Tuesday, July 22, 2014

Clueless in So Cal

"I'm pretty sure you have no clue what it takes to do what I do and the focus, energy, and attention to detail it takes and consumes."
I had a pretty good first week with my trainer. I was pretty extremely sore some days but already feel stronger and one of my skirts was not so tight today. I weighed 206.4 this morning so I lost 3.6 lbs this past week. Woo!

This was my training last week (Sunday - Saturday):
Running: 16.4 miles (6.2, 3.1, 3.1, 4)
Riding: 116 miles
Cross training: 2 hours (walking & row machine)
Weights: 3.5 hours
Total hours: 17.5 hours

I had a cold this past week which mostly affected my running with a lack of energy but didn't bother the other stuff. And running wasn't too bad really. I was slow but got out there and even hit the trails again on Saturday. I ran my longest run post cancer/chemo on Sunday (8.5 miles - last 1.5 miles was a run/walk) too. I have a half marathon in one month that I'm trying desperately to get ready for. I had actually signed up for the full but asked them if I could drop to the half because I am not ready for prime time.

I don't want to just slog through races anymore like I did when/since I trained for JJ100. I want to race. So I've decided to stop signing up for marathons and ultras until I've regained my strength and speed and lost the weight I gained the past year. In fact, though I have the half next month and I've signed up for a couple others (Avengers and Star Wars Halfs!), I'm going to concentrate on 5Ks and 10Ks for a while and really work on my speed. I've never trained for 5Ks/10Ks before. The PRs I have for those were set during training for marathons. What could I do if I focused on them?

I told a friend I was going stick to running local 5Ks and 10Ks and they responded with "So quitting running?". I don't see the step back as quitting but I guess it might seem like that to some people. This person also said the quote at the top of this post which was in reference to training for ultras. I was pretty floored when I read it. I was like "Really?" But maybe they were right. I don't know.

I thought I knew what it meant to focus and pour all my energy and attention on something but maybe I don't.

I mean it took me more than a year and half to lose 150 pounds. I thought I was pretty focused on that.

I thought digging myself out of $40,000 in debt in 5 years showed a lot of focus and a lot of energy since I gave up owning a car for 3 years to do it and rode or walked every where.

I pretty much thought going thru chemo showed me what it takes to be focused. I certainly poured all my energy and attention into that so I could work and manage my health. EVERY detail of my life was affected and it took everything I had to continue working. My doctor wanted me to not work during chemo but I didn't have that choice. I had to work or I'd lose my job. So many days I wanted to just curl up in a ball and not deal with anything but I did what I needed to do. Of all that I've done, surviving chemo was the hardest.

Way harder than the longest run I've ever done - Javelina Jundred 100K (it was supposed to be my first 100 miler but I dropped to the 100K). Way harder then the training I did for that.

But I haven't done many ultras so maybe it's different when you do a lot of them. I've only done a few 50Ks, 12HRs, and 1 100K. I don't have a slew of 100 milers or more under my belt. Maybe they take more focus and determination than I have? Maybe I don't have what it takes?

Maybe I won't ever do an ultra again anyway. I don't know at this point. Does that make me a quitter? Does it make me less driven if I don't buy into the "you have to keep running longer and longer races or you are goalless" way of thinking? Am I giving up?

Like I said, I do still intend to run and race. And I definitely have hopes for a sub 4 marathon someday But I choose instead to focus on shorter distances for now. I need to get back to where I was in 2011 before I started training for ultras. That's when I set all the PRs for 5K, 10K, 13.1, and 26.2. 2011 was an awesome year. I want that kind of year again.

I think I'm being smart about my comeback now instead of having my head in the clouds like I did a few months ago. I still have 56ish lbs to lose. I still need to gain back the muscle I lost. I need to rebuild my core that was shredded from the surgery. I need to find my speed! I don't know how long that will take.

What I do KNOW is that I haven't given up and I haven't quit.

And anybody who thinks so can kiss my ass.

Signed,
Clueless In SoCal

Wednesday, July 16, 2014

Clearing Cobwebs

*dusts off the screen*

Hello.

Is anybody there still?

*looks around*

I know it's been a while.

A lot has happened. A lot is still the same. I've learned a few things this past year about myself and about others. Some of it was not always pleasant but there has been some really good stuff too.

