Monday, December 27, 2010

Merry Xcess, err, Xmas, I mean Christmas!!!

The State of NJ is in a state of emergency this lovely December 27th due to about two feet of the white stuff.  Yessiree, the first major snow of the winter and hopefully the last of this kind for the season! (One can wish!) The wind is what is making it so wicked - crazy gusts shaking the trees right over and blowing snow everywhere.  Thankfully it is sunny, the snow was actually pretty light as we shoveled it away and I do have to admit it is really beautiful.

Christmas 2010 has come and gone - amazing how quickly time flies by.  Greg and I were very fortunate; we were able to spend much time with friends and family and look forward to doing more of the same over the next few days as we wait for 2011 to arrive.  Santa was incredibly generous to us this year, either we were very good or someone switched our names to the "nice" list... 

I was able to get a run in yesterday before the "blizzard" conditions hit and was joined by my brother Bill.  We met at my mom's and ran through the streets of Butler.  It was pretty, running through the new and still gently falling snow.  Upon returning to my mom's we all sat and admitted to the fact that although we appreciated all that we received, perhaps next year we would approach the holidays a bit different.  We discussed how blessed we all were and perhaps we could share with some folks who were not as lucky.  We threw out such ideas as buying goats and chickens through Heifer International, adopting a family through a local organization,  or buying coats and warm gloves for those in need.

While I am not sure what we will do, I have been thinking about this conversation since it occurred.  I am trying to decide what my 2011 New Year's resolution will be.  I am already committed to the Ironman race as well as the NYC triathlon.  I hate to be general as in "I'll make the world a better place" or "I will buy/eat more locally produced food".  Having a goal helps and I just cannot seem to decide on one yet. Thankfully I have a few days left to decide.  Whatever my decision , I figure that I will use my blog to track my progress - good or bad - so that when December 31st 2011 arrives, I can look back and ascertain if I was successful in my efforts.  How about you?  What will you resolve to do in 2011?

Saturday, December 11, 2010

3 Nubbins

Sooo... this is what 43 feels like. (Yes, I am indulging my love of Batman by using issue #43 to commerate my own birthday...) While extremely happy to have celebrated my 43rd birthday cancer free I am once again struck by just how fast life goes by!  I mean seriously folks - wasn't I just "30something"?  How the hell did I get to be almost "mid-forties"?  Incredible.  Well, as always I see a silver lining:  once I hit age 45, my time requirement to qualify for the Boston marathon goes to 4 hours.  So technically no need to worry about running for time in 2011.  I'll spend my 43rd year preparing for my Ironman.  Stay tuned - it should be a very interesting year!

I  imagine you may be wondering what in the world the title of this post "3 Nubbins" could possibly be referring to.  Those in the know would be the Burt family but now that my Dad is retired he along with my sister Gwen have not only become writers but have also become bloggers.  For as long as I can remember (which as you know is 43 years so a verrrry long time), my father has always told stories about the "wee ones" on Cape Cod.  I will not give their story away but every year for Christmas Dad would create a scavenger hunt for the Burt kids.  Now that everyone is grown and inhabiting various areas of the country, he is using his stories about the Nubbins and counting down the days of Christmas with daily riddles.  This year the Nubbins' stories appear in a blog - so 21st century - and the link is here:  I encourage you to read it and share it with your family.  You might learn something about the lovely land we call Cape Cod as well as spread some friendly competition among family members as everyone tries to solve the Nubbins' puzzles first!   

With only 21 more days left to 2010 there is much to do - holiday parties to attend, more shows to see (Prince, Trans Siberian Orchestra and Passion Pit), cookies to bake, presents to wrap, family to see and of course Greg and I will take our annual ride to view the local holiday lights.  I love this time of year even though it may be cold and the traffic is horrible and there is always a threat of that blasted four letter word... yes, SNOW....but I tend to look at the holidays displays, the children excited to see Santa, and the arrival of gingerbread lattes at Starbucks as all good and hope that for even a moment everyone stops, takes a deep breath and appreciates this wonderful life. Why not now?

Sunday, November 28, 2010

The Power of Positive Thinking

Thanksgiving 2010 has come and gone.  The countdown to Christmas has started along with the annual catalog inundation my mailbox receives.   I realized I did not make note of all that I was thankful for, (well, except on Facebook) and this morning while drinking my coffee and reading "127 Days" - the story of Aron Ralston, the hiker who amputated his own arm in a successful quest for survival who records all he is thankful for while facing death - I know I have much to be noted.

I then stumble upon a study published by the Wall Street Journal which denotes that grateful people lead happier lives.  In fact researches conducted a study to prove this thought:

"A growing body of research suggests that maintaining an attitude of gratitude can improve psychological, emotional and physical well-being.

.Adults who frequently feel grateful have more energy, more optimism, more social connections and more happiness than those who do not, according to studies conducted over the past decade. They're also less likely to be depressed, envious, greedy or alcoholics. They earn more money, sleep more soundly, exercise more regularly and have greater resistance to viral infections.

Now, researchers are finding that gratitude brings similar benefits in children and adolescents. Kids who feel and act grateful tend to be less materialistic, get better grades, set higher goals, complain of fewer headaches and stomach aches and feel more satisfied with their friends, families and schools than those who don't, studies show." - WSJ M. Beck 11/26/10

Me, I equate being grateful with optimism.  When you have awareness of just how much "good" you have in your life such as  family, friends, health, etc.; how can one be negative?  The next few weeks will be busy ones - I have a gingerbread houses to create with my niece and nephews, birthday to celebrate, holiday parties to attend, tickets to see Prince, Chelsea Handler, and of course the annual TSO extravaganza.  My family will be visiting from MA, I'll ring in 2011 with friends and best of all, I receive my very last Zometa injection with hopes that it will be last time  I see the chemo suite at my oncologist;s office. (For those unaware, Zometa is infused and yes, I get to sit in the very same chairs I received my treatment in - a bit disconcerting to say the least!)

I have passed the two year mark of completing treatment for breast cancer.  I have found the strength (I think...) to grow my hair out, sporting a pulled back look I'll most likely be wearing for the next year or so.  I have been able to identify many triggers of the hot flashes left as a result of my surgery this past summer.  I can still run, still swim.  I finally no longer have a bright orange sink in my kitchen.  Yes, I have much to be thankful for and hope you do too!

Saturday, November 6, 2010

Back in the swim of things

In a sport that's ruled by the clock, freeing myself from the minutes and seconds that define success was liberating. I was now free to run when I wanted, without the gnawing obligation that comes with a competitive pursuit. I no longer have an interest in running "against" anyone. Rather, I'm often looking for someone to run "with," and it's the camaraderie, rhythm and ritual that continue to hold my interest. - Tom Ratcliffe, "Running Past the Finish Line," Running Times, December 2010

Tomorrow I'll be a spectator for the race many call "THE RACE" - the 2010 ING NYC Marathon.  I completed the 2010 Marine Corps marathon last week along with my brother and friend Jess.  I figure I need to pay it forward; having someone yelling words of encouragement to me at about mile 22 was extremely helpful, I'll gladly return the favor.
After 26.2 last week, this week I held off from running until Thursday.  Yesterday I hit the pool at my gym.  I had not been swimming since my last triathlon.  I was alone, the water was warm and it felt great.  I realized I missed the joy of gliding through the water and will make sure to hit the pool at least once a week. 
Life has been busy; training for the aforementioned marathon of course is time consuming and as always our house is a work in progress.  We are in the midst of putting in new ceilings in our family room downstairs.  Oh yes - it is about as fun as it sounds!
Now that November has arrived, there is much to look forward to - the holidays, my birthday and the BHS field hockey alumni game!  This November also marks my 2nd anniversary of finishing treatment and starting Tamoxifen.  Only three more to go...November also means daylight savings time, raking leaves, and did I mention raking leaves?  I best get out there!!!
Good luck to all NYC Marathon runners and a special shout out to  my cousin Kristen who will be running her first marathon up in NH tomorrow - 26.2!!!  Go get those bragging rights!!!

Sunday, October 17, 2010

Acorns Everywhere

Ah Autumn is upon us:  pumpkins and colorful mums abound; Halloween stores have popped up in practically every vacant commercial space, it is still dark when I get up to run in the morning, and the acorns are falling.  Everywhere.  No exaggeration - the Newark Star Ledger even included a piece about the proliferation of acorns fall 2010 has brought and the positive side of their increased numbers. (They aid in reforestation efforts; who knew?)

