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

Wednesday, September 22, 2010

It's the little things.....

Lunch today- yes it's homemade too! 

Sometimes it is the little things that I use to take for granted.....tasting my food and not having it taste like metal!    That is one of the many lovely side effects of chemotherapy.  Especially during the first half.  Here is hoping that does not change tomorrow when I go in for treatment #6, but for today it is wonderful!

Tuesday, September 21, 2010

Back at Blue

As I approached the technical stream crossing- the one that appears in the photo on my blog title- I  go for it, but was not fully committed.  In mountain biking if you are not fully committed to clearing an  obstacle it can end badly- focus and no hesitation is crucial.   I hit the first rock the wrong way with my front wheel and realized I better hop off the bike.  I have done this section of the trail a hundred times.  I even looked up at my friends and asked "haven't I done this crossing since surgery?".  Wait, that can't be since I have not been to Blue mountain since last May-  I must have been dreaming about it. 

Saturday was my first day riding at Blue Mountain since before my surgery in May.  In that 5 month time period, a lot has changed both on the trails and with my body.  Mother nature has added some new obstacles and cancer has given me new personal obstacles.  I am trying to get used to my new body and trying to proceed with caution so as not to hurt myself.  I have just received my compression sleeve from the physical therapist and it is making a world of difference for my arm.  While I do not have lymphedema, I sure don't want to get it. This sleeve is just being worn as a preventative measure but it also did help the tricep pain I've been having. 
I felt out of sorts when we first got going but as I got warmed up I was able to figure out what I could do and what would just be too much for me - for now.  I have gotten a lot stronger but I do have a ways to go.Regardless of all the new challenges,  it was a great day in the woods with my guy and we were even able to meet up with some friends and ride with them for a bit.

Objects may appear larger......

While riding my mountain bike at Blue Mountain was a highlight, the overall weekend was great. 

Friday night we took to the town on our single speeds.  There were two street fairs going on so we figured we would check them both out and than grab a slice of pizza at my favorite pizza joint Fleetwood Pizzeria .  It has been closed down for 2 1/2 years after a horrible fire but just reopened this past week.  G thought that the town had gone mad about the reopening of a pizza place, but he soon found out for himself what everyone was raving about.  While I can't make a habit out of going there, it sure will hit the spot after a long ride!

Better than I remember and they still sell RC in the can!  
Sunday we decided to ride the road bikes.  It was my first time pedaling from the house up to the north country trail.  That means....the big hill!  I made it to the top and still had some legs and lungs to spare.  It was another beautiful day and although my legs were tired from the mountain bike ride the previous day and all the treatments,  I was just shy of reaching my goal which is to go from the house to Yorktown Heights.  We did pedal 32 miles with a big hill so I am thrilled with my progress! 

Thursday, September 16, 2010

A few randoms.

Here is a great story about bicycles changing some lives for the better.

Another interesting read.  Call it whatever you want, it's still bad for you!

To the wonderful friends that sent me the fantastic t-shirt and the coolest bumper sticker - I don't know who it's from...I am  hoping you read my blog so I can say, thank you!   

I am feeling much better today so thank you everyone for all your positive energy and prayers.  I think this helps as well. 
Sugar, I know...but it is so yummy!  They also make blueberry.

Tuesday, September 14, 2010

Humbling moments and new side effects.

It seems that I have just traded in some of the horrible old side effects for some new ones.  As promised by my nurses and oncologist, the nausea has become almost non-existent-thank goodness.  The fatigue though has increased a great deal and they warned me of the possibility of joint/muscle pain which has also reared its ugly head. My hips and knees are so achy, it's hard to walk, but hopefully that will ease up as the week goes by.  There is also the chance of developing neuropathy which I am not even willing to entertain the idea of right now. I am taking Vitamin B6 to try to avoid this but since I'm taking such a high dose of the drug, I will have to wait and see.  They say it's reversible but as an athlete, the numbing of the hands and feet concerns me.  My lips started to get numb yesterday, but my oncologist said "if it gets worse, call me, but this is probably just from the Taxol".  It amazes me how much discomfort I find to be acceptable through all of this.

After making it through a fairly productive Friday considering it was the day after treatment, I had high hopes for Saturday.  We slept in as both G and I were both exhausted from the week.  Frankly, I was still recovering from the horrors of the week prior.  Since I was not nauseous, I was able to make my favorite homemade waffles for breakfast and enjoy a cup of coffee with my guy.  These are a couple of the simple things that I used to not think twice about doing, but now are treats for me.

