A few weeks ago, I was invited to go to a swim program called Bosom Buddies for breast cancer survivors. Well, today was it...Now, before, I share my experience, I need to explain something. I don’t do swim suits. I don’t do exercise classes. And I don’t particularly like to go to new places by myself. Give me a friend, no problem…by myself, the gremlins in my head start to party! I kept telling myself…you need to do this. Physical activity is good for you and you really need to get back into shape.
4:40 PM I call a friend, hoping her voice will give me encouragement to walk through the fitness center door. You, see, if it was just an average exercise class, it probable wouldn't bother me...but you have to wear a swim suit to participate in a swim class. I didn't own a swim suit. Graciously, my coworker borrowed me one of her old swim suits. (I wasn't sure I would actually go through with this swimming idea, so why waste money buying a new swim suit?) Well, my friend didn’t answer the phone. So, I said a prayer, grabbed my gym bag and began the walk...to the center's door. What am I doing?
4:45 PM I checked in at the front desk...and apparently the gal I called to register for the program, forgot to leave my name at the desk. I don't have a pass. Could this be a sign? Maybe, I'm not supposed to go swimming....whew, now no one can see my pudge hanging out of this little bit of material called a swim suit. A phone call is placed. Urggh, I guess they received the okay, as the gal behind the counter hands me a health form to fill out.
4:52 PM The kind gentleman told me the women's changing room is down the hall to the left. I asked him, "And where do I go from there?" He replied, "Go through the locker room and there's the pool." He then asks, "Do you have a key?" I say, "Yes, to my car." I can see he is trying to not be frustrated with me at this point and he says, "No, for a locker." Come on dude, I obviously look clueless, so how I would possible have a locker key?? He gave me a card and said “Here use this.”
4:55 PM I find the locker room...which has lots of lockers. I quickly find a locker with the number 43 on it. I always try to use my age as a number when there is a potential I may get confused and not find the original locker I chose. Now, my hands are trembling and the gremlins are saying, "RUN! No one has seen you yet...you can escape!" I open the locker and changed to the swim suit.
4:57 PM A bit too early to go to the class, what should I do? Well, I do what everyone does when they are scared and insecure...I hid out in the bathroom stall. Mumbled some prayers...and bravely went off to find the swimming pool. Did I mention I am wearing a swim suit, like, in public?? Oh, goodness!
4:58 PM Ummm....I can't find the pool. The door I went through had big plastic sheets and loud noises everywhere...we are in trouble if our class is in here. I went back to the locker room...asking myself, "Now what to do?" I guess I will stand by the door and wait to see if I can catch someone else going to the Bosom Buddy class. There are many women in the locker room. So, I stand there wishing someone would bare their chest or wear a lymphedema sleeve so I could know they were part of the sisterhood. This didn't happen. Finally, I got my courage up and asked a gal to please show me where the warm water pool was located.
5:00 PM I walk in the door to the pool. Now what? There are all ready some women in the pool and it looks like there is an instructor against the back wall. Why or why did I think I can do this? I have never taken an exercise class. I am klutzy and out of shape. So, now I am standing there feeling half naked...note to self, this is one class you come to early--you can get in the water before anyone can see things that are meant to be hidden! Thankfully, this sweet, elderly lady comes up to me and introduces herself. I quickly follow her to the pool...and class begins!
Trying something new all by yourself can be hard! But YOU can do it! Believe in yourself and don't be afraid to ask for directions! (And leave your gremlins home!)
PS. If you struggle with ongoing pain secondary to cancer treatment, I strongly recommend you check out warm water swimming...the water felt wonderful and I had a good workout!