Tim Marr - Chemotherapy Experience. Keep working out!
I'm 31 years old. My right testicle was removed last November 2018 after noticing a small pea sized lump. After the operation the C.T scans and blood tests were all clear up until February 2019 when chemotherapy was necessary. I had to go through three rounds of chemotherapy and the total treatment time was nine weeks. The drugs were a combination of BEP - Bleomycin, etoposide, and cisplatin. Each three week round consisted of five days in a row of IV treatment lasting 4 hours each day. Then the second week, one day of IV treatment lasting 1 hour. Then the third week, one day of IV treatment lasting 1 hour. Each week seemed to get harder and harder and by the last few weeks it got very hard to stay motivated. The main side effects I felt were being nauseous a lot of the time, becoming extremely tired every afternoon, getting fevers after receiving bleomycin, developing a cough towards the end weeks, and becoming emotionless and not feeling myself anymore.
I remember driving to my appointment to find out the results from my CT scan. These results would determine whether or not I would have to go through Chemotherapy. I remember thinking to myself that I have not had to experience any major struggles in my life thus far and sensed that this next moment would be the start of an extremely challenging chapter in my life, something that was definitely not familiar to me.
I was listening to David Goggins' audiobook 'Can't Hurt me' on the way to the hospital and I tired to match his strong mindset. He is a truely inspirational person. I'm not sure what my mindset would be like right now if I hadn't have come across his audiobook and discovered him last year on Joe Rogan's podcast. I definitely would not have had the ability to deal with this kind of struggle with the same attitude as I now have. Reflecting upon this experience now, I'm even somewhat glad to have had such a life changing experience. Alternatively, If I had received news that my scan and blood test was clear of any abnormalities, then I would be going about my daily life without a second thought about this moment in months to come. I would be totally oblivious to this struggle that I was potentially facing. It would pass by my mind without a second thought and I would go back to my normal life without facing this struggle that has completely changed my outlook on life.
I feel like struggles and challenges in life are needed and I am so grateful to have been forced into this situation because I know that my mind was weak and I would always choose the easy road by seeking comfort. Devastating news like this can really be a good thing if you have a positive outlook on the situation. It strengthens your mind and helps you to grow and adapt. After my experience with chemotherapy I now feel that without any real struggle in life you end up having a mediocre, mundane existence.
After the life changing news I received that afternoon I was terrified and could not stop crying but knew I couldn't be like this and needed to combat my fear and stop feeling sorry for myself because I knew that it would get me nowhere.
My girlfriend Georgie and my Mum were there every step of the way. They helped out with appointments and made the whole experience a lot easier. My girlfriend was also there for emotional support and I’m not sure how I would have coped without her being around all the time. The chemotherapy made me feel empty and emotionless. I was not myself at all and she was there the whole time dealing with me. I am so appreciative.
I decided that I would not stop running long distances and organised a workout plan. I made sure to keep active everyday and eventually made it through 9 weeks of intense chemotherapy. Every single day I made the conscious effort to do a weight training workout for 30 minutes or more and also at least 20 minutes of cardio no matter how badly I was feeling. Most days I could work out for longer than the minimum I had set out for myself and didn't have to decrease the weights that I was lifting. I noticed that I would get light headed and I could handle fewer sets as I proceeded further into my treatment. I found that by sweating and moving my body I was able to feel and think a lot more clear in my head. The nausea seemed to not be as bad after a good workout. I kept my weekly long runs at the same distance. My usual long run distances are approximately 20km’s to 30km’s at least once a week and my total distance running per week is at an average of 25km’s to 45km’s. A few of the weeks I was actually able to run up to a total of 60km’s. Towards the end of treatment I developed a bad cough and shortness of breath so running was becoming a lot harder for me. Four weeks after my last chemotherapy session I ran 44km’s along the Great Ocean road in Melbourne, Victoria for the marathon event.
I know that I will always look back at this part of my life and say if I could do all these things throughout this exhausting treatment then why the fuck can't I do it now while I'm healthy? I now feel as though I must not have been working to my full potential prior to treatment. One thing that I found helpful throughout treatment was avoiding researching other people's experiences with this type of chemotherapy because I did not want to begin with a negative mindset. I knew that most people would complain about the side effects and I did not want it to taint my outlook. I would say the best thing to do during this treatment is to keep exercising, working up a sweat and eating healthily. Working out has been the greatest tool in dealing with side effects and there is substantial evidence and research suggesting how beneficial it is to keep active throughout treatment.
If you keep your mind in a positive state and have positive people around you then you can get through this kind of chemotherapy a lot easier and even end up with some positive experiences afterwards.
This is my running account on strava.