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February 18, 2008

Running Away

Back in October I purchased a one-year family membership at a local gym. This isn’t the first time we have been members of a gym, but the last time was a bit of a disaster since no one (read: Randy or I) ever actually took advantage of the membership and went. I always found it easier, faster, and much more convenient to do my fitness activities at home or in my neighborhood. During my cancer treatments last year, however, I began to think about my health in a much more pointed and specific way, and at some point I decided that I needed to step up my health regime once I was able to do so. When I joined the gym a few weeks before my last treatment I was completely bald and feeling very weak. I had not been able to do much of any kind of physical activity for awhile because of how awful I felt most of the time and it was hard for me to imagine that there would come a time when I would feel good and strong again. But I signed us all up and then started looking forward to the time when I could actually use my membership card.

My first visit to the gym came in November about a week after my last chemo treatment when I attended a yoga class. As I wrote here, it was a little difficult for me at first, but I kept going. It felt so good to be doing some kind of physical activity with my body for the first time in months, but I was still tired and weak and unable to do much of anything. I attended yoga classes sporadically through the holidays, but as the new year rolled around I decided that I was ready to step up my game a bit.

As part of our membership, each member of the family received one free session with a personal trainer. We were able to choose whether we wanted an orientation visit or an actual consultation with the trainer about our fitness goals. I choose an orientation visit, but ended up consulting with the trainer about my situation and what I wanted to accomplish.

It quickly became clear to me during that first meeting with Greg that working with him for more than one session was something that could benefit me and that would give me some clear direction and fitness goals. So I signed up for more. I told him during our first session that I needed to build my strength back up and that I eventually wanted to be able to run a 5K in October of this year. He told me that he could have me ready to run a 5K by April of this year. I was doubtful since I have never, ever been a runner, but I humored him and began working out.

Since January I have been working with Greg on a weekly basis. He has designed a program for me to help me build strength and endurance. I am doing some weight lifting and walking (and running!), as well as taking some various fitness classes. I am simply amazed at what all of this activity has done for me and at how my body is responding. Physically I no longer feel like a cancer patient, and every day I get a little bit stronger. I am training to walk in the 3 Day in August and to run in the Susan G. Komen 5K in October, and I am also training to run in a 5K this April.

Last April my brother and my nephew ran in a local annual 5K race. The rest of my family met him and his family afterward for breakfast and my dad took pictures of all of us that morning. It is haunting for me to look at the pictures of myself from that day because two or three days earlier I had first discovered the lump in my breast. On the morning of the race, I hadn’t told anyone at all about it except for the receptionist at my doctor’s office when I called in tears to make an appointment. When I look at those pictures of myself today, I can see in my face that I was completely preoccupied with the fear of what that lump might turn out to be.

This year—almost exactly one year later—my family is planning to meet on that same race-day Sunday for breakfast after the race. This year, though, I will be running in the race with my brother and his son and my three children. This year I will be thinking about the lump at breakfast, but I will be thinking about how far away I am from it now. I will be thinking about how each step on the treadmill and on the road takes me one step further away from breast cancer. Crossing that finish line in April will be, for me, a symbolic continuation of my journey far, far away from cancer.

February 17, 2008

The 3 Month Mile Marker

Last week I had a three-month post-treatment check up with my oncologist. I can’t believe it’s been three months since my last treatment. Sometimes it feels like it was just a couple of weeks ago, but most of the time it feels like it was a long, long time ago.

I was really nervous about the appointment, and my arrival in the office parking lot didn’t help. I couldn’t help thinking about all the time I spent traversing that same lot last year. It has many bad associations for me…of pain and nausea and fear and discomfort. As I sat in the waiting room before my appointment, I thought about all the women who are just now finding out that they have breast cancer—200,000 women this year…1 every 3 minutes. I thought about the fear of hearing those words and about the uncertainty of those first weeks and months after a breast cancer diagnosis. It is scary to think about going through it all again and as I sat there and waited to be called in for my appointment I fervently hoped that I would never have to.

My appointment went well, however, and I had nothing to worry about. The doctor asked how I was doing, performed a quick check up, and pronounced me “healthy.” I sat in a green vinyl chair in the treatment room, but only for a few moments as Patty flushed my port while I caught up with her and the other nurses in the office.

I have to go back again in six weeks to have my port flushed (which I have to have done every six weeks as long as I have it to prevent infection) and then again in three months for another check up. So far, so good.

February 11, 2008

The Breast Cancer 3-Day Walk

For several years now I have seen the advertisements and heard the news recaps about the Breast Cancer 3 Day walk. It crossed my mind that I would like to participate somehow, but I never took it any farther than that. This year, however, I have a new and compelling reason to do something.

This year I am a breast cancer survivor.

This year I am going to walk….because I can.

I have registered to walk in the Breast Cancer 3 Day in Chicago on August 8-10, 2008. As a walker, I have committed to raise $3000 by walking 60 miles over the course of those three days. The money raised during this event goes toward Susan G. Komen for the Cure and the National Philanthropic Trust. The money is used to fund breast cancer research, education, screening and treatment.

I ask you to join me in this very important fight by making a donation to sponsor my participation in the walk. You can do that by visiting this website and clicking on the link on that page underneath my picture. You can make a donation online or by printing out this form and mailing a check. Your donation is tax deductible. (You also have the option of making several smaller donations over time if that helps you to budget the expense.) Any amount will help, from $10.00 to $100.00 or more.

I would also like to invite any of you who are interested to walk. There are 14 Breast Cancer 3 Day walks all around the country. You can find a list of the locations here. If you want to be involved but you don’t want to walk, there are also many crew and volunteer opportunities available for each walk. There is more information about those opportunities here. If you would like to join my team, The Chest Nuts, and walk with me in Chicago, please let me know and I will send you the information about how to do that!

Thank you so much for your support!

February 05, 2008

Civic Duty is Calling!

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If you live in one of the 22 states holding primaries today, don't forget to vote. You can locate your polling place or get other ballot information by using this website set up by the League of Women Voters. You can also find information about your state's primary on the site if it is not being held today.

If you are not yet registered to vote, you still have time to register before the November 4th General Election. (And if you live in Illinois, I can register you to vote, too!)

February 04, 2008

And The Winner Is...

The Chest Nuts!

That name won with 44.6% of the votes, so The Chest Nuts it is.

Thank you so much for your help in choosing!

The Final Counts
The Chest Nuts 44.6% 29

Simply the Breast 29.2% 19

Freshly Squeezed 26.2% 17