October is half way over and the stores near us have begun pushing holiday merchandise in earnest.  Only two more weeks of "pink power" remain for which I am thankful. I am saying this even though I will always remember the significance of October in my treatment two years ago as the month within which I finished chemo, I admit I am suffering pink fatigue.  I have been posting a daily "pink item" on my Facebook page and believe me, there is no lack of things to post.

I had the honor this past week of attending a lecture by Dr. Susan Love - one of the leaders of breast cancer research and the creator of the Army of Women.  The Army of Women was created to bring together one million people, men, women, cancer survivors, etc. into a pool that researchers can access virally and quickly to conduct studies that in the past may have taken five years just to complete a co-hort to test.  Yes, the Internet is not all for evil!  If you have not joined, please consider doing so - you do not need to do anything except review the studies that are e-mailed to you.  You may or may not fit the profile of the type of participant needed but you might just know someone who does.  Dr. Love is not out to cure breast cancer; she wants to find its cause so we can stop it and no longer need to search for a cure.  Wouldn't that be a wonderful thing?  Check it out and please become one in million!

Saturday, October 9, 2010

Just a bit of Pixie dust

Yes, Halloween is only two weeks way (how can that be???!!!) but my friend Jess and I were not having a dress rehearsal.  Our attire was in celebration of running the inaugural Disney Wine and Dine Half Marathon - an event that started at 10pm, brought you through Disney's Animal Kingdom and Hollywood Studios before ending in Epcot during their food and wine festival.  I never had had so much fun during a race - I may just have to don my Tinkerbell outfit for all future events!  I guess it was the wings that elicited so many comments; that made folks want to grab a photo with me - well that or the fact that a 42 year old woman was running around Disneyworld in the middle of the night dressed like Tinkerbell...  hmm... like I said, I truly enjoyed myself as Disney really knows how to host an event - music, well tended hydration stations and of course  - having Mickey himself kick-off the race - made for  a great event.  Jess looked great in her Minnie gear - so glad I have friends who can embrace a bit of wackiness now and then!

It has been a while since I have written.  The days are quickly growing shorter, so much so that I am typing this as I wait for daylight so I can get out and run.  October not only brings shorter days and Halloween, it also brings breast cancer awareness month.  Seems everything is pink and it leaves me strangely unsettled.  Are we losing or gaining focus by branding every consumer item with a pink ribbon? And I mean everything - I have been posting a daily photo on my Facebook page of things that have been "pinked" - from your checkcard to Brillo pads - that pink ribbon is everywhere.

So as a breast cancer survivor I try to do my part.  I participated in the NYC Komen Race for the Cure.  I am organizing a "pink" bake sale at work.  I implore my friends and family to be vigilant in getting their mammograms.  However I have a problem with buying wine or potato chips that have a pink ribbon on them.  It just seems, well, wrong.  No, the idea of Sutter Home or Frito-Lay donating money does not seem wrong to me - I guess it is just the positioning.  Or is it the Komen organization I should direct my concern to?  Can I blame them for wanting to get their branding out there and having more money funneled to the cause?  No, I can't.  I admit I did benefit from Komen research funding.  I also admit I think it is great to bring such awareness to the cause - even if the pink chin straps and cleats that the NFL donned was a bit of a stretch.  I  worry that there is so much of it that eventually people will no longer see beyond the "pink" and forget how many are impacted by this disease.  I hope that one day there will be no need for pink M&Ms other than Easter; that wearing all pink in October is nothing more than a fashion faux pas and that we can all say - "remember that nasty thing called breast cancer, glad we do not have to deal with that anymore"... until then I will support the cause as best I can and try to not to get so worked up over seeing even dog food "pinkified"!

Saturday, September 25, 2010

Bucket List

I spent last weekend in the mountains of New Hampshire with 11 people crazy enough to join me on "The Situation"; my team for the 2010 Reach the Beach Relay.  To know what this event is like, first stay awake for 30 hours, run anywhere from 4 - 8 miles every six hours while awake and make sure the last 1/4 mile is on a nice sandy beach. Throw in 5000 other runners, more porta-potties than you ever want to see,  and there - doesn't it sound like fun???

Actually it was and I have to say we laughed - a lot! (What else do you do at 3am when you are awake and wearing a headlamp?)  Upon crossing the finish line I thought to myself - "there, another thing on my list - complete!".  It wasn't until later this week when reading a magazine article about Randy Pausch that the whole "bucket list" concept really impacted me.  You may recall Randy's very poignant "Last Lecture" as he was a professor at Carnegie Mellon who became a YouTube sensation for giving his students the lecture of a lifetime just prior to his death. Anyway, like I said, I was reading an article where Dr. Oz was recalling a conversation he had with Randy when they spoke about taking a trip to swim with the dolphins.  Randy stated it took a terminal diagnosis for him to take his family on this trip they had always dreamed of.  Dr. Oz, hearing Randy's message loud and clear, booked the same trip for his family that very day for he realized how quickly life can change and why not do those things on our "lists" for if we do not - will we ever?

For me that is what it was all about - just doing something many consider outside the norm. For those who have done it (even though we may groan and complain during every one of those 30 hours) holding that medal can be pretty satisfying.  The past 3 years have been full of teachable moments and if I have learned anything it has been that my list will always get longer but as long as I can continually cross things off of it, then I am truly living.

Hmm, not sure why I am feeling somewhat so  introspective at 5:30am.  I suppose the fact that I am getting ready for a 20 mile training run with my brother may have something to do with it.  Running a marathon with my brother - yes, another item off my list.  What is on yours and what are you doing to make sure you get to cross those things off as "completed"?

Sunday, September 12, 2010

Life lessons

Wow - September arrived and is rushing by...we are just about at the mid-point of the month already.  This past weekend was a busy one.  We attended "Lobsterfest" 2010 with some of my "BFFs" on a day that was picture perfect.  So picture perfect you could not help but compare it the day 9 years earlier that changed all of us forever.  The sky was that same picture perfect blue; not a cloud in sight.  We reflected on our lives and toasted to the fact we were together and we were healthy: it was a wonderful day. 

Today, I walked 3.1 miles in Central Park with 24,000 other people all somehow impacted by breast cancer.  I was one of 1,600 survivors.  Unfortunately I was "alone" - my husband had to work and my mom was off on a long planned vacation.  Since I was team captain for my employer's corporate team, I needed to get into the city early so got up in the dark, ate breakfast, donned my best pink finery and hit the road.  I admit to feeling very sad as a drove in to NYC.  Sure, I was going to be walking with  my co-workers and seeing a post from my friend Lauren in the early morning hours made me smile; but I could not kick the blues even though surrounded by a sea of pink. 

I gathered with other folks from the team and it was then I started to feel a bit better.  Two co-workers were walking "just because" and both of them were fairly new to the company.  I  walked with a small group and I enjoyed talking to all of them.  The rain held out until the end and only lasted a few minutes. I decided to stop of at the survivor village.   Out of the blue a fellow survivor walked up to me and asked if I was by myself.  When I said, yes, I was there by myself, she said, "So am I" - she hugged me and said, "Aren't we lucky?" 

Those few words snapped me out of my funk and I realized, yes, we were lucky.  We were there, we were walking, we had made it through and were able to say we were survivors.  As I looked out at the sea of people walking past me - so many with the words "In Memory of..." scribed on their shirt along with a name it caused me to take pause.  I was in the park today- pink hair and all -  thanks to those who may have not been with me today but were with me when I needed them most.  Lucky indeed. 

Tuesday, August 31, 2010

September Already?

I am not quite sure how it got to be August 31st already.  I could swear just yesterday I was looking forward to the weeks of hot sunny weather a normal NJ summer brings; now I am planning out my fall wardrobe and waiting for the return of "school is in" early morning traffic.

The past few weeks have been busy which I guess is why it seems time is flying by.  I have committed to running the Marine Corps Marathon with my brother and friend Jess on Halloween.  So, yes in eight short weeks I'll once again do that crazy 26.2 mile run.  (Note emphasis on "crazy"!)  Training has begun and we are up to 16 miles for our long runs.  Yes, training sucks up a lot of time.

Speaking of training my tri season has come to an end, capped off nicely with me taking home the above pictured souvenir from the inaugural Asbury Park SheRox event.   Greg and I had a fabulous weekend "down at the shore" - thankfully I was not cognizant of the fact that the water I was swimming through for the swim leg of my tri felt like tapioca due to the multitudes of jellyfish, and the beautiful homes of Deal distracted me from registering the miles I pedaled on my bike.  We had wonderful meals at places like Moonstruck, The Boards, Stella Marina and Avenue.  Asbury Park, Long Branch, and Ocean Grove have come a long way since the days of my late teens and early 20's when we would not even stop in town on our way to the beach due to fear of being in the wrong place at the wrong time. The weekend was hot and sunny, the beaches packed with Snooki and Situation wanna-bes, the boardwalk full of folks strolling along desperate for an ocean breeze, and in late evening the moon rose up over the ocean a brilliant red-orange orb that slowly faded to rose then to white providing a spectacular show over the water.  Ah summer - how I hate to see you go!

