Day by Day

I didn’t want this to become my cancer blog, but that is my life right now and I know after letting everyone know what is going on there are a lot of questions. I still can’t get over the wonderful, supportive, outpouring of support I have received. Thank you so much to everyone.

To fill people in a bit more I am willing to answer questions and give more information than I did in my initial post. I may not be willing to answer all of them but I’ll try.

Every day really is different. Some days I feel great, almost normal, other days I am stuck on the couch and barely move.

In August I went to see my primary care doctor about some pretty non descript symptoms, basically being a woman. She took what I had to say seriously and ordered ultra sounds right away. I ended up meeting a gynecologic oncologist a week later and immediately had surgery scheduled. We thought it was a possibly malignant ovarian cyst. My appendix and ovaries were removed during the initial surgery.  There was so much disease on my ovaries no fertility could be saved. It was when I woke up from surgery I first heard the words”we found cancer”. I had no idea how to respond. It took me awhile to go from “they found cancer” to “I have cancer”. Those words are really different and I had to get there on my own.

Because I’m young and in good health (other than cancer) they started chemo only 4 weeks after surgery. I was able to go to New York for a friend’s wedding and to meet my wonderful niece at just 3.5 weeks post surgery. I had three doctors sign off on it. As soon as we got back after Labor Day I had a port put in and started chemo. I really had no idea what to expect. Chemo days are a lot of waiting around and a lot of sitting around. They start with labs, which always take forever and I don’t even understand why they take appointments. I then meet with my medical oncologist and the PA. These are wonderful people who listen to me and talk to me, not at me. After that I have to go check in to the Day Hospital where they don’t even mix your chemo until you check in so more waiting. We learned really quick to bring our own food as the “Bistro” in the Cancer Center makes horrible food. Once they finally call me back I get pre-drugs and then a 2 hour chemo drip. I then get another drug and finally they connect me to a pump that I am stuck with for 46 hours for a slow dose drug. There are days I spend more time at the Cancer Center than I would at my desk. Chemo happens every two weeks so I do get time off from it all. My side effects have mostly been fatigue and neuropathy in my hands and throat. I’m getting pretty used to drinking room temperature water and hot beverages.

I’ve now been through 7 rounds of chemo. They changed the drug mix after 5. I do not like the new drug as it makes me a lot more tired and non-functional. I thankfully work with some of the best people ever and am able to work from home as needed. I don’t know what I would do without my team that is covering all kinds of things for me.  I don’t even know how to thank them. I have one more round of chemo scheduled on December 15th and I am oh so hopeful that is it and I get a break for the holidays.

I have started losing my hair which I’m not handling well. I was told I wouldn’t and I’ve never had thin hair in my life. I hate this so much. I want my hair back. I want my curls back.

As I said before this is really a day by day thing. I never know how I’m going to feel and while trying to hold on to as normal of a life as I can I make mostly tentative plans. Thankfully my friends are amazing and never question anything. They have driven me all over, taken me to brunch, taken me to the doctor. I am in awe of how wonderful you have all been and how supportive you are. Thank you.

Today is a rough day so I’m on my couch, but who knows what tomorrow brings.

2016: The Good, the Bad and the Ugly

The Good

Anamaya Sturgess-Hill was born on 7/6/16. I became an aunt this year and while aware I am very biased, she is the most wonderful baby ever. I have loved watching my brother and sister-in-law become parents. I owe them the world for bringing the baby on three transatlantic flights so I have seen all of them a bunch this fall. She brings so much joy into my life and we’ve all already agreed I will probably never say no to her.

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Our first meeting

The Bad

2016 election. Enough said.

The Ugly

My whole life was turned upside-down in August. I have appendiceal cancer. I went in for surgery on August 10th to have an ovarian cyst removed and not only was that malignant they found a tumor on my appendix. Four weeks later I started chemotherapy and have been undergoing treatments every two weeks since September. At this point I have one more treatment left before they do more scans and schedule a second surgery in mid to late January.

