Cancer and Bench-Pressing

Surgery, Chemotherapy, and Radiation therapy take a lot out of a person. You’ve probably all ready my blogs and have some inkling as to how much the treatments impacted me, but I thought another example might be needed.

I blogged earlier tonight about how weak I still am compared to where I used to be. I bitched and moaned about how hard it was to surf today.

Truthfully – a lot of things are harder for me now. I just don’t complain about them. I am lucky to be alive and I have no doubt my strength will eventually return. I made a promise to myself that I would lead a more active lifestyle once I was through treatments.

I have made true on that promise. I am outside more often. I am surfing again. I work out regularly.

But I am still very weak. It comes back slowly – but my mind still thinks I am as strong as I used to be – when I am not. I still feel like I should have the endurance I used to have, but I don’t. So when I said in my last blog that I almost drowned today because I got too tired to paddle out and the breaks were pummelling me – I meant that literally.

My strength was gone, people. I had no reserves to dig into to save myself – I limped out of the water like a near-drowned rat. I was dejected and angry – and more than a little scared. I used to have a “reserve” well of strength I could call on in times of need. No longer. It is gone.

Chemotherapy and radiation robbed me of my strength. I may never be as strong as I used to be.

Here, take a look at this graph. This graph shows how much my maximum bench press has been affected as I go through treatments and recovery:


As you can see – I used to be able to bench press 220lbs. My low point was 90lbs. I am now lucky to bench 160 – on a good day.

Now you know. People ask me all the time how I feel. They say I look “great.” They say I look like I am stronger than ever.

I’m glad I look so well – but I am not stronger. Maybe one day – until then I need to be careful and not let myself get to the point where I almost drown trying to be the man I used to be.

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