Sunday, August 3, 2008

In The Darkest Hours

It has been three weeks since my surgery and things aren't much better. Every night I go to bed praying the pain in my foot, knee and hip will go away. I pray that the swelling will go down and that walking will be easier and every morning I wake up with things still the same. I know it is still early in my recovery process but it is hard laying on my side, barely able to stand up. When I do stand, I can't straighten up. This surgery has really hit me hard.

I went to San Francisco Tuesday to meet with the plastic surgeons. They removed one drain and about half my stitches. The one doctor told me I would feel a weird sensation when he pulled it out and the head doctor piped up and said no this will hurt, it will hurt! I gritted my teeth, held my breath and hoped it would be quick. It did hurt and I still have one more that will be pulled out this Wednesday. I am not looking forward to this. They looked at the incision and decided it would be ok for me to sit for 30minutes at a time. Thank goodness because I was going out of my mind!

The rest of the week has been pretty much the same. Trying to walk a little each day, trying to get up to use the bathroom, trying to clean myself. I watch a LOT of TV and movies. I am catching up on everything I missed because I was on the road or racing. But it does get old after awhile. I would love to be swimming, lifting weights, anything that would take me outside.

I have been thinking a lot. Thinking about everything that has happened to me, everything that people write or say to me. I was remembering something that one of the physical therapists said to me in the hospital. She asked me what I do besides swim, bike or run. I looked at her and said kayaking, rock climbing, repelling and scrapbooking. She looked at me and said I should focus on scrapbooking. I didn't say anything back but something inside me wanted to. I wanted to say, "Do you know who you are talking to?" What kind of person tells an adrenaline junkie, a person who thrives on competition to take up scrapboooking and forget the rest? I haven't been able to get that conversation out of my head.

Saturday rolled around and I fell apart. I have been feeling depressed all week. I am tired of being in pain. I am tired of this cancer and what it has been doing to me and my family. I just want it to be over with. But it isn't and it won't be for awhile. That is when I broke down and started sobbing in front of my Dad and Courtney. I have been bottling some things up inside because I feel guilty for having these feelings. I cried and cried and began to tell them what I was thinking. I told them I was angry I would never be able to race again. I was upset that I would never be able to race Melanie and fight over the point series. Whether we were the best of friends or not, I LOVED racing her. I enjoyed battling it out for first place. If one of us won it meant we were the best that day. And if we came in second we knew there would be another chance, there would be another race. Now that is all gone. I won't be able to race her again.

I kept crying, frustrated over everything. I cried about not being able to just run and jump in the water or run on my favorite trails. I felt like my life as I knew it was over and everything will now be different. All of these feelings left me sad. Was I loosing a little bit of my faith? Was it wrong to have these feelings. I just kept crying. I couldn't stop. I finally unleashed it all. I wanted to go out on my own terms. I wanted to get 50 Xterra Championship wins, I wanted 3 World Championships. Instead I have 1 World Championship and 37 Xterra Championships. The ironic thing is that 3 and 7 are my favorite numbers. 13 is Courtney's favorite number and that is how many races I had left. As you can see I have a lot on my mind!

Once I was done crying, I felt so much better. It was out in the open. My Dad was hugging me tightly and Courtney was looking at me with sadness. No one knew what to say to me. My Dad finally said everything would be ok. He told me it was natural to have these feelings but not to loose faith. He knew I had been depressed all week. He could tell how much pain I have been in.

I prayed that night, apologizing to God for all of those feelings. I remembered the story of Job and felt like I had let everyone down. I have been so strong trying not to think about everything I lost. But eventually I had to face it. I had to face reality. I prayed for God's strength. I know he has a plan for me that reaches far beyond my racing. I know he is using me to help others.

Sunday, I began to read some of my emails and there it was. People were emailing me telling me how my faith and strength had helped them. In my darkest hours God once again sent me the strength I needed to continue on. As bad as it hurts, I know time will ease my pain. Eventually this will all be behind me and I will be speaking to others about this entire ordeal. I know my life is forever changed. I will no longer compete as a professional athlete but there are others things I can do. As everyone so nicely points out I have the gift of gab! I can be a motivational speaker, I can be a race announcer and I can do more coaching! It isn't over for me, it is just different!

