Friday, September 17, 2010
Cancer Hates Oxygen
*This blog is for Survivors, those who know Survivors and those who want to know how we live. My hope is to give a small glimpse into a world where statistics, charities and pity form a façade to millions who just want to live a normal life. Any future imagery, although possibly disturbing to some, is in no way intended to shock. Rather it is intended to show our not so secret society of survivorship in its true light. Thank you for reading. It was 5 a.m. I could still hear the rain pattering through the screens in the windows. The air was heavy after a night of storms and bad sleep…again. The day after another killer weight session and my body was asking, more like begging, to surrender. Just one more hour of sleep. It will sound funny but I can hear my body talk. Some call it hyper-vigilance. I call it the Inner Voice. Some days it’s a whisper. Some days it is a dissonance of shrills and screeches. Always wanting attention. Feed me. Rest me. Work me. I wanted one more hour of sleep. Maybe it was the mere thought of tossing and turning for sixty minutes that changed my mind. Then it occurred to me. A simple statement I learned not so long ago. Cancer hates oxygen. Time and time again, science has scratched its head over the silly riddle – Why does cancer die in high oxygen environments? My answer to that is more base – who cares. Cancer hates oxygen. I have often thought that the mind is a pure ventriloquist. It uses the heart as a simple dummy, pushing it here and there. Making the heart do its’ bidding. But once your heart sets the course, nothing can change it. My brain reacting like something akin to a hangover as my feet hit the floor. I am dehydrated and hungry as I adjust my sneakers for third time. I am not one of those elite runners. After many blisters, I have invested in a good pair of running shoes. I have all of the wick ware that I need. Still, I am goofy as I stretch in my driveway. At once I start my deep breathing. I try to stretch my ribs as far as they will move so that I can gain a few more molecules of air. I pick a song off my iPod and simply go. As I dart past the darkened windows, the Inner Voice immediately starts yammering. My legs are tired. How far do you think you are going to go today? Cut it short. Is that knee pain I feel? It takes my body longer than most to ‘warm up’. My engine is working on six cylinders not eight - the result of an impromptu bypass at the age of thirty-seven. It was another domino that fell. Part of my cure, what started as a six year old Hodgkin’s patient, turned to be a dance with the devil. Decades later, fallout. Triple bypasses. Liver resections. A life of psychiatrists. Cut open. Dissected. Pain. Drugs. Thoughts of a bleak future. These are the same thoughts that prevail during my runs. The music is the background. The feelings are the road behind me. Today was a tune up. One and a half miles. I do short, hard runs. I try to keep my heart beating. I try to keep breathing. People forget. I try to forget. What I do is often viewed as radical. A borderline mania. I call it a religion. Monday – Weights Tuesday – Running Wednesday – Rest/possible gym at lunch Thursday - Weights Friday – Running Saturday – rest Sunday – running Over and over. In the rain. In the snow. In the heat or cold. Injuries mount up. Knees give way. Overworked muscles want to be left alone. A television remote beckons repeatedly. Sit. Relax. I can’t vegetate but I can be vegetarian. Exotic foods like brewers yeast, cacao nibs, flax seed, nuts, berries, odd grains, sometimes-peculiar vegetables fill me up yet I still would give it all away for a Twinkie. Cancer loves sugar. If I can help it, I won’t give it another chance. I want to be a moving target. In my mind, my cells are executioners. Anything foreign goes. I am a killing machine. I finish my run strong. It was a fast time for me. Fast being a relative term. My heart is slamming through my chest but it quickly dies down. It knows the routine. I listen for a few more moments as I suck in as much air as I can take. The Inner Voice is simply purring. It won’t last. For now, I have quelled my demons. My shoulders always heave as I take in the last of the deep breaths. I gulp one more yawning inhale before heading back in. The rain held off. Just a few flecks on my forehead. The last breath flows out of me, long and slow. I haven’t cheated myself today. I always have to remind myself – keep breathing. Cancer really does hate oxygen.