One year ago this week, I was having gastro-intestinal esophageal surgery. At 34 years old and married with three kids, I never thought I’d face cancer and major surgery. I was a very healthy woman, worked out everyday, and ate well. I did CrossFit, I was in the best shape of my life! How did I get sick? Why did this happen to me? What was I going to do? Who would my husband marry after I kicked the bucket and left him a 35-year-old widow?
Leading up to the summer of 2014, I was in phenomenal shape. I was at the gym at least five days a week. I loved doing CrossFit, but I was struggling with terrible heartburn, and my upset stomach was interfering with my ability to finish a workout. I finally went to the doctor to find out that I had a tumor in my esophagus. It was the first time in my life that I was facing my own morality. I was a hot mess. Seriously, ONE HOT MESS.My surgery was scheduled for August 7th. We found the tumor in late June, so I had plenty of time to plan my own funeral, attempt to find a wife for my husband, and think about all of the things we would need to do to get the kids ready for my early departure. I was pretty convinced that the tumor was cancerous—the survival rate for this type of cancer was less than 5%. We couldn’t do a biopsy because of the location of the tumor. If the doctor went in to clip the tumor and it was cancer, it could enter my bloodstream and potentially lead to cancer throughout my entire body.
The morning of my surgery was extremely difficult. I politely asked to be sedated when entering pre-op. Just running away had crossed my minds several times, I knew I needed to be drugged. I kissed my husband and said a prayer. The next thing I remember was waking up in the ICU with my husband standing over me saying three beautiful words, “ It’s not cancer.” I told him I loved him and then passed out.
The next six days in the hospital were the most painful and mentally trying days of my life. I have three kids, that says a lot. I am allergic to pain medication, so by day three, I was only receiving liquid Tylenol. I was ready to go home by day six to get some actual sleep. I spent the next two weeks eating soup and trying to heal.
Physically, I had healed pretty well by the 12-week mark. Everyday, I attempted to walk and do as much activity as my body allowed. By 16 weeks, I was jogging and riding my bike. This process continued until I came home from a run in February. I went seven miles that day. I felt good, no real issues and then I sneezed. I looked down and realized that I had herniated my incisional scar.
I went back to my gastroenterologist. Sure enough, I needed a hernia repair. What a pain in the ass! I had to go back for a repair in March. I spent my spring break laying in bed recovering from surgery number two. So, once again, I had to press the restart button on my workout routine.
I spent the summer of 2015 running and riding my bike. This past week, I finally decided that I am ready to go back to the gym. I have physically and mentally healed from this long journey. I need to get back to the gym to overcome my fears:
Will I ever be able to get back in shape?
Maybe I should just change my idea of the type of exercise I can handle.
I probably shouldn’t workout anymore, I don’t want my guts falling out.
What if my body just quits?
What if I have to have another surgery?
What if I am so far out of shape, I can never really get back into shape?
I am tired of being scared. I have had a long year but no more excuses and no more fear. I am going to chronicle my journey of going back to the gym and getting back in shape. My real fear should be how sore I’m going to be the next morning when I try to get out of bed.
Meredith is a work from home mother of three who spends her time saving for her future adult children’s therapy bills. Lets face it, they may not all go to college, but therapy is a given.