In your darkest hours, remember your faith, remember that there is light at the end of the tunnel. You just have to find the tunnel. If you look hard enough it is there!

Powered By God,



Anonymous said...

Jamie, it is so awesome to read your blog and see how God is using this time to bring change into your life. You have been on the road of life and for a season racing was the vehicle that God used to get you around. It gave you credibility because without it you were just another person in the crowd. But you must remember that being a world champion did not define who you were as a person, it was just a vehicle to get you to meet others and share your faith. Now you have a new vehicle, it is cancer. None of us would have chosen this vehicle, but you are touching many more hearts and lives than you ever could have as a world champion. This is your destiny, for better or worse use this time to write, to speak, to reach others in a way that you could never have done before. We are praying for you every day and look forward to seeing you at the AWANA kids race in Truckee this September. You have hundreds of kids that have looked up to you and now they are praying for your healing. You are such an incredible role model, our youth needs more people like you to look up to, it is the only way we can change our world. Hang in there Jamie, we love you.

Anonymous said...


The Lord has a special plan for your life, and you know it, that's obvious. You know, this plan may not take the path you have always assumed it would, but that's okay.

It's just like you said in your posting yesterday, Job knew alot about walking a path that didn't resemble anything he'd ever seen before, and he certainly didn't do it without tears, fear, doubt, despair and everntually, losing all hope.

Jamie, God knows you. He knows your heart. He holds your hurting body in the palm of His hand. Remember, "Before I formed you in the womb, I knew you". His plan for the rest of your life on this earth may be far different than you expected 5 years ago, but this is certain: With God, ALL things are possible. When you feel like it's too much, do what you did yesterday. Cry out to Him. He loves you, died for you, and will hold you up when you need it most.

Remember, life on this earth is " a vapor". Eternity will show this time of trial as a very small, very insignificant bump in the road to forever with Jesus.

Hang in there.

Chris in Ga

SimplyStu said...

Jamie - I so badly wish I could do something to ease the pain. I can only feel what your dad feels as my daughter had cancer when she was young. I read your blog all the time, but it really hit me when you started to talk about Melanie. I have met Mel many times, but have never met you. I have admired you from an athletic stand point, but now understand your incredible passion for life. I know that a total stranger can never do what family can, but please know that I will continue to pray for you. One of the things I wish I had done as a "Dad" was keep a journal (a scrapbook of sorts) FOR my daughter to read when she was older. There are so many feelings that "supporters" have that I think can really help those in the real pain. Anyway, please know that there are MANY MANY people around the world thinking about you each and every day.

Anonymous said...


After your last post there were two things that kept coming back to me that I really felt I had to share. First, I couldn't stop thinking about the song, "He Knows My Name." Your Father is an awesome God, and even in the deepest, darkest places, He still sees you. He knows you, He created you, and He is continuing His work in you. These are the words:

I have a maker
He formed my heart
Before even time began
My life was in His hands

He knows my name
He knows my every thought
He sees each tear that falls
And hears me when I call

I have a Father
He calls me His own
He'll never leave me
No matter where I go

He knows my name
He knows my every thought
He sees each tear that falls
And hears me when I call

The other thing was the word "results." As an athlete, life is about results. Training is for results. The training tells you where you are against yourself, and you use those results for more training. Racing is about results. Racing tells you where you are against others, and you use those results for more training and racing. The thing about the human results though is that they are immediate. It hit me that God's results are not always immediate. God's results sometimes take time, even lifetimes. And sometimes we won't ever see God's results in our lives. It's because His results impact so many more people than we can possibly imagine. You may never see the results of sharing Christ's life in you. But that doesn't mean that there won't be results. You go girl. Your "results" will be something more than we can possbily imagine.

We're praying for you and Courtney.

