53 Week Journey through the Land of Drapes and Colors: Week #43

For details on all the sarees I have posted so far, go here.

Running Mania!!!

This post is for my mom who did a 5K wearing a saree in January of 2018 when she was living with me here supporting me during my cancer journey. I have been wanting to run a 5K wearing a saree since then. Finally I did it this year in October. First a little background!

If you have read my blog and posts so far, you are aware that I am a Stage-4 Metastatic Breast Cancer Survivor. A year and a half long struggle with Cancer that started in September 2017 had ended partially in February 2019. After going through all the various phases - Chemotherapy, Hormone Therapy, Surgery and Radiation - finally I was considered cancer free and officially started my recovery period in Mar 2019.

Recovery period depends on each individual's stamina and inner strength. My oncologist, Dr. Nerenstone, told me that for me it would be a 2 years of recovery period to get all my faculties somewhat back to how they were before my cancer hit me. But it all depends on me and my body, and how much I could push myself.

Recovery wasn’t that easy. It wasn’t like a switch can be turned on and everything becomes right. The various phases of treatments I went through left me with several side affects - Adding weight to body by 50lbs; extreme knee pains; reduction in bone density; reducing the lung capacity to 60%; unable to squat or fold and sit on the ground; couldn’t do even half a mile of running; 80% of mobility on the left arm & shoulder due to surgery; finger nails and toe nails being very very fragile and haven't fully come back; taste buds not functioning 100%; and above all immune system being very low.

Of all the side affects, the biggest for me was unable to run. So I pushed myself really really hard to get back to my running, at least to do a 5K without falling apart. It was not an easy journey. With help of physical therapy, yoga, constant stretching, walking, biking, and ofcourse coupled with healthy food, finally earlier in April I could do a full 5K with a combo of more walk less jog, but managed to do one without falling apart.

Since then I have signed up for several virtual 5Ks (obviously due to pandemic runs were all made virtual), and running each of them on my own time, in a place of my choice, with constantly improving my pace. In the course of the time I practiced running wearing a saree as well. Again it wasn’t that easy as my mom had made it look like. Finally in October I did a 5K and a 10K for the Hartford Marathon Foundation - 5K wearing a saree. It wasn’t my best time, nonetheless I was happy.

I wore this light orange georgette saree with machine-made silver thread embroidery work all through the saree. I wore the t-shirt that came for that 5K with the saree instead of regular blouse. I ended the run at my friend's home so she could take a picture of me finishing it.

Funnily enough right around the time I was practicing my run with saree, my mom sent me this picture of her favorite Telugu (= Indian language) anchor who wore a shirt with the saree. She had not known until then that I was already running wearing a t-shirt and a saree. :)

I saw this beautiful quarter moon visible in the sky at 10AM the day I was doing my 5K. Felt like a sign that I am doing something amazing like how seeing a moon in daylight is unique and amazing.

And here are the various medals I got for all the virtual runs I did this year since April 2020 till November 2020. Some I ran because I loved the medal - for instance the Ratification medal that came in the form of a bell - some because I love mystery and fantasy - Wizard Run for Harry Potter books, Wonder Woman run for you know for whom ;) - and some for a cause - for Pancreatic Cancer in memory and honor of Alex Trebek, Jeopardy! Game show host who passed away on Nov 8 2020 battling the same. Whatever the reason, it motivated me to move and push and run. 

My final run I did this year was this past week, Jingle All 5Ks (the Jingle Bell medal in the picture below), which I finished in 44 mins 2 seconds. When I started in April it was 55 minutes pace. Shaving off 11 minutes in itself proves that I am getting back to my previous self. There is still a lot to do. However I have come a long way. Thanks to all the support from my family, the constant push and encouragement from my friends, and my inner core strength and will, I am happy where I have reached. 


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