Appendiceal cancer is extremely rare and even more so in a 31-year-old. They see maybe 1000 cases a year and in comparison, see 140,000 colorectal cancers. I have an incredible care team that I 100% trust.

A lot of you know this and I couldn’t be more grateful for the outpouring of love and support from my friends and family.

I decided it was finally time to go more public as it has taken over my life, but I will not allow it to define me. I am not cancer. I am not a cause. It is something I’m going through. And something I will get past.

Cancer is life-altering, but not defining.

Summer Running

I’m not here to bitch about the heat.

Apparently I have a half marathon in three weeks. I’m not even sure how to summarize my training. I’ve been running. I have the distance. I’ve been working with my trainer and am definitely stronger. I’ve been going to yoga. I think about doing speedwork. I guess you could call my evening 5ks speed work.

Speaking of, I signed up for The Travelling Beer Garden Series this summer. It has been fun to run in different area parks and meet up with friends on Thursday nights. Even when I haven’t wanted to run I’ve had a good time.

And of course the Bacon Race, one of my summer favorites; It was last week and we had magical weather. We look like we’re having fun because we were. I’m pretty sure the only thing getting me through summer running is having one of my best friends by my side.

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Bacon Race Year 5!

The Madison Mini will be the first race in a long time that I am running without Sara or Mo. I think it’s good to see what I can manage without one of them there, but what on earth do I do for 2 hours without one of my running besties next to me? Do I even remember how to run on my own? I used to do it all the time. The fun part will be running through Madison, which I just love, and hanging out on the Memorial Union Terrace, one of my favorite places.

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Running will always be a love/hate relationship

I have a perpetual problem of overscheduling myself and not following my own color coded google calendar. This being said I ran Ragnar Chicago for the 6th time this past weekend in the seventh circle of hell weather and then had a 5k on Thursday. Both of these runs were with people that I adore running with, yet in one, it was 94 degrees and I couldn’t even fake a smile and in the other it was 68 and all we did was have fun. These pictures show so much.

However miserable Ragnar was this year (and I will get around to recapping all it’s horribleness), it was so much fun and we had a great team. And then coming into Thursday night’s 5k, neither of us wanted to run and just decided to do whatever so we had fun. I’m so glad I ran both of these and so glad I have Mo and Sara. However much running is an individual sport I don’t think I could do it without these two people.

I’m so caught up in my love/hate of running that I can’t decide if I’m doing a fall race. My last race of the year at this point is the Madison Mini in August. I love racing, once I’m out there. I love that it’s something to work toward. It’s a sense of accomplishment and yes, I need that. I hate the cost of racing at this point. I hate it so much. I keep not registering for a local race, that I want to run again, but am upset over cost. I could sleep in my own bed and have basically no costs that weekend if I just stay in town and run it. But it’s SO MUCH MONEY for a HALF MARATHON. Do I suck it up and pay it? Do I continue to whine about it? Will I regret not signing up for it? Plus, what on earth do I do this fall without a fall race?

I want this feeling again, probably my best race photo ever.

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I don’t hate running!

Door County Half Marathon

I loved this race even though it did not go according to plan. First off, the weekend itself was great. Race weekends with my favorite running buddies are one of the best things ever. My race wasn’t great. It wasn’t terrible. It was another half marathon and I finished. I got a little down on myself a few days later, but there’s nothing to do about the race now.

I started the race with Mo and Sara as planned and felt great the first several miles. So great in fact, that I went way faster than was smart to run.

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Look at us concentrate!

Reason #254 Mo and Sara are the best running buddies a girl could ask for: They slowed down and walked through aid stations until I found them. I already knew it wasn’t my day, but really tried to power through and stay with them. I did not, but it was nice to see them up in front of me. After that I switched my goal to sub 2. The 2 hour pace group was still near me. I leap frogged them a few times. They were most definitely ahead of pace. I really had to push to get through. I never questioned my ability to finish, but it was not pretty.

