The Final Countdown

Exercise during chemotherapy - Dr. Ryan Thibodaux dds

Next weekend I will have my last planned chemotherapy visit.

Six short months and too many needles to count. I can say that a big motivator for me through the ups and downs of symptom and side effect management has been my pledge to make the most of my good days. It wasn’t long before I extended my pledge to include making the most of my not-so-good days too.

Continuing to exercise during chemotherapy

At my house, I keep an overflowing basket of notes and cards from friends and family lending love and support. Through it all, I have trained my mind with daily meditation and gratitude reflections. I also continued to exercise during chemotherapy, with countless sets of push-ups, pull-ups, and sit-ups. Actually, they are not countless at all. I found a great sense of personal accountability in physically marking my calendar with each completed set.

Since my chemo start date in January, I have completed:

  • 155 sets of 35 push-ups
  • 103 sets of 8 pull-ups
  • and thousands of sit-ups

The big smile on my face is a direct result of the fact that I have biked 8.5 miles to work 23 times since the start of the year. With each pedal stroke I continue to approach my target of 100 bike rides in 2019.

I have also held true to my aspiration to test myself in a quarterly fitness goal by joining my great friend, John, in completing FortWorth’s Cowtown 1/2 Marathon mid-treatment to benefit the Ability Project. My next adventure has me riding my bike 50 miles on a closed course for a New Orleans cancer organization, Beth’s Friends Forever.

Gaining perspective through this experience

When folks ask what my experience through the cancer battle has been like, I usually speak of the perspective I’ve gained seeing others in various stages of the disease. Each chemotherapy visit is completed at The Gayle and Tom Benson Cancer Center. The open feel of the infusion center allows me to directly interact with other patients during our hours of drip time.

I have seen everything from smiling overjoyed faces to true suffering. At my last visit, I sat visiting with a best bud, Matt, who flew his family in from L.A. to support my journey. Along with him, was my wife, Lynda, and the wife of a good friend. Directly across from me was an older lady visibly rundown from her fight with the disease. She was reluctant to start the IV given how she was feeling. But eventually, she did with the gentle guidance of a caring oncology nurse.

As the appointment went along, her health further deteriorated and her treatment was ended early. To me, the saddest part was knowing that she had been dropped off for her care as her husband had to return to work. She endured the hours without the assistance and support of a friend or family member. Being that she finished early, her husband then had to be called from work to return. Her experience points to the true everyday challenges of living with cancer.

Some folks like me have everything they need in abundance. Others simply need a ride to or from care. They need help paying a pending electric bill and/or a supportive touch or empathetic ear at a low point. That’s where organizations like Lympho-Maniacs and Beth’s Friends Forever step in by providing everyday resources to those in an overwhelming and vulnerable position.

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