I am cancer free now. I had my 3 month check up on July 1st and the last PET scan showed no evidence of cancer, just gallstones (which I already knew about). The only lingering issues I still have are the weight I gained during chemo, fatigue, some stomach issues, and hot flashes/night sweats.

Even though there is nothing there (full hysterectomy), there was the possibility of traveling salesman cancer cells...which the chemo should have taken care of but you never know...so I was really nervous about lighting "up like a Christmas tree" (The Fault in Our Stars). I think I'll always be afraid of that each time I have a checkup. I am not dwelling on that but I would be lying if I said it didn't color how I look at things now. How could it not?

Mostly, at this point, I find it manifests itself in less patience for the things/people that hurt me or give me grief. Life is too short to put up with bullshit. The other thing is that it makes me want to start checking off the list of things I want to do like learn how to rock climb and hike the PCT. And also it makes me want to spend more time on the things I do love and less on things I don't.

One thing I know for sure, beating cancer doesn't make me a superhero. I had a whole team of doctors & nurses and family that did that. I am just a woman who survived as best she could. But I am proud of the fact that I was able to work through chemo and continue running. I think I did pretty well.

Before and after the surgery and then during chemo, I felt like my whole life was focused on cancer. First getting the huge cyst out, then recovering from surgery, then getting ready for chemo, and then chemo. When it was all over...it wasn't all over. I thought being done with chemo would mean I would be me again. I didn't realize I would still be dealing with the effects 4 months later or that it would be normal to experience side effects for 6 months or longer. I mean, I KNEW how horrid chemo was and what it did to my body but I guess I assumed it would bounce back quickly.

I guess I expected too much. Like someone reminded me yesterday, we basically had to "kill" off all the good stuff in my body to kill the cancer and that will take a while to recover from.

I am feeling much better and stronger now. I was a little depressed in May because I wasn't seeing any improvements in my body and I was so exhausted all the time. And then my sweet stripey-rotter, Spike, passed away...from cancer. I admit that I was bitter and angry for a while. I was so angry that cancer had taken so much out of me and was still controlling my life. I just wanted it all to be over with! I want to be healthy again and not worry about getting cancer again. I want to not have to go to checkups every three months and take blood tests and PET scans and worry about the results. Someone told me just this weekend that I was not the same woman I was a year ago. That I was not the happy, fun, and goofy Lisa I used to be. Yeah, no shit. But I'm trying.

The last month has been pretty good though and that's helped my mood. I took a vacation which helped tremendously with all the work stress. And I can run again without pain (had a little plantar fasciitis). And this weekend I joined 24 HR fitness again and had my first training session last night! He's a masochist! But I think it's going to be really good for me and will hopefully help me lose the weight I gained. It's been frustrating not being able to lose it. Though from what I've read, it will take a while for the steroids to wear off and allow the weight to come off, I think adding weight training will help that along.

So, I'm planning on chronicling my comeback here and will try to post once a week or so. I have plans to go social networking free for a month because I need to spend more time doing and less time on the phone and other gadgets but I will still blog. I have a lot I need to work out and writing helps.

Until next time...I hope you are having fun whatever you love doing!







Tuesday, December 31, 2013

2013 - Ending On A Positive Note

I’d had such high hopes for 2013 – PRs, BQs, completing 365 days of run streaking, travel, and fun. Cancer threw a wrench in my plans to PR and BQ but I did some streaking, some traveling, and I had a lot of fun. :)

I am not going to let Cancer turn me into a whiner so I am posting my top 5 moments/memories of 2013 so I can end 2013 on a positive note. Here’s my best of 2013:

1. Fontana Days Run 5K - I didn't PR but now that I know I was dealing with Cancer win I did this, I am VERY happy with being just 20 seconds off my PR. Especially with not real speed work prior to it. I am proud of myself for running so hard it hurt and I thought I'd puke! And getting 3rd in my Age Group was icing on the cake!

2. Bataan Memorial Death March - The memories from that weekend in New Mexico still give me chills. It was an amazing experience made even better by sharing it with my friends Cliff and Jeff. This is definitely one of my top 3 marathons. I was slow but it didn't matter.

3. Horseshoe Lake Trail Marathon - I celebrated my 45th birthday with a trail marathon in San Jose. I had a fun running adventure that weekend. And even though that marathon was SO slow that my friends Josh and Naresh were afraid I'd died, it was a beautiful place to run and I enjoyed it. Getting to have dinner with Naresh (who bought me a birthday cake) was a great birthday present too.