As much as I hate for summer to end, I do admit to truly enjoying the fall.  I love the crisp air and seeing the riot of colors that autumn brings to the trees.  I love wearing sweaters and the smell of the first fire being stoked in neighborhood fireplaces.  September brings many great events - the Komen Race for the Cure, the 2010 Reach the Beach Relay, and the season finale of True Blood. I have one more visit to my oncologist for my final Zometa infusion and that should be it for doctor visits for the year. When I look back at the summer of 2010 I'll recall the incredible weather I had while staying on the Cape; diving through the waves at the Jersey Shore; and the birth of our newest neighbor Sofia Isis Jones.  Surgery seems so long ago, my incision scars are slowly fading from an angry red to light pink, and I have no need to return to the Cancer Center until next year.  Until then I have training to do, holidays and birthdays to celebrate, places to go and people to see - so, "so long summer", I am sure my longing for you will hit just around say March... 

Monday, August 16, 2010

Follow up

It is a gloomy Monday morning and I am getting ready to make the trek into NYC to visit my doctor - well, one of my doctors!  It has been seven weeks since my surgery so I am hopeful she will tell me that I am finally healing as I should, that my stitches have dissolved and that I will not need to see her again until next year. 

I'll be heading back to the NYU Cancer Center in only another two weeks for my mammogram.  This excursion of course brings a certain amount of anxiety to my life.  For the next few days I cannot help but recall the mammogram that started the need for this blog.  Yes, I am thankful my cancer was caught, removed, treated.  I am thankful that we have technology that allows this sort of diagnosis to no longer be a death sentence and every year treatment options get better.  Still, I will have butterflies and restless sleep until I get the "all clear" that day.

Thankfully we had a wonderful weekend - dinner with friends Friday evening to kick it off; a glorious Saturday sunny and cool on which we attended an open water swim clinic on Lake Hopatcong (well, that was only me) my 25th (OMG!) high school reunion, our neighbor's 2nd birthday and a lake celebration with friends.  All said I was still in bed before ten but guess my body needed the sleep as I missed my Sunday morning cycling date.  I ended up swimming laps and running ten miles in the rain with my brother. I'll see what the doctor says this morning about how this body of mine is healing and make my decision.  I best get going as Monday morning traffic is never good!

Wednesday, August 4, 2010

The Long and The Short of It

It has been an interesting summer so far.  We are in the home stretch: the hot and humid days of August have arrived and the days grow shorter.  Tomorrow marks six weeks post surgery for me.  I feel pretty good but have not healed as quickly as I would have liked.  I still have my stitches, doing ab work is not yet a good thing and I had to skip a triathlon last weekend because I was still experiencing some "side effects" of healing - I will not go into graphic detail but suffice to say my body was readily telling me I was in no shape to swim/bike/run.

Well, that was last week.  I am going to try  again - or is that "tri again"? This weekend brings the Pequannock Tri, a shorter distance tri and one I think manageable.  I say this as I prepare to go practice an open water swim at 9pm with my brother.  Hmm - this should prove interesting.  At least no one will see me struggle in and out of my wetsuit! 

Our kitchen renovation is complete, again I ask myself why I have these types of projects completed while I am home dealing with a complex disease.  In 2008 while in the throes of chemotherapy we had the cabin sandblasted and restained.  I stayed at my mom's.  This go around we ripped down walls, cabinets, the works.  I stayed at my mom's, my dad's and my in-laws.  It is good to have family both nearby and those who live in a summer vacation spot!

While convalescing after surgery and awaiting the dreaded results phone call I decided that if I indeed was going to face chemotherapy once again, I was going to go long first.  Hence the photo above.  Extensions were fun but very hot.  I feel much lighter without them but plan on having them againn soon - perhaps in the cold winter months.

Much to look forward to during these dog days of summer: I'll be seeing the Adams Family on Broadway, visiting with my friend Patrice who is coming to town from Missouri, I'll be honored by the Komen NYC Race for the Cure for once again being one of the top 100 fundraisers - this time for 2009; my 25th (gasp!) high school reunion is being held nearby, I have tickets to Tears fro Fears with Jess and hope to participate in the SheRox Triathlon at the end of the month.  Whew!  I best go hit the lake!!!

Monday, July 26, 2010

Race for the Cure

While I am in denial that July is in its last week, I truly cannot believe it is once again time for the annual NYC Race for the Cure!  On Sunday September 12th, I'll once again don my favorite pink attire and join the thousands of others who have been impacted in some way by breast cancer.

This year I have volunteered to lead my corporate team and set aggressive goals for both the team and myself.  Why not consider joining us?  I have walked for the past seven years and the day is always a good one!  If you are unable to join us for a walk, please consider making a donation.  I try to "talk the talk and walk the walk" and I can honestly say that I have benefited from the funds that the Komen organization has helped raise.  The breakthroughs in research and treatment options made my experience with breast cancer one that I survived.  My hope is that one day, women will no longer have to worry about breast cancer at all.  Now wouldn't that be a wonderful day?

With all this cancer talk, I guess I should I add I am headed to the cancer center today for my 1st true exam following my surgery.  I am confident all should be fine - I think the commute in will be the most difficult aspect of the day!  However with cooler temperatures having arrived via the torrential downpours we had yesterday afternoon, an afternoon jaunt into the city may not be so bad.  Have a great week!

Sunday, July 18, 2010

Real World

nor·mal   /ˈnɔrməl/ Show Spelled[nawr-muhl] Show IPA

1. conforming to the standard or the common type; usual; not abnormal; regular; natural.
2. serving to establish a standard.
3. Psychology .
a. approximately average in any psychological trait, as intelligence, personality, or emotional adjustment.
b. free from any mental disorder; sane.
4. Biology, Medicine/Medical .
a. free from any infection or other form of disease or malformation, or from experimental therapy or manipulation.
b. of natural occurrence.
As crazy as it may seem, tomorrow marks my return to the real world - aka back to work!  I feel great and the past three weeks of inpatient hospital stays, lounging on Cape Cod and watching the last touches being added to my new kitchen seem incredibly surreal.
Thankfully my results from surgery were all good.  No need for further treatment.  I have already experienced the lovely time of life called menopause due to chemotherapy so no big surprises there.  I do experience occasional twinges and I still tire easily but I cannot wait to hit the pool this Thursday and, the good lord willing, I'll be participating in the inaugural Pass It Along Triathlon on July31st at Lake Mohawk.
I am once again incredibly indebted to my friends and family.  My parents and my in-laws were the best - providing places to rest, relax, and recharge after my surgery.  My thanks and love cannot be put into written word.  My friends have once again restored my faith in the human race:  I received cards, calls, books, flowers, etc. - so many folks sending words and prayers - how could I not beat this monster?  And of course - I owe most of my well being to my husband.  Who else could stand by me as I fought with nurses to remove my catheter and demanded to be discharged?  Oh boy, you have got to love general anesthesia!
Speaking of friends, I have to comment once again about the technology of the 21st century.  I have been so blessed to reconnect with so many people.  This time it was my pal Allie from good ol' BHS with whom I met for dinner and cannot wait to see again.  I hate to admit it but Facebook does have its redeeming qualities!  Speaking of which did I mention my 25th high school reunion is coming up?  Yessiree folks, that is 25 years....  I watched "Hot Tub Time Machine" with my Dad and his wife while I was on the Cape and laughed out loud until I realized that the 80's had become comical! 
I hope to return to training this week.  My next doctor appointment is the 26th.  I hope to hear I am healing well!  I can still feel those stitches!

Wednesday, July 7, 2010

Heat Wave

It is July and it is hot.  I do not mean hot in the sense of "awesome, fun, thing of the moment"; no, the hot I refer to means heat, sweat and the need for air conditioning which I normally despise. Thankfully  I am on the Cape and there are ocean breezes to help move the stifling air around. 

I am healing well. I am moving better and am able to get through the days without any sort of pain medication.  My stitches are driving me mad and NYU cannot locate my pathology reports so I'll be a bit crazed until I receive the "all is clear" message but I am sadly accustomed to this type of waiting.  I still tire easily and am quickly reminded of how tender my incisions are if I move too fast or too much. 

