By Christopher Cudworth
Those priorities and benefits are exaggerated when you find yourself in a stressful situation in life.
It can be a real blessing to have the ability to run and ride when you need time to process everything going on around you.
As caregiver to a wife with ovarian cancer for 8 years, there were a few periods where worries washed over us. In those times it helped to go out and run or ride and think things through.
There’s a long-term mental health benefit to endurance sports as well. It teaches us persistence and determination. Those qualities come in handy when you’re pushed to the limit in other areas in life.
Within the week I’ll be publishing my book the experiences of caregiving and survivorship titled: “The Right Kind of Pride: A Memoir of Character, Caregiving and Community.”
The book incorporates the blogs I wrote to our caregiving community about the challenges and blessings we experienced during the past8 years. It’s both a practical and philosophical look at life with some humor mixed in.
Here’s an excerpt from the book, a segment in which I recount the moment when a former cross country coach her about my wife’s cancer and gave us a call:
Despite the broad scope of assistance available to us, the frontline care giver and patient are still the primary interface when it comes to covering daily needs. As Linda and I learned what it meant to deal with cancer, my care giving skills were put to repeated tests. When these efforts fell short in some way, the stress of disappointing her could be difficult to handle.
Fortunately there always seemed to be someone ready to step up with encouragement and advice at just the right time. Often those calls of support seemed to come out of the blue.
A few weeks into the first cycles of my wife’s chemotherapy, one of my former coaches from high school heard about Linda’s cancer and called to offer us support. We talked for a while and then like all good coaches he offered a bit of insight and encouragement. “Your whole life has been preparation for this,” he told me.
It was a compelling notion. Over the years our relationship had grown from athlete and coach to something more. We became friends and even business partners with his corporate fitness company, so sports were never far away from the core of our relationship. His instincts about how athletics prepare you for life were exactly what were needed at the time.
That coach and I had known each other more than 30 years. At the age of thirteen I played baseball for his team and later on this fiery, motivated man would also coach me in high school cross country. We enjoyed thrilling success and also learned how to deal with the challenges of defeat. He’d seen me at my best and worst.
We need people like that in our lives to help us achieve balance and perspective, especially in times of stress or trouble. That is what my old coach meant when he told me “all your life has been a preparation for this.” Winning teaches us how to recognize and apply our strengths. Losing teaches us how to live with our weaknesses. The balance of these two teaches us to take pride in the quality of the process as well as the results. That’s the right kind of pride.
The book will be available soon on Amazon.com. A formal announcement will be distributed through this blog at WeRunandRide.com.
Thank you for your readership!