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

Saturday, April 23, 2011

Cancerversary Vortex- Week in Review.

Last week was packed with a lot of ups and downs for me.  It was not without some bitter sweet moments, some setbacks and some personal reflection.
Last week was one year since my cancer diagnosis. I tried not to let that into my head too much, but the emotion of it was stronger than I had realized.

The week had started off as normal.  I had come off a fantastic weekend of riding bikes. On Monday, I felt I was fighting off a cold or allergies so I tried to take it easy. I was gearing up for a visit from my sister and nephew, which made time for resting not so easy to do. She was coming down that Tuesday night for an annual business trip and would be staying with us for a few days.  I was really looking forward to seeing both my sister and my nephew, Jesse. Between our busy work schedules, not feeling great while fighting off a cold, and a treatment day thrown in the mix, I did not get as much quality time with the two of them as I had hoped.   It is always great just to have my sister around and it is amazing how much my nephew has changed since our last visit.

Last Thursday was a rough day for me.  I did not sleep well the night before and still felt weak from fighting off the cold.  On that day I had my routine follow up with my oncologist followed by my Herceptin treatment.  I felt pretty annoyed that I had to be there.  I can not wait until these treatments are over in August and I can stop having to be reminded every 3 weeks what I have been through.  Some days I can just go into the chemo suite with the blinders on and ignore it all,  but this day was different.  I am sure it had a lot to do with my 1 year anniversary emotions, but I had also just had a frustrating conversation with my oncologist regarding some test results.   Because Tamoxifen (the daily pill I will be taking until 2016) can cause some “issues” down there, my OBGYN ordered a base line ultrasound.   The radiologist report suggested another ultrasound follow up in 6 weeks- It seems that I have a couple things that need monitoring.  Nothing serious- I hope, but my oncologist seemed annoyed that the report didn’t get to her sooner and I was pretty annoyed as well.  She put another order in for the follow up in May and I scheduled an appointment for next week with the OBGYN to discuss the results.  It is most likely nothing, but “with my history,” tests lead to more tests and more tests lead to more anxiety.  This is my new normal and it is still taking me some time to get used to. 
I had trouble focusing the rest of the day at work, so I finished what needed to be done at work and headed out for a ride to try and clear my head.  Unfortunately the trails were soaked from the rainfall earlier that morning and my road bike had a flat.   I did not have the extra mental energy to change the flat, so I decided to head up the Croton Aqueduct on the Singlespeed. This was a better plan: I could spin my legs and still be with nature.  Just me, the woods and my I-pod.  It’s amazing how much better I felt afterward! 

Rockin my Livestrong bracelet my Aunt K gave me a few years back after her diagnosis. 

I hardly rode this past weekend.   I did not feel that great.  I started to get frustrated with the way I was feeling: My allergies/cold had settled in my chest and  that  took a lot  of energy out of me.  I did manage to get myself to ride my usual Friday night social ride- It always makes me smile to ride with the Friday night “BC” crew. I even got a sneak preview of a new trail that had  just been cut.  Fresh cut singletrack…oh so nice!  Saturday morning I rode with G before the rain settled in again. I still didn’t feel quite right.  I ended up deciding to honor my body and  just rest.  I reminded myself of something my plastic surgeon said about recovery being like “peaks and valleys”.  It is a pretty similar concept to training for bike racing. This past week must have been me, stuck climbing one of those recovery peaks. 

About a month ago, one of the local non for profits groups– Support Connection had asked me if I would help them with a video they were working on: They needed a testimonial of  how Support Connection has helped me, and why is it important to have this resource. I was honored and graciously accepted.  It was a way for me to give back for all that I had benefited from their resources and in no way expected a gift in return.  I had already received my gift- the support.  Shortly after finishing the video and settling back at work, I received a phone call offering me two tickets to their annual fundraising Gala as a thank you for all my help.  I had thought about going to the event but I just did not have the extra money.  Fundraiser or not, I just do not have extra cash right now and of course nobody expects me to. It was not only the weekend of my one year cancer anniversary and the weekend my sister was going to be in town- but it was also the night before G’s first bike race of the season Singlespeed A Palooza.  I could not ask him to go to an event with me the night before a race.  He would have gone but I insisted he rested up.  He has made so many sacrifices for me over this past year that I could not ask him to be exhausted before a big race.  I decided to invite my mom. It was a mother daughter night out and we had a great time.    

