My account of life both on and off of two wheels...... "At least I'm enjoying the ride"

Wednesday, March 25, 2015

Forward Movement.

While sitting down to work on writing content for my business website, I starting thinking about why I am doing the work that I do today.  What is it I am trying to get across as my message to my clients?

I was drawn back to the many memories of sitting in front of my computer writing and sharing the story of my life- The cancer diagnosis; the many surgeries and treatments; love and being in love; bike riding; racing; food and whatever else fell in-between... I wrote candidly and honestly for 3 years.  I wrote about what it was like for me to go through my journey in the “cancer vortex” and how that changed me both physically and mentally. 

It has been 2 years since I have written here and on April 15 it will be 5 years from my diagnosis.  If someone asked me 5 years ago where I imagined I would be in life, I would have never been able to guess.  It seemed so far away and so unattainable yet parts of my life seemed indestructible…

I am still seeing my doctors every 3 months, getting a shot monthly and take my tamoxifen daily to keep cancer away and as far as we know, it is all working!  I feel I am one of the lucky ones.

I am looking to race again this season but I am not totally sure what those races will be yet.   I have had little time to train this winter but we will just have to wait and see.   I am putting little pressure on myself to race and I will know if and when I am ready.

Over the last two years I have come into my self again, changed careers, road many miles on my bike, traveled thousand of miles, lost friends and lost a love.  I have been forced and inspired to move forward to new adventures. 

I wake up to see the woman that I never thought I would be or could be.  I am stronger than I ever thought I was or could be.  I am surrounded by many wonderful people and at times overwhelmed with the gifts that I receive from life on a daily basis. 

I am forever grateful to those that have helped me along the way and look forward to seeing where the next 5 years will bring me. 

I will probably not write here again.  I have a hard time relating to and looking at this chapter of my life but it will continue to be a reminder to me of how far I have come.  I know that “Sweet Mango”  is within me forever and this experience will continue to drive my forward movement.  

Thank you for the years of reading and for allowing me to share with you my experiences.


Wednesday, April 24, 2013

Race or Ride?

After quite a bit of back and forth in my head, I decided to go for it.  I renewed my license and entered in with the Cat 1 women this past Sunday at the Chain Stretcher.  It was a pretty humbling experience and I have a hard time not being slightly mortified by my results. 

I lined up with some of the strongest women bike racers that I know.  I have been watching them get stronger every year and I knew I was going to get my butt whooped out there.   I kept telling myself that it did not matter.  Just to finish and feel good.  But it does kind of matter.  

We headed into the woods and at the first technical section; they were all bottled up on the rocks.  I was in the back of the pack which caused me to have to get off my bike.  When I was able to get back on my bike, I could see them disappear into the woods.  I caught a glimpse of a couple of the racers in the first bit of single track but thought I better not chase them down and burn all my matches.  In hindsight, that was probably not the best plan.  I spent the rest of the race or should I say ride, solo. My pace was not what I would call a race pace.  I knew I was really slow when the pro and cat 1 men started to pass me on my 2nd lap while they were finishing their 3rd lap.  As I finished my 2nd lap, I knew I had to keep going just to get it done.   

It was at least a beautiful day to ride and the course was a lot of fun.  I tried to enjoy just being out there and I did.  

I have told people that I am ridiculously slow right now but realized just how slow I really am.  The results say it all.   I finished in last place and quite a ways behind the rest of the women.   Yes, I finished and did not give up but I do not remember really feeling like I had the ability to push myself harder to go faster.   I felt strong but I still have a lot of work to do to get back up to speed.  Sigh…

Although it may sound like it, I am not really down on myself.  I put myself back out there.  I do realize that while everyone has been getting stronger over the past 3 years, I have been getting the crap kicked out of me health wise.   Being a good mountain bike racer does not just happen overnight.  During the line up for the start of the race, I realized that I have only been back on the bike for a little over two months since my surgery in December. That is certainly not enough time for me to prep for good race results.   It is only April after all! 

Will I keep racing?  Hell yes! 

This Sunday is Single Speed- A – Palooza and I am registered with a good size field of sport class women. I will show up and do my best.  Maybe I won’t come in last place this time and if I do, that is okay.  It is always a fun event and a great scene so I am looking forward to it.  The course is usually fast so I will see if I can ramp it up a bit this Sunday. 


I looked the part...

Wednesday, April 17, 2013

Looking forward.

This week marks 3 years from my cancer diagnosis.  This anniversary did not come with the anticipated anxiety that the previous years have.   It is not that the fear of recurrence has completely escaped my mind but I am trying to look forward.  The side effects from my treatments continue to be painful reminders of what I have been through but I refuse to let them stop me in my tracks.   I am just learning to accept them even if they slow me down.  

