[Guest Blog by Melanie A. Nix]
Life after my triple negative breast cancer diagnosis has been a journey of self-discovery. I have discovered my amazing ability to do things I never thought possible. I have learned that I can run through the spider’s web. Every time I lace up my running shoes, check my tracker and start running, it is a powerful reminder. After my diagnosis, putting one foot in front of the other, moving forward was daunting and seemed impossible.
But I have since become a distance runner. I run three to five times weekly and have completed 10 ten-mile races and a half marathon. I am committed to running, the benefits of exercise in reducing the risk of recurrence, and I enjoy completing my daily runs. Running is a core part of my life and an integral part of my daily routine. And, running has provided some important survival lessons and reminders.
One day when I was training for one of my races, I was running at a nice pace and I do not know if it was the sun glare, but I did not see it and ran right into a spider’s web. I am not even sure the spider was in it, but I got a lot of nasty stuff on me. I wanted to maintain my pace, so I started wiping the nasty spider’s web off my face, trying to spit out any residue that had gotten in my mouth, while I kept running. After a while, I felt like I had gotten all of the web off me and was still running. When I got home, I realized that this run symbolized so much of my cancer survival.
Where did this come from? Like many survivors, I did not see cancer coming. I had been on a steady path in life, moving at my own pace. Then my cancer diagnosis. Without warning, I was right in the middle of a web. I was suddenly uncomfortable and in a bad place.
What is all this stuff? This is unpleasant. This is grimy. Like many survivors, I did not know all that comes with a cancer diagnosis. It can be a web of insurance, doctor’s appointments, learning about your cancer type, diagnosis, treatment, and prognosis, changing relationships and a range of emotions. It is difficult to navigate and entangling like a web.
I was reeling from the jolt of my diagnosis. I was learning more about the overgrowth of cells, the uncontrolled growth of cells working to take over my body, my health. Treatment was difficult. Surgeries were scary. Chemo was hellacious.
How am I still going? In all of this, I was still running. After a cancer diagnosis, moving forward, although daunting, becomes instinctive as we vault into survival and do anything and everything to survive as well as strive for a good quality of life. Despite not seeing what was on my path, I instinctively kept going. My self-discovery underscores what is possible on this journey.
1. We get blindsided but keep going.
2. We figure a way out of grimy and disgusting entanglements.
3. We make decisions diligently and expeditiously.
4. We instinctively keep moving forward.
We keep moving toward our destination. Maybe it was the destination we had planned long before cancer. Maybe it is a new destination, prompted by our cancer diagnosis. Maybe it is a long-term destination, to get through a clinical trial. Maybe it is a shorter-term destination, to get through a doctor’s appointment or a medical test. There are so many destinations. We receive our cancer diagnosis and we keep going. Through days, weeks, months, and years.
From what I have read about spider webs, they are meant to trap a spider’s prey. They are meant to entangle you, keep you in one place for your ill-fated end. This reminded me of cancer’s life-threatening grip. We are first introduced to cancer at different places and different stages in our lives. We may have different types of cancer, different diagnoses, and prognoses, but our survival instincts engulf us and whether we are running from diagnosis to surgery, from surgery to chemotherapy, from clinical trial to trial results, that instinct propels us forward to run through the spider’s web. I am proud to be a cancer survivor and in the company of so many who, despite the web, the entanglements that come with a diagnosis, keep running through it. Let’s keep going. At 13 years of survival, I get excited about rediscovering my amazing abilities to do the seemingly impossible. I hope you do, too. Keep going!
Melanie A. Nix is a triple negative breast cancer survivor. She uses her endowments as a storyteller, coach, and celebrator to bring joy and fulfillment to the lives of everyone she touches. The chief visionary of Diagnosis to Destiny, she shares lessons learned from surviving cancer that can pave the road from diagnosis to destiny. Follow Melanie on Instagram @diagnosistodestiny and on Twitter @Diagnosis2Dstny.
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