Sunday morning 6:00 A.M rolled around pretty quickly especially since I didn’t get home until well after midnight.   It was the first race of the season for G so I did not want to miss it.   It had rained all night and into the early morning and the trails were drenched.  Rain or shine, muddy or dry, the race was on! 
I drove so G could mentally prepare.   As we got closer to the race venue, I felt my nerves start kicking in.  I was having my pre bike race buzz and I was not even racing.  That has to be a good sign that mentally I was ready to race again?!  When we pulled into the lot, most of the same cast of characters I remembered from past race seasons were there.  Some I had not seen in a year since last year’s SSAP.  I had brought my singlespeed with me, but mostly for means of transportation around the trails-I had wanted to bike in and take some photos.  I joined G up at the registration booth and bumped into one of the promoters.  The guys at Darkhorse Cycles always put on top notch events and have been very kind to me over the past few years.  After a very warm greeting, he asked if I was racing.  Not today, I didn’t pre-register since I had no clue if I would be ready to race.  I told him that I had the bike buzz driving in and brought my singlespeed with me. He offered me a number and a place in the race- very generous of him and something I wont soon forget.  While I had to really stop and think about it for a minute, I declined.  There was a part of me that wishes that I said yes for at least the purpose of gauging where I am at in my training.  But just the offer made me feel good.  

G trying to catch up to the pack after a 'nature break'. 

Some of the smaller mud features that the racers had to look forward to. 

My guy- mud and smiles after finishing strong.  Great job! 

I did not get my ride in on Sunday, but I was able to be a part of the bike racing scene again.  It also gave me a chance to rest just one more day and finish up the fight I was having with that cold. 

I am just glad the week of the “Cancerversary” is OVER! 


Friday, April 15, 2011

Spring Blossoms.

It was April 15, 2010 and my sister was here on an extended business trip.  We had walked into town for some lunch and as a distraction. It was two days after my biopsy and my mind was off in a million places. My eyes wandered around the neighborhood taking in all the beautiful spring colors.  The cherry blossom trees were magnificent last spring.  I had to stop to take this photo- it carries with it a memory that will stay with me forever.  This was only a couple hours before I would receive that phone call from DrB.  The phone call that would change my life as I knew it.  I was so grateful to have my sister with me that day.

Thank you to all my friends and family who have been there to support me during this past year.  It hasn't been easy.  G, my special guy.  I would not have made it this far without you- Team G n R rocks!


Friday, April 8, 2011

1 year later...

It was April 2, 2010 and I was sitting in the back waiting room at the woman's imaging center.  I was just waiting outside the radiologists office in my white robe, thinking to did I get here? I wonder how much longer this will take so I can get a ride in today?  I had just finished having an ultra sound of my breast, followed by 4 or so rounds of mammogram pictures.  The x-ray tech came out of the radiologists office and said  "The doctor just wants a couple more pictures ".  As if my stomach had not already dropped into my knees, this was when I began to get really nervous.  The tech was wonderful and tried to make small talk with me.  She knew.  They all knew.  They saw the cancer in the films but of course would never tell me that without the proper biopsy.

I was called into the Radiologists office. Before I could sit down, I could not help but notice there was images of my breasts everywhere.   She had a stone cold face and began to try and explain the films to me.  While pointing at the images she said "We need to biopsy this.  I don't like anything about it.".  At the time I really had no idea what she meant by "this". Of course we all know how this part of the story unfolds.

It turned out that I had extensive DCIS in my left breast with a 2.3 centimeter invasive cancer tumor attached to it. Life as I knew it changed for me that day.  Everything else just came to a halt.  All that mattered was what was the next step to getting this cancer out of me.  April 13 was my biopsy.  April 15 the biopsy results confirmed invasive breast cancer. MRI- confirmed my need for a mastectomy.  Blood tests; Surgeries; Scans; Chemo; Radiation all leads me up to today, 1 year later. 

This time-line will forever be embedded in my mind.  I hope some of the painful and scary memories will fade with time.  I will never forget completely nor do I think I want to forget.  It is not who I am but it is part of my journey now. 


I have been exhausted over the past few weeks.  Just a steady tired feeling.  I am not quite sure what it is all about.  Am I tired from all the extra riding and the full days of work?  I have been riding big rides on the weekends and working out with weights and I have been doing Pilates.  Maybe I just don't recover the same way as I use to.  Maybe it's because I had my ass kicked by all the cancer treatments this past year.  I do hope it is not from my new medication - I am now over 2 months into taking Tamoxifen.  But then again, it could be a combination of all the of the above.

Over the past two weekends G and I have been able to get some great trail riding in.  Here are two photos from a couple weeks back.  It had even snowed a bit that week and it was 29 degrees at the start! It is supposed to be spring!

My guy riding @ Blue

Me, feeling strong.  It was a cold day too.

It was just this past Sunday that I really felt like I have gotten my stability and strength back on the bike.  I am still working on endurance and strength, so speed has not really been my concern -yet.  No photos taken that day....we were too busy pedaling and enjoying the ride.  It was a great day in the woods. Probably the best since before my surgery.

I am hoping for some nice weather this weekend- I need more pedaling time!

Have a great weekend.