In January 2010, I turned on the television and the first words spoken were from Dr. Nancy Snyderman, “The number one thing you can do to prevent cancer recurrence is to eat healthy and exercise.”
The next day I was at the gym signing a membership contract.
At that time, I was seven months in remission after battling cancer for the second time and undergoing an autologous stem cell transplant. There was a reason I had the urge to turn on the television that day. I needed to hear those words. I didn’t take it lightly. I never ever wanted to be sitting in an infusion room again.
I dove into a life of exercise and taking care of myself. In just a few months’ time, I lost over ten pounds. I felt incredible physically and always looked forward to the next day when the sweat would hit the floor.
In July 2010, the cancer came back, now and for the third time I was battling cancer at 24-years old. I didn’t understand. I thought I was doing everything right with my body. I was exercising and eating right. What more did my body need?
After much self-evaluation, I realized that stress had a gigantic hold on my life. I stressed about everything. I had a stressful job as a police dispatcher. I rarely rested, and I let myself get upset too easily over trivial things. I lived a high stress life and once again, I had to make some changes.
I had an allogenic stem cell transplant from a non-related donor in October 2010. Since then, all of my CT/PET scans have been clear. I quit my high stress job as a police dispatcher and went back to school full-time. I continued my love affair with the gym and began eating healthier than I ever have.
I still remember it so clearly three years later, “The number one thing you can do to prevent cancer recurrence is to eat healthy and exercise.”
In November 2012, right after reaching two years in remission, I joined The Leukemia & Lymphoma Society’s Team in Training to run a marathon. Yes, 26.2 miles. The only event offered was Paris, France with a fundraising minimum of $5,900. Go big or go home, right?
Everyone on the team began with a two-mile run. I was convinced that this wasn’t for me. Running was not for me. But I stuck with it. I wanted to prove myself wrong, and I was determined to finish. Two miles turned into four, and then six, and eight, and ten. Five days per week of running, I just ran 21 miles on Saturday, March 16.
Has it been hard? Absolutely!
Did the weather make me to want to turn around and go back into my warm, relaxing house? You bet!
Have I looked at the time and tried to tell myself it was too late or too early? Many times!
But I fought through every negative temptation and every negative thought. Two minutes into my run, I always question why I even doubted myself or tried to make an excuse.
The hardest part is getting started. But once you get started the hardest part is stopping. The knowledge that I am doing everything in my power to prevent this awful disease from taking over my body again makes me feel unstoppable. I am unstoppable.
I ran 16 miles in the snow, 12 miles in rain and lightning and many miles below thirty-degree weather. If you wait for perfect conditions, you will never get anything done.
Exercise improves your overall quality of life! My life before cancer lacked discipline, diet and exercise and filled with stress. Cancer helped me stop and look at life in a healing way.
My dream is to live a healthy life. A life without health is not a life worth living. I missed many things when I had cancer. Feelings of failure and heartbreak from missing things were devastating. There are still times when running big miles and exercising are scary and intimidating. However, one quote will always stick in my mind, “If your dreams don’t scare you they aren’t big enough.”
Marathon de Paris, here I come!
This blog post was contributed by Candice Stinnett, a mother, wife and cancer survivor.