Have I really been writing this crap for a year??

I’d planned to  spend today responding to the exercise guest post with my thoughts on that and the 1/2 marathon. Then today came along and it turns out I don’t feel like spending much time on it after all and since it’s MY blog, I’m allowed to change my mind. So, it’s shorter than I’d planned but here’s what I’ve got to say:

Exercise is great therapy if you can do it while in treatment. But if you can’t, that’s also something that you have to realize and be ok with. Knowing your new limits is a huge hurdle when life is turned upside down with a diagnosis like cancer. There are days, training for this 1/2 marathon, that I feel great and the ibuprofen works but there are also days I try to walk a while and instead come home and nap.

Knowing your body and what it can and cannot do on any given day is truly the key to staying well during all the chaos of treatments. Especially if your treatment does not have an endpoint. If your body needs sleep, give in to it. Personally, I think that’s the truth regardless of your life situation.

That said, I also know I feel so much better when I spend the day moving than when I sit too much. Another aspect is that the healthier I am going into any future surgeries, the easier the recovery.  I went into one surgery post marathon training and another while still weak from the prior one. There is no comparison – Strength is my friend!

That’s probably why I agreed to the guest post. To serve as a reminder to myself should I forget.

Now back to me and my other random thoughts because I realized that today is the 1 year anniversary of this bloggy thing. Yay me!

I started this a year ago not knowing where it would go but instead just wrote what came into my mind at any given time. Occasionally, they were written in the middle of the night in my mind only to disappear with the light of day. Frequently, they stayed with me long enough to actually make it to you.

Occasionally I think they were well written and sometimes I’m pretty sure they’d have gotten me a big fat red F from my highschool English teacher Mrs. Troxel. There were weekly gimmicks I thought I might explore that quickly went by the wayside because I have attention span of a 2 yr old. On a good day.

The most viewed post (thanks to Marinka’s special pimping skills) was on my 5 yr cancerversary . It was also, I think, the most therapeutic, cleansing post I’ve ever written. It was where I purged 5 years of stress and drama in one place. I appreciate the feedback and the time you all took to wade through the endless whining.

The post that brought the most people here via obscene xxx rated search terms was an innocent post about doughnuts. Ok, maybe there was a bit of questionable discussion of anatomically correct doughnuts but hey, that’s what makes life fun right? And the list of search terms always brightens my day and makes me question humanity and the gutters people call home.

I don’t know about all the rest because I haven’t checked. Many I’ve gone back to read and don’t at all remember which really makes me think I spew my thoughts in haste and move on. Kind of like when you study for a test at the last-minute then forget it as soon as you write down the answers. I think much of my life is like that. Spew and forget. I blame the drug addled haze I live in.

I’ve told you about my amazing kids and my dogs and SG. I’ve made you think  he’s some sort of saint because he grocery shops, does the dishes and holds my hand in his sleep. I could have also told you about his hairy back and the fact that he could earn an Olympic medal in farting. Just as he could tell you about my Olympic level skill in nagging and being an all around pain in his ass. But I didn’t. I chose the qualities that make me love him the most to share with you because that’s how I see him.

I thank you for putting up with the sappiness!

Thank you for also for putting up with my endless posts about my scanxiety every 3 months. You’ll be happy to know I’ve gone to 4 months scans so there will be fewer of those!

I will continue to write random, dorky, english flunking posts with the occasional thoughtful well written one thrown in for good measure.

Just as I struggle with finding the balance between life as a cancer patient and life as just me, I’ll struggle to find that balance here. I’ll try not to be too cancer heavy with my posts, but I can’t promise there won’t be more like She Sleeps and The Darkest Hours. Given that I’m on my way to Portland again, there may even be more doughnut porn. Who knows?

I have no idea if the coming year will be stress free or involve new drug changes and more surgeries. But I do know that I’m grateful for the year you all have spent with me .

As I  continue the struggle to manage the chaos that is my life, I hope you’ll continue to hang out with me.




Fitness Helps Patients in the Fight Against Cancer

As I mentioned yesterday, today’s post is by David Haas. He is a cancer advocate who blogs over at Haas Blaag who emailed and asked to do a guest post. It seemed like a good fit for my current frame of mind and where I’ve been the last few  weeks. However, excercise programs should always take into consideration various side effects such as hand/foot syndrome. There are days I can’t walk across the kitchen, let alone walk a few miles. I’ll post my thoughts on that tomorrow but today, I give you David:

A diagnosis of any type of cancer including breast cancer, skin cancer, colon cancer or even a rare disease like mesothelioma  (annie’s note – as long as it’s my cancer of choice, let’s add GIST to that list shall we?) is often shattering. Fear, depression, hopelessness, and anxiety are common and understandable responses with any cancer diagnosis.  One effective strategy for keeping energy levels high to fight the disease is to get regular exercise before, during, and after treatment.

What Can Fitness and Exercise Do for Cancer Patients?

There are several ways in which regular exercise and physical fitness help cancer patients to cope and fight back. For one, exercise focuses the patient’s mind on the physical activity, instead of on the on the disease. In this way it offers a respite from the anxiety that is normal any type of prognosis

Exercise also gives the patient a feeling of control over what is happening to his or her body, which is something patients often lack when facing cancer.

Exercise has been proven to help fight depression and improve mood. This allows the patient to face the diagnosis with greater equanimity.

Exercise promotes better blood circulation to improve energy and healing and to deliver the body’s own disease fighting agents as well as chemotherapy drugs to all parts of the body where they are needed.

When it is performed with others, exercise can prevent loneliness. It can promote bonding when done with a spouse or family member, and friendship when done with a group.