I have read several good books:  The Girl Who Kicked the Hornet's Nest - excellent;  Imperial Bedrooms (Brett Eaton Ellis's latest) - it was okay;  That Ole' Cape Magic (the title alone made my want to read it) - entertaining chick lit; The Professor and the Madman (the story behind the creation of the Oxford English Dictionary) - excellent; and I am now starting on the Immortal Life of Henrietta Lax.

So you can see, I am actually taking it easy.  I am enjoying spending time with my family who have been very gracious hosts. I am amazed by how quickly the days are passing but am thankful I am feeling better with each one that does.  My follow-up appointment is on the 12th and I am hopeful that I will be able to return to my normal crazy life of running, paddling, and by the 22nd swimming once more!  Stay cool!!!

Friday, June 25, 2010

Light on my toes

The past 72 hours have been one big blur.  It started Wednesday when I was limited to a clear liquid diet with the added kicker of a "cleanse" and it ends with me perched gingerly on a chair in front of the computer at my mother's house. What occurred in the hours between these two events is somewhat cloudy due to a haze of pain; the effects of pain medication and my lack of sleep except that which was administered via IV.

I arrived at NYU Medical Center at 10am on Thursday.  After filling out the same exact paperwork I have filled out for the previous four surgical procedures I had there (1 lumpectomy, 1 port implantation, 1 port removal and 1 cone biopsy), I donned the ever fashionable blue hospital gown and the waiting began.  When I was finally led to the operating room - I recognized both the nurses and the anesthesiologist.  I have obviously spent way too much time in NYU Medical Center but at least I knew the anesthesiologist knew what he was doing as I did not feel a thing during my last procedure!

As my doctor arrived and chatted with me about my triathlon I was rude and feel asleep mid-sentence.  I awoke in recovery to find that my two hour surgery had stretched into four hours leaving me with a very sore throat due to being intubated and a very sore belly but was told that everything went well.  That was the last thing that went well.

I spent the night with a catheter (enough said!) and an 87 year old roommate who had a penchant for walking around without her hospital gown and tell jokes.  If it did not hurt so much to laugh, I would have been roaring.  Even with the lovely pain medication I was given, I did not sleep much making for a very long, very uncomfortable evening.

However as dawn broke I realized I was starting to feel better.  My roommate decided to dress and sat in the chair next to me to talk.  It was a sad story; she had no one to pick her up from the hospital having lost touch with her two children and having outlived her husband and best friend.  She had met Greg the prior evening and told me how lucky I was to have a man who knew how to laugh.  As she settled back into her bed,  I pulled out the four leaf clover my friend Karen gave me along with the beautiful handmade handkerchief my friend Kathleen gave me and reflected on how fortunate I was to have so many wonderful people in my life.  When Greg arrived to bring me home, I gave him an extra squeeze to let him know how grateful I am to have him in my life.  Since my house is still undergoing renovation we are staying at my mom's and again I gave thanks for having a family I knew I could always count on.

So as I sit and type, I am a bit sore and a bit groggy (can you say Vicodan?) but I am fully aware of how lucky I am.  I live near wonderful hospitals and have excellent doctors.  I have a loving family and many friends.  I have an incredible husband who stands with me through the good and bad and although I may now be down a few body parts, I feel light on my toes thanks to all who help hold me up.

Sunday, June 20, 2010

Superheros Among Us

Most folks know it to be a fact that I am somewhat of  fan when it comes to superheros.  Okay, so maybe "somewhat" downplays my fanatical obsession with all things Batman, but I am really referring to all superheros.  During my crazy week, I became aware that they really do exist and that they actually walk among us.

It was a typically overbooked "let me do every last thing I can before surgery" whirlwind week .  Greg and I spent last weekend out of the country - yes, we were in Peterborough Canada for the 2010 International Breast Cancer Survivor Dragonboat Races.  Team SOS joined forces with the Machestic Dragons from Princeton and paddled four races.  The town of Peterborough was awash in pink and the folks there were extremely gracious hosts.  We had a very good time! We met women from all of the world, all of whom had breast cancer, many still going through treatment and sporting the all too familiar bandana/hat/wig over their now bald head.  As I looked around and reflected, I realized the strength of the power this gathering had.  I knew then I was witnessing true superheros walking next to me, paddling beside me, laughing and dancing with me.  CANCER?  Been there, done that honey!

On our journey home, we were able to make a short stop in Cortland NY where we had lunch with my friend David.  I met David at BU and had not seen him in about, oh, 20 years... it was so wonderful to be able to just sit and talk as if I had just seen him yesterday. David himself has been facing a major health crisis but by speaking with him and seeing him, one would never know.  He spoke about his profession of choice with pride: working with kids who have been in placement to get reunited with their families and integrated back into their home.  As we drove south on Route 81 I realized I had just interacted with another superhero - he had sat right across from me!

We returned home to a whirlwind of activity - our new cabinets have been installed and look beautiful.  I had my pre-admission testing after which Greg and I had a wonderful dinner with Peter (another BU "re-connect")  and Caleb (the meeting of the husbands!) an then settled down at MSG to be amazed by James Taylor and Carole King - what a great show! 

I capped the week of with one amazing Saturday:  at 7:10am I started off on my 1/2 mile swim for the Franklin Lakes/Wyckoff triathlon.  2hours 36 minutes, 17 cycled miles and 5 miles ran - I was done. Triathlon complete.  Being handed that medal was pretty amazing.  However later that day I was handed another medal - one that was just as amazing to me - I received a survivor medal from the American Cancer Society at the Relay for Life.  It was overwhelming to me to see how many in the area have been affected by cancer.  It was even more overwhelming when I looked around at the survivors standing with me how many were just kids.  Suddenly that triathlete title did not mean much.  I thought about how it must be to go through your teen years bald from chemo and too weak to participate in the normal frenetic pace of life most teens seem to.  I was looking at some of the strongest kids I would ever know.  True superheros.

I ended the evening attending a "Shop for the Cure" event that my friend Linda (we met via the Army of Women) had coordinated.  It was incredible - she brought so many vendors together all whom agreed to give her a percentage of their sales from the evening towards her fundraising campaign for the Avon 3day breast cancer awareness walk.  Again, I was humbled.  Another superhero was in my presence. I think I need to start handing out capes...

Thursday, June 17, 2010

A New Look

I updated my blog's template today after seeing my sister-in-law's new background on "The Book Bench" - yes, so 21st century of me to have blog envy isn't it?

Wednesday, June 9, 2010


tran·si·tion   /trænˈzɪʃən, -ˈsɪʃ-/ Show Spelled[tran-zish-uhn, -sish-] Show IPA
movement, passage, or change from one position, state, stage, subject, concept, etc., to another; change: the transition from adolescence to adulthood.

Transition may be a noun but it is an apt descriptor of my life right now. I am slowly getting used to my new commute, my new office, my new position. I am learning to live without a kitchen and to look forward to the improvements made daily in my home. (I say this with a smile pasted on my face - and will continue to do so, hiding my freak outs about oh, just about everything, for those private times!)

I am trying to juggle training for my first triathlon along with paddling for my dragonboat team without totally exhausting my body. The transition within the triathlon is something I am not quite sure how to practice - it just is not the same to have my gear spread out across my floor and pretend I just swam my 1/2 mile and am now running, trying to get out of my wetsuit, to jump on my bike. This should be one heck of an experience.

I am getting ready mentally to begin to live without a few internal body parts as my surgery is now just two weeks away. I will not be able to swim for a month afterwards, nor run or bike for two weeks - and this is if everything goes as planned. Transition indeed; I have to admit, it keeps life interesting.

Thursday, May 27, 2010

Summer 2010

I just reviewed my calendar for the 2010 summer season and have decided I must still be suffering from chemo brain. At least that is my story and I am sticking to it otherwise my husband might have me committed on grounds of total insanity.

I have four, yes four, triathlons from 6/19 - 8/29. I'll cap off the summer with a 200 mile relay in the mountains of New Hampshire. Throw in a few running races, an international rowing competition along with the fact that we are currently living through a kitchen renovation and just to change things up a bit I am starting a new position at a new location with my current employer next week and oh yeah, did I mention I am having some of my body parts removed in late June? Whew! I might have to commit myself!

The past few weeks have been a series of ups and downs. Greg and I still miss Tacoma daily. We have both been looking at (cough, cough) puppies online... not to bring one home right now given the schedule we have before us, but perhaps one day again we will have someone waiting for us when we walk in the door each evening.

Crazy life changing health events have recently impacted the lives of folks I know and everyday I send positive thoughts and prayers their way. London was a blast - how fun to see the city through the eyes of my niece and nephews. My cousin Michael graduated from BU while we were away. I consider this incredibly bizarre given the fact he was born during my senior year there. Wasn't that like just yesterday?

