Kate Beland does not believe that cancer defines her. She is an athlete, a marathoner, a mother, a wife and a writer. When she is not conducting her three-ring circus act, she is busy kicking late stage melanoma's butt and keeping herself sane through her writing and running: https://www.facebook.com/runningandcancer/ or www.runliftbreathe.blogspot.com
I felt like cancer had forced me to do other "uncomfortable" things instead of the bucket list I had chosen.
I finally took the leap, both figuratively and literally. On Labor Day, I stepped over the guardrail and jumped the bridge with all the other teenagers in town. It was about a 30-foot drop into ice cold salt water. It was terrifying and exhilarating, and I can check it off my list and check this summer off as the summer I finally jumped Sagamore.
For me, this was more significant than you can imagine. It goes back to my 39th birthday when I was going to jump this rite of passage for the last of my 30s. It turned out that day there was a thunderstorm, so it being a metal bridge, it was an easy excuse out. The following summer, the bridge was closed down for repairs, so nobody was jumping that summer. I was in good company.
Then, the following summer in 2015, I spent the entire summer on shore because I was not allowed to swim in any lake or ocean water until I was cleared by my oncologist and surgical oncologist. Based on the height of this bridge, the impact and the surgical wounds I had still healing and fighting infection, there was no way I could have safely jumped. Even knowing this, I felt like cancer had forced me to do other "uncomfortable" things instead of the bucket list I had chosen. I wanted to be brave and a bad ass for the things other than a disease that was going to try to kill me.
Two more summers passed after the dreaded summer of the C and I became a little softer in my usual desire to push the limits. I mean I had faced down a stage 3 cancer diagnosis — I had nothing more to prove, right?
Last weekend, on my actual birthday, I stood on the rail of that bridge for 45 minutes with all kinds of support from my family, a group of teenagers there and the cutest and bravest little 10-year-old boy. They all were offering me encouragement and promising to jump with me, hold my hand, or count it down for me. I could not budge, and because it is tidal water, soon it was too late, and I had to make the chicken exit. I have nothing to prove, I told myself. I have faced far worse fears than jumping a silly bridge.
But, thank God, that didn't sit well with me. I kind of had a feeling that I was letting myself off the hook, when really, I should be holding myself accountable. After all, I had just written about how I have been in a funk, and I needed to do something to reset myself. I know it sounds silly, but in my mind, I had decided that finally jumping that bridge would shake me out of the dark place I have been stuck in recently.
And so, on Labor Day, I declared to my family that it was the day. We drove back to the bridge and I even listened to my jam through my earbuds so that I could pump myself up. I could do this. I had faced scarier things.
Lined up on the bridge in true end-of-the-summer fashion were dozens of teenagers taking their turns to jump while their parents and friends took pictures. The sun was blazing, the tide was plenty high and calm. It was the perfect setting for saying goodbye to summer. As I dropped down to the water in what felt like the longest drop ever, I thought I have done it. I came flying back up for air, water in my nose and all, and I said goodbye to the summer I jumped the bridge and goodbye to being anything less than a person who lives life out loud with no excuses. #heycancernotthisgirl