Those who live in states and cities hardest hit by the coronavirus are coming to terms that in their words, this will be a "lost summer." That's because the beaches likely won't open, there will be no baseball and Fourth of July fireworks, and no festivals. While the rest of the world was getting used to this, I was happily running my heart out, getting in shape for bikini weather, because in my Chicago neighborhood, it's long been a tradition for locals to sneak to the beaches before they open to avoid the crowds. I was looking forward to that.
Of course, Covid-19 could have made that tricky, because police may guard the beaches, keeping locals out. But, I was excited to see if I could go to the beach. Then, I got a call from my plastic surgeon saying I could schedule my surgical revision to my reconstruction that stemmed from my battle with breast cancer. I knew I needed to get the surgery in this month before I switch insurance companies, so I set up my day for surgery. Then it hit me: After two years of "lost summers," I would have one yet again. I was so excited to have a normal summer -- even though it wouldn't be like the ones I experienced in the past.
During the summer of 2018, I traded a beach towel stretched on the sandy beach for a recliner at the cancer center, as I went through chemo. The following year was my year of surgeries. I had one major one and then a smaller one. It seemed like I just healed from one and took the obligatory month off from working out and I was in preop again for surgery. It was so depressing. While I was happy to be a cancer survivor and to be in this phase of recovery, I wanted to get back to working out and being active -- two things I have realized are so quintessentially me.
I had no idea how important they were to me until I was sidelined. I feel most free when I am running, erasing my mind of all concerns as I prove to myself over and over again how strong my body is. And, being outdoors in nature is also so refreshing, as it reminds me of how grateful I am for what God has created. It is just so peaceful.
So, when I got that call from my plastic surgeon telling me I can go back under the knife this month in June, I had mixed emotions. I was happy because I would be getting the surgery in, but I was sad for what I would miss. And, I didn't realize how sad I was until a day or so after that call. I feared losing ground on my fitness goals, as I have finally been able to workout, uninterrupted, for six months. I hadn't done that since before I was diagnosed with cancer. My body was getting so much stronger, and just the other day, I ran farther than I ever had! I was so excited to keep pushing myself and getting up to a six-miler.
Those hopes all came crashing down, at least for now. I was also beginning to lose some of my chemo weight and was getting closer to fitting into some of my old clothes. The good thing is the two pairs of shorts I had to buy last summer because I was too big for my normal shorts are now getting baggy. I'm not shallow; it's not all about how I look or how my clothes fit. Rather, these are indications of my fitness level and how I have -- or was -- reclaiming my body.
And, for now, I will have to come to terms that I will have to halt my workouts for one month in a few weeks when I have surgery. Another reward for working out has also to feel confident in my bikini as I layout at the beach. I was so excited for that, and to cooling off in the water. Sure, I could probably still layout, but it was the dip in the water I was most excited for. As I recover, I will be unable to go into the lake water for risk of infection to my wounds.
That said, I will be like the rest of my friends and have a "lost summer" in some ways. But, when I think back on my cancer battle, I never viewed the summer months of 2018 as lost, because that is when I had tremendous personal growth. Cancer makes you face many things in life, and you can chose to grow from them. That's what I did. This summer, I will be doing more of the same as I realize how grateful I am to be alive, to have a plastic surgeon who can help me be whole again and to be safe from the effects of the coronavirus.