challenges begin to present themselves the moment we enter the world. What does it even mean to be fully mended? Aren’t we all stitched up beings, forever changed in some way by whatever led to the stitches in the first place? Perhaps we’re stronger in some ways, more vulnerable in others… do those vulnerabilities mean we are less mended? Clearly I’ve been contemplating such questions of late…

One thing is certain: I feel a physical confidence that I haven’t felt since before starting treatment– and maybe not even then. I think I am coming back with even more confidence, knowing I can go through what I did and come out the other side feeling truly good again.

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Evidence of and reasons for this (re)new(ed) confidence:

  • I am taking more physical risks. Last week, I went to an advanced modern dance class that I’ve been wanting to take for months but have been too afraid to try. Finally I took the plunge, and though I definitely fell into the bottom half of the class, my struggle was with learning the steps, not with keeping up physically. (Also, I LOVED it and want to go back. I spent the first half of my life dancing, and it felt great to move again like that.) The more risks I take like this, the more proud I feel of myself, the more confident I am to take on even more risks. Maybe I’ll finally get past my fear of biking near cars and take up a new kind of exercise!
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Exploring the island… no cars in site so I’m good. 

  • I am able to push through a too busy week on too little sleep. My life has once again taken on a fast pace (too fast at times, but thankfully I’m doing things I love), and I am tired. But my fatigue now feels like every-body-fatigue, not cancer-treatment-fatigue. Most days, I am aware of the difference, and it boosts my confidence to know that I am once again the kind of tired that I can push on through when necessary.
  • My running has been a gauge for my physical health since starting treatment, and I am very suddenly feeling new leaps of strength. Not only did I run 11.5 miles during Bender’s Mender (we got a little lost, had to roll under some barbed wire fences, ahhh what good times we had).
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    Get that butt down, Bender!

    I also ran those 11.5 miles the fastest I’ve run since starting chemotherapy in November 2014! I thought perhaps it was the adrenaline of the day, but I seem to have suddenly crossed another threshold. For months, I was stuck at a 10:30 minute/mile and am now averaging 9:45-10:00. My average before treatment was 9:30-9:45. I had honestly accepted the fact that I would never get back to my old pace, but it seems I was wrong. Hence, confidence abounds!

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How many miles in?

So even though there are things that, try and hope as I might, may never fully return to “normal” (my memory, for one, is giving me concern), Bender’s Mender has most definitely mended me in tangible, significant, gratifying ways. It gave me what I hoped for—a sense of renewed strength, and a sense of closure.

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My wonderful running companions. From left: Clover, Amanda, me, Nunia, Jain, Jen

It also raised $7,200 to be split between the Cancer Connection and MET UP!!!! Thank you, all of you generous, fantabulous supporters!

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Josh doing a happy jump outside the (amazing) house that was generously offered to us for the weekend

And thank you again, Nunia, for your hours of planning and inspiring that made this the going-down-in-Bender-history event that it was.

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Nunia and me at the ocean finish

The run, and the weekend, were incredible, amazing, wonderful, perfect.

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Our Nantucket crew

 

Here are some more glimpses of the fun:

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At the finish line with my love, who was at my side the whole time,”in sickness and in health”

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Best water station EVER! Our girls, ages 4 through 9, cheering us on. (Our boys, ages 10-11, are off on bikes somewhere.)

 

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A wee break so someone who will remain nameless could pee for the 7th time. (And how we LOVE her and her tiny bladder!)

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To the finish line! Our daughters ran the last 3/4 mile with us, the perfect way to end (and to cool down).

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EVERYONE is having a grand time! EVERYONE is celebrating at the beach finish!

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Our clown car: one vehicle, many children. (Don’t worry, mom, we were very safe and would never try this at home.)

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Pre-run dance party on the porch

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We did it!! Bender is back and better than ever!!

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Me feeling super grateful. Thank you.

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8 comments

  1. Thank you so much, Jenny, for sharing this. The obvious love among you all made me cry with happiness. Yes, we are all full of stitches, and your journey reminds me that we can just keep going on, day by day, trying to be fearless despite our fears!

    Like

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