Sunday, May 31, 2009

Log: 2009.05.31

Activity: Walking
Time: 1:15

Notes:

Took the boys to a new park and pushed them in the double stroller. There was a big hill at the end and it about killed me. I took my pulse at the top and it was 170! From walking! That double jogger can be a bear to push on hills.

Friday, May 29, 2009

Log: 2009.05.29

Activity: Swimming, Lifting
Time: 26:00, 20:00

Wednesday, May 27, 2009

Monday, May 25, 2009

Log: 2009.05.25

Activity: Walking
Time: 60:00

Notes:
After a year of trading emails, I finally met fellow runner/blogger/mommy Salty in real life. We had a nice walk and I look forward to running with her soon with our BOB's and boys.

Sunday, May 24, 2009

Log: 2009.05.24

Activity: Walking
Time: 60:00

Notes:

My DH did a 5mile race and I did the 1 mile fun run with the boys. I really wanted to be out there!

Thursday, May 21, 2009

Mile 6 of my Cancer Marathon

Last mile I spoke of the moments of brilliance that occur during a race. Those moments are pretty awesome but my running friends know quite well they are often accompanied by periods of darkness.

Dark moments can happen anytime during a race and creep up on you without warning. One moment you are merrily running along and then – BAM! Your legs are heavy, your feet are made of concrete, you shoulders ache, your arms tighten up and what once was easy is now hard.

Self doubt creeps in. I’m thirsty. I’m tired. I didn’t train enough. I over trained. The weather sucks. The guy next to me breathes too loud. I feel a blister coming on. My shorts are chafing. I’ll never be able to keep this pace. I’ll just slow down a bit right now and make up for it in a mile or two. They mismeasured the course because that last mile was way too long. I hate this course. I hate running. I can’t do it.

And as predicted, a period of darkness crept up on me as I was still basking in the glow of mile 5 of my cancer marathon.

It started with this dry hacking cough I developed right around the time we were in Cincinnati. I would get into this coughing fits that would rattle my whole body. It felt like I had an itch at the back of my throat that I just couldn’t satisfy. No matter how much I coughed, no matter how many cough drops I consumed, it would still be there. So that was annoying.

Then I developed neuropathy which for me presented as numbness in my fingertips. (Chemo can also make you get it in your toes but so far I’m all good down there) You know how your finger feels a day or two after you smash it? That’s neuropathy but in every single finger. It’s not a big inconvenience (doesn’t impact my ability to Facebook, for instance) but just a constant reminder of the cancer. So that was another annoyance.

So I went into my last chemo treatment a little agitated about this whole stupid cancer thing. Per usual I met with my oncologist prior to the treatment. Since it was my last chemo treatment, we started discussing next steps i.e. radiation and testing.

The radiation protocol was what I expected and I’ll get into that next mile. The testing discussion, however, catapulted me into the darkness. My doc explained that bone lymphoma are tricky in terms of testing because the bone regrowth will show up as activity on the PET scan. This activity can be difficult to distinguish from cancer activity. So long story short, I won’t get my final PET scan to determine if the cancer is gone for at least 4-6 weeks AFTER radiation is complete.

I’m a checklist kind of girl. I keep a detailed to-do list for both work and home and get deep satisfaction on checking things off of it daily. Because of this mentality, I’ve been dreaming of the day when I can check “Beat Cancer” off my list. So it bummed me out that it might not be for some time that I get a definitive answer on whether the cancer is gone or not.

That got me thinking, which is always a bad thing. You’re technically not cured from cancer until you’ve had 5 years of clean scans. My little baby Porter will be in kindergarten before I can truly claim I am through with this whole cancer nonsense. That just seemed insurmountable.
So for a week or two I was in that dark place. Unhappy. Discouraged. Angry. Wanting to quit the race and go home and eat ice cream on the couch.

