However, a month before last years race, I received the cruel news that no, it wasn't behind me. My tumor had likely returned. I told very few people, I was too scared to admit that my nightmare might be recurring. I trained hard. The race day dawned and I loved every second of it even though the hideous numbness kept telling me there probably was something wrong.
The rest of the story is now well known to those of you who follow my blatherings here or on twitter or facebook, I lived in denial for awhile, then finally got it biopsied only to learn that, yes, my cancer had returned. Yes, I was once again facing possble amputation. Yes, this was a nightmare! I cried, I screamed, but ultimately did what I do best, face it.
Surgery was more extensive than anyone hoped and I woke up begging to be told why it had lasted 6-8 hours longer than it should have. Slowly the reality of what was done to remove the cancer from my foot and give me the best chance at a functional recovery dawned on me. I vowed to fight. Two weeks in the hospital, weeks never out of a chair (wheeled or otherwise), and the deadline for the Malibu tri approached. I had planned to do the olympic distance this year, but now I was in a wheelchair unsure of whether I'd walk again from my own cancer journey.
Still somewhere in my self absorbed brain I knew it was better to face this as a functional adult than a child and that I'd find a way to swim, bike and run again. I didn't know how, I just knew I would. The deadline to sign up was days away. Initially, I said "no way, I can't. I don't know even when or how I'll walk again." I was fairly certain I could swim by then, bike maybe, but to run? that sounded preposterous. I asked a few friends what they thought. "Could I walk the run?" consensus, my ego wouldn't allow it.
Should I sign up to do the race?- My friend Jason replied
"After much thought I would say not this year.
I admire your desire to move forward and not let anything hold you back. I think more than anyone else I know, you COULD do this. Your enthusiasm and sacrifice far exceed most.
I always proceed on the side of caution with these things though. You should take the rest of this year and let your body heal, rejuvenate and get back to where you want to be. There are plenty of tri's to do and I'm sure you're going to kick ass in all of them but for this year just regroup.
This is not to say you CAN'T do this .. you totally could.
I would rather see you fully recover over the next 6 - 10 months and then start training hard for the next season."
His thoughts stuck with me, should I focus on recovery? Or give myself a goal? I knew that he was right, if I set the goal I'd make it, but would that hurt my ultimate goal of health?
My solution, sign up for the race as a team. I asked him if he'd run for me. The next day he told me how inspired he was by my determination. I don't know about that, I was just a girl in a wheelchair with an irrepressable spirit. I asked my friend who'd turned me into the cyclist I was prior to surgery if he'd ride, and thus Team Lisa was born, a mixed relay triathlon team. It hurt to not do the whole thing, but over time I knew it was right. Then a month or so ago, I realized I wanted to swim and ride the race and Jason would run. It felt right. My training has been fun and inspired this year. Everything I do, and have done, for the past 8 months hurts, but training for this race has felt easier, smarter than last year. I've been safe, stayed in my limits and enjoyed it.
So, in 5 weeks time, I will complete 2/3 of the Malibu Triathlon with my friend Jason running to support me in every way as he has done over the last 4 years of our friendship. We do this because cancer won't get me down, but more importantly it shouldn't get any children down. We'll race for me, for health and fitness, but also to raise money for my hospital, Children's Hospital Los Angles's pediatric cancer center.
I am beyond proud to do this and beyond proud to have a friend who will help.
Will you also help us?
To donate in my name click here
To donate in Jason's name click here