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Becoming a 'Warrior', Part 2: Was this a mistake?

04 April, 2022

By Darcy Phillips

This is part of an ongoing series featuring Darcy and her experience as an Evoke Warrior, training in a cancer rehabilitation fitness program. Read part 1 here.

“You never know how strong you are until being strong is the only choice you have.”

~ Bob Marley

Day one, Monday morning, March 28, 6 a.m. came way too early. I am one of those people who, when having to wake earlier than usual, wakes up every few minutes for hours before the alarm. All told, I didn’t get a whole lot of sleep.

I don’t think any of us did.

We all arrived, milled about nervously, and talked in small groups. It was evaluation day, where we would have to do various baseline fitness tests. I don’t remember all that we did, but I remember the push-ups. Doing planks and push-ups are enough to make me cry – while I can lift weight easily, putting pressure weight onto my hand and wrist in that way is not pleasant.

Remember that complex regional pain syndrome thing? It isn’t unique to cancer patients but is frequently caused by surgery or trauma. The brain misfires, sensing pain where there shouldn’t be any after recovery from an injury or surgery. The pain is relentless, often spreads, and is so intense that CRPS has earned the nickname, “the suicide disease.”

While I am considered in remission from both CRPS and cancer, I still experience random “zingers” of searing pain down my arm and in my hand that remind me how tenuous my grip on health is.

How many push-ups did I do in a minute? Four. They weren’t pretty, and I am surprised I could do even that many. A couple of tears slid to the floor, but no one noticed. They were more caused by frustration than pain, although it hurt badly.

I wondered if I had made a mistake. I wondered if I could do this. I looked at the others around me --people who are in active treatment, others who have fought longer than I have, and many who struggled just to get in the door that morning -- and I knew I could soldier on. But I am sure I wasn’t the only one having a crisis of confidence.

Darcy, Katie, Rob, and Julie enjoy wall sits! Photo: Courtesy Evoke Fitness

Our group of warriors includes people from age 20 to over 70 years old. I can’t even remember how many cancers are represented, but it’s a varied group. There are three men. A parent and child. A married couple. Mothers and fathers with young children. A college student. A lot of people who seem way too young to have experienced cancer. At 52, I am one of the oldest in the group.

I only know bits and pieces of their stories at this point, but we all share a bond, no doubt about that. Cancer takes so much and disrupts things in ways you don’t expect or anticipate. But now we get to reclaim some of what has been taken via this six-month journey we are taking together.

“You can do this. You’ve got this.” I told myself that again and again that day. And I did; I made it through that morning and many more since. I can do this. I’ve got this.

If you would like to follow our journey, check the website at evokewarriors.org and find us on facebook/instagram @evokewarriors.

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