After weeks of medical testing, and some scary and lonely moments, my doctor has now come to the conclusion that I am *most likely* CANCER-FREE! This is about as much certainty as can be expected at this point…possibly after a year of good results we will be able to say it with 100% certainty. However, one of the lessons that I’ve learned from dealing with cancer, is how to live with uncertainty. This really is a metaphor for life in general…life can be an unpredictable rollercoaster sometimes. My relief is still sinking in and my fear is gradually being replaced with such profound joy and gratefulness. I’m not resting on any laurels at all…there is always a chance of persistent or recurrent disease. And, of course, there is a higher risk for a 2nd cancer somewhere else…but reaching this milestone is a battle won. Cancer takes away enough from us as it is…I’m not going to let it take away my celebration and joy of relishing this good news. In fact, that 8K is tomorrow, and I’m going to run it with all my heart. I hope everyone else has a joyous weekend as well! And remember…life is beautiful!
Archive for the ‘Thyroid Cancer’ Category
So, as I was thinking about my recent fun and successful 10K race and my desire to run more races and even work my way up to a half marathon, I was thinking more about WHY I am running. Of course, there’s the obvious health factor. Not only the cardiovascular benefits, but keeping weight down, boosting the immune system, and (hopefully) minimizing my chances of a recurrence or another kind of cancer (after my thyroid cancer and radiation, I’m at higher risk). However, continuing with the cancer theme, as one goes through the diagnosis and treatment phases for a serious condition like cancer, one feels dehumanized. I became a piece of meat, a pin cushion, a set of lab numbers, an appointment slot, another seat in the oncology waiting room…This isn’t to say that I didn’t like the care from my doctors and nurses overall. In this situation, it’s something that can’t really be helped, when you’re in a sterile environment (both literally and figuratively as you’re sitting in a clean, white medical room without personality), focusing on your bodily functions and measurements, and not on your soul, mind, or personality. While running does focus on your body, it also focuses on your other aspects of humanity as well – your mind, your determination, your drive, your goals, your enjoyment of your surroundings, your musical taste as you listen to your choice in music, etc. It is a way to control your body after a time of losing control and also rejoining your body with your mind and soul.
Also, having racing events to work towards can get you through the tough times. In the near future, I will be getting more medical tests done and seeing doctors to try to decipher if my cancer has been successfully and completely treated. I will admit I am nervous about this and not looking forward to it (although I do blissfully dream of hearing the words “You are cancer-free!”) However, I’m thinking of signing up for an 8K race that’s 2 days after a big medical appointment. Is this a good thing? Well, I figure, if I receive bad news during the prior medical appointment, this will be a way for me to cope and not dwell on the bad news. If the appointment goes well, it will be a joyous way for me to celebrate! I even may sign up for a Half Marathon in the Fall, not knowing for sure if I will need any more medical treatment (RAI or surgery) during that time period. Worst case scenario – I’m out 70 bucks if I can’t run the race. Best case – I stay in top physical shape, with this goal keeping my mind busy through the tough times, and I reach the goal of completing a Half Marathon.
Running is also good at forcing one to seize the day and make the most of each moment, which is something that many cancer patients learn. When life is short (and it is for everyone, not just cancer patients), make the most of what time we’ve got. Running involves counting minutes (even seconds), timing oneself, and celebrating the big finish – what a great way to live in the moment!!
As I’ve been training for my first race ever (Monument Avenue 10K) as a previous non-runner, I’ve been thinking about my journey for the past 5 months from “Couch” to 10K. The first time I ran (2 weeks after my high dose of 150 mci of Radioactive Iodine for my thyroid cancer), I could barely run 1/3 of a mile. Now I can run 6.2 miles. It has been a journey full of challenges (including cancer, asthma, and reactive hypoglycemia, just to name a few). I was also thinking about those Euro style “26.2” and “13.1” stickers (they even have “6.2” versions!) that race finishers often (deservedly) show off. It certainly is a milestone and a wonderful accomplishment, especially for those with health challenges and other obstacles. However, I was thinking that for me, at least, my journey with dealing with a diagnosis of cancer has been so much more challenging than this 10K. Why not show off the accomplishment of being a cancer survivor with a “Survivor” sticker?! For many, this will be the greatest challenge of our lives. Although I found many ‘survivor’ decals and stickers offered online, I didn’t see any of these Euro-style accomplishment stickers for survivors, hence I designed one (check it out at my CafePress shop).
Congrats to all the race finishers and cancer survivors out there and be proud of what you have accomplished!
Happy Friday! Hope you have some fun/creative/productive plans for this weekend! As mentioned in a previous post, I’ve been running as part of my strategy of overcoming cancer and other health issues. Well, we’re almost 2 months away from my first race, Richmond’s Monument Avenue Ukrops 10K. I’ve signed up with my husband and some Richmond-area friends for this fun event. Training during the Winter months has involved using the treadmill at the local Y, but I’m looking forward to when there’s enough daylight and warmth in the evenings to run outside again. It’s a lot more fun to view neighborhood scenery than to just stare at the row of treadmills in front of me at the Y (or worse yet, whatever cheesy show is currently on USA Network on the gym TV…). My goal is to run the whole distance. I haven’t been able to work up to the full 6.2 yet (came fairly close when I ran 5 miles outside a couple Saturdays ago when it was really warm.). With more mild temps expected this weekend, hopefully I can squeeze in a nice long run outdoors and get closer to my goal!! Hope you all set or reach some of your goals (big or small) this weekend too!
