Going back into sports after treatment

July 5, 2019

Sports. They are so hard to give up when you get diagnosed with cancer. I played soccer, swam, and ran cross country. Sports were my life. It was so hard watching my soccer team play and go to tournaments without me, and even win a championship. I had to watch their season ride out from social media on the hospital bed. I knew when I was done with treatment I was going to go back and play soccer no matter what. However, going back and playing sports is not for everyone, because there are different treatments, cancers and body types.

 

After I finished treatment, the day I went back to school, I stayed for soccer workouts. I could not run at all. I was so weak from treatment. I also still had my port, so I could not play any contact parts. For the first month, I went to practice everyday after school and walked and walked and walked until I could build up to a jog. I had my port removed and then had to wait for it to heal before I could play with the other girls. I spent a lot of time watching the other girls practice and not be able to play. By the time that season came around, I was able to play five to ten minutes at a time. My high school coach would put me in for those five to ten minutes. It helped having a coach that supported me and helped me through the process. Without him, I do not think I would have been able to go back to sports. You need a good support system.

 

What most people did not see about the transition back into sports was the times I cried after practice to my mom because my legs and lungs hurt or because I felt like I could not do it. What they also did not see was the fact that I spent two hours a day five days a week in the gym working to gain back my muscle and strength that summer. I did not go super hard the whole two hours; I would do something for a thirty seconds and then have to rest for a minute or two. It is really not that easy. It takes so much time, patience, and frustration. I lagged behind people I used to be better than for two seasons, before I began to be just as good as them again, and it took four seasons for me to be better than them again.

 

There is not a secret trick that makes all your muscles and athleticism come back to you. There is not a way to wake up one day and be a star athlete again. It took me years of working and building back everything that I lost and more. There is hope. In the United States, at high school you get to play on your school team after you try out and make it. After high school comes college which is like university. To play sports on that level you have to preform well at the high school level and then be invited to come to the college to play sports there. This is a huge honor. I am able to go to a college and play soccer there. It took years of hard work, but it paid off. The pain and tears created something bigger. Not everyone is able to play sports after cancer. You really have to push yourself and believe you can. Get a person to work out with that is encouraging or a coach that will help you. There is nothing wrong in not playing anymore. It is up to your body and what it can do. Before you quit, push yourself to see what you can do. 

 

Thank you, 

Samantha Grembecki 

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