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.

Tuesday, September 3, 2013

It's Not Serious

I think. But it feels like it to me.

So this is what happened since I last blogged...

I had an ultrasound on Sunday, Aug 18th and then had to wait until that Friday to find out the results. The ultrasound wasn’t enough t tell them what was wrong so they scheduled an MRI for me on the 24th and the doctor called me to make sure I didn’t miss it. She said there were multiple masses on in my stomach but they couldn’t see exactly which organs they were in so they could refer me to the proper surgeon. I’d had blood work and a urine test and she said the blood work came back fine but she was worried about the urine test. Oh, and she told me I had gallstones which she said was the least of my worries. Sigh.

The MRI was not fun. I’m not really claustrophobic but I don’t like not being able to move. Plus, it was loud and hot and my back was hurting. It took over an hour. I ALMOST pushed the panic button a couple of times. :( So then I had to wait a week to hear the results for that test. I had been hoping it was fibroids in my uterus because that would have been the “easy” fix so I was disappointed it wasn’t that. And I was a little scared.

My grandmother had polycystic disease and the cysts were in her uterus, liver, and kidneys. Her kidneys stopped functioning because of that and she spent the last years of her life on dialysis. I used to take her to her Saturday treatments and saw how much it took out of her. Of all the things the masses could be, I was praying most it wasn’t that.

It wasn’t that. Thank god. It turns out I have multiple masses on/around my ovaries; the largest is the size of a lemon. My doc wouldn’t say “cysts” and she wouldn’t say “not cancer” and she referred me to an ob/gyn to take it from there. I couldn’t get an appointment until Oct 10th. Sigh. But I am going to call back often to see if there were any cancellations.

Even though she wouldn’t say “not cancer”, I’m going with they are “just” ovarian cysts like my mom had. I still don’t know what that will mean surgery wise. I don’t know if they are just going to take the cysts out or if they’ll have to take other things along with it. I’m still hoping it will be like a 2 week recovery period and not 6 to 8 weeks. A girl can dream.

Running wise…I’m not really running anymore. I am still doing my 1 mile streaksavers but that doesn’t feel like the true spirit of a runstreak? Sometimes I want to do more but I just don’t know if I should. Most days it’s uncomfortable to run because of the swelling in my stomach (which also has been causing back pain). It looks like I’m 6+ months pregnant and at times, it feels like a really bad case of PMS. I still have the nausea and sometimes I feel lightheaded. And of course, I’m tired all the time. Some of that is because I can’t get comfortable at night. I can tell that my body is working to fight what’s wrong with it and I don’t want to do too much and tire my body out while it’s doing this. I have been supplementing the not running with walking and doing a lot of spring cleaning. I’ve also been trying to stay away from Twitter and Facebook because while I’m happy for all of you and your running/racing…I’m also jealous!

And sad. I miss running. I miss the endorphins. I miss being out on the trail. I’m nervous to go out by myself right now (because of the lightheadedness) and I’m too slow to go with anyone so I put that on hold. A friend asked me if I would rather be running or alive. I said both!

I thought it was really kind of ironic that I couldn’t get an appointment until Oct 10th…the day after I will reach my 1 year runstreak anniversary. I just hope I can at least get my 1 mile a day in until them. Though some days I don’t care, I know that I will be pissed at myself if I give up. And a part of me hopes that I will miraculously get better every day.

A runner girl can dream.

Monday, August 5, 2013

This Is Sparta!

Well, maybe not. But I did reach a milestone in my runstreak today! 300 days of running!
I wore my Skirt Sports Celebration skirt to mark the occasion during my 5K run this morning. :)

My first runstreak only got a little past 100 days so I wasn't sure how this one would go but so far, so good. There have been days where I've had to do a one mile "streak saver" when I was sick or body parts were hurting but for the most part, I've done at least 5K a day for my streak. :)

There were a couple of times that I thought about giving it up...like when I had the flu back in April. Sometimes it feels like a burden but mostly it is incentive to get out the door. There were days when I just didn't feel like running and the streak was the only thing that got me to put my shoes on.

I'm not sure how long it will go. Josh was asking me if I was going to continue past a year and I hadn't really thought about it. Sometimes I think I'll just keep going and then sometimes I think that I'll stop at a year. A year is a good stopping point. But I really do like running every day.

I'm just hoping that what ever is going on with me won't kill my streak before the year is up. Some days are a struggle right now but at least I'm running.

I haven't been writing in this blog much because I felt like all I could do was whine. I just couldn't get why I was having crappy runs and races all the time. I was VERY frustrated with myself and my running. It seemed no matter how many steps forward I took, I'd take 2 steps back. I would watch everyone else continue to PR and go farther and I would be jealous. Why wasn't that happening with me?

Looking back, I can see that I was feeling some of these symptoms for more than a few months. And now that I think about it, when I fell during the R&R San Diego Half that my back and stomach were hurting...it must have been this. I thought I'd landed on my arm or something but I realize now I didn't. Also, how I wasn't having fun running downhill because it would bother my stomach...same thing. Feeling out of breath when I'm not running that hard...ditto. Taken individually, they didn't seem like that much but I did know something was wrong for quite a while. Mostly, I just thought I was tired. Or some people suggested I was overtrained. But I didn't feel like I'd been doing enough to be overtrained!

So I talked to my coach last week and we decided I would take the month of August off from training. I'm still going to keep up my streak and try to maintain but nothing hard or too long. The funny thing is that now that I know there IS something wrong and that I'm not trying to hit the hard workouts, I feel more relaxed about my running and a lot less frustrated. It still makes me a little sad that sometimes I run 12 min miles. I miss running hard. But at least I enjoy them again and don't dread putting on my running shoes.

Personally, I've felt calmer this past week too. I still don't know what it is but suddenly the stress of work and other obligations I have doesn't feel so important anymore. I feel...relieved I think. Hopeful. That I'll finally figure out what's going on, fix it, and get back to feeling strong and healthy again. :)

I know it's vain but other than the aches, the only thing that's bothering me is my stomach. I feel puffy. I keep waiting for someone to ask me if I'm pregnant. :( Sigh. It's probably not that big. It just feels like it.
Pics from my run this morning. I'm a nut, I know. But doesn't it look like I could be?

Anyway...

Cross your fingers I get to run 65 more days to hit a year! And then we'll see what happens next. :)