I have just seen cancer treatment described as a Triathlon (or the Triathlon from Hell, actually was the direct quote) and it really made me smile – and think!! There are various components to treating breast cancer, but for many of us there are three big ones. So the Triathlon terminology with its connotation of three main physically demanding and mentally challenging elements sounds quite accurate.
The Breast Cancer Triathlon does not see us competing against each other, however, but rather we focus on completing the course against one common opposition.
For many of us on the Breast Cancer Triathlon, the three main events are – the Surgery Event, the Chemotherapy Event and the Radiotherapy Event. Of course there are peripheral extras, such as the Port Insertion Procedure and Hormone and other Drug Treatments (such as Tamoxifen, Herceptin) and other activities to keep us from getting bored. I could add the Twang Arm special event too. But the biggies are without doubt those three, although we do not always tackle events in the same order. It depends on diagnosis, pathology and an element of choice.
The surgery event was my first event. I found it quite terrifying (before), had interesting dreams (during) and relief and discomfort (after). Although it was the quickest event to complete by a long way, it is a significant hurdle, especially mentally, and the recovery stage requires considerable effort.
Now I am 75% of the way through the Chemo event which I find gets harder the further I go. At this stage, I would call it the most gruelling and horrible event. I am glad that I have rewarded myself at each of the hurdles – I am sure that has helped me to focus on the finish line for this part of the Triathlon. The finish line of this second event is in sight but still I am not quite there. It is a struggle to muster the staying power but I know I have to.
Beyond that I am starting to feel the need to prepare for the third event – the Radiotherapy course. I am not exactly looking forward to it and do trust it will be less demanding than the current event. I will celebrate course completion with the Tamixofen Treat – years of hormone treatment which is highly effective at keeping recurrence at bay. Not an event, but a kind of follow up.
So as I approach the end of the second event, I am trying hard to focus on completing the whole course and beating the opposition with all of your support and help!!!