Wednesday, February 27, 2013

You Only Live Twice by Vera Lim

Vera receiving treatment in 2012.

There are many things in life that we never imagine having to do or having to go through. For me, a cancer diagnosis was one of them. After three months of visiting doctors for what was initially thought to be a cough, a cold, bronchitis, pneumonia, and then lingering pneumonia, I was convinced that the chest pains and piercing back pains were good indicators that my illness was not rooted in my respiratory system. Eventually, on January 17, 2012 I was diagnosed with Stage IV Hodgkin's Lymphoma, NOS type. After six months of chemotherapy and one month of radiation therapy, in September of 2012, I was weakly but happily placed in remission.

Even before beginning chemotherapy, I wanted to do something to help other cancer patients. I suppose you could attribute it to the health professional in me, being that it is my career field. I found that many of the trials and tribulations of chemo, or just dealing with cancer period, are usually addressed quite poorly by the medical team. It's not to say that they don't care, but they just don't have the time. This is especially the case at large institutions like Emory Winship: great and incredibly developed, intelligent faculty and staff, terrible wait times and very short sessions with your doctors. These findings led me to begin researching and blogging about my journey, as well as incorporating helpful tips for other cancer patients.

My blog, and my drive to help other cancer patients, was taken to a new level when I joined Team in Training (TNT). One of the other things that most people don't really think about doing in their lifetime is participating in a half-marathon, full-marathon, or a triathlon. This is especially the case when you're just two months out of treatment. I've always been...a unique type of person. After my diagnosis, I incorporated walking into my "treatment". Initially, it was purely to combat the fatigue that would come during the later months of chemotherapy. Looking back, I realize that not only was my walking the "first step" towards my involvement with TNT and the Leukemia and Lymphoma Society, but also towards a tremendous cause- giving back to the cancer community.

I didn't think that I could do it. I hadn't heard of many cancer survivors doing something like a half-marathon so early into remission. However, the same motivation that led me to start my blog was not forgotten. I would not abandon my drive to give back to the cancer community, because it was a promise that I had made to myself during treatment. So often we are caught up in our own lives and our own battles that we fail to see the bigger picture. We fail to see the others who are also struggling along the way. This past November, I joined my first half-marathon with the Georgia North Fulton-Forsyth TNT team and turned my blog into my running blog.

I had never fundraised before in my life, and I never imagined that I could raise over $3000. For one, I am a young adult and the majority of my friends are "poor" working young adults as well. Somehow (and I thank God for this), the funds were provided and I met my minimum. I never ran this much before in my life, and most definitely not with a chemo-riddled body. My joints are stiffer, I’m slower, recovery takes longer... but my team is awesome...-er.

The reason I love my team is because they are not only super supportive, but they keep me accountable. From the managers to the coaches, the weekly emails, and the Facebook page posts... it all keeps me driven to run. And if I can't run, I walk. Accountability keeps me focused on the cause, and the cause gives me reason to do one more good thing in what I love to call "my second life".

Vera pictured at a social event in October 2012 with friend, Rebecca, one month after being placed in remission!

There is a new slang term "YOLO", that claims “You Only Live Once”. Personally, "YOLT", “You Only Live Twice” is my truth. If you don't make life count the first time, well...for many of us there just may be a second chance.

Go Team.

 Vera Lim is currently fundraising and training with Team in Training for Nike Women's Marathon Half-DC taking place in April 2013.