The road is so winding and narrow, that music is out of the question. I have taken up running, in a surprise move (I haven’t gone for a run in the last 25 years) spurred by a casual comment sofa girl made about wanting to start running 5Ks and by the nutritionist I have been seeing as part of my cancer care – she wants me to up my muscle mass a little bit, and I know I have to up the ante of my cardiovascular workouts.
Running seemed the easy thing to do. Put on my shoes, walk out of my house and go. Never mind that I am confronted with only hills and not a stretch of flat road, added to which are the twists and hairpin turns that prevent me from listening to music, lest an idiotic teenager on a thrill seeking expedition rounds a bend and doesn’t know how to avoid the middle-aged woman in pink socks running uphill, having a conversation with her lungs to please stop protesting, while listening to Eminem. Better be alert.
Once I get to the entrance of the state park, I stretch for a few minutes then turn around and head for home: 40 minutes, 3.7Ks. Pretty decent for a beginner, or so I would like to think. Please do not burst my bubble if you know otherwise. Running helps me rearrange my thoughts and organize bits of ideas for blog posts. It also gets me out of my head and, these days, it’s a bonus.
I notice things I don’t while I drive or if I am busy managing two large dogs on a mission: the shushing of the eucalyptus trees in the winds; the two llamas one of the neighbours is now keeping next to the stables (what are llamas good for anyway?); the rhythmic toc-tocking of my steps on the asphalt; the smell of manure.
The last trek up my steep driveway nearly kills me every time but the full glass of water I reach for as soon as I close the door behind me has never tasted so good. I am sweaty, and a magnet for dog licking so I peel the layers off and jump in the shower. The hot water soothes the muscles and cleans away the stickiness. It feels more cleansing and more indulging tha the daily run of the mill shower.
With the corner of my eye, I see the stitches that, until yesterday, were on my right breast, fall to the ground and I kneel to stop them being washed away by the water. I dry off slowly, wrap myself in the pale pink towel and walk to the mirror for the moment of truth. At my first, passing glance nothing seems to be amiss. As hard as I try to locate it, the scar is invisible. But on (not so) closer inspection half of the pleasant curve underneath my tiny breast has gone. I am not sure how I feel about it.
One part of me is elated that surgery has advanced so much that a lumpectomy does not leave a woman disfigured. Another part knows the asymmetry will be a reminder for a long time to come, one I wouldn’t dream of erasing with breast implants.
I am still whole.