Friday, September 14, 2012

2012 Terry Fox Run this Sunday

So Shakespeare, whomever that may be, so observed rightly, that all romances are in some aspect, comedic; likewise, all relationships and the progression of life, in such a manner, tragic.

I live a life extra ordinary. Good hours, sunny evenings clashing with high fevers, ruptures and bleeding and a heart which beats like a banjo with one string. I went to bed for three hours yesterday evening: “I reset the alarm for an hour and tried to wake you each hour after, but this is the first time you responded.” It is 3:00 am. I drift back to sleep and hope for waking another day.

The Terry Fox Run is on Sunday. I am signed up. I found out two days ago that it was not in three weeks as expected. I have two days to fundraise and my goal is $500 (if you are going to do something based on an dream, you might as well dream big).
There is no fundraising for the disease I have. Cancer affects more people than any other serious illness with the exception of depression. In fundraising for those who get it, those who had it, who have it and the lives surrounding who are affected by it, I will try to represent for my friends and associates. Because if cancer hasn’t already touched your life in some way, it will. Click
here for the fundraising page.

I have watched Gattaca, the film with Jude Law as a paraplegic, once more and listening to the score by the quirky Michael Nyman, particularly his piano solo for 12 fingers (Nyman, a champion the difference of all).

Gattaca is for me minimalism and the game of go combined. Two characters, one with a heart which is to expire prematurely (like my Marfan’s) is excluded from the space flight jobs. So with will power and dedication, he assumes the DNA of one born with the perfect genes, but who is now paralyzed. Many of the things in the film are common practices in hiring and exclusions with insurance. Watching what both are prepared to do in order to keep the dream going sees beyond genome and even will power to perhaps the drive of the soul. Linda and I were both dry mouthed to see Jude Law pulling himself up an extensive circular staircase with his arms. It was a para’s hell, but a journey Linda has seen me make many times.

There are medical reasons that I should not do the run. But then medically I am not supposed to wake tomorrow. I can’t control that but if I wake on Sunday, I will be in the Terry Fox until I am not. Last year ended with me overheating, passing out and not breathing for some minutes. I think I have learned what I needed to succeed from that.

The medical reasons, and tests which say that I am in the late end stage of being terminal are cold medically tested facts:
*Body incapable or diminishing production or converting a large number of essentials including: red blood cells, hemoglobin, B-12 and others.
*Degeneration of: lung capacity, diaphragm function, cohesion of blood vessels, cellular cohesion, nerve death, muscle death, heart, lung, kidneys and liver function.
*Internal bleeding and muscular damage
*Pain levels now so high that my blood is ‘toxic’ with painkillers, a level which would put in a coma or kill a child or teen.

How do I still live? Beats me. But I am not alone. As individuals with stage four cancer, even with a rapid progression, are those with no hope of a treatment, and no way to treat or manage a disease spread to cells, nodes and tumors all over the body. Doctors can only make dying as painless as possible. Except…many people exist in this state, not in remission exact, yet not having it spread, until one day it does. So others who are told they should prepare for death but end up living and living and living. Us statistical anomalies need to stick together.

I have been told that it is ‘not possible’ for me to go that distance. But I have learned that what many doctors see as ‘not possible’ is often ‘what might be bourne.’ Or as one doctor, understanding that I manipulate or ‘hack’ my own body, from adrenaline, endorphin and other tricks, told me that when my heart gives out, I must take a pill, and then a great deal of morphine to cover the pain OR I wheel up a very steep hill.

So I have spent the last year, upright once a week on the treadmill, holding railing and working on staying upright, going forward and avoiding the ‘tip point’ of my heart. At ‘tip point’ the heart cannot move enough blood to bring oxygen to the brain as it is beating both erratic and quickly and blood is pooled inside. I then pass out. Also, sustained exertion very close to the tip point eventually causes tearing and bleeding within the heart. This pain is significant and tearing can require prolonged rest to avoid further tearing.

However, it means that on level ground, I can, with assistance, shuffle along, and on a hill, move at the speed of a turtle lame in one leg. The difficulty is that my heart beat is the same as an Olympic runner in competition for the 100 meters, and keeping it at that level makes my torso and body extremely hot. To keep it at that level for an hour induces heat exhaustion and later heat stroke. So, in training the trick is to notice when the profuse sweating, which is only about a quarter of what it should be, thus overheating, suddenly stops. As this is when it is dangerous, plus it makes me slow in wits and for living, a bit dicey.
I will walk on Sunday. So, better to live at the edge of a volcano, knowing that any fall is a true fall, than to go out falling from a stepladder. I have no disrespect of wheelchairs and the users, which is my primary state, in INDY. But, in that life and individuals can be complex and that I am tired of sitting merely because it is expected of me, I will be upright. The downside is that within a few minutes someone asks me if I am ‘okay and you really look like you should sit down.’

Please join me, I will post once I come home. I am mile 0 in Victoria. I will be in the back, the aptly named dead last, as I was last year (and I only managed to get done half of what I had intended). Still, not the worst spot for an event which is not timed, not a race, and has no losers, only winners.


