Tuesday, March 22, 2011

Learning to Converse with Jenna

Yesterday I had my first boxing lesson with Kat Zamiar owner of Pow! Gym in the West Loop.

I was especially excited about the training session because my white blood counts were at an all time high, I was feeling great, and I felt ready to test my body's abilities.

Kat (pictured here) is a serious badass. She is maybe 5 feet tall and is a trained martial artist.  She holds black belts in Tae Kwon Do, Goju Karate, and Shorin Ryu Karate, and she owns and runs a gym that is mostly filled with seriously tough looking dudes.

We started off the session with a long warm up, where I had the opportunity to further explain my battle, where I was at with the treatment, and what some of my physical limitations are.   I explained how my chemotherapy regimen makes me anemic therefore causing me to get dizzy very easily, weak, and more prone to fainting. In addition, the Neulasta shot, affectionately referred to as my miracle worker, extracts bone marrow from my hip, ultimately which causes soreness and tenderness.  And finally, I explained how I am suffering from neuropathy- loss of feeling in my fingers which apparently will worsen as treatment continues and may linger for months after treatment ends.

Oh the joys of chemo!

Kat said something to me yesterday that really got me thinking. She said "Jenna, you should see this as an opportunity to build your body the way that you have always wanted it to look and intended it to be."  

Her comment struck me because it's not only my body that I have the opportunity to rebuild, mold and shape, but its my heart, spirit, mind, and perspective that I get to craft in tandem. 

Chemo's role is to slowly and methodically obliterate every cell, both good and bad, until my immune system is eventually knocked out.  Once it is knocked out, it starts to rebuild cell by cell, creating a brand new,  healthier me.  I suppose it is only fitting, that as Chemo throws its punches, I am throwing my own.

As I laced up my gloves and faced the bag, I pictured Cancer. There she was staring me in the face, but this time she wasn't punching back. Over and over I swung at her, each time with more force and more aggression. My determination to live and survive drove every last punch.

After an hour of punching and kicking Cancer in the face, I was tired, but felt triumphant. The muscle aches I feel today remind me of what it feels like to be alive- really alive.  Strengthening my physical abilities throughout this fight has become equally important just as strengthening my mind.  I truly feel that I am getting into the best shape of my life.

Every time I get on the treadmill to run, dance shamelessly around my room, and throw punches, I am not only giving Cancer the finger, but I am conversing with the Jenna whose been quieted by this disease and has been patiently waiting to be let out.  Hopefully in the weeks, months and years to come, I will continue to talk to her, hear her, and eventually free her.

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