Moving forward, I am hoping to keep my focus on my career change as a full time Pilates instructor and working with the non-for-profit helping other cancer patients.   It has really been my silver lining that has come out of the ‘cancer vortex’.  I am following my heart on this one and have faith that it will lead to all good things.  Besides, it makes me feel good about myself. 

Racing season is here.  I have been struggling with renewing my USA Cycling license.   If I renew my license the way I left it in 2010, I will be racing as Cat 1.  I really have no interest in downgrading my license and going backwards to Cat 2 but I also fear the pressure this may put on me to get back into the shorter cross country race scene.  I have been racing more endurance races and ones that do not require a USA Cycling license so until now, it has not been an issue.  I had intended to get back into the local cross country scene this year so I need to make a decision and quickly.  The first race is this Sunday and of course it is on my home turf... The Chainstretcher at Blue Mountain Reservation. 

We were lucky enough to get out to Sedona last week for a mini-vacation.  It was sort of a last minute decision to head out there for G's sisters engagement party.  I am so glad we went for many reasons but we were also able to squeak in a couple really amazing days of mountain biking.  That place would be how I imagine heaven!  

The most important thing that I can write about today is -  I am cancer free and I feel pretty damn good about that! 

To those that have been following along over the past 3 years, thank you. 
Knowing you are all out there cheering me on, really helps to get through those hard days. 

Happy Spring! 
G and I in Sedona last week ♥


Thursday, March 14, 2013

Courage Angel.

At some point during my cancer treatments, my cousin and his wife sent me this thoughtful Willow Tree Courage angel.  I put it right next to my bedside and it has remained there ever since.  

The other night, as I was getting ready for bed, the angel caught my eye in a different light.  

For the first time, I took notice that she has no boobs!  Her arms are up over her head and her chest is sticking out but there are no breasts.  She is still radiating confidence and courage.  I saw myself in this angel that evening.  It made me feel proud, strong and empowered.

While I do not feel that way about myself every moment of every day, that angel will be a reminder to me to hold my head up high and stick my ‘chest” out even when I feel scared or I am being kicked down. 

I have been very over extended the past month or so.  Like many of us, I feel like there is never enough time in a day.   I have gotten myself involved with so many different projects and organizations this year that I am having difficulty keeping up on my writing.  The times that I would normally find to write have been taken up by other necessary tasks or just pure exhaustion from the day.  

The exhaustion could be from me trying to fit too much in a day; difficulty sleeping ; more exercise or it could all be from the new drug that the doctors have put me on.   

I am still on Tamoxifen but now they have put me on a monthly injection of Lupron.  This will go on for the next 6 months and it is an attempt to shrink the fibroids that have grown out of control.  Our wait and see approach is no longer going to work.  While not an emergency, it was time to take action as these benign tumors are causing abdominal pain and discomfort.   If this treatment is successful, it will give me less invasive surgical options.  Once again, none of these options are “good” ones, just options.  Ironically, this rapid growth is caused by the Tamoxifen but no one is going to endorse me going off that medicine.  Frankly, I am not sure I can stop taking a drug that is prolonging my state of remission.  It is just another pain in the ass side effect of my treatments for breast cancer.    

I have taken a break from physical therapy for my lymphedema.  While I still have some swelling under and around my elbow, it seems to be under control and I have been given new techniques to manage it. Based on the last measurements of my arm, the swelling has come down enough for me to self treat.
None of this has stopped me from training on my bike or in the Pilates studio.  I have not been in the studio as much as I would like but I did attend another workshop last Sunday and those always help to boost my motivation to pick back up on my teaching hours and personal hours. I have been back on the bike feeling stronger every day.  I am trying to get some longer rides in but that has been so hard with the nasty weather and lack of time.  I have faith that it will all come together.  Either way, it will be what it will be.  

Spring is just around the corner and ready or not, my first bike race is next month!   I will keep moving forward no matter what falls in my path.  

When I am feeling beat up, I can just remind myself that Courage Angel is in all of us, somewhere.  


An exceptionally beautiful day last weekend. 

Sunday, February 3, 2013

Some quick updates

First day back on the bike! 

I am back in physical therapy 2 times a week.  My therapist would like it if I could fit in 3 times but I am pushing for just the 2.  The diagnosis is weak at best- mild or slight lymphedema.  A 3% change since my last measurements a year ago.  I may notice more because I feel like I am really in tune with my body, especially when something does not feel right.  I am back to having to wear my compression sleeve on a regular basis and now have to practice manual lymph drainage massage on myself.  It sounds intense but it really is quite easy and only takes about 5-10 minutes.  It all seems to be helping, as the swelling in my arm is actually getting better and you almost can’t tell.  I think a lot has to do with me being back to my regular exercise routine.  I am a firm believer that exercise is the key to keeping a healthy lymphatic system and lymphedema under control.  It will never go away, but if managed properly, the symptoms can be non-existent.  In the grand scheme of things, this is more of a nuisance even with the swelling and pain it causes. 