But as often happen in a race, something happens to break you free of the chains of darkness. When it does, it’s like your whole body and mind opens up and screams “Running demons - You may have had me down, but I’m not out, there’s a race to run and I’m going to do it”

In my case, that something was getting off crutches. I may or may not have got off crutches a little early than prescribed by my orthopedist but we’ll keep that between us. Let’s just say it’s not realistic to have a mommy of a 3 year old and a baby on crutches for 12 weeks. Obviously, my orthopedist is a man.

I had a little pain at first but it quickly subsided. I think it was the muscles readjusting to bearing weight again. I no problem doing a good bit of walking a few days after being freed from the walking sticks.

I feel like a new woman without those crutches. I can now go wherever I want whenever I want. I can carry my baby and care for my kids without assistance. I’ve visited my basement which I hadn’t done in two months. I don’t have to worry about landmines on the floor, also known as matchbox cars and Little People. Stairs are my friend once again.

And most of all, it’s one less reminder that I have cancer. I’m closer to my old self now and I like that.

In addition to being a total pain in the ass, the crutches were kind of signal to others that something was wrong with me. While I lost the hair on my head, I never lost my eyebrows or eyelashes. I also did not loss any weight (seriously, couldn’t I have gotten at least one positive benefit from cancer?!). So with a baseball cap on, I didn’t have the “cancer look”. I looked totally normal with exception of the crutches. Now that the crutches are gone, I’m one step closer to being back to a regular person in my own eyes and in the eyes of others.

On a related note, when I was at my last chemo treatment they had a therapy dog visit the patients receiving treatment. I’m not a dog person but the dog was cute and well-behaved so I relented and let it come into my room. I even petted it. When the dog and its handler left I thought to myself, “Well, isn’t it nice they do that for all those sick people”

It was probably 15 minutes later that I realized that the cute dog was there for me – I was one of those sick people. That’s how it’s been for me – a mental struggle between understanding I am sick and also wanting to get on with my life and be normal.

I’ll continue to grapple with that but for now I’m glad I’m out of the darkness and back in the light. Next mile will be Mile 7 or “How Carmen became radioactive” :)

Carmen

"It’s always darkest before the dawn."

Log: 2009.05.21

Activity: Cycling, Lifting
Time: 30:00, 20:00

Notes:
Thought I'd give cycling a try now that I'm off crutches. I kept the resistance low because I figured too much tension would put too much pressure on my femur. No pain, so that was all good.

Now the lifting was another story. I struggled lifting upper body today. Not sure why but I can't blame it on cancer - just being a weakling.

On a side note, I looked pretty hot at the gym with my bald head and radiation leg markings. I'm sure everyone was jealous.

Wednesday, May 20, 2009

Log: 2009.05.20

Activity: Swimming
Time: 26:00

Notes:

I've been just swimming at the same speed for as long as I have time/energy. Which is kind of dumb really. I wouldn't do the exact same distance and speed every day running so why do it swimming? I always tell new runners to follow a training plan and I wasn't even following my own advice.

So I got a book from the library, "Fitness Swimming", which has a bunch of great swim workout plans and incorporates some crazy drills to enhance my form and speed. This was Day 1 and it went well - definitely made it less boring.

Sunday, May 17, 2009

Log: 2009.05.17

Activity: WALKING WITHOUT CRUTCHES!!!!
Time: 1:00

Notes:

Took my 3yo to the Cleveland Marathon. He loved it and so did I!

Thursday, May 14, 2009

Tuesday, May 12, 2009

Log: 2009.05.12

Activity: Swimming, Lifting

Time: 20:00, 20:00

Monday, May 4, 2009

Mile 5 of my Cancer Marathon

Onto mile 5…

During a race you can have moments of brilliance, and of course its counterpoint, periods of darkness.

During the brilliant moments your body feels good and your mind is content. You can’t help but think ahead to the finish and extrapolate what your time will be if you keep the pace. It’s not quite a runner’s high but it is a satisfying feeling. These moments are what makes running so enjoyable and addictive.

I’ll save an explanation of the dark periods for another mile :)

Last 3 week cycle was pretty tough as I was sick from various illnesses and very tired. I started this cycle off pretty tired as well but started feeling much better into the second week. It helps I didn’t come down with any illnesses this go round. Of course, I’ve had several people (those with a sick sense of humor) ask me if I’ve come down with Swine Flu yet since I’ve managed to catch just about everything else these past two months!