We managed to get a road ride in even though I was really feeling the fatigue.  My goal was to force myself to stay at the same pace throughout the course of the ride.  It is actually a training technique that is quite effective and not as easy as it sounds.  There is always the body and mostly the mind that wants to push harder or slow down.  It was not my furthest ride but it was so beautiful out I was able to log 18 miles, so I was pleased.  It was a good pace for G to be able to save his legs.  Our friend RR and I were both trying to push him to race the Chain Stretcher the next day.

Sunday was one of the most humbling days for me, but I'm glad I went.  It was race day and I was so happy that G made the last minute decision to race.  Now I really had to go!  My legs had started to feel pretty achy right as we were getting ready to leave so I was really worried about how the day was going to play out.  I could not tell G how badly my legs hurt or he might have backed out.  He was going to load my bike up on the car and I told him not to bother-I would not need my bike on that race day Sunday.

This was the first time I had been up to Blue Mountain since before my surgery.  We pulled into the parking lot. I saw all the racers getting ready and circling the parking lots to keep their legs warmed up. There were lots of familiar faces. I’ve missed this scene but at the same time I  felt very out of place.  We had less than an hour until the start of the cat. 2 race so G hurried up to registration while I poked around the car negotiating my backpack of previsions and chatted  it up with another racing couple that pulled up next to us.

As I slowly headed up to the lodge where the registration and start tent was- I felt tired, out of breath and anxious.  I had not been at a race since April and a lot of folks had no idea what I had been going through.  People started to come up to me and wanted to give me big hugs-  I wanted to receive these hugs so badly but I had to stop them.  I didn’t want to compromise my immunity at this stage of my treatment.  The treatments lower my white blood cell count and can make me susceptible to even the smallest of germs that people don’t even know they have.  Some understood and some I had to explain it to.  Just seeing everyone and the smiling faces was enough for me. For now it is virtual hugs.

As great as it was to see everyone, it was a little humbling to see all the women that I would have been racing with this year.  They looked so strong and healthy and as I was standing with them, I felt so weak.  My hips and knees were aching so badly.  I wondered if they could tell how much pain I was in?  There is something ingrained in me that I have had my whole life- I used to use it when I raced or rode with a group: don’t let them know your suffering.  I know this is different, but it’s hard to turn off that switch.

I tried to hike up to a spot on the course that I knew would be a great spectator spot, as it was one of the most technical rock sections.  I only made it up so far until I decided that I had enough.  I perched myself on a rock and watched the riders pass by and attempted to take some photos.  I borrowed G’s camera- evidently I could use a few more lessons using it.  Most of the photos came out blurry.

I was hanging out with a racing friend for a while who is also unable to race due to some health issues of her own.  When she headed back to the lodge, I stayed and took the time to enjoy being alone in the woods. I have not been able to do that since the surgery.  I waited to see all the racers pass on their first lap.  At that point I felt really fatigued so I decided it best to head back to the lodge.  Physically I was all done at this point- even the walk back through the woods took a lot out of me.

G did great!  He finished strong and got the miles in his legs.  I was so happy that one of us got to race the Chain Stretcher.  I could not stay as long as I would have liked to but it really was so nice to see everyone.  Even though I did not feel good or get to race, it was great to be a part of the racing scene again.

Friday, September 10, 2010

So far, so good.

It has been 24 hours since the start of my last treatment and so far the side effects have been pretty minimal.  I hope it stays that way.  It is too soon to really tell what the side effects may do to me, as they can take a few days to build up and come to the surface.  I'm trying to just roll with it and not give it any energy.

The treatment day was extra long due to the nature of these new drugs.  I had good company at the treatment, so the time passed by pretty quickly. Or as quick as 8 hours can go by when you are stuck in the hospital. 

I had an appointment this morning with my plastic surgeon.  It has been a month since i last saw her, so it was nice to have the "everything looks good" from her rather than me just assuming that all is ok.

The upside to the visit was that she was able to expand my implants today- progress.  We are on a time schedule of sorts, as I have to be fully expanded before I start radiation.  At this point I don't have a start date but it should be somewhere around the end of November.  I only can get 50 cc's of saline at a time to avoid too much pain and discomfort as we are expanding my tissue.  I can only have this done the day after treatments as typically that is when my white blood cell count is still up.  My next appointment with the plastic surgeon is in two weeks and if all is well, I get another 50 cc's. 
It is Friday and I am really looking forward to the weekend.  If these side effects stay under control, I will try to get a nice road ride in on Saturday.  Sunday is the Chain Stretcher bike race.  This is a cross country mountain bike race that is put on by our club-WMBA.  G likes to refer to this race as the bare knuckle boxing of mountain bike racing because it is such a hard course.  It is never an easy race and is by far one of the more technical races in the area.  I won this race last year so it has special meaning to me.

