Tuesday, May 30, 2006

Just keep going

Somehow it's been almost a month since I last posted. I'm not sure how that happened, because I usually write it in my planner every two weeks. At any rate, here I am, writing again as the school years is finally winding down. The title of this entry is something I find myself thinking a lot, about a lot of things. Not the least of which recently has been school. With only a week and a half of real school left (our last two weeks are clinical weeks that are not only usually fun but also significantly less dense), I'm running on fumes. Thankfully, ID (infectious diseases and microbiology) is fantastic and it's far easier to pay attention and focus than during a sequence I liked less (let's just say that if I was doing renal right now I might not make it)... But apart from class, I'm also training for the Breast Cancer 3 Day.

The 3 Day is just what you'd think from the name. I'll be walking 60 miles over 3 days (20 miles/day for those of you who dislike mental math) in August, right before the start of M2 year. For those of you not from Michigan, this may not sound quite as difficult as those of you who have experienced the 90 degree 99% humidity weather common in August. But I promise that it will be challenging, but also rewarding.

So far, my training walks have totaled over 100 miles. Training for a long walk or not, time for fitness in medical school can be difficult, but definitely not impossible. Many of my classmates use exercise as a study break. I find that I focus better on the treadmill than almost anywhere else. In fact, on a recent 10 mile walk one Saturday morning I reviewed a full 3 weeks of ID notes. By mile 9, and most of the way through my studying, I kept saying to myself "just keep going." My commitment to the 3 day has motivated me to make time for exercise even when school is crazy, and I definitely feel better for it.

In addition to the physical benefits, however, my commitment to the 3 day has made me think about my own patient experiences and my future care-giver experiences. As the bearer and compulsive checker of a fibroadenoma (a benign fibrous lump of breast tissue identified only a week after I learned what the word meant in our first pathology sequence), I know what waiting for a diagnosis is like. It's a time filled with worry, what-ifs, and pre-emptive decision making. It's hard, and even harder to describe. At the same time, I can only imagine that the pain of waiting for a diagnosis and wondering what was going is nothing compared with the pain of breast cancer treatment both emotionally and physically. It's the kind of pain that you probably can't treat with medicines...

So I'm walking. I'm walking and fundraising to raise awareness about this issue, and to push myself. And hopefully, someone reading this will decide to pick up a breast self-exam card, hang it in their shower, and keep themselves healthy. Or maybe someone will pick up 10 and pass them out to female friends, family, co-workers, neighbors, and maybe even strangers on the street. I can only walk and hope.

To read more about my walk, and to hear from my mom, who's on my team, check out: http://www.our3dayteam.blogspot.com/

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