Speaking of BU I recently reconnected with friends I had not seen since our days of walking along Commonwealth Avenue which has been nothing but fun. Catching up, reminiscing - it is all good.

One last high note pertains to the logo you see displayed above. You may wonder why I would display the Snickers Marathon Bar logo so prominent on my blog. I do so because I just found out I have been accepted as a member of the 2010 Team Marathon; I'll be wearing their gear at my future events as well as promoting their product. The crunchy honey and almond bar is my current fave!

Happy Memorial Day all! I'll see you between swims/runs/cycles!!!

Monday, May 10, 2010

Tacoma 10/31/95 - 5/7/10

When you are sorrowful look into your heart and you shall see that you are weeping for that which has been your delight. ~ Khalil Gibran

It has been a rough three days. Our beautiful Malamute Tacoma has been freed from suffering but ours started when hers ended. Thankfully we have incredible friends and family, many who know how hard it is to let go of a beloved pet.

Our wonderful neighbors hosted a Friday evening get together where we toasted Tacoma's life with Dom Perignon and regaled each other with humorous stories which is exactly what our aching hearts needed.

Saturday as I lay on the couch with puffy eyes watching the 2009 Ironman in Kona and the stories of so many who overcame so much to get there, I realized I should get outside and enjoy the blustery day. I decided to take a walk and lost in my thoughts, I was outside for 2 1/2 hours. I spent the evening watching DVDs of films I figured Greg did not want to see (he had joined friends for dinner) and retired early.

We celebrated Mother's Day yesterday with our moms after I had completed a 10 1/2 mile run with my brother. (Nothing to snap you out of grief like a jaunt around the hills of Kinnelon!) Upon my return from my run I found Greg looking sad and he admitted it was "hard to be home alone". I then told him, although I had thought better of it, that twice Saturday evening while watching my movies I could have sworn I heard Tacoma, her nails clicking on our pine plank floors - so much so that I even got up to look for her. He admitted the same thing, thinking he heard her soft whine (which is what she did when she wanted attention). We noted however that we were able to have this conversation without tears, a big step forward in our healing process.

With Monday now arrived we start a new week and hope with each passing day the sorrow surrounding us will dissipate a bit more. We have much to look forward to this summer. One day at a time...

Sunday, May 2, 2010

Giving and Taking

I was lucky enough to get some new wheels this week - my first road bike. It is a black and white Specialized Secteur, the very model as seen in the photo here, and I have a newfound respect for carbon fiber. Greg and I spent the first half of our Saturday cycling through the rolling hills of Morris County as we participated in the Brake the Hunger Cycle Tour. The day itself was spectacular; sunny with clear blue skies and summer like temperatures. We started out early so the roads were quiet. As we pedaled along and I became accustomed to the awesome power of gear: "Hey, I just actually pedaled all the way UP that hill!", I was able to drink in the beauty around me. As we rode past spring flowers full of fragrance, past the local alpaca farm where the newborn alpacas were being shorn, and under trees now offering the shade of mature leaves, I admit I actually giggled.

It was the feeling of flying, of feeling like I was ten again and on my first ten speed. (I loved that bike - it was white with varying gradients of orange stripes. I thought it, and of course I, was the coolest thing ever.) It was pedaling for twenty miles with the knowledge we were only 1/2 way through the ride, but looking forward to the next twenty. It was surviving my first flat tire while climbing a hill and knowing how to change it. It was the fact that I was sharing the experience with my husband, enjoying a day that was pretty much perfect, and helping others at the same time - it just does not get better than that.

Today we will walk for others. We will be attending the American Heart Association Heart Walk in Harriman State Park. My paternal grandfather suffered a fatal heart attack at age 63. I walk in his memory. My dad celebrated his 63rd birthday this year so I have been thinking about my grandfather a lot lately. My grandfather taught me to appreciate the quiet beauty of Cape Cod in the winter and the joy of running along the sand of Coast Guard beach. He also taught me the importance of sharing a kind word with everyone, no matter if they reciprocate or not. So today we walk - for him and for the countless others who cannot.

So that makes up the "giving" part of our weekend. How about the taking? In the balance of give/take, what we face this evening tips the scales horribly out of whack. A friend from high school I was able to reconnect with via modern day social networking (aka Facebook) suffered a loss so awful it pains me to even write about it. Tonight we will honor the life of her heroic son who served his country overseas only to lose his life in a tragic accident here on his home soil. Upon learning of this event I again had to take pause and ponder the big plan. It made my head and my heart hurt.

Once again I remind myself that the hurdles I may have climb over, tunnel under, or walk around are only that - hurdles to be overcome; to be looked back upon with reflection and at times even celebration. I have been given the opportunity to get out and embrace this world with all of its wonder and all of its imperfections. Be sure to tell those you love that you do at every chance - this life is one crazy ride without Google maps.

Sunday, April 18, 2010

739 Days

With all the excitement occurring in my life these days: the whole health issue thing, a kitchen renovation, training for my first tri, the launch of my youngest brother Nick's first Facebook game,"Dumbville", the bear family taking up residence in our backyard, watching the volcano in Iceland and wondering how it may impact our upcoming trip overseas, the arrival of spring, planning for the Reach the Beach Relay, cheering on my cousin Lisa who is running the Boston Marathon tomorrow and my sister in-law's brother Andrew who is running his first half today, deciding how to honor Mother Earth this coming April 22nd, congratulating my cousin Michael on his completion of his Boston U. degree (how did I get this old?), looking forward to the summer shows of U2, Bon Jovi (yes, Jersey girl I am!), and the Dave Matthews Band not to mention the farewell a-ha show (and I bet you did not even realize they were still around!) - add in my job, seeing my family and spending time with my husband... is it any wonder that the 2 year anniversary of my breast cancer diagnosis and the launch of this blog passed by without a mention?

I was always told that days would begin to fly by even faster the older I got. Of course this was typically wisdom imparted to me during school break when I was running along the beaches of Cape Cod, spending long afternoons with my friends, or catching fireflies on a warm summer evening and I would inevitably scoff, "Whatever!", and continue running, hanging out, or pursuing the hunt. How true these words ring today.

I have learned to be more observant of the wonders of the world around me. I try my best to take time to reflect on the daily gifts I am given. Every evening I do my best to list in my head at least five things that occurred during my day that I am thankful for. And there are times, like this lovely Sunday morning, when I sit back and think that all this "navel gazing" is only causing me to see how quickly life changes and passes by. I begin to question why all that has occurred during the past two years - why has happened to me? I feel all of my 42 years and try to figure out the grand plan.

And then, I lace up my sneakers and head out to meet my brother for a long run around town. My shuffle has my favorite songs although since I have a running partner I may not even switch it on. The trees have new leaves and tulips are everywhere in a riot of reds, yellows, pinks and oranges. I remember that I get to run today. I get to appreciate the blue sky, the spring air, a chunk of time with my brother where we can talk about any and everything; I get to tackle that hill, to feel my calves ache and my lungs burn. It is another beautiful day I get to enjoy it - how lucky I am.

Thursday, April 15, 2010

Going public

Okay, I have decided I need to go public with what is going on with me. Be warned - this may be a bit more information about me that you may be uncomfortable with but I was vocal about the need for mammograms and feel I need to be just as vocal about the need for pap tests.

Pap tests? Now, I bet you are wondering what the heck pap tests have to do with breast cancer. In my case, absolutely nothing and it is actually a cause for celebration. The past few weeks I have not been dealing with a recurrence of breast cancer. No, I have been dealing with another type - cervical. (Here is the too much information part....) The good news about this is it means my breast cancer has not spread - woo hoo! The bad news is I now face a total hysterectomy: uterus, ovaries, and cervix all to be removed. Ouch.

As most of you know - I have no plans on using these organs to have a family (that is an entirely different story!) but they are a part of me. I am already less one appendix and now will be down a few more body parts. Thankfully I have already entered menopause due to my chemo/tamoxifen combo so will not have to go through that on top things but I am somewhat attached to my organs - using them or not!

So here is what I figure - I'll weigh less; I will not have to worry about ovarian cancer which is what my maternal grandmother passed away from 20 years ago; and I'll gain a few more scars to add to my artillery cabinet when telling stories about myself; "What? Oh, that - I got that catching a tasty wave off the shores of Tahiti." Or something like that.