4. Run Under The Stars 10 Hour - What happens in Kentucky, stays in Kentucky! ;) LOL, seriously, I know most people would think I'm crazy to include a race where you run in circles around a half mile track for 10 Hours but...I did this race with 70ish of my Run It Fast friends. I loved seeing everyone and running with them throughout the night. It was my first trip to Kentucky too.

5. Thanksgiving Run - This wasn't a race but it was my first day back running after not running for 11 weeks! It felt so good! This is me on that day. Do I look satisfied or what? Woo!
Even though I know I have a long way to go to get back to where I was, I am excited to be able to put my running shoes on again. I've been running 3 to 4 times a week and have been able to run trails again. I can't tell you how happy that makes me! I'm a runner again! Now, here's a summary of my 2013:
Can't complain about being able to do 19 races, right? And 1539.2 running miles is nothing to sneeze at. I was also able to streak for 337 days. Oh so close to a year but will have to try that again soon.

Let's see...I got a lot of cool medals in 2013 but these 2 are my favorites:

The RUN medal for my 3rd AG at Fontana Days Run for the reasons specified above.
And my Snoopy Coaster Run 10K because this one also hurt and I am Snoopy! And it's cute!

There were a lot of other great memories, too many to count or recap here. But one of the best things to come out of 2013 was all the great support I received from my friends and family. I definitely felt all the love and prayers and it was a great comfort to me during the scariest and hardest moments.

This year, I learned that running gave me the strength and knowledge to tackle life's problems head on. At each stage of my journey through Cancer, I've felt overwhelmed and scared. But running taught me to take things one step at a time. To worry about and take care of what you can and deal with the rest as it comes up. I treated Ovarian Cancer as an ultra and instead of running away when I didn't want to know what was wrong, I took the first step towards health. And then the next. And then the next. Now I'm halfway through chemo and I'm doing the same thing. One chemo round at a time. Don't think about what's to come. Run when I can. Rest when I need to. Just keep going.

The biggest lesson I learned about myself in 2013 was that I am stronger than I thought. I am also more stubborn than I thought. Okay, that's a lie. I knew I was VERY stubborn. :) But the next time I toe the line for a race, I won't be as scared or nervous as I was before. I will do my best and have fun but racing is not something to be afraid of. It's something to celebrate.

I plan to celebrate a lot in 2014.

Happy New Year! See you on the roads and trails!

Thursday, October 24, 2013

On The Mend...Mostly

It's now a little more than 3 weeks post surgery. I am recovering pretty well physically. I still get really tired but my stamina is growing. I started out with 3 10 minute walks a day and then went to 2 20 minute walks. Now I'm doing a 30 minute walk and then a 15-20 minute walk a day. Slowly but surely I'm getting stronger though I'm surprised at how tired I am after 30 minutes. I have to be careful not to overdo it. I definitely overdid it this weekend and have been sleeping a LOT the past few days to recover from it. I think I'm back on track now.

I can eat normal food again. It was an issue for a while. Some things are still not good for my stomach. I found out the hard way that pizza is still a no go and so is salad. I haven't had a burrito since before the surgery and I'm having MAJOR withdrawals but I'm afraid to try it yet. Soon. Hopefully.

The staples are all out and the scar is healing up. It still hurts to laugh and cough and sneeze. Who knew you used your stomach muscles for SO much. It even hurts to blow my nose! My doctor said I could try running and riding again in another 3 weeks or so. But no weights, sit-ups, push ups, etc. for 3 months. I see the oncologist next Tuesday and will find out what my chemo treatments will be.

*Warning - emotional dump ahead - proceed at your own risk!*

So, like I said...physically I'm doing pretty well. Emotionally...that is another story. And that is where I really miss running. Right now, I don't have an out for everything I'm feeling and I find myself crying at the weirdest times. I'm frustrated easily and I get so mad sometimes. I need to talk to someone but I'm not sure if I should talk to someone I don't know or one of my friends. I need to look for a support group, I think.

I feel sad, mad, frustrated, scared, ugly, jealous, hurt, and nervous.

I feel like I've been there for other people thru this but I haven't really let anyone be there for me. Like I have to protect them. Or that I wasn't sick enough to ask for help. I don't know.

