Life's Great Metaphor

Last week, my plastic surgeon gave me the great and glorious news that I (finally!) could start jogging again – slowly.  That was absolute music to my ears and a big, fat Silver Lining of the week!

Because we’ve had some rain this week (which is absolutely wonderful news!), I decided that my first jog post-surgery would be on a treadmill in a gym. I joyously hopped on the treadmill with my usual accoutrements (an iPad to watch Jack Bauer defeat terrorists in 24 and a cup of tea) and set the speed to 5.5 (my usual is 6.5).  Nice and slow…for me.

It has been about 8 weeks since my last run on a treadmill (an eternity for me!).  I figured that running on a treadmill was quite like riding a bike…hop back on and resume where I left off. W-R-O-N-G.

About 3 minutes into the run, I lost my balance. First, my right knee went down…then my left. I held onto the railing with my left hand, knees and feet dragging behind…

And then-oh this was the worst part- I tried to get up – while the treadmill was still moving. Can you imagine?  Trying to stand up on a moving treadmill (at jog pace speed)?  Disaster!  What a mess. After about 2 seconds of calamitously trying to get up, my left hand couldn’t hold on any longer and went down to brace myself and got tangled under my discombobulated feed.  Finally, the treadmill sent my whole mangled body shooting off the back end, ripping the headphones from my ears in the process. All of this happened in about a minute or less.

Did I mention that I was at a gym? And that it was crowded? There was a wave of gasps, a couple of screeches and one very, very loud f-bomb (from me).

I did the only thing I knew how to do. I got up, brushed myself off and got back on the f-bomb treadmill.

As I started jogging again, ridden with scrapes, bruises and knots (no bare legs for a while!) and an equally damaged ego, I wondered: What is the Silver Lining of being spit off the back end of a treadmill on this first day of running in 2 months?

The first thing that came to mind (almost immediately) is that this calamitous mishap was analogous to my experience with FBC (f-bomb breast cancer for new readers).

In the last year, my body, mind and spirit were mangled by disease. I was physically and emotionally bruised and beaten….just as I was when I was spewed off of the treadmill. However, just as I did on the floor of the gym, post FBC, I am picking myself up, brushing myself off and getting back on the treadmill of life (that I love so much).

The other Silver Lining lesson that I learned is that just as I was unable to resume running on the treadmill as I had done before (no, not quite like riding a bike), I am unable to resume my life where I left it off when I was diagnosed. No, that’s not how things work. Things are different now. I am forever changed. I’d like to think for the better (Silver Lining).

I’ll continue to run both on the treadmill and in life, but just a little more slowly…at least for the time being.

The other two Silver Linings of this event: The Girls neither popped nor fell off. Phew!

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  1. Sandy says

    Hollye…thank you sooo much for your website—-for your taking the time to help other thrivers and survivors. I stated before in a post that since my BC diagnosis, I have bought upteen books on breast cancer and all the routines of "before, during, and after". None of the books have helped me as much as your website. What a wonderful day when I found your website. FYI…my diagnosis was the same as yours and ANYTHING and EVERYTHING that could go wrong with the chemo process…did go wrong. My oncologist told me that they left "me" out of his textbook on chemo. But hey—-we're on the other side now and building. Blessings to you

    • says

      Wow, Sandy. Thank you so much for your kind and thoughtful note. I can't tell you how much I appreciate it. Sounds like we had a very similar experience. Thank you, again! Best wishes to you!

  2. Adriane says

    Oh my gosh Hollye, you are killing me cause that sound EXACTLY like something I would do. I too am learning that while my brain thinks it is the same body, the body has a different take on that!! I too am starting to start running again, but this time in black belt conditioning. I should confess that I don't like running because I have a tendancy to fall down! The last time I ran outside, I ended up with three sutures in my thumb and 3 views of my knee via x-ray!! So I don't care if I am the last black belt candidate across the finish line: 1 everone will be cheering me on and 2. I will have finished!!! Hang in there lady!! You will get there it will just take a bit longer than we thought 🙂
    PS So glad the girls made it through unscathed!!! whew!

