About this blog

I was diagnosed with breast cancer on June 11, 2010. As a result of my treatment, I have lymphedema in my left arm. I draw my strength from the Lord, as well as my family's Scots-Irish heritage. Our Graham's were a tough and scrappy bunch of fighters on the Scottish/English border. They came to America and continued to fight when necessary: in the American Revolution; the Civil War; and my brother is a Captain in the U.S. Army. My ancestors settled this country against all odds. My great-grandmothers on both sides of the family were pioneer women who settled the West. Along with that heritage, and the full armor of God, I am walking the walk and fighting the good fight.

Thursday, December 30, 2010

My "Rocky" moment

I went to the gym today and ran on the treadmill for the first time in a long time.  During chemo, I had worked up to running a little on the treadmill by the third week in the cycle.  Even then, it was only usually for 30 minutes.  But those last couple of rounds were tough, and I didn't have the strength or energy to quite get back to running.  I kept working out, but something about running is a step up in intensity for me.

Today I decided to try again.  I had already been to the gym once this week and did the elliptical and recumbent bike.  One of the keys to my continued interest in exercise is mixing it up.  I don't like to do the same thing 2 times in one week.  I'll work out 6 days a week, but do different things each day.  Not only does that keep it interesting, but it yields better results.  The muscles don't get bored with what you are doing and the cross training aspect makes everything stronger.  It's always got to be hard.  At least for me.  I also read that bouncing motions can help circulate lymphatic fluid. Running qualifies, right?

I decided to do a 60 minute interval training program on the treadmill.  It was basically 2 minutes of a run (about a 10.5 minute mile) and 2 minutes of a walk on an incline (15 minute mile).  I put on all of my Queen music on the iPod and got started.  I've liked Queen since elementary schools.  Their album "The Game" was one of the first I ever bought.

It felt fantastic.  The beat of the music was right in tune with my steps. The volume was high, and my endorphins made me high.  Several songs had lyrics that I was able to take and use in my situation to give me more energy than I thought was possible.  For example, "We are the Champions."  Obvious, huh? Of course, championing the fight over cancer and lymphedema.  In your face, disease! I am strong and I am running. You can try to beat me, but I'm stronger than you are. I felt like Rocky after he reached the top of those steps.  (I've never actually seen the original "Rocky" movie, but who doesn't know that scene?)  I also considered how we are the champions of the world in the sense that Jesus has overcome the world. I envisoned being clad in the full armor of God, with Jesus out in front doing battle with all of the bad stuff in the world-including cancer. And how we are victorious over all of it, even death. Oh yeah!     Another song was called "Don't Stop Me Now." That is exactly how I felt. Those who exercise knows what it feels like to hit that "zone" where you can do the work forever and you're loving it. That's how I was feeling.  Of course "We Will Rock You" has a beat that is like the banging of a battle drum. Call to arms, we are going to crush you!  Just for fun, "Bicycle Race" also had the perfect beat for my run.

I could have gone on longer than an hour.  I felt invincible. I made myself stop and stretch.  I had errands to do, so I couldn't stay there all morning. An added bonus was that I only wore my compression garments and not the full on bandaged arm.  Light as a feather, plowing down everything in my way. Absolutely fantastic.

The game plan for the lymphedema is in place as well.  I saw my PT yesterday.  She was very happy with the progress of my hand/arm.  To the naked eye, she said, there isn't a big difference between the right and left hand. Of course, I can see the difference.  The goal is to get me through the next 7 weeks of radiation without the arm getting bigger.  It's up to me to monitor it and take care of it.  At this point, she'll see me once a week to measure me.  I'm going to wear the bandages at night (which reduce swelling) and the compression garments (which holds the arm/hand at its current size) during the day.  I'll do lymphatic massage 2x a day as well.  Hopefully, that will keep things under control.  If not, we can always get more aggressive.  But the bandaging is really a pain to live in during the day.  I'd rather put my time in with it at night.  Cooking and cleaning with a wrapped hand is nearly impossible.

So that's it.  It has been a good day.  God is good and has renewed my strength.

Happy New Year!!