Fitness gives patients an overall sense of well-being and can significantly improve mental attitude, physical strength, and quality of life during the difficult battle with the disease.

What Kinds of Exercise Are Good for Cancer Patients? 

Walking, jogging, swimming, bike riding, and other cardiovascular exercises are great ways to improve stamina, muscle tone, and circulation, while increasing energy and improving the body’s immune response.

Doing resistance exercises with weights, either at home or at the gym, has an even greater effect on muscle strength. 

Yoga and Pilates are two kinds of exercise that are especially helpful to cancer patients working to stay fit, because they engage the mind and the body while improving flexibility and muscle tone, promoting calmness and relaxation.

By improving energy levels and the functioning of the immune system, along with promoting a positive mental outlook, physical fitness throughout the treatment process and recovery can give the cancer patient a boost in the fight against this devastating disease.

By: David Haas Writer of the Haas Blaag

Oh right – I have a blog don’t I?

Well hi there! Remember me?

I’m the lazy ass chick who took a summer hiatus to hang out and do mostly nothing. Well actually that’s not true. I spent a good bit of the summer in the car running the girls to nature camp, soccer camp, volleyball camp, strength/agility camp, volleyball tryouts, volleyball practice, volleyball games, parent meetings, high school registration…you know, the usual.

Only not really. This summer was crazier than usual. The odd part? The oldest one who should soon need me the least, required the most work. I feel like we’ve lived at the high school this summer. And she’s only a freshman. Or today she finally is anyway.

As of 8am this morning I have 3 daughters in 3 different schools.

D2 headed off to middle school but was somewhat over shadowed by excess goings on at the high school. It still feels monumental though. She was only in kindergarten when I was diagnosed so any new stage for her is gigantic for me. It feels good! I’m proud of how confidently she faced this new phase!

D3 still has a couple of years left at the elementary school because, even though they’re only a year apart, her birthday fell just past the cut off date for kindergarten. She’s such an old soul I feel like maybe she should be the one starting high school but nope, 4th grade instead.

So where does this leave me? Alone. But that’s ok, because I have you guys right? If any of you are still around that is.

I have plenty to do. The kids trashed the place the last couple months. Well, the kids and the 2 dogs might be more accurate. So there’s that. And I should try to figure out how to write again. My brain feels a little foggy and I don’t think all of it is from the forest fire smoke.

Oh, and I need to walk. To get my legs in shape and try to rebuild some muscle because I did something really stupid, or maybe really smart, and signed up once again for a trip to Portland in October. This year I’m walking the 1/2 marathon. No more wimpy 10k’s for me dammit!!

The tricky part is that I spent so much of the last year feeling sorry for myself over how crappy I felt that I made things worse. I think it shows in my downer writing the last months. I sat on my butt way too much, lost huge amounts of muscle which probably would have happened anyway given the muscle wasting effects of Nexavar, but not to the extent it did.

I was so convinced I was sick that I made it worse. Yes, I felt awful and my feet were killing me and all my friends went back to work but that’s no excuse for me being such a buzz kill last year. I apologize for that.

This year I’ll try not to be such a downer.

Coincidentally, as I started to get more exercise and revive a little, I got an email from a man named David Haas who asked if he could do a guest post. David is a cancer advocate and the topic he was interested in writing about was the positive effects of exercise on cancer patients. It seemed perfect for where my mind is so he’ll doing tomorrow’s post.

I don’t think it’s only for my fellow cancer peeps though. I think anyone who finds themselves faced with tough situations in life will find his words to be a good reminder to keep moving.

So I guess I’ll be back on Wednesday to give my thoughts on that. Suddenly, I think have lots to tell you. Hope your summer was fabulous!!

A life well lived

I’m coming out of my summer hibernation to update you on a friend I mentioned in April. I told you about K –  my friend who was waiting for a heart.

K had been in and out of the hospital the last months – mostly in. We emailed back and forth frequently until mid May when I think the pain brought on by his mechanical heart began to overwhelm him. My emails went unanswered and he stopped posting on Facebook.

The unusual part of that is his wonderful sense of humor regularly involved posting pictures of his cup of pills with sarcastic captions about breakfast. He brought humor to the rest of us when we checked on him. Plus, he was just bored! I can’t ever picture K without his wonderfully goofy grin. I kept thinking I was going to drive the 3 hours to visit him but life with 3 children always seemed to get in the way.

I kept worrying and finally emailed his wife even though we’ve never met.

“How is he?” I asked.

She replied with a simple. “He’s struggling to survive.”

He was too weak for company and in the cardiac ICU again. She’d let me know when he was strong enough and I’d be in the car immediately.

He never got strong enough. He had a massive stroke and passed away August 4th. At 41, he left behind his sweet young wife of less than 2 years, their unborn baby girl named Virginia, or Ginny as he called her, and his 2 sons ages 10 and 12 who were the light of his life.

It doesn’t seem real that such a vibrant life is gone. I keep checking my inbox for notes from him because through it all, he regularly checked in to see how I was feeling or how the girls and SG were doing. In the midst of his pain he checked on me. It always amazed me but that’s just the way he was.  We took turns worrying about each other. Losing him has left a big hole.

I can’t begin to imagine what his wife is going through! She’s so strong and brave but so very heartbroken. I don’t know what to say or what to send to make it better. She’s kept his FB page up and there are pages and pages of comments by people who loved her husband. People who knew her husband longer but not better than she did. She’s asked that the stories continue for his sons.

The day of his service, she posted this on his wall:

“Goodbye my love, be at peace. I’ll take care of everything now.”

To K, I say:

“Goodbye my friend! Rest now – I’ll watch out for your family.”