Returning to the normal pace of life post breast cancer treatment, has been a gruelling task. I look healthy: my hair has returned and I've started to rid myself of the steroid bloat, I'm learning to handle the tamoxifen and have been able to train. This has caused me some heartache. Exhausted at weekends, I put off offers of socialising and this inevitably upsets my friends. It has been a struggle to find a happy balance between work, life and loved ones. Six month gaps in blog entries should speak volumes: I'm not quite there yet!
Some months ago I was persuaded by Susannah to enter a triathlon. She reasoned that it would help me focus on getting fit but that it would also be something we could do togther. And so I began to swim. Public baths are on the banned list for chemotherapy patients so I hadn't been near a swimming pool in months. I started tri-training at the beginning of the summer term.
Cecilia, who is a torpedo in the water, has to take credit for being the best training partner a girl could have. Dutifully meeting me at dawn for swimming sessions and braving the April cold to take a dip in Brockwell Lido. Another positive step towards reclaiming that balance between life and socialising.
I entered an aqualthon as a warm-up event and really enjoyed myself. Sam's mum came to cheer and bought me tea and cake afterwards. By July, I was terrified but ready to take on the swim-bike-run challenge. I'd spent most of June trying to work on my swimming and was sure that I could last the distance.
My plan had been to stick close to Susannah during the swim. I thought I might be able to slipstream the way you can in cycling. No such luck! I was swum over by other, stronger competitors and even got lapped by the wave behind. I hung on and prayed that I'd make it.
Susannah, although she will tell you otherwise, had swum beautifully and exited the water minutes before me. She also surprised herself by putting in a very decent bike leg. Being on two wheels saved the day for me. Truly the only part I enjoyed.
I caught my baby sister with two laps of the bike leg to go. I put little more than a minute into her, but by the time we were out of transition for the run, she was closing down on me. I am making this sound like a competition between the two of us but the honest fact is that I wouldn't have started had she not been there. I know that I wouldn't have finished without her encouragement.
By the time we were running the temperature was 32 degrees centigrade. I was in pain and didn't think I could finish. Susannah caught me on the first of three laps, "Come on, fighter!". Being able to keep her in sight gave me a focus and I listened to her instructions, "Keep it strong and steady".
I am not an accomplished triathlete. I did well because I still have some strength on a bike. I enjoy the swim training and I've always loved running. I will do this again because of the camaraderie. Big love to Susannah, Chris, Cecilia and Sam for seeing me through this.