It has not stopped me from getting back on the bike or back to the Pilates studio.  I have only really had a chance to ride outside 3 times since I was cleared to exercise.  I have been able to get to a couple spin classes which I most certainly need to whip my ass back in shape.   I am feeling the 5+ weeks of a sedentary lifestyle. 

I am still a bit skittish on the trails but I am already getting some confidence back.  No matter what, each surgery seems to take some confidence from me, on the bike.  As for my fitness, there was some major fitness loss but my endurance seems to have held up okay.  I am certainly feeling quite slow but I know it will come back. 

Overall, I am feeling so much better, especially without the implants pushing on my pectoral muscles when I pedal or try to maneuver over an obstacle on the trail. 

I have a lot of work to do but I am up for the challenge. 


Friday, January 25, 2013

Game On!

The last few weeks have been jam packed with work, family visits and many birthday celebrations.  Thank goodness I was so distracted since this has been a very long 5 weeks without exercise!  

Special Birthday visitors. 
Story time with MoMo
Birthday dinner with my guy. 
More birthday celebration...

My follow up appointment with Dr DP was Wednesday and I was cleared to stop wearing my compression strap and am now free to start exercising.  There is still a tiny bit of fluid on my left side but nothing that should not absorb into my body-I hope.
You would think that I would have jumped right on the bike but that did not happen. 

Both my road and my mountain bike are in the shop getting tuned up.  I should have at least one of them back by the weekend.  While there is always my single speed- it currently has a flat tire and I was not quite ready to jump on the single speed, just yet.
It was 8 degrees Thursday morning so I opted to head to the gym to try my turn on one of the many cardio machines since the spin class was full.  It was probably better for me to start off slow.  I sort of enjoyed eating my way through the holidays so there is a lot of work to be done on my part. 
I won’t bore you with the details of a gym workout but I do want to share something about that morning.  

I was digging through my draw looking for clothes to wear to the gym.  I put on one of my old sports bras mostly for  comfort to protect my scars.  The scars are still sensitive and probably will be for a while.  I put a shirt over the bra and looked down.  I had a moment.  Not the “Oh, what have I done moment” but more of,  “You got this, woman!”.  This was my first time really showing off my flat chest openly where nobody knows me.  Funny thing was I don’t think anyone really noticed and if they did, I really do not care.   I actually felt so much freer while I was exercising.  The implants never felt totally comfortable and I always knew they were there.  This all comes back around to – this is all me!
I have been noticing some strange things happening with my left arm.  The cording is still there but it does seem less tight than before.  I know that when I get back in the Pilates studio, I can work on stretching that out some more.  The strange and somewhat disturbing part is the swelling.  It is in my hand, half my wrist and elbow area but my arm just looks bigger than the right one.  I have scheduled an appointment to go back to physical therapy to get reevaluated for lymphedema.    My unprofessional opinion is I already have it ad the compression band around my chest may have just restricted my lymph drainage.  It probably was a bad combination with surgery already being a high risk for developing lymphedema.  But, there was no choice. I am still hopeful that I can get this sorted out before it gets out of hand.   It is manageable but pretty uncomfortable and my compression sleeve just makes the cording hurt more.   

Game on!

I have most of my race schedule on the calendar for this season and registrations have already started to open for some of the more popular races that I want to enter.  I have a long way to go and a shorter time to get back into shape.  I want to attempt to actually be competitive this year so we will see.  Regardless, I have a full schedule of races planned.  The race season starts as early as April so it should be interesting.  I am sure to get my butt kicked but that is okay.  It will not be the first time.  I just have to do the work to build myself back up again.  There is something more rewarding in that than the actual race.    

Thank you for all the nice messages and support.  It is nice to know people are still following along.  


Walk in the woods with my guy. 

Wednesday, January 9, 2013

Inquiring minds want to know.

I will cut to the chase. 

My pathology report FINALLY came in today and it is all clear!  The delay had a lot to do with the holidays but also they were double checking some funny looking scar tissue- my technical translation.  The pathologists had to run additional stains to make sure that there was no cancer.   I do like that they were being thorough but really glad that wait is over.


I have been going back to the doctor weekly to get my left side drained of fluid. 

Today, the fluid was half of what it was last week so that is good news.  I do not have to go back for another two weeks but that also means I will not have exercise clearance for two more weeks.  Of course my birthday falls within that two week time period but oh well.  I still have to wear the compression strap 24/7 but I am getting used to it and I know this is just temporary. 

I have been feeling really well minus the fact that I still cannot ride my bike or exercise at all.  I am a tad grumpy about it but I can’t change it so no point in complaining (too much).  The scars are healing up nicely and I am more and more comfortable with my new self than I ever thought I would be. 

2013 has started off slow and a little bumpy but I have felt nothing but good energy for the days ahead! 

Happy New Year!