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.
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!
- 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).
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!
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.
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.
The run, and the weekend, were incredible, amazing, wonderful, perfect.
Here are some more glimpses of the fun: