What it’s like to be reborn
By Vickie Girard
We cancer patients receive a unique gift. Yes, we know what it’s like to come too close to death, but we also know what it’s like to be reborn. I remember vividly the day I stepped outside the hospital -released at last from weeks of undergoing a bone marrow transplant. Oh, if that wonderful rush of the senses could be bottled, it would be worth a thousand times its weight in gold.
It was a beautiful summer day, but beautiful is inadequate. The colors that day were turned up, as if I had been seeing with poor reception before. The scents in the air were almost overpowering. I could smell fresh-cut grass, growing flowers, traffic, food – I could smell the time of day. Morning smells different than evening or midday.
The sounds rushed at me. Voices, no longer filtered or contained by hospital walls, had a different ring outside. I heard a dog bark, a horn honk, a child yell, shoes hitting pavement, and multiple conversations going on all around me. And the feeling- there was a slight breeze and I could feel my skin. It was almost as if the air itself had texture as it touched my face and arms. The sun, it warmed me from the outside in. Even walking felt different than it had in hospital corridors.
Had the world always been like this, this alive? I vowed to always look at life this way, to never forget this moment.
Seven years ago today at 10am, I was hooked up to IV bags with tubes (connected to my heart) hanging out of my chest.
I was on the tenth floor of the UCLA medical center having just finished my last week of intensive chemotherapy that brought my blood count close to zero. I was there being treated for cancer – stage IVB. That’s as bad as it gets. There is no stage V…
At 10am the medical team performed a bone marrow/stem cell transplant.
They call it “Day Zero” – the day you are literally “reborn” from a cellular level. They call it your “re-birth” day — and even give you a cake. (I didn’t eat the cake. Too nauseous from the chemotherapy still ).
Today is “Day 2557″ — my “rebirthday”. My reborn cells have turned seven years old. The five year mark is a big day for cancer survivors, so seven years feels really special.
It’s been quite a journey. I was back exercising about a month after the transplant (I was discharged just over one week after the transplant which at the time was the fastest recovery in UCLA history).
Until the last couple of years I still had a hard time with energy levels — and the struggle back to fitness has been challenging a lot of the time. I’m not complaining though, it is an enormous privilege to be able to even exercise at all after my diagnosis. It can get depressing at times, but only for a second — as the alternative is much worse
I’m now aware every day of how amazing life is.
I don’t know why I was given these extra days on this planet. But I can assure you that I recognize each one of them as a gift and I don’t take any of it for granted. And I don’t take any of you for granted who have cared enough to read my writings, or come to my seminars.
As cancer survivor Lance Armstrong says:
“I take nothing for granted now. I only have good days and great days”
I can relate completely. For me, the glass will always be half full from now on. People who have had cancer or other illnesses understand that you don’t have all the time in the world….
Thank you all for joining me on my journey over the last seven years. It had it’s ups and downs and up’s again — and it has been both challenging and grueling at times. But it’s also been amazing.
Thanks again. Today is a special day for me.
As promised here is the breakdown of the hands-on session we did at Rhode Island Perform Better Summit this weekend.
Training the Executive Athlete
1/2 kneeling hip flexor stretch
1/2 kneeling thoracic mobilization
Spiderman climb plus reach
Squat to stand
Forward and back jumps paired with forward lunge and overhead reach
Wide outs (gate swings) paired with reverse lunge and twist
Jumping jacks paired with lateral lunge
Lateral lunge and crossover reach
Lateral lunge with crossover reach to single leg stance
Mini-band square walks
Figure 4 glute raise
Core 1: Front plank with valslide push away (3 progressions)
Core 2: Side plank with row
Core 3: Front plank with pulldown
Squat jumps on the minute (5 sets of 5)Knee drives (1 set of 3 each side)
Resistance 1: Sandbag rotational lunge paired with running push ups
Resistance 2: Goblet squat or Double KB squat and press, paired with KB row or One point alternating KB rows
Resistance 3: TRX suspended lunge paired with T-push ups
Leg Circuit – Boston Strong style!
“Someone who knows the state capitals of 17 of 50 states may be proud of her knowledge. But someone who knows 47 may be more likely to think of herself as not knowing 3 capitals.”
-Chip and Dan Heath discussing ‘gap knowledge’
Made to Stick
I was confused at the time, but as usual, he was right. I learned more in my first six months as a black belt, because of the sparring partners I now had, the opportunities that were open to me, and my ability to absorb information at a higher level – than I had in all my previous years of training.
Then in the next six months – my knowledge and ability continued to develop rapidly — I learned more than I’d learned in all of my years of training again. It was like my knowledge level was doubling every six months. The black belt wasn’t the end — it really was the beginning.
I think being a fitness professional is the same. If you’ve been a trainer for five years, and you are still actively learning, attending seminars, reading — you’ll learn more in your sixth year than you’ve learned in your entire career so far. Your ability to filter good information from bad, to interpret research, and to know who to listen to, who’s work to read etc is so vastly improved that you can actually improve exponentially. As long as you are still studying of course
I’ve read 30 books this year so far, attended six seminars, read countless journal articles and business magazines, listened to audios and watched educational DVD’s. I don’t think I read 15 books the first year I was training people. I maybe didn’t read more than 30 books in my entire college education.
Craig Ballantyne told me that he has spent more money on education this year than he made his first year as a trainer – in fact he’s spent more than most trainers make in a year. I bet he’s learned more this year than he did back then. And I know he’s earned more (tip – that’s not a coincidence).