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I managed to look happy here. It’s a pretend smile.

I was miserable. This half was probably my worst mile 12 ever. I don’t even know what happened. But I finished and right at 2 hours. I’m not mad about the race. I’m just unhappy with where my running is even though I think I knew I wasn’t completely prepared.

It was a beautiful course and I want to go back next year. And I certainly didn’t let my less than perfect race ruin the weekend!

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Photo stolen from Jen because I was too dumb to take any in the park.

Spring Races

Shamrock Shuffle

Almost a month ago I froze my ass off running the Shamrock Shuffle in Chicago with Mo. I don’t even remember how long ago I registered for it, but I’m usually up for a running adventure with Mo. It was an early and cold morning. I’m pretty sure I was cold for a good 7 hours except for the 42 minutes we were running.bank-of-america-shamrock-shuffle-8k-rrzxplbf

Stolen from Mo’s race report “I never felt great, but I never felt awful.” I think that sums up that whole race. I was happy with our finish time. I was not happy with the frigid weather. All in all it was a fun weekend in Chicago with Mo. Beer, running and friends always equals a good time.

Crazylegs

Fast Forward a month and I ran another 8k, this time in Madison. I ran Crazylegs for the first time in 8 years and am so glad I did. It runs from the Capitol through campus to Camp Randall. I basically always love running in Madison so being able to run this again was awesome. I easily convinced Jen to join me. She had never run Crazylegs. I felt good, not great and ran almost the same time as I ran in Chicago. I went out a bit fast (first mile may have been sub 8), but then ran a pretty steady race excluding the Observatory Hill mile.

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One of the many things I love about running in Madison is getting to see friends I don’t see often. As I was finishing the race I heard the name of a friend who lived on my floor freshman year right before my name. And then as I crossed the finish line I found another friend. Out on the course I saw my former tri coach, which is always fun. Cindi is the person who made me believe I could be a runner.

Door County Half Marathon

I haven’t run this one yet, but I have a lot of thoughts going into it. Mostly, where am I at? What can I run right now? I made the mistake at looking at all my half time from last fall. I don’t think I’m there right now. On a positive note I get to run in Door County with lots of my awesome running buddies. There will be beer, food and running. Maybe even a hot tub (hopefully it’s open).

Race goals:

  1. have fun with friends.
  2. finish

 

March Madness

I love the madness of March. It brings my favorite sporting event of the year, my birthday and spring!

As most everyone who reads this blog knows I am diehard Wisconsin Badger fan. The last several Marches have been fun to say the least. Expectations were a lot lower this year and I’m really quite happy with where this team ended up and where they are going.

I celebrated my 31st birthday and the Badgers won on my birthday again. This is a fairly common occurrence with the date of my birthday and March Madness. I made a pretty big deal about turning 30 last year and decided this year would be a much more low key birthday.

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I went for a lovely morning run with friends and then a delicious brunch. After racing the Lucky Leprechaun the day before I was really happy with the 6 miles we ran. And however repetitive this is, I am so glad to be back to almost normal running again. A sprained ankle is an utter pain in the ass and I had such a fear of reinjuring it. The Lucky Leprechaun was a PR because it was a 7K and the only other time I ran it was in the snow a few years ago. Let’s just say I have a ways to go before my racing legs are back. 20160326_195919

To end out the month I ran 8 miles with Mo and then we drank a bunch of beer in Chicago. I felt surprisingly good after the 8 miles and now feel quite confident I can do the Door County Half in a little over a month. I keep thinking about a training plan and have decided I just need to get a good base in and slowly increase the mileage. Door County is going to be fun. I’m going going for any time goals here. At some point I’ll actually pick a goal race for the fall and then I’ll make a plan, maybe.

Next up: Shamrock Shuffle, Crazy Legs, and the Door County Half Marathon!