DAKOTA ON IMPORTANCE OF STAYING ACTIVE
Lost motor skills, inability to walk, 20-lb weight loss and constant dizziness.
Even though that was my life while fighting cancer, Dr. Inaba stressed how important it was to stay active during treatment, so I started going to physical therapy. I learned to use my fingers all over again, and worked my way up to walking on my own again.
Along the way, I developed drop foot and had to stand on a ramp every day, whether I wanted to or not. I also had to balance on a shaky plate which helped with bone density loss, even though it hurt and I often felt too weak to complete the time.
After I learned to walk again, I knew I had to find some way to get back to being active. For me, golf was the answer. I would go to the course with my dad and just take nice easy swings. Standing, keeping my balance and moving was just about all I could handle at that time. However, I continued to push myself day after day.
By the end of my treatment period, I was able to complete 18 holes. This certainly wasn’t an overnight accomplishment – it was a journey. I got so sick and tired of hearing my parents and Dr. Inaba tell me to move, move, move.
Now I know, it really made a difference.
Little by little, step by step, I made progress. I didn’t want to just beat cancer; I wanted to return to being an active kid. I wanted to thrive.
After treatment, I was only up to about 65% of the strength and activity level of a normal 14-year-old. Slowly and surely, I continued to push forward and move, move, move.
A year and a half out of treatment, I was confidently walking 36-hole golf tournaments. There were many times I didn’t think I would get there, but I did it. It hasn’t been easy, but the struggle has been worth it! I’m continuing to push and move – now through more physical therapy, working with a personal trainer and getting in golf practice daily. I’ve learned that no matter the struggle or trouble, it’s imperative to stay active. We just have to keep moving forward!
I didn’t appreciate it then, but now I am so thankful my parents told me every day to keep moving. And thank you, Dr. Inaba, for arm wrestling me during checkups. You gave me the motivation to get stronger and to push forward.