The world lost an incredible mother, wife, daughter, friend, attorney, underprivileged advocate, and community member suddenly and unexpectedly on October 16, 2013. In honor of my late wife, Holli Wallace, I am training for the Hallucination 100 mile trail run and raising money for the Children's Grief Center of the Great Lakes Bay Region.

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Wednesday, December 8, 2010

Why chemo is not like running

First, I would like to give a big thanks to my cousin Edward for a very generous donation and pursuit of matching funds from his company.  I would also like to thank my Uncle Shiu-fun and Aunt Celia for their donation and to Sandi for putting together the excellent logo pictured above.  Once I get through the fun of grading 90 research papers and watching 45 student presentations, I'm going to see what I can do about getting t-shirts made.  This weekend I had the pleasure of visiting with my parents and my Aunt Edith this weekend who flew down to Ohio from Canada (the roast pork was delicious!).  I know that my mom appreciates all the support she is receiving from all of her family members.

I had plenty of time to do some thinking on the drive back to Michigan and, despite the similarities that inspired the team name, I decided to do a blog post on why chemotherapy is not like running.  Why?  I think that running is sometimes too often compared to very real difficulties.  I run willingly because it brings me joy and I find satisfaction in overcoming the personal challenges involved.  I benefit through health and wellness and increased fitness levels.  Tying on my running shoes and heading out the door is an escape from my troubles and, typically, leaves me feeling more relaxed and at ease.  Going to chemo is decidedly not like that.

Going through chemotherapy is not optional.  It is not fun.  It does not leave one feeling better afterward.  It requires a complete reorganization of ones life to deal with drugs upon drugs and even more drugs to deal with the side effects of the first drugs.  It is not an exercise that, upon completion, leaves one feeling better.  Much the opposite, it leaves one feeling worse.  The whole process, which takes months, is a losing battle against fatigue, a declining immune system, and more.  The struggle is to lose slowly enough that the treatment can continue.  At the end is not a nice clean finish line, but relief mixed with continued uncertainty about the future.

I hope that didn't sound too negative.  In fact, I am a fan of running metaphors and do feel that there are very real similarities that exist.  However, I don't want to belittle the physically and psychologically difficult, but very necessary, process of cancer treatment by suggesting that it is the same as running, which when it comes down to it is just recreation.