John and Lucinda, Sacramento

Anonymous said...

Jamie, we have never met... (I went to high school with Courtney). I just want to let you know that getting to know you through your writing has been very inspirational. I can see that you are a very tough girl... and an incrediable person on many levels..... I think you you have so much wisdom to offer other people in your situation and even those that have not been in your situation.
Hang in there.
You, Courtney and the rest of your family are in our thoughts and prayers.

Anonymous said...

I don't know you, nor can I say I would recognize you in a crowd. However, I was given the recent edition of Mountain Bike Action by a friend that follows MTB'ers. The page about you was dog-earred, and for good reason. I've read through your ordeal, and found myself drawn to write you. First, my name is Michelle Bono, and I live in Kailua-Kona Hawaii. I wouldn't call myself "world class" in the athletic world, but I do pretty well without a lot of the training benefits others have in my discipline. I'm one of those athletes you would find amusing - track sprinter. We respect you endurance athletes and MTB'ers, but who wants to endure an event for more than 2 hours, and UPHILL? Oh, no, no, NO! In any case, I've set some records and been lucky enough to pull in some Masters National Championships without the use of a track until competition time. Its absolutely excellent coaching, motor-pacing, and strength of will. Which brings me to the point: Last July 2007, I was in the best shape of my life; I was going wicked fast, on Masters world record time, and my sponsors were pumped for the upcoming Masters Worlds -- until I had a little stomach ache. That stomach ache turned into a life-altering year. Hawaii is notorious for poor medical care and my diagnosis took 6 weeks. It actually took a new track cyclist from California (who turned out to specialize in Gastrointestinal Oncology) to give me a diagnosis over the phone. I had a rare form of cancer "non-functioning islet cell neuroendocrine tumor of the pancreas" and had to get out of Hawaii quick. I ended up going to MD Anderson in Houston, receiving chemo and surgery throughout all the major holidays, and am recovering now. My chances of survival were 5% or less and I was told this could go a long time. I'm cancer free. I didn't "fight" or battle cancer like a competition, but surrendered to it. Chemo became "Sigourney Weaver" because I didn't want my subconscious to think of it as poison. It was S. Weaver going in to kick some Alien butt. Faith, visualization, and will-power has brought me through the process to this point. I got through the treatments healthier and faster than others because of my physical and mental conditioning as an athlete. The hospital actually gave me honorary gold medals since I went through the chemo and surgery faster than any other patient in their history. I tried to explain the sprinter mentality in the beginning, but they kept wanting to make me an endurance athlete.... Absolutely, life will never be the same. My physiology is different, and I may have to take that red "organ donor" insignia off my license. However, I can climb now (actually kind of fun...), but its just an aspect of my life. After facing cancer, We are given a pass to use; how we choose to do that is ours, with the hand of g-d's involvement. I hope you decide to do something inspirational to others. I try to talk with anyone going through cancer and keep them in good spirits and laughter. If you ever want to chat with someone similar that has gone through IT, contact me. Here is a link to some amazing people I meet that helped me through my time in Houston and a video I participated in as thanks:
Stay strong in mind and faith, laugh often, and love deeply.

Anonymous said...

Dear Jamie-

Please don't feel guilty for your feelings. What has been said here in responses to this blog is unmatched. What amazing friends and family you have supporting and praying for you. We continue to pray for your health and peace in the moment. I think of you very often and according to the Sunday school teacher at church, my oldest daughter Bethany has been so affected by you that she puts in prayer requests and prays in front of her class for you each week. You have made a big impact on our family and strengthened my faith through tears in reading your moving blogs. Thank you for your perserverance and love for life and people. Even in your weakness you are making a huge impact.

J9 said...

You would make an exceptional race announcer and/or motivational speaker. Or columnist for triathlete mag!

I only stumbled across your blog yesterday from the link on Fleet Feet's website, but I've read the entire thing. You've given me such inspiration. Hang in there.

Jeannine Henderson
A Change of Pace
Davis CA