So anyway I advise all my female friends to get their Pap tests - they would not have caught this without my annual check -up. Sound familiar? That is why the timing is eerily the same as my breast cancer detection, I am a creature of habit when it comes to my annual exams. So for 2010 here is what I am dealing with:

Adenocarcinoma in Situ. Adenocarcinomas originate in glandular cells. This cancer tends to be more aggressive than the more common squamous carcinoma in situ. Some evidence suggests that it develops in numerous sites rather than a single location. Hysterectomy is generally recommended. In women who wish to retain fertility, cone biopsies may be performed, although this procedure sometimes causes sterility and it does not always remove all adenocarcinomas.

Looks like my procedure will be in June after my dragonboat competition in Canada and my traithlon on 6-19. It will require an inpatient stay and a decent recovery time. That is what I fear most - being told I can't do anything!!!

Tuesday, April 13, 2010

Paddles Up!

Team SOS hit the water last night - our first practice for the 2010 season. The turn out was great; we even had a 2nd boat on the water. It was great to see so many women from last year - and to see them strong and healthy. SOS - "Save Our Sisters" is my dragonboat team and many of my teammates are cancer survivors. I have to say there is nothing quite like being in a boat full of women paddling silently (as Coach Eleen yells at us...) on a perfect spring evening; these women have been to the dark side and back - they get it.

The women on my team understand what is going on in my head as I await Wednesday's consultation with my doctor. These women know the fear, the feeling of helplessness, the agony of waiting. These women also know strength, courage, the importance of friends, family and an optimistic viewpoint. Sisters? Yes, I am proud to to call these women sister. I enjoy being part of a team and hearing the splash of 20 paddles hitting the water as the boat lifts and speeds along the water's top. I look forward to our races and hope to participate in as many as possible.

We are always happy to welcome new paddlers, so anyone with interest, let me know. I am hoping for gold in our races this year but as I left practice last night I thought to myself, " have already won - you are here tonight able to hit the water and feel the wind in you hair - no matter what Wednesday may bring, remember this moment." So, I hold on to the feeling of flying across the water as I await Wednesday's verdict and I hope for the best. Keeping my fingers and toes crossed, I head into the week...

Tuesday, April 6, 2010

Wise words

Winning has nothing to do with racing. Most days don't have races anyway. Winning is about struggle and effort and optimism, and never, ever, ever giving up.

Amby Burfoot, The Runner's Guide to the Meaning of Life

Sunday, April 4, 2010

Take Time to Smell the Flowers

I sit and type this morning with my kitchen windows open and listening to the birds gathering in the budding trees in my yard while in the background the sound of the swiftly moving water cascading over the nearby waterfall and hitting the rocks below acts as a natural stress reducer. Spring is here in NJ in all of its glory; warm days, cools nights, daffodils, tulips and forsythia abound. The sun stays in the sky longer and I have started to see the pale limbs of the masses emerge in shorts, t-shirts and flip-flops as the heavy layers of winter have been packed away.

I have spent the past days recovering from my latest visit to the operating room of NYU Hospital. "Everything went well", says my doctor. "We will have results in a week." A week; seven days, 164 hours of waiting. Again. I am becoming extremely efficient at refocusing my anxiety. I have caught up on the 2010 Oscar nominated films for Best Movie - well, all but Avatar (Still hopeful to watch it on the big screen). I have read every comment friends and family have posted to Facebook or emailed or sent in a card. I have emptied my wardrobe of my winter wools and replaced it with the cotton and linens of spring.

I have spent the most amount of time taking slow walks around my yard and neighborhood and marveling at the resiliency of the fragile flowers that are blooming everywhere. Their simple beauty reminds me of the simple joys of life - warm sunshine, blue skies, and green grass under bare feet.

Two years ago I was waiting during this exact weekend to find out if I had breast cancer or not. (We all know how that turned out.) Back then I was so dazed and scared that spring came and went and I seem to have missed it, so focused on the fight I was facing. Not this time. I am still scared; I am unhappy that once again this body of mine is causing me angst even greater than how my derriere may look in a pair of jeans; and still stressed as I think about the future and what next steps may be in my treatment - yet, this time I am breathing deeply, I am sitting back and I am taking time to smell the flowers. Each day is a gift and there is no better wrapping than a fine spring morning. Happy Easter everyone - enjoy the day!

Wednesday, March 31, 2010

Quote of the Day

Life should not be a journey to the grave with the intention of arriving safely in an attractive and well preserved body, but rather to skid in sideways, chocolate in one hand, martini in the other, body thoroughly used up, totally worn out and screaming ‘WOO HOO! What a ride!’

Monday, March 29, 2010

Breathing Lessons

Yes I understand that every life must end,..
As we sit alone, I know someday we must go,..
I’m a lucky man to count on both hands
The ones I love,..

Some folks just have one,
Others they got none,..

Pearl Jam - Just Breathe

My surgery date has been changed this week from Friday to Thursday. As I mentioned this fact to my trainer during my workout this morning, she did not miss a beat when she responded, "Great - one day closer to your recovery!". I realized yet again, what a fortunate person I am.

Now on the surface one may not think I am very lucky dealing with cancer issues for a 2nd time. However, referring to the Pearl Jam song above which resonates with me for the line about being able to count on both hands the ones that I love - I am able to say I use my toes too. I have amazing friends (special shout out to "the girls"; I cannot thank you enough for a wonderful weekend!); and incredible family that surrounds me as well as a man who stands by my side no matter what. Yes, I am lucky indeed.

So, I go into this week with a bit of fear and hesitation but I did have time this past week to step back and take a breath. I have said it before and will say it again; per the words of that wise Jedi Master Yoda - "There is no try, only do." (Yes, I am a geek!)I will have this surgery and I will be okay and whatever is, well, it will be and I am leaning to be okay with that.

Monday, March 22, 2010

It is okay not to be Superwoman

Last week I did something so radical, so scary, so out of character for me that I have to say it was hardest thing I have ever done. It was harder than hearing I had cancer, even harder than being bald or enduring 16 weeks of chemotherapy. Last week I had to give up control. (Those who know me well will understand why this was the hardest thing I ever had to do!)

What brought this on? For me it was a hard smack of reality that struck me when I hung up from being on hold with my physician's office because I was stressed I was late for other items demanding my attention. Hear that loud smacking noise? That is me hitting my forehead saying "WHAT ARE YOU DOING???!!!" So, after a good cry, I had to admit that superwoman I was not (of course I'm not, I am Batgirl...) and that it was okay not to be superwoman.

So, this week I am taking some time to pause and to fully appreciate all that I have, all that I can do, and all the wonderful people in my life. I am going to learn how to use my new iphone, work in my yard, and spend time with my husband. I am going to swim and run and observe the flowers pushing their way through the soil. I am going to spend time with my girlfriends and I am going to handle all the paperwork/pre-op testing/phone calls needed before Good Friday. I am just going to be and that, that is okay.

Sunday, March 14, 2010

Longer Days

We changed the clocks at 2am today - 1 hour forward meaning one hour less of sleep but one hour more of sunlight in the evening. Usually this would cause me to exclaim "today is my favorite day of the year!" but 3/14/10 is playing out to be quite an interesting day but perhaps not a favorite.

3/14/10 is well, wet. There is water everywhere! The waterfall in our backyard is rushing over the hillside at such a speed that the normally tranquil sound is similar to the roar of a train. My brother spent the day trying to staunch the flow of water into his basement while my grandfather was evacuated from the home he returned to (from Florida) only yesterday. I can only imagine what tomorrow morning's commute will be like.

On a positive note, I officially ergistered my team for the 2010 Reach the Beach relay. We are running under the moniker, "The Situation" - yeah - we're about training and tanning...

Saturday, March 6, 2010

A Saturday Morning in March

One pair of now well-worn Asics Gel Nimbus running shoes - $120

Various pieces of winter weather running apparel - $145

Running hills in Smoke Rise with your brother on a crisp March Saturday morning - priceless

The above may sound somewhat hokey but there is nothing like breathing in the cool winter air on a day that has a sky of perfect blue and all you hear is your own footsteps and those of your running partner. Suddenly my brother comments, "Fox!" - I look up to see a sight of pure beauty - the gloriously thick red coat of a fox speeding along against a backdrop of white snow. Of course said fox was also carrying its breakfast in its jaws and I do not think the chipmunk was enjoying the ride but what a wondrous sight anyhow.

We continue to run bantering back and forth about the homes we pass, the hills we climb and the events on deck for the day. We finish and the day is still young, my heart is pumping and I am wide awake and filled with what can only be described as joy; I have a day filled with plans of seeing friends, taking in some art and then tomorrow I will run the hills again. Get out and enjoy the day - spring is only two weeks away!!!

Wednesday, March 3, 2010

Shake it off and move on!

