I contacted them after surviving two bouts of melanoma to see if I could get connected with someone else who had a leg that was impacted by cancer. I've been struggling with just asking for help in modifying exercises or movements and the result was my gait was thrown off till it was becoming a little painful to walk. I had been hoping I could solve it myself and therefore look more normal.
It's a ridiculous desire that pointed out where my self esteem was a little lacking. The pain finally forced me into action and I called Imerman Angels who paired me up with Jothy Rosenberg in Massachusetts. Jothy had his right leg amputated in the 1970's when he was just 16 years old and then part of a lung when the cancer reoccurred. Back then the only chemotherapy available for the type of cancer he had was in clinical trials. That's exactly where the treatment for melanoma is today.
Jothy's first email to me said that he'd have to get back to me on Monday. He was busy that weekend swimming in his 17th Alcatraz Sharkfest Swim in San Francisco. Every year for the past 18 years people attempt to swim from the fabled prison through the rough waters of San Francisco Bay.
That told me already, we have a lot in common and when we did connect I found it was easier to talk to him about simple strategies to not only get back to where I used to be, but keep going. He already understood what it feels like to have doctors try to pronounce you as almost out of here and just knowing that makes it easier to get on with the job of really living. That takes some action and is the spot where we sometimes get stuck.
Jothy is a good example of getting up and out there and embracing life. His amputation is high enough on his leg that he can't wear a prosthesis and a lot of people told him that would rule out some things for him for the rest of his life, like riding a bike. So, of course, he set out to prove them all wrong. In the swimming races Jothy participates in his daughter has to meet him in the surf with his crutches so that he can make his way up to the beach. Some of us need to push against others' limited expectations of us. I'm a lot like that too.
Jothy has written about his experiences in a memoir, Who Says I Can't, www.whosaysicant.org, an inspirational tale that's more about starting from where you are with what you have than about cancer, which is the point of any hard stretch of life.
When in the middle of an event that takes our breath away and knocks us to our knees we have to focus and take the necessary steps. However, even in those moments it's necessary to look for the small pieces of gratitude, the blessings and keep on living. It's not a Pollyanna concept. It's a way to make sure we don't get stuck in grief or loss and means the trials can even become a moment of triumph, like it did for Jothy, when we realize we are capable of so much more even if less remains.
The only ingredient necessary in order for the process to work is our willingness to start in the day that we've been given. No more putting things off till we're more assured of success or can at least see how it'll all work out. Even if all that can be accomplished today seems trivial or too small to be noticed, we do it and give a little thanks that we got that far. Tomorrow, we repeat the process. More adventures to follow.
Martha Randolph Carr's latest book is the memoir, "A Place to Call Home." www.MarthaRandolphCarr.com. E-mail Martha at Martha@caglecartoons.com. Martha's column is distributed exclusively by Cagle Cartoons Inc. newspaper syndicate. For info call Cari Dawson Bartley at 800-696-7561 or e-mail Cari@cagle.com.