I watch the clock roll over on the treadmill’s digital display. “30 more seconds,” I tell myself. “I can keep running for 30 more seconds.” My breathing is ragged and heavy but it feels good. My feet pound on the treadmill’s belt in time with my music and my inhalations. The timer keeps counting down until I can rest. The seconds pass rather quickly and I smile. My relationship with time has totally changed since I started working out and finished cancer treatments. The importance of every passing minute has now shifted and yet it has also remained just as vital to me.
During chemo, I viewed every minute that passed as another minute that I was alive. Counting down the days I had left of treatment was incredibly important. Each day that finished was another day towards the end. Was another day towards survival. If I could live for just one week, what’s to say I wouldn’t live one week more? Or two weeks? Or a full month, maybe? If I could show God all the ‘x’s on my calendar maybe then He would see that it was ok to let me live some more.
Now that I’m alive and have thrown myself back into working out, I’m still counting down time. I’m still crossing off the days on my calendar. And it still feels good. This time, every minute longer I spend running is another minute that I’m getting stronger. Every repetition completed with the dumbbells is another check box filled saying, “I’m here! I’m alive! I’m okay!” I push myself to keep going, if I run faster and longer I’ll live longer too. If I keep going to the gym and building my body up, I’ll keep cancer at bay for just a bit longer.
It’s become more empowering to feel that every moment spent sweating is a moment that I’m really living. My days aren’t full of needy desperation to live anymore; I know that I am living. I am alive. I have control over my internal clock. I’m going to be okay and right now I am feeling great. And honestly, that’s the only thing that matters.
I just have to keep moving.