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Bob and I are signed up to lead a snowshoe for our hiking club today. Everyone would understand if we cancelled, but I want to put boundaries around cancer. I’m not going to concede snowshoeing and hiking, they’re what make me feel alive, and maybe even strong.

When Tom died, I softened the pain by buying a bike and riding the hell out of it. The course of my life had been forcibly altered, so it was a way of choosing my own mini-course each day—even though I always went the same way. I rode six miles up a paved forested path alongside a creek, in a park, riding-distance from my home. My route was steep enough and long enough that I had to pump the pedals hard—I had to sweat. It felt like a fight for my life back then, a counter to a sadness so pervasive I might have drowned in it.

It was also a respite, not just a chance for my mind to go blank, but an opportunity to rejuvenate, to be at my best for my two little boys. My daily 90 minutes of solitude through the trees was a wedge of peace and beauty against a world that was asking too much of me.

Today’s snowshoe is eight miles roundtrip to Desolation Lake. Knowing we could easily get lost, Bob and I previewed it yesterday, going as far as the tricky turn a half mile short of the lake before turning back since it was getting dark.

It feels good today, crunching through the snow with my hiking buddies. I’ve been so tired since the biopsy, sleeping 8-10-hour nights and napping too, that it’s reassuring to cover 15 miles in 24 hours. I’ve still got it.

Those daily rides in the aftermath of losing Tom felt life-saving to me. At the least, they saved my sanity. Now, the fight for my life is more literal—this body needs to work with me, not against me. So, I will be out hiking every chance I get.