What do the pictures here have in common? All three represent amazing people who are reminders to me of all that can be overcome. All four people in the photos have faced incredible challenges and perservered in their sport of choice. I look at their stories and and realize I can do this; sure it may not be fun, but just another thing to add to my arsenal of war stories.

Amy Palmiero-Winters ran the Cleveland Marathon in 2006 and shattered the world record for female amputees by a staggering 27 minutes. But she didn’t stop there. Just a few months later at the 2006 Chicago Marathon she smashed her own world record by another 22 minutes. But that’s not all. Her time of 3:04 was 12 minutes faster than her personal best from 13 years earlier, before she lost her left leg in a motorcycle accident.

Since then, she has continued to blaze trails for amputees. In October of 2009, she became the first female amputee to finish a 100-mile ultramarathon—the Heartland “Spirit of the Prairie” 100-Mile Endurance Run. But she didn’t just finish the race—she won, beating every able-bodied female, and with the second fastest time in the event’s history. The 37-year-old now has 12 world records to her name in everything from the marathon and 50 miles to 100 miles and triathlons, along with three Triathlon World Championship titles.

Dara Torres you may be more familiar with. She medaled in the Beijing Olympics at an age most said was "too old" - she is in fact the same age I am.

Last I look at Team Hoyt. Rick Hoyt was born in 1962 and as a result of oxygen deprivation to Rick's brain at the time of his birth, Rick was diagnosed as a spastic quadriplegic with cerebral palsy. Dick and Judy were advised to institutionalize Rick because there was no chance of him recovering, and little hope for Rick to live a "normal" life. This was just the beginning of Dick and Judy's quest for Rick's inclusion in community, sports, education and one day, the workplace.

In the spring of 1977, Rick told his father that he wanted to participate in a 5-mile benefit run for a Lacrosse player who had been paralyzed in an accident. Far from being a long-distance runner, Dick agreed to push Rick in his wheelchair and they finished all 5 miles, coming in next to last. That night, Rick told his father, "Dad, when I'm running, it feels like I'm not handicapped."

This realization was just the beginning of what would become over 1,000 races completed, including marathons, duathlons and triathlons (6 of them being Ironman competitions). Also adding to their list of achievements, Dick and Rick biked and ran across the U.S. in 1992, completing a full 3,735 miles in 45 days.

In a triathlon, Dick will pull Rick in a boat with a bungee cord attached to a vest around his waist and to the front of the boat for the swimming stage. For the biking stage, Rick will ride a special two-seater bicycle, and then Dick will push Rick in his custom made running chair (for the running stage).

Rick was once asked, if he could give his father one thing, what would it be? Rick responded, "The thing I'd most like is for my dad to sit in the chair and I would push him for once."

The 2009 Boston Marathon was officially Team Hoyt's 1000th race. Rick always says if it comes down to doing one race a year he would like it to be the Boston Marathon: his favorite race. Dick Hoyt hopes that he is able to push Rick in the Boston Marathon when he is 70 years old (2011)! Neither Dick or Rick are ready to retire yet.

I had the privilege of attending Boston University while Rick was a student there. He went to class everyday. I ran the Hyannis Half this past Sunday and Rick was there, pushed by his dad. I bought their book and as Mr. Hoyt signed it I realized that with the right support team, nothing is impossible.

So the good news is - no chemo, no radiation. Surgery? Maybe. I really liked my doctor who grabbed me as I walked out of the office Monday and said, "Don't lose sleep over this - we can fix it". Like I said, with the right support team, anything is possible - I am looking for a KO for this 2nd round.

Thursday, February 25, 2010


So, I finally get a call from my doc and what I hear is, "Hello my dear, I am sorry but your biopsy came back positive."

I respond -"WHAT???!!!"

My doctor answers , "blah,blah,blah..." or at least that is what I heard.

Seriously folks - WTF? Again I have no fears of dying (well, eventually of course, unless I find Lestat or Bill Compton) but really, to have have to deal with the whole "C" word again can truly be somewhat trying. I mean c'mon, I have the NYC 1/2 marathon in March, the Lehigh Valley 1/2 in April (which I will be running with my girlfriends attired as our favorite female superheros - you can guess who I'll be decked out as), May brings my trip to Europe, the Spring Lake 5, the Bike for Hunger, followed by June which is the Wyckoff Triathlon. SORRY CANCER - I HAVE NO TIME FOR YOU!!!

Thanks to everyone for your kind words and positive thoughts - keep 'em coming. 2010 will be the year I kicked cancer's a$$ - AGAIN!

Monday, February 22, 2010

No news is, well, no news.

I am not sure I can share Andy's sentiment about waiting when it comes to medical test results!

I was fortunate enough to speak to my physician today but my biopsy results are still "pending". "Pending? What does that mean?" That means she did not receive them yet. "Maybe in a day or two." Did you hear me slam down my phone in frustration? (Okay, I am making that up as I was on the phone in my car, but in my mind I slammed it down!)

So I again remind myself that patience is a virtue and try to focus on my upcoming race, visiting with family and friends, the fact that spring is approaching while trying not to jump every time the phone rings. Oh yeah, watching the Olympics helps too! Hopefully I'll be posting again tomorrow - only to let everyone know that everything is A-OK!

Sunday, February 21, 2010

Tell me why I don't like Mondays

I know I am showing my age by using a quote from the song Bob Geldof penned while a member of the Boomtown Rats:

"And the silicon chip inside her head gets switched to overload..."

That song basically sums up how I have been feeling all week as I wait for confirmation from my doctor that all is well with the biopsy I had done last Saturday and all my worry has been for naught.

Thankfully I had a nice distraction as my very good friend Patrice was in town from St. Louis. Jess joined me along with Gina - one of Patrice's co-workers (she was in Philly for training)- and we had a girls day in NYC. We saw HAIR which was wonderful, I just love that soundtrack even though the underlying message is a bit heavy and still applicable to life today! We had dinner at the Glass House Tavern in the theater district followed by drinks at the W. A good day indeed.

So, tomorrow I'll be calling my doc first thing; my mantra has been "no news is good news" but I hope to let you all know that my next news is nothing but good!

Tuesday, February 16, 2010


I am a huge fan of the Olympics. Yes, this is a recent addiction which I think started with the 2006 Torino games when I followed the exploits of Bodie Miller, Apolo Ohno and Shaun White. I then devoured the 2008 summer games in Beijing which helped to distract me from my ongoing medical treatment; it did not hurt that I was a recent convert to the religion of running either - I had new appreciation for the athletes and the training that had brought them to China.

Greg and I were fortunate enough to visit Vancouver in the fall of 2009. We were so impressed with the city, the Sea to Sky highway, Whistler mountain, etc. that we contemplated what life would be like living there - what neighborhood would we want to live in, what could we do for employment; you get the idea. So, we waited for the 2010 Winter games with excitement. Bodie would be back as well as Shaun and Apolo. I was rooting for Lindsey and Hannah - c'mon girls bring home the gold! As a hockey fan I was looking forward to seeing Team USA play, well, play anybody! So we have been watching: horrified by the accident that took the life of a Russian luger, knowing it would be the Great One as the last torch bearer, feeling anxious about Lindsey's injury - "will she or won't she race?", keeping our fingers crossed for Bodie- "just behave this year!" as well as hoping that Apolo Ahno would be remembered for something other than Dancing With the Stars. So far we have not been disappointed: medal count for Team USA as of 7pm 2-16 is 8.

So as we settled down this evening in front of the television to get the latest from the games, we found ourselves watching curling. Were you even aware this was still an Olympic sport? We tried our best to figure out the rules. Not sure how close we came. As we continued to watch I realized the women we watched had made it there without endorsements (Ever see a curler on a box of Wheaties?) and probably without a huge fan base. But they were there, going for the gold. I figured if they can work full time (which according to the announcer they did) and still make an Olympic team than I really have not much to complain about. When I am out there slogging alone through my early morning runs, I'll remember those women sweeping the ice in front of their stone and smile. GO TEAM USA!!!

Sunday, February 14, 2010

The Waiting aka Happy VD Day!

Jane's Journey

Trying to figure out this blog/Facebook thing....

So, I had surgery Saturday and everything went somewhat okay - I say somewhat as I had some bleeding which left me with "packing" - yes, it is uncomfortable as it sounds.... I see my doc tomorrow am to remove it.