Maybe I'm just tired.

I still feel nauseous on most days still. That makes me afraid the cancer is still there or that it is coming back. Because of that, I'm looking forward to getting the chemo over with. I'm dreading it but I want to make sure the cancer is gone! But then in my reading, I see that this type of cancer can be recurring. But if they took everything...wouldn't that mean it couldn't come back? I also apparently have to watch out for breast cancer now. Will I ever get over this fear? How do you get over the fear?

Speaking of taking everything...I don't know if my emotions are out of whack because of being thrown into instant menopause. I still have all that to figure out. Apparently, it's unlikely I'll get hormones to help with it because of the possibility of breast cancer. Besides the cancer, this is the thing that makes me most sad and angry. People keep telling me how lucky I am that I won't have to deal with a period anymore and I want to scream at them. I have ZERO chance of having a child now. NONE. Why would I be happy about that? I never in a million years imagined I wouldn't have children. It's just not fair. I know I'm 45 and for the most part I'd accepted it wouldn't happen but it hurts. It really hurts.I feel like a complete failure.

On top of everything else, I'm losing my hair already. My stupid body has always betrayed me like this when I'm stressed. When I as 12 and my parents divorced, my hair fell out. Yeah, not fun for a 12 year old girl. And then when I was hit by a car, I got two bald spots. I feel so old and ugly right now. I hate the way my body feels and how out of shape I am. I feel like I aged 10 years in the past 3 months.

I want this to have never happened. I want to not have cancer. I want to not have to worry about doctor visits and treatments and if my insurance will cover it. I want my body back the way it was. I just want to be strong and whole again.

Fucking cancer! I hate it.

Thursday, October 3, 2013

The C Word

So I had the surgery to remove the cyst.

There was bad news but also good news.

I had/have ovarian cancer.

They took all of my female organs and my appendix and took a sampling of my lymph nodes. They thought they got it all and that it was Stage 1 but we had to wait for labs to come back to be sure. We got the labs back this morning and they were negative! So it was very early and contained to the one ovary. My case will go before a tumor board and they will decide on the best course of action but I will have to have chemo.

He said actually that it was considered Stage 1c because the cyst had burst and there was some fluid but he was very positive and happy with the results.

So am I! I really had hoped there wasn't cancer there. When I woke up from surgery, I asked what time it was and they said 1pm so I knew right away they had had to do all he anticipated. When he came to tell me that it was cancer and they had removed everything, I felt calm. I don't know why but I wasn't scared or angry. Ha, maybe it was the drugs still. ;)

I am still in the hospital but hope to go home this afternoon or tomorrow. Mostly it's because I just started eating last night. I feel pretty good though. The pain is minimal and I am walking around. I actually feel kind of peppy. Which is probably because I'm so relieved right now.

The plan now is to recover quickly and smart. And move past this so I can get back to being me.

Thank you for all of your thoughts and prayers! Your support has been awesome. :)

Saturday, September 21, 2013

September 30th

9 days until my surgery.

It's scheduled for September 30th at 9 am. The doctor, who I saw yesterday, said it could take an hour or 3 depending on what they find. The order for surgery has a lot of long words on it but mostly it says exploratory.

I still don't think it's the C word. One good thing is that the blood test I took for ovarian cancer came back 31 which is slightly above the negative line but he said it really depended on the lab and their tolerance levels. That he would be worried if it was 300 or 400 but 31 is nothing.

But I guess that doesn't rule out the possibility that it's a different type. Which is why it's exploratory and why they will be doing a biopsy during it. But he told me that even if that is negative, it is just preliminary and we have to wait for the full test to come back so more surgery could happen. But if it comes back positive, then they will take everything and see if it has spread to other areas.

I know he has to tell me all the possibilities before and that they probably won't happen. It's just...there's just too many IFs right now. While I know generally what's going to happen, I just don't know what they are going to find or have to do. I really am trying not to think worst case scenario but I did cry last night. Nights are the worst. I wake up and my mind starts racing and I can't go back to sleep.

I don't want to be a grown up!

Being a grown up sucks. While I really want to just curl up in a ball and let someone else deal with the appointments for CT scans, blood, pre-op, asking for leave from work, filing for disability, getting things ready for the hospital and after, etc., I put my big girl panties on and am getting it done. It would be nice to have someone to help me with it though. Sometimes being single sucks too.

