Kenny's Corner: Bonehead Beats

A March 2024 Update from Throwing Bones Founder, Kenny Capps


Kenny CappsThe past six months have been hard. Most days, I manage – except for the days that I don’t. There are a lot of moments that I don’t. That’s hard for me to admit.

Part of MY healing begins by addressing the cancer in the room. It’s time for me to open up about how this year has been going—health, work, training, family, friends, school, and life. It’s easy to say that I don’t owe anybody other than myself an explanation, but if you’re my friend or family, maybe I do owe it to you. If you’re struggling with life, health, a massive to-do list, and balancing it all, maybe my story will move you forward.

Not all challenges in life are strictly physical. Many are emotional, and that’s even harder for me to admit.

I have a long to-do list of non-delegable responsibilities. I also fill in spaces on my calendar where I have free time. It’s a bad habit; I know better but can’t help myself. I don’t always live by the adage “more is better,” but it creeps in occasionally.

I work full-time as the Executive Director of Throwing Bones. In addition to my job, I am a cancer patient advocate. I am a writer. I am a father to 3 kids. I am a struggling athlete. I coach runners. I am in graduate school. I am my mother’s primary caregiver. I have a big yellow dog. I have a few side projects that help supplement my nonprofit salary. To top it off, some brilliant healthcare professionals are treating me for cancer. That’s a lot.

If you don’t already know, in January 2015, I was diagnosed with multiple myeloma, a blood cancer that affected my bones (bone lesions and compression fractures) and has the potential to negatively impact lots of other important stuff in my body. In August of 2015, I underwent a bone marrow transplant, also known as a “hematopoietic stem cell transplant.” Although I never achieved remission, my status has been considered “stable” since then due to daily immunotherapy. After my relapse this past fall, the cancer folks found another large lesion in my sternoclavicular (collarbone) joint and immediately began a course of radiation and targeted therapy. Treatment options and availability for me have increased exponentially in the past eight years, and the cancer is responding REALLY well to treatment, but it has not been easy.

I am beat up and exhausted.

Every Friday morning, in addition to my usual handful of pills, I take ten tablets of dexamethasone, a relatively intense glucocorticoid (steroid), two Tylenol, and two Benadryl prior to weekly visits to my local infusion center. The professionals at the infusion center juice me with a subcutaneous targeted therapy (they stick a needle in my belly). They top it off with another injection to treat bone damage.

As you might imagine, with all these treatments comes side effects. Sometimes, even treating these side effects has side effects. Managing side effects often becomes a part-time job.

You can imagine most, if not all, of the side effects. I have yet to become super strong, change skin color, or develop super healing abilities, but I have lost an incredible amount of sleep, use the bathroom much more than I’d like, and often feel fatigued to the point of being useless. Not surprisingly, my physical training and mental acuity have suffered as a result.

On Fridays, the day of dosing, Dexamethasone does have the effect of increasing my energy levels. Still, it quickly surpasses any positive and snowballs into feelings of jitteriness, confusion, and anxiety. And that’s all before noon. By 9 or 10 pm on the night of my infusion, my focus is entirely shot, and sleep is a distant goal. Somewhere between 10 PM and 2 AM, hiccups show up. Untreated, they last on and off for 10-15 hours. If I’m lucky, after a cocktail of hiccup pills, Benadryl, Melatonin, and CBD gummies, I fall asleep between 3 and 5 AM. I’m rarely lucky when it comes to sleep.

My Saturdays are filled with fog and disorientation. I’m hungover from lack of sleep and possibly from the increased dosing of Benadryl. I try to be productive, but my goals are lost long before I start. Despite what you might expect, I have yet to fall asleep early on Saturday night so that I wake up Sunday morning refreshed and ready to conquer the week. Frequently, my mind is so full of jumbled thoughts that I battle meaningful rest.

I wake up Sunday morning better, but I’m still frustratingly fuzzy as if I am recovering from an all-night fraternity party replete with keg stands and vomiting on the pool table. The fog starts to lift as the day goes on, but I’m not the least bit productive. Therefore, I start the week behind. Every week, two to three days are lost to recovery.

Prior to this recent relapse, I trained 5-6 days per week, including running and any strength workouts. Due to time constraints, I usually was only able to achieve 35-40 miles each week. Almost all of my long runs are scheduled for Saturdays and Sundays, but I have been unable to meet my weekend distance goals since January. I was only able to run as far as I was in January because insomnia allowed me to run until the wee hours of Saturday morning on a treadmill. During January, I was able to spend 267 miles on my feet.

By the time February rolled around, I could not maintain that momentum, and the wheels fell off again. Every day, I fully intend to jump on the treadmill or step outside to go around the lake or up to the trails, but many days, I struggle with moving beyond the front door. Even when I get my shoes on, I struggle with much more than a 20-minute calisthenic workout. Deadlifts and overhead presses are great, but they don’t help nearly as much as actively moving for 60 minutes to several hours.

The less that I do physically, the more stuck I feel inside. I don’t just move slowly right now. I barely move. I am 15 pounds heavier than I would like to be. I often don’t eat well. I find comfort in eating as if I’m running an ultramarathon. I do lift weights, but I don’t swim, ride bikes, or run in any meaningful way. I walk or hike when I cannot make any more excuses. It has affected my feeling of self-worth. My sense of self-worth has negatively impacted my productivity. I’m stuck in a vicious cycle, and, some days, I’m not entirely sure how to break out.

Badwater Cape Fear 2024

I will make my way to the start line of the Badwater Cape Fear 51-mile race this coming Saturday. I am less prepared to run this race than I have ever been prepared for any athletic event. My measure of success and accomplishment begins by making it to the start line.

Running an ultramarathon isn’t as easy as showing up, suffering through an hour-and-a-half 13.1-mile race, then regretting it for the next week. There is planning, strategy and TRAINING necessary to complete the task. This weekend, Mother Nature has decided to contribute even more to the challenge by bringing wind and rain along with the 51-mile beach run to Fort Fisher and back.

Heeding my advice to athletes and cancer patients over the years, whether I run 50 miles, 50k, or not much further than the start line, success will be mine by the time I set out as long as I put my shoes on and move with purpose in the right direction until I can’t go anymore. When I can’t go anymore, I’ll stop. Hopefully, I’ll be proud. Hopefully, I’ll know at that moment that I did my best. Hopefully, somebody will have a beer and something good to eat waiting for me. I’ll smile and look forward to the next challenge. There will be more.