I was given some pain meds just in case; last night when I started to feel the "packing" I figured, hey, I'll take some meds and everything will be fine. Yeah, sure - sounds good in theory but in real life execution - not so much. I had nightmares all night. I kept seeing my grandmother - my mom's mom - who passed away when I was only 22. In my dreams/nightmares I hugged her so tightly and was so thrilled to see her; to her it was just another day. I am trying not read anything into my dreams about those who have left me but since I will not have my results until Friday it is a bit hard to do.

It has been an interesting weekend. I ran into a high school classmate at the Devils game Friday night - Karen you look awesome - I am quietly envying your beautiful thick dark hair.... and then I ran into Dawn and Preston - a great couple who were each a year ahead of me at BHS but life being what it is reconnected after 20 years. They live nearby and I hope to see them again soon.

It is only two weeks until the Hyannis 1/2 - Positive thoughts only and lots of training over the next two weeks...

Tuesday, February 9, 2010

Celebrate Today

I am back in NJ, facing a morning that may be snow covered and not really happy about it. I hate the fact I no longer look forward to lots of the white stuff but since I am not a professional snowboarder, skier, dog musher, or snowmobiler it basically only has negative impact on my life. Traffic snarls or stops; the outside world looks pretty for a day or but then everything become encrusted in a coating of salt, dirt, slushy messiness that makes my morning runs downright treacherous. The few days I spent in Florida seem already a lifetime ago!

I had a great time visiting with my aunts and grandfather. I spent the weekend at Disney which always makes me happy. As I watched the parade at the Magic Kingdom, its theme - "Celebrate Today" struck very close to home for me. The focus in Disney was on being a volunteer and celebrating all that you can do today to make the world a better place. Yes, I am a believer. I try ,oh I try to do something everyday to make the world a better place. Today I made sure I paid attention and turned the water off while I brushed my teeth. I said thank you to the life guard at the pool where I did my morning swim - he looked at me like I had two heads - I meant thank you for being there at 5am so that I could swim knowing if I needed help, it was nearby.

Saturday grows closer. My pre-admission testing is complete. I await a call Friday to tell me what time to report to the hospital. In the meantime I will continue to focus on "celebrating today" - what can you do to make today a better day?

Tuesday, February 2, 2010


I have just had a wonderful weekend. We celebrated my husband's 40th birthday surrounded by family and friends. This coming weekend stands to also be wonderful as I will be at Walt Disney World - the happiest place on earth. I am looking forward to seeing my grandfather along with my aunts. I am looking forward to some sun,sea, and if lucky, surfing. So why do I title this post fear?

I am alluding to the fact that upon my return to NJ my very first task will be to visit Chilton Memorial Hospital for pre-admission testing. Testing required before the biopsy I'll be having on Saturday, the 13th. The biopsy that is causing me to lose sleep, eat cheesecake and drink too much wine. The biopsy that I pray comes back as "nothing". The biopsy that has the ability to turn my life upside if it comes back with "something".

So send the positive vibes my way and I hope to post happy news come this Valentine's Day! Meanwhile I am off to see the Mouse!

Friday, January 29, 2010

Dragon Boats and the 2010 Olympics!

Many thanks to Coach Ellen for passing this news along! (Most of you know I paddle with Team SOS here in Northern NJ)

As you know the 2010 Winter Olympics begin in Vancouver on February 12th and after crossing Canada, the last two Olympic Torch relays will be completed in Vancouver in dragon boats!

At about 1:00pm (Pacific Standard Time), a flotilla of six dragon boats and two outriggers, will escort two lead boats carrying the Olympic torch on the waters of False Creek to its final destination prior to the Opening Ceremonies.

One of the dragon boats will be crewed by Abreast In A Boat - 20 paddlers, a steers and a drummer while Dr Don McKenzie will have a seat in one of the lead boats. It was on these very waters of False Creek in 1996 that the first breast cancer survivor dragon boat paddled for the very first time with Dr McKenzie at the helm. Four of those original paddlers will be in the crew on Feb 12th.

This is such an affirmation of Dr McKenzie's work re exercise and chronic disease and all he's done over the years for all of us. It's also an incredible opportunity and inspiration for everyone - those in the boat, on the shore and the millions who will be watching.

Do pass this on to other breast cancer crews who may be interested and remember to watch the games!!!

Sunday, January 24, 2010

The Mermaid and the Whale

Thank you to my sister-in-law Mary for the below "fable" - we should all learn to be whales!!!

Recently, in a large city in Australia , a poster featuring a young, thin and tan woman appeared in the window of a gym.

It said, "This summer, do you want to be a mermaid or a whale?"

A middle-aged woman, whose physical characteristics did not match those of the woman on the poster, responded publicly to the question posed by the gym.

To Whom It May Concern,

Whales are always surrounded by friends, dolphins, sea lions, curious humans. They have an active sex life,get pregnant and have adorable baby whales.

They have a wonderful time with dolphins stuffing themselves with shrimp.

They play and swim in the seas, seeing wonderful places like Patagonia ,the Bering Sea and the coral reefs of Polynesia .

Whales are wonderful singers and have even recorded CDs.
They are incredible creatures and virtually have no predators other than humans.

They are loved, protected and admired by almost everyone in the world.

Mermaids don't exist.

If they did exist, they would be lining up outside the offices of Argentinean psychoanalysts due to identity crisis. Fish or human?

They don't have a sex life because they kill men who get close to them, not to mention how could they have sex? Just look at them .... where is IT?

Therefore, they don't have kids either.
Not to mention, who wants to get close to a girl who smells like a fish store?

The choice is perfectly clear to me:
I want to be a whale.

P..S. We are in an age when media puts into our heads the idea that only skinny people are beautiful, but I prefer to enjoy an ice cream with my kids, a good dinner with a man who makes me shiver, and a piece of chocolate with my friends.

With time, we gain weight because we accumulate so much information and wisdom in our heads that when there is no more room, it distributes out to the rest of our bodies.

So we aren't heavy, we are enormously cultured, educated and happy.

Beginning today, when I look at my butt in the mirror I will think, ¨Good grief, look how smart I am!¨

Answer re: Port Pain Question

This post is a response to the question from Anonymous in regard to port pain. Basically my port seemed to always bother me. Mine was in my right chest wall, just below my collarbone. It healed nicely and worked very well as I never had to worry about having issue with my veins while undergoing chemo. I had one friend who ended up receiving treatment through her feet as her veins were so shot from the medications.

Know that pinching a bit is normal. I had one episode where I convinced myself the wire had disconnected from the port it seemed to pinch so often, that I ran to my doctor and demanded an X-ray. Thankfully they believed in better safe than sorry and I was rewarded with the peace of mind knowing my port did not move at all. You know your body better than anyone. If it feels consistently uncomfortable, mention it to your doctor. I focused on the fact that my port was a weapon in the arsenal I was using to attack my cancer. I did not like it, it was summer and every nice tank I wore displayed it prominently. My bra straps rubbed against it. I could not lay on that side at night when trying to sleep. However, when my port was removed it left me with a scar that allows my to conjure the greatest stories about its origin to tell those who do not know my history.

Stay positive, stay strong, and focus on the good things - this bad stuff is just a way of reminding you how tough you really are. And if this comment was from my friend who shares a birthday month with me - I have been keeping you in my thoughts and prayers!

Friday, January 22, 2010

Breathing Lessons

Winter on Cape Cod - I have yet to figure out how to best handle my blog updates on Facebook. Any insight from anyone out there? Please let me know!

2010 has certainly started off in an interesting way. The events unfolding in my personal life as well as across the world (A Republican elected in Massachusetts???!!!) have made me sit back and make sure my seat belt is fastened - I think 2010 may be one hell of a ride!

I have started to swim in the morning at my gym's pool. It is very "zen" experience as most times it is only me and the life guard and only the pool lights are on. I can have any lane I want and splash to my heart's content. It has made me very cognizant of my breath and how I need to do learn to breathe in a way that will aid me in my quest to stay afloat. Sure, I can swim not to drown, but to really swim, as you most likely know, you need to figure out a way to propel yourself forward while in the water completely and turn to grab a mouthful of air. I cringe when I think of how I must look when attempting this. I have even been scouring the internet for pointers on doing breathing exercises.

Funny isn't it that one might need to practice the one thing we all do upon entering this world? I am carrying it forward to other areas of my life - upon hearing test results did not come back exactly as I had hoped - deep breath, count to 10 , exhale... while running - breathe, breathe, breathe and soon this hill will be behind me!, as well as facing those things that cause me stress - losing a loved one, something not going as planned at my place of employment - breathe, inhale, exhale, go in the bathroom if you need to cry...

So many things to look forward to this year: parties, birthdays, graduations, travel, family gatherings, as well as races (both running and rowing) galore. I figure I'll be okay as long as I can remember to breathe.