  3. Ami says

    Dear Hollye,
    I just read your treadmill article while recuperating from my surgery this week (prophylactic mastectomy plus bilateral immediate reconstruction with expanders on both sides; I had mastectomy on the cancer side last fall), and it just totally made my day.
    First of all, your story about falling off the treadmill, it made me laugh, although I'm sure it wasn't funny for you the minute it happened. But you write with such humor and grace! And by now, we all learned that humor is what gets us through the rough times in life.
    And, I just totally loved your metaphor about picking yourself up, getting back up on the treadmill to doing the same thing in the FBC. You are really brave and courageous. YOU are the "Silver Lining" for all of us FBC survivors. Please keep writing your wonderful blog. And God bless you! Happy Easter!

    • says

      Hi Ami,
      I'm so glad to hear that the story made you laugh…because it was quite hilarious! After I dropped the F-bomb, I did laugh!
      Thank you for your kind words. I appreciate it so very much!

    • Sandy says

      Ami….I could not agree more—Hollye is a god-send. I have bought "I can't count" how many books on breast cancer, and none have helped me like Hollye's website. I am SOOO thankful for this wonderful resource. Blessings to you.

  4. Kim C says

    You have an amazing attitude! You'll be running around those pretty Santa Barbara roads in no time! After the rain the gardens will be stunning!
    All the best,

  5. Adele says

    Good for you for getting back up and on that treadmill! That has happened to me before and yes, you feel like an idiot…but hey…..whatcha gonna do? It reminds me of this video I saw not long ago- of just this…people on treadmills and taking a dive….it happens a lot! ;-0 Enjoy your new adventures and keep the humor! I Think you rock!!! xo,Adele p.s. So very glad the 'girls" survived!
    reminds me of an episode of Will and Grace-when she wears a water bra- filled with water to make her boobies bigger…and gets a leak! funny stuff!

    • says

      Dear Joyce,
      I'm so glad that this story will help you tomorrow at your appointment. Please let me know how it goes!
      Sending my very best wishes!

  6. Anne Lynn Jarman says

    Dear Hollye,

    These metaphors are everywhere. Soon after my release to go in the pool after radiation had ended, and my skin was calm enough, I flung myself into the pool at work to bang out my usual 40 lap warm up. It was the most dispiriting thing I think I have experience with all of this F-BC, I couldn't breathe, pneumonitis, I couldn't swim right, contracture of my pectoralis from the radiation, an ongoing issue, stretch, stretch, stretch. And most humiliating of all, I began to sink during the second lap and spent 10 minutes clinging to the side, sucking air. I finished 8 more laps by stops and starts, and shattered I got out, showered and drove home.

    I think it was then that I grasped the magnitude if what had happened to me. Other people still tell me how great I look, etc. but I know nothing will be quite the same. I have a new man, who copes with my new body, segmental mastectomy and radiation, so a little funky. And I'm back seeing patients in clinic again, but now I know how easy it is to tire, and how easy it is to sink in the middle of the water if you don't grit your teeth and push on.

    One month to go before my first MRI since diagnosis, I have invasive lobular carcinoma so it's the only way to really know what's going on. My youngest child is graduating from LSU May 18, so I also know that whatever the news from the MRI, unless it's clear, will have to be suppressed until after graduation. And that's how you find out you are a grown-up. My new man marvels that nothing rattles me, and it used to be that everything did, but my calm is Zen-like now.

    It will come back, I beat a lawn mower and yard blower into submission, they were both not running, yesterday, and while I'm tired today, at work, the yard looks good.

    Silver lining… Life just comes at me and I roll with it.

    Best wishes for your recovery!!!


    • says

      Dear Anne,
      Thank you so much for your note! Sinking in the pool? Oh my gosh. Wowsy. Way to forge ahead, even if in fits and starts.
      And yeah for you for taking on the lawn mower AND yard blower. That is really impressive.
      Please let me know how your appointment goes!
      All my best,