Wooo! 10K or bust!
In a couple more weeks, we will be starting our 2012 New Year’s Resolutions. In my online research on becoming healthier and overcoming cancer, I’ve learned about many different foods to try to incorporate into one’s diet to improve health. This post (and the next one), I’m dedicating to some foods I’ve learned about that you may want to try incorporating into your diet. Although I should specify that I’m not a nutritionist, there is a lot of positive information out there regarding these foods, which you should explore further if interested.
1) Kefir – a cultured, yogurt-style drink
Kefir is a smooth, slightly sour drink that tastes like yogurt. The name originates from the Turkish word “keif” which means “good feeling”. Hopefully this drink will have you feeling good. This beverage is easily digestible and contains many vitamins and minerals, such as vitamins A, B2, B12, D and K, and calcium, magnesium and phosphorus. It also contains probiotics, and is responsible for improving immune function and digestion issues. It can possibly improve IBS, as well as other issues, such as high cholesterol, allergies, metabolic disease, and possibly even cancer. Kefir is now commonly sold in grocery stores and is often paired with other flavorings, such as blueberry or pomegranate. I have recently seen Kefir in both Bloom and Trader Joe’s, and both versions are delicious. Kefir can be sipped from the bottle, used with cereal, or as a substitute for yogurt or sour cream in recipes. I have read you can even freeze it and turn it into ice cream.
2) Raw Honey – the real stuff
No, we’re not talking about the stuff in the plastic honeybear containers at your local Food Lion. Make sure it says “Raw” and that it’s real honey. Much of what we see in our typical grocery store is NOT the good stuff. Fortunately, Trader Joe’s sells raw honey, that has been shown to be real in this study. Real raw honey has good bacteria and contains a wealth of nutrients, including B vitamins. Honey may promote better blood sugar control and improved insulin sensitivity, and is certainly a healthier sweet alternative to white sugar, especially for diabetics and those with metabolic syndrome. Honey also improves immune function, which results in better health overall. There seem to be certain unusual compounds in real raw honey that are not found anywhere else, but may be partly responsible for the medicinal purposes of honey. For children, try buckwheat honey instead of cough syrup to improve cough symptoms. In your daily diet, try a tablespoon with your tea or coffee, as a sugar substitute in baking, or on bread in place of jelly.
Now, everyone know what beets are, but do you know how good they are for you?
Beets contain a great deal of fiber, which is good for weight loss and digestion. These colorful root vegetables contain powerful nutrient compounds, such as carotenoids and phytonutrients called betalains that help protect against heart disease and maybe even cancer. Some of these contain strong antioxidant, anti-inflammatory, and detoxification functions. Certain studies even indicate that beets may have anti-tumor properties. Try marinated beets or a warm soothing borscht during your next meal.
Thyroid Cancer Survivor and Awareness Shirts
On a previous post I talked about my thyroid cancer survivor and awareness shirts I designed in honor of Thyroid Cancer Awareness Month. Well, September is long gone, but we should spread the awareness all year round.
I’ve made a couple more designs since then, one that goes well on light and white t-shirts and another design which is less feminine, for male thyroid cancer survivors or loved ones. Check them out here. As before, 10% of net proceeds go to ThyCa: Thyroid Cancer Survivors Association. It might even make a good holiday gift for that survivor in your life, to show you appreciate the struggles and obstacles they have overcome. If you know a survivor, pass it on and help spread the awareness!
My latest endeavor of my anti-cancer lifestyle is that I have started running. Many factors seem to have come together, leading towards this, including family members and neighbors who have been running races (even marathons!) and, of course, my diagnosis this year. During my cancer treatment, when I needed (and wanted) to just rest, I would longingly look at the latest Athleta catalog that arrived in the mail and I would yearn for my treatment to be over, so I could start running like those women. I wanted to look like those tough-looking girls. Not ‘tough’, as in ‘steroids’ and ‘I’m-going-to-kick-your-butt’, but ‘tough’, as in ‘I can handle whatever obstacles come my way and run my way right through them’.
Yesterday evening, I ran my first 5K (3.1 miles) without stopping or walking. And I even felt good. Maybe it was due to my first dose of the recreational runner’s drug: endorphins.
I’ve never been a runner, although my 8th grade science teacher kept telling me that I would make a great runner. But since when does a 12-year-old listen to their teacher’s lifestyle suggestions? I have always been a walker, hiker and biker. But when it came to running, I just shuddered at the thought. The first run I attempted on the pavement lasted about 1/4 mile, before I had to slow down and walk. That was just a couple months ago, and I had radiation and isolation in the meantime. I figure that if I could make it through cancer treatment and my accompanying autoimmune disease I had for years (also my dad’s illness and passing during the same time period), that I can do just about anything that I want to do. Running should be no exception.
So, I run because it may help keep cancer, inflammation, and heart disease away. I run because I can, and who knows what the future brings. I run because it feels great (after the first aching mile or so). And I run because I want to look like a bad-a** like those girls in the catalog. I’m running for my life.