Learning to Make Concessions

Tuesday, 05 Aug 2014 03:48 PM

By Ronni Gordon

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Some cancer survivors who were very active before treatment have trouble accepting their limitations after their treatment is finished. Trust me, I’m one of them.
 
Though I’m approaching 60, I am more active than many people my age, even after going through grueling treatment for leukemia — four times. Since finishing treatment, I have gotten back to running, playing tennis, doing yoga, and walking my dog.
 
Yet I can’t seem to get it through my head that I have to be extra vigilant, and maybe even make some concessions.
 
For instance, a couple of years ago, not long after I had gotten back to jogging, I tripped over a large root on the path around a lake near my home. I went crashing down, and hit my head hard on the ground. I managed to get up, and walked back in the direction I’d come from.
 
I asked two women who were coming my way if they had a tissue.
 
“You need more than a tissue,” one of them said.
 
They took me to a nearby bench and called 911, as well as my son. An ambulance and paramedics soon arrived, and I fainted when they were taking my vitals. I had a concussion, bad bruises, and a strain to me knee. I was taken to the hospital.
 
But still, I was unable to rest for very long.
 
Not two weeks later, I convinced a friend to load my bike onto my car. I drove to visit another friend who agreed to go with me on a ride through the beautiful roads near his house.
 
While I was riding up a hill, I shifted into lower and lower gears and proceeded to climb more and more slowly. I teetered a little and then swayed from the shoulder into the road, falling off my bike and nearly into the path of an oncoming car. Luckily, I was wearing my helmet, because my head actually grazed the car’s wheel.
 
For that, I earned another ride in an ambulance, this one scarier than the first, with my head immobilized on a stretcher. I had a fractured collarbone along with many bruises. My children were horrified that, having survived cancer treatment, I’d nearly gotten myself killed on a bike.
 
But I really wanted to get back on the bike, and after resting for a while, I figured out a way that I could do it and be safe too. I may no longer be agile enough to ride the typical “boy’s bike” (with a high crossbar) that I used to ride as far as 80 miles a day, so I traded it in for a frame with a low crossbar that drops into a deep “V,” sometimes called a “step-through” or an “open” frame.
 
I asked the salesman if he thought it was an “old lady bike.” He assured me that it wasn’t, and that, in fact, the style was quite popular nowadays.
 
But even if it is, who cares?
 
Maybe you run more slowly, or your drop shot isn’t what it used to be, or your bike doesn’t have the same sleek look.
 
But you’re alive and you’re out there trying. And in the end, that’s all that matters.

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Ronni Gordon is a cancer survivor and long-time journalist who has written extensively about health issues and her personal journey. She has a master’s degree in journalism from Boston University and has written for The New York Times, The Philadelphia Inquirer, and many other publications.
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