I mustered up enough energy to start exercising regularly which made me feel amazing, both physically and mentally. After a month and a half of being a couch potato it was nice to feel like a human being again.

I started out with Pilates. After my bone biopsy surgery I lost a lot of range of motion in my left leg which made it difficult for me to do any sort of activity. My orthopedist wanted me to see a physical therapist to work on regaining it. However, due to scheduling I couldn’t get a PT appointment until after my first chemo treatment.

Incredibly, at my first chemo appointment the drugs went to work on my leg immediately. My leg started feeling looser while I was still sitting there with the drip in my arm. By the time I got home that night I had a lot of my range of motion back and by the next day I had full range of motion back.

I still went to the PT appointment the next week. My physical therapist confirmed what I already knew – my range of motion was fine and I didn’t need to be there. Coincidently, my therapist ran distance at a rival college and we competed against each other back then. She’s a marathoner so she totally understood when I told her the PT exercises she gave me for strengthening my leg were lame. So she said it was fine for me to do pilates as long as it wasn’t weight bearing.

So I started doing 20 minutes of Pilates every day I felt up to it. But of course that was not enough…

I got the nurse at my orthopedist’s office to agree to swimming. But I first had to run it by my oncologist. He said that he’s never actually had a patient swim during treatments but he saw no medical reason why not. So off to the YMCA I was!

I started out slowly with a 12 minute swim. I quickly worked up to swimming 30 minutes straight. I’m no Michael Phelps so 30 minutes straight is huge for me, cancer or no cancer. I felt great in the water but was definitely tired later in the day. But it was so worth it. At minimum, just to see the faces on people as I hobbled into the pool on crutches with my bald head. LOL.

Shortly after I was diagnosed I contacted the Leukamia and Lymphoma Society to see if I could get involved with Team in Training. TNT is basically a fund raising vehicle for the LLS. In return for raising money for blood cancer research you get free coaching to complete your first marathon, triathlon or century bike ride.

They asked if I would be an “Honored Hero”, i.e. someone would do their marathon in honor of me. Or so I thought. I went to the TNT kick-off last week and found out that ALL (not just one) the TNT runners for Akron Marathon would be running in honor of me. Talk about pressure! Now I can’t be a whiny wimp about cancer because 30 or 40 people are running 26.2 miles for me! :)

Seriously, it’s a very cool thing and I am honored that I get to share such a personal experience as a marathon with them. I told them to keep me updated via email about how their training is going. I hope they do so!

This past weekend my husband and I headed down to Cincinnati for the Flying Pig Marathon. This was the marathon I was training for when I found out I had cancer. So it was a little weird to be there as a spectator instead of a competitor.

My husband and my two friends from college all did the half marathon. It was fun getting together and I loved watching them race. They all tore it up out there despite a challenging course and some rain. I was so proud of them! My husband hasn’t had much time to train and my friends are both working moms so for all of them to finish so well is quite the accomplishment.

For as much excitement I had for my husband and friends, I have to admit I had a little bit of bitterness for the other competitors. I guess since I didn’t know them, it was easy to project my anger at the cancer on them. As the strangers ran by I couldn’t help but wonder if they were truly appreciating the fact that they could run and compete. I’m sure they did but I couldn’t help being a little resentful.

Nevertheless, being at the marathon totally inspired me and I started making a mental list of the races I want to do when I get better. Just daydreaming of running makes my heart race and my legs tingle! I can’t wait to kick cancer’s ass and get back on with my life!

I’ll leave you with a saying that was on one of our cross-country team t-shirts during college: “I like to run, it makes me smile. I think I'll run another mile.”

Log: 2009.05.04

Activity: Pilates, stretching
Time: 20:00

Sunday, May 3, 2009

Log: 2009.05.03

Activity: Walking (on Crutches)
Time: 1:00

Saturday, May 2, 2009

Log: 2009.05.02

Activity: Walking (on crutches)
Time: 1:00