Tuesday, December 11, 2012

#413: Same Goal, Different Foe

Been quite a hiatus since my last post. My bad. I've let a lot of things distract me from my center. Some important, some irrelevant, some seemingly insurmountable. There have been other priorities: getting the taxes done, (finally); increasing my workouts to build strength and speed; dealing with finances and paperwork; blah, blah, blah, etc. There have been time wasters: solitaire and Words with Friends; way too many hours spent on Facebook; Netflix. Then there's my old friend, depression. I've said that cancer was easier to live with than depression, and I meant it. Both are potentially fatal diseases. But only one is curable. I'll spend the rest of my life as someone who had cancer once, but I'll always be a man living with depression. It's never going to beat me. I'm not going to let that happen. But it's going to keep trying.

Depression is a cruel disease. The things that help the most are exactly the things that depression tried to keep you from doing. Get out of bed. Remember your meds. Exercise. Tell a friend you're hurting. See the doctor. Visit the therapist. Fighting cancer is a pretty passive process by comparison. Mostly, it's about enduring. You suffer and you take it. You know that cancer will either kill you or it won't and you just hang on for as long as you can until that resolution comes. But fighting depression requires action. Getting this blog back in motion is one of the actions I think I want to take as part of my own fight. I'm not going to let the darkness win. Ever.

There's been lots of good news since summer. Maybe the best is that I've taken one more step toward a dream that was born even before I got sick. Two weeks ago, I signed a contract as a Personal Trainer for the YMCA. I got a little misty as I put my signature at the bottom of the page. I flashed back to the day during radiation treatments when tried to make it to the bathroom and couldn't get out of bed. I threw up all over the floor and sat there weeping as Mrs P cleaned me and the bedroom up. I thought of how weak I felt that day, and how her faith in me was often the only reason I had to keep fighting. Her love kept me alive through the worst of times, and now it felt like the best of times were ready to begin. I'm still a rookie trainer. I'm studying hard to earn that NCSM certification that will be my real credential, but for now, I'm doing the work I love: helping people to fight for their lives.

I ran two Half Marathons this fall: the beautiful Iron Horse Half in Midway KY and the Monumental in Indianapolis. The Monumental was particularly special because I got a chance to finally meet and run with a friend and inspiration: Charlie the Javarunner. His blog, Running With Coffee is an informative and authentic telling of his own journey and struggles as a runner. We've been friends for over a decade online, but never met before my trip to Indy this November. It was a joy and an honor to meet him and spend 13.1 flat Indiana miles together.

I've been training with Coach Carrie for most of the running season this year and it has paid off. This year I set personal records in the 5K, the 10K, and the Half. She encourages me to work hard, and inspires me to keep going through the pain and fatigue that comes when I approach my own limits. More than once, I have heard her voice on the road or in the weight room when she isn't even there, pushing me to finish that last mile or pull that last rep.

It's funny. I've never been very big on combat metaphors. I was very competitive when I was a kid, and since I wasn't really very good at any of the sports we played in the neighborhood, that hunger to win produced a lot of anger and frustration in me. I tried to give up fighting for anything, but cancer taught me that some battles are worth taking on. Today, my battle is against another disease: one that hurts a lot of people I love. It is relentless and insidious. It wants to take my life.

And it's gonna find the Fat Man and Mrs P to be a formidable team.



  1. Welcome back, friend. Regardless of the battle, I'll always be in your corner!

    1. There is no balm for the aching soul like the love of a friend. Thanks, Doc.

  2. Coach, thanks for being my personal trainer, brother & friend. May you know you are helping me get healthy & fit by being so positive, supportive, & working me hard. I was so down about my weight & health before we started but thanks to you I feel I can make a change for the better. I appreciate you! Love to you & Mrs P!



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