It's Saturday and while all my peeps are out racing and doing long runs, I'm at work prepping like crazy for my staff so things won't be too bad for them while I'm out for 6 to 8 weeks. The doctor said I should plan for 8 weeks. Sigh. There goes my PTO.

It's going to be a long 8 weeks. He said no driving for the first 2 weeks. And that I could do short walks but not to tire myself out. And that I will get tired. Will it be more tired than I am right now? I hope not.

I think we have the plan set for after. I'm going to stay at my mom's after the surgery for a while. And my sister, dad, and stepmom are coming for the surgery. One other good thing is that I am having it at the hospital where my cousin is the Director of Nursing so I know that she will help me through it and my family too. She's been a big help to my mom who was really worried. We are pretty lucky to have her for this.

So yes, I'm nervous and I'm dreading 8 long weeks of being inactive and trying to fill my time with things so I don't go crazy. But...I can't wait to get this out of me so I don't feel like an alien is trying to make it's way out of my stomach anymore. I can't wait to not be tired and nauseous and not have an achy back and stomach and have to pee all the time. I can't wait to feel normal again. I can't wait to start my way back to running.

I hope this wasn't too much of a pity party. I just needed to get some of these thoughts out. So thank you for listening. And for all of your prayers.

Thursday, September 12, 2013

So It's Surgery

I guess it was a little more serious than I thought…

I had kind of rough day on Sunday so I called the doctor on Monday to see if there were any cancellations I could take to move my appointment up. His office people said no so I resigned myself to waiting until October 10th to see him. But then I got lucky. They called me back and said they had done some research and could I come in at 4:50 on Wednesday? I said YES!

Answers...finally...

So I had my appointment yesterday and I found out I will have to have surgery. Sadly, it won't be laparoscopic like I'd hoped. I guess the mass/cyst is a little bit bigger than we'd thought. He said "It's this big." and held his hands out. Much farther out than I would have preferred. He said "It's as big as a basketball."

OH. CRAP.

But also...oh, this explains so much! The being tired, the aches and pains, having to go all the time, the feeling like an alien being is trying to make it's way out of my stomach.

Anyway, he said I would have to have surgery and it would be a 3 day hospital stay and then a 6-8 week recovery. I don't know the exact date for the surgery yet but he said in a couple of weeks. First I have to have more blood work done and also get a CT scan. Neither him nor I are thinking the C word but that's what the blood work and CT scan are for, I think. And he also said they would be doing a biopsy during the procedure and that would determine how much they take out.

So, I'm relieved to know exactly what's going to happen and what I need to plan for. I'm freaked out a little that there's something so big growing inside me. When I told Josh he said "basketball is like a baby". I said "yeah, but there's no prize at the end". It's hard to wrap my mind around it.

I would be lying if I said I wasn't scared about the surgery. And a little nervous about what they will find/how much they will take. I don't want to go into menopause already. Not that I was planning on having kids but there may have still been a teeny, tiny hope it could accidentally happen. I would not have been sad if I "accidentally" became a mom at 45. My friend Cliff, surprisingly, was the one who brought it up and helped me with those thoughts/worries. Like I said, I wasn't planning on becoming a mom but with the possibility that definitely is not in the cards, it makes me sad. But we will cross the bridge when we get to it.

337 Days

That's how long my runstreak was. I had to stop. I asked him if I could continue until the surgery and he said "Well, maybe if you go really, really slow...no, I have to say no. If it bursts, you will be in a lot of pain and it will be an emergency situation. It's better to stop now and call it". I said okay. And then asked him if walking was okay and he said yes. So at least I have that.

Sadly, it looks like my plans for fall racing are out the window. No Long Beach Marathon (which means I won't get to finish the Beach Cities Challenge either). No R&R LA (and did you see how cool that medal is?). No Flying Monkey (sob). But on the plus side, I should be on my way back to run Tinkerbell in January and, if I don't go too in debt with PTO and money, hopefully Princess in February.

I know that my health is more important than running and that I will feel much better after. I just am sad that some of the fun I'd planned this fall won't be happening. And I'm having race bling withdrawals!

But seriously, I want to thank all of you for your thoughts and prayers and offers of help. The best part of running is the community I found and I am thankful for all of you.