GirlWithTheCane said...

You're, without a doubt, one of the toughest gals I've ever known. Good luck on Sunday. I'll be thinking of you.


Neil said...

I'll be with you in spirit, dear, but I'd rather be there in person!

When my Beloved told her family about her breast cancer, one of her sisters sent her a card that said, "Emma was so tough that her poodle skirt had a bulldog on it," and inside it continued, "You're tougher." That card also reminded me of one Beth McClung.

Loveand zen hugs,

JaneB said...

Yay, great to hear from you! Many positive thoughts winging your way, and I hope it goes... well, exhilaratingly, excitingly, whatever you most want

Anonymous said...

I thought of you yesterday when I stopped off at the Mount Terry Fox viewpoint, on my way to visit my cousin in Edmonton, wondering if you were able to take part in the run this year. You are truly cast in the spirit of Terry Fox, and I wish you well on Sunday. I'll try and sponsor you... but I'm posting from my cousin's boyfriend's place in downtown Wildwood, Alberta, and not sure I'll be able to do it from here. (That's the reason I'm posting as 'anonymous' - Google is refusing to recognise me!)
Love & peace

Anonymous said...

Have mercy!!
Fight on warrior!!


Elizabeth McClung said...

Thanks Sarah, just picked blackberries so the circulation push will help heal all the cuts (neuropathy is not a friend when trying to pick blackberries in a giant bush-o-thorns).

Neil: cancer sucks - one of my carers saw Terry Fox in Ontario running.

Jane B: I think it will be anxiety to smiling to pain grimace to talking to myself out loud (which I do when limbs feel like cement and I feel like vomiting) - motivation AND keeps people away from you, just in case I do need to hurl.

Kate: Google seems to have a plan to make it impossible to use anything unless you give them the keys to your car, your house and other gifts (they keep trying to mug me in back alleys of the internet). Hope you have a great Sunday.

Jill: Perfect! I am going to post while chipper rather than while trembling.

Olivia said...

Yep, you're tough. I'll be cheering for you Beth.

Baba Yaga said...

I'm probably late to wish you a successful run, or join you in thought, but hope that it was/is, in whatever terms you define success. I think that simply turning up constitues success, in your state of health: more power to your elbow, o warrior princess.

Elizabeth McClung said...

I leave in an hour - time to get ready - power to the elbow indeed.

Elizabeth McClung said...

2:45 - 10K about that - only 1:25 after they opened the roads back up. Good cause, much sun.

SharonMV said...

Dear Beth
glad you made it to the Terry Fox run.
Hope you are doing OK
Love, Sharon

Linda McClung said...

I am so proud of you Beth for making your goal of walking the 10 km. Thanks for helping me share the journey with you. You were amazing. You were definitely Terry-esque. You wouldn't let anything stop you - not blindness, incredible chest pain, heat exhaustion or people's own issues and worries. And you had them all. Oh, and I can't forget the pain which continues to build for you as your body tries to recover.

Lene said...

For as long as I've known you, you have personified doing what is not possible. If you'll run it, I'll sponsor you. I'll be there in spirit, cheering you on.

Linda McClung said...

Blogspot seems to have eaten the comment I tried leaving yesterday. So, I’ll try again.
I am very proud of you Beth for achieving your goal of walking the full 10km. You were one of the few that chose to do the 10km instead of the 5km. I was worried you wouldn’t be able to make it, but you did! You wouldn’t let a racing heartbeat, loss of vision, numbness and heat exhaustion stop you from meeting your goal. It is no wonder Terry Fox’s cousin told Cheryl that you are what the Terry Fox run is all about – doing something no matter how hard it is. I am glad he overheard Cheryl talking to one of the volunteers. It’s too bad you didn’t have the chance to meet Terry’s cousin as you were still walking. I think it was very cool that he gave you a souvenier T-shirt and shoelaces which had the Canadian cities/towns where Terry Fox stopped to talk with people.

Neil said...

I thought of you all day Sunday, except for a couple of hours that we spent at a 60th wedding anniversary party, held for one of my Beloved's desktop publishing clients.

Since you finished after the event was "finished," does that mean you didn't officially finish the 10K? With nobody left to see you arrive at the finish line, they probably assumed you dropped out. Heh; they didn't reckon with the power of Beth McClung!

I hope you recover well from the exertion, dear. And brava to Cheryl and Linda too!

Love and zen hugs to all of you,

Kate J said...

A truly awesome achievement, Beth, and I'm only sorry you didn't get to meet Terry Fox's cousin. You and Terry are two of a kind, I reckon, a very rare kind, the people who never give up. You put the rest of us to shame. Hope you have somewhat recovered from the effort, the pain, the heat-stroke... hope it was worth it.
Love & peace

Lorna, Bob and Liam said...

I'm so off-kilter and late to this game that I actually thought the run was THIS coming Sunday 'til I saw Linda's comments.

As always, your spirit to endure and excel exceeds what most think even possible... good on ya!

Lorna, Bob and Liam