The course for this year looks not to disappoint.   Sadly, I'm not racing but if I'm well enough I will head up there to spectate and cheer on my fellow racers and teammates. 

Flier for the race Sunday!  
I wish you all a great weekend! 

Wednesday, September 8, 2010

It's about that time again.

It is Wednesday and I am finally starting to feel half way decent again after I continued to struggle with my stomach issues over the weekend. Unfortunately, I have to go back in for my chemo treatment tomorrow, so feeling good is somewhat short lived.  They are giving me a different drug tomorrow-Taxol. This is part two of my chemo treatment.  The doctors keep telling me the nausea will not be as bad as the first part.  I sure hope they are right. Taxol comes with a whole new set of side effects that I am sure I will write about at a later date.  

In addition to the chemo, I will be starting another drug called Herceptin.  This will be the first of two drugs that I will take to try to help keep the cancer from coming back.  This is an infusion that I will receive every 3 weeks for a year.  It is a good thing I got the port put in.  That will hopefully make these treatments a little easier.  

The other drug is Tamoxifen and that is a pill that I will start taking after I complete chemo.  I will have to take this pill every day for 5 years. I hope to benefit from this drug because the cancer that I had is estrogen positive (estrogen is one of the elements that the doctors know that fed my cancer). It will block my bodies ability to produce high levels of estrogen, hence not helping to feed any possible cancer recurrence

Some good news:  I hit a personal training record over the weekend.  Even though my stomach was not up to par, I still rode my bike. I know, shocker.  Sunday, G and I jumped on the road bikes. Surprisingly, my legs felt pretty good and I was able to ride for 27 miles. It seems like a lot of mileage to some and not so much to some of my training buddies (we are used to doing twice as much), but at this particular point in my treatment it was quite an accomplishment- Go me!  

Tonight is date night.  While we can't go out for sushi (stupid cancer), we still can go out and ride our bikes and keep dinner simple and eat at home. 

Saturday, September 4, 2010

Cumulative- you can say that again!

I have been having trouble writing about this past week.  I am not sure if it is the physical or the emotional or a combination of  both. Sometimes it is hard to explain the non tangible of the feeling of being sick.

I had my fourth chemo treatment last Thursday. It was not only the halfway mark to finishing the chemotherapy portion of my treatment, but it was also the last of the "Red Devil" cocktail.  I was told that chemotherapy was cumulative in terms of effects on the body, but also that the A.C. part (the Red Devil) is the worst of it.  I left the hospital  feeling about the same as the other times.  I was tired from the long day and all the Benadryl they had given me before the chemo.  For the most part things appeared normal for the next couple days.  I was fighting the typical fatigue and nausea, but of course I rode my bike. Bike riding is one of the few good things in my life that makes me feel alive. 

Friday night G and I opted for a short and sweet single speed ride on the NCT. It was about all I had in me but it felt great to get out and do a ride.

Saturday I felt a little better than normal.  I was able to ride almost 20 miles on the road bike and make it to a BBQ at my fathers house.  I commented to G while we pedaled home- this ride reminds me of the pre-race day rides we used to do: how I miss racing.  It's not just the racing that I miss, it's the whole scene.  Last Sunday was the Mountain Bike World Cup  at Wyndham Resort in upstate New York.  I had friends and teammates racing and a bunch of people I knew heading up to be a part of the scene.  I was going to miss yet another event.  So disappointing.

I felt pretty lousy on Sunday but took a friends advise - 'Ride even if it hurts'.  We took a little adventure ride on the single speeds up the Croton Aquaduct from our house.

It was perfect for the single speed and not too much work for my body post chemo.
North of 117 and Rockwood park

My guys favorite bridge. Don't look down G! 
And I wore my cancer sucks socks because it does!

Sunday and Monday quickly went down hill for me.  Historically, those are my most difficult days but something was different.  I could not get a grip on my stomach issues and next thing I knew it was Tuesday at 6:00 am and I was throwing up out of control.  Thank god G was there for me as I would probably still be laying on the bathroom floor.  Dehydration is a huge concern, so the hospital advised us to come in and they would give me fluids.  I spent 6 hours in the triage room getting a bag and a half of fluids pumped in my body. My oncologist and all the nurses are so wonderful -they take great care of me.  All my blood work came back normal, so if I could just keep liquids and some food in me ( ginger ale and crackers) they would send me home. I did not want to get admitted overnight so I choked it down... barely.

Since then, I have been slowly crawling out of this hole. As of today, I am unable to eat much more than plain white rice and chicken broth.

It is a holiday weekend and while my plans are not working out the way I thought they would, I will try to enjoy this beautiful weather we are having here in NY.  I hope you all have safe and wonderful weekend.