Thursday, February 7, 2013 at 3:07PM
You know me. I love basketball. Watching it (especially my beloved Duke Blue Devils), playing it, talking about it, even having dreams about it (where I inevitably miss easy shots and get frustrated and then wake up relieved that my bizarre shooting woes were not actually real life). Basketball became even more important to me this week. I’ve been getting radiation treatments since last Thursday (the picture on the right shows some of the radiation stickers that have been living on my chest since then). At the same time, I’ve been on my normal chemo regimen of every other Monday. So I am enduring the double whammy of chemo and radiation at the same time. I was warned that it could be tough, but it’s been pretty smooth sailing so far. Having said that, I haven’t been living at the gym quite as much as I’d like to lately. When we found out about my blood clots a few weeks back, I was told to avoid the gym for a week. Then, I had chemo so I skipped the gym another week. Then, I was working hard on The Wunder Project and running all around town with meetings and stuff so I didn’t go to the gym for another week. Three weeks without a serious workout. Not cool. And not very good for me, either. On Monday, I got an email about my O’Melveny team’s basketball game on Tuesday night. I was tempted. Very tempted. So I clicked “accept” and figured that this would be my first initiation into a solid workout after a long time off and after undergoing this chemo/radiation combination for several days. I knew I’d need to pace myself and that I’d get winded pretty quickly, but I was going to do it. Blood clots, chemo, radiation, and cancer be damned: I was going to play basketball. Our game was at 9pm and I’d been up since 7am (I had an early morning radiation session). I’d had multiple meetings for The Wunder Project and had generally had a pretty full day, but when 8pm rolled around, I got into my jersey and laced up my Kobe Nikes (I call them “my Kobes”), and drove to the game. Luckily, we had numbers. 9 players to be exact. So we had plenty of subs and we designed the game so that every 4-5 minutes, we’d get to take a rest on the bench. It was like fate had made sure that I could play without pushing myself to a ridiculous level. I was grateful to fate for that one. Despite the 43 rounds of chemo, the three surgeries, and the four rounds of radiation, I was on the court for the opening tip. Minutes later, I made my first shot. A three pointer at the top of the key. It was strange, but the minute the ball left my hands I couldn’t think of anything except my sweet friend Annette. I had no idea if the ball was going to go in, but as it swished through the net, I kissed my wrist where her initials have been ever since the day she passed away. It’s like my girl helped me with that first shot. It was an incredible feeling, and I had to fight my emotions as I jogged down the court. The rest of the game went well. I huffed and puffed, but I got through it and played about 28 minutes of the full 40 – 28 minutes of full court basketball. Not too bad. I wound up with 9 points on a couple of threes, a two, and a sad performance from the free throw line (1 of 4, ugh). Most importantly, our team won. It felt great to win, especially when I knew that cancer was the big loser. Yesterday, I hit the basketball court again and played a little one-on-one with my buddy Stoney. I don’t need to mention that I beat him (let’s just chalk it up to the fact that he wasn’t playing tough defense on me (but, to be fair, I wasn’t playing tough defense on him, either)) because the most important thing was that I felt even stronger out on the court. And that was after a pretty solid weightlifting regimen of legs and biceps. My shooting was on, I was pretty agile on the boards, and keeping up the stamina to do both was near effortless. The beast is on her way back, and it feels great. Here’s the thing about basketball. It’s a magical thing for me. Watching Duke Basketball fills my heart with pride, inspiration, and pure, unadulterated joy. And being on the court is my ultimate refuge – where I can clear my mind and just be one with the game. Where I can focus on my shots or my handles, work on new moves, and just enjoy the way the net looks when the ball swishes through it or the way the ball echoes as I dribble up and down an empty court. Radiation may be new, chemo plus radiation at the same time may be new, but squaring up and shooting the ball, holding my follow through and watching the ball go in the hoop, is as routine and comfortable to me as anything. There is no cancer on the basketball court. And I love the game most for that.