Finding balance

How do you know if you are doing too much too soon?  I guess it’s a bit of trial and error.  My plastic surgeon told me I could go to the gym and hit the elliptical as long as I didn’t feel pain. I decided against that, as it will be a giant pain with one drain still in me, and I’m still not allowed to wear a sports bra.  But, Saturday morning, I joined my volunteer group for one of our twice monthly pit bull pack walks.  Easy pace, lots of stops, 3 or so miles.  The only thing that “hurt” was my sciatica- not related (and a post for another day perhaps).

(Blake, available through angelcitypits.org)

Saturday evening, I joined some teammates for a low key night out.  I didn’t have any drinks- not ready yet and feels a bit irresponsible with a drain. But it was still a bit of a late night out for me.

On Sunday, I got up early to meet up with Team ACPB, who would be heading out for some of their longest runs for half and full marathon training.  Obviously I’m not running yet, so I went for a hike.  I was joined by a friend whose knee was bothering her, so she decided a 20 mile run might not be a good idea.  We took a long loop and hiked almost 7 miles.  Again, felt great, little bit of sciatica, but no issues otherwise.

Went to our post-run hangout, watched everyone else have a beer and drank coffee instead. Sigh….but I was glad to be back to a somewhat normal schedule.

However, once home, I noticed a lot of stiffness in my armpit.  My clothes felt tight. Oh no, is this lymphedema?  I kept touching and checking everything, changed my clothes to make sure everything was plenty loose. I didn’t have any swelling, it just felt constricted. I took a muscle relaxer and laid down with a pillow between my arm and chest to try to raise my lymph nodes a bit.  I felt mildy better, but then the dizziness came.  Not horribly dizzy, more just slightly light-headed and off.  Tamoxifen?  Wasn’t sure.   And then Monday morning, when I emptied my drain, my output had gone back up to around 40 mm. Yup, too much activity can cause this.  All in all, not the end of the world, but it could mean a few extra days before this drain comes out (and I can shower!) Ugh.

I took it easy Monday but met up with my Pitfire Run Club in the evening because I knew it would feel good to see my friends. I walked the 3 miles, and was happy to have a walking partner who was recovering from a little tendinitis. Tuesday morning- still 40ml. UGHGGGGH. Called surgeon and canceled appt- he told me not to bother coming in if the drain wasn’t ready. Then, I sat still ALL. DAY. LONG. Wednesday- 35 ml. Doing nothing didn’t make enough of a difference and I can’t sit on my ass all day. Plus, I committed to doing some work today- walking a couple of small dogs that ami can do one-handed. And Thursday an event at Road Runner.

So, while there won’t be any more 7 mile hikes until this drain is gone, there also won’t be any more days of absolute nothingness. Everything in moderation- I guess that’s how it is with life, even when recovering from surgery.

Fingers crossed for a Friday drain removal!

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Tamoxifen

IMG_11428 days out.  I’m doing great.  Right on schedule according to my plastic surgeon.  One drain out, the other needs a few more days but probably out early next week.  One week later we start expanding the expanders.

Today was my first meeting with my oncologist.  First of all, what a bright and lovely woman.  People in the waiting room told me I would love her.  That was pretty encouraging, since you don’t see a lot of happy faces in an oncology waiting room (or at least, I didn’t expect to see them). She may have even out-smiled me.  🙂

I was already prepared for what she was going to tell me.  No radiation. No chemo.  She had heard all about my “case” during their tumor board (I would have liked to have been a fly on the wall for that, though I probably wouldn’t have understood much of what was being discussed).  I am hormone receptor positive, which, to anyone familiar with breast cancer, means a future of Tamoxifen.  Hormone receptor-positive breast cancers need estrogen and/or progesterone to grow. Tamoxifen attaches to the hormone receptor and tells estrogen “YOU SHALL NOT PASS!” Taken for 10 years, Tamoxifen shows a significant reduction in the recurrence of breast cancer for women like me, who chose to keep their unaffected breast.

But it doesn’t come without some risks. Endometrial cancer. Blood clots. Joint pain and bone pain. Charley horses and muscle cramps. Fatigue. Weight Loss.  Basically sends you into early menopause. Hooray! And for athletic women, who hope to counteract the possibility of weight gain by keeping super active, the thought of charley horses  (which I already get), joint pain (hello, already have osteoarthritis) and fatigue is not something to look forward to. I seriously considered just bailing on this drug. But, I can’t.  It’s a selfish move.  If I don’t at least try, and I end up with invasive cancer in my early 50s, I just can’t put my friends and family through that. So, tomorrow, it begins.

I’m told the first month or two will likely be rough, in terms of mood swings and such, as my body adjusts to the new hormone levels.  Fun. But she also said if you can just power through, give it a chance, there is also a good chance I won’t react that badly in the long term. So, I put on my big girl panties, and I’m getting ready to swallow that pill first thing tomorrow morning. Wish me luck.

After my appointment, I stopped by Griffith Park and hiked up to the Observatory, drain and all, and allowed my head to clear.  It’s gonna be OK. I’ve got this thing, it doesn’t have me.

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Why

There is a large gap in this blog- from the day of the biopsy to the day of my surgery, which was nearly two months.  I started writing after my diagnosis, but then, between doctors appointments, job interviews, and trying to work as much as possible before becoming a pumpkin (and no longer earning any reasonable income) I couldn’t find the time to jot down my thoughts. I’m attempting to go back in time and express what was on my mind during those weeks.

Of course, one of my first thoughts was “Why?” More specifically (and selfishly) “Why me?” I’m pretty healthy. I eat well, most of the time. There were some years a while back that I didn’t exercise much, and perhaps indulged in too much cheese and sugar and not enough leafy greens.  Is this my punishment? Probably not.  Is it possible I’ve exercised TOO much, and this is a result if free radicals going bonkers in my body? Again, probably not. Did I use my hairdryer too much? Store my cell phone on the left side of my bra too much? Have too many beers post-run? Too much black coffee? Nope, nope, nope, nope. Did my decision to not have kids cause this? Well, it may have increased my risk, but it didn’t directly cause it. And having kids to avoid breast cancer probably isn’t the best reason to have kids…so let’s not even think about that.

Truth is, as one oncologist expressed to a family member, most people get cancer simply because they are born.  At some point in your life, your cells go haywire and start dividing abnormally.  You might be 100, or you might be 44 like me. Or in the worst scenarios, you might be a child.  The younger you are, the more dangerous it is. In some cases, it could have been prevented (unhealthy life choices or work environments). In some cases, it’s genetic. And in other cases, it just happens, seemingly without reason. But in all of these cases, what’s done is done, and all you can focus on is beating this damn thing. For me, it means cutting out the offending tissue, and starting over. I am lucky, because it’s a pretty straightforward treatment. Yeah, it’s getting in the way of my Boston marathon, which I worked so fucking hard to get to, but I have a normal life expectancy. So, I can stop bitching and move on with my life.  And I’m still going to Boston, dammit.

19366061_10156474273753532_2437039142056521423_nQualifying for Boston at the 2017 Mountains to Beach Marathon.

 

 

Team ACPB

Hi everyone!

Angel City Pit Bull’s (angelcitypits.org) 2017 momentum rolled right into January, with 17 dogs rescued, 7 of whom are already adopted.  This puts us well on our way to our goal of 180 dogs for 2018.
Did you know?
-We are foster-based.  It means we can only pull as many dogs as we have fosters for.  Yet we still rescue more pit bull type dogs than any other rescue partnered with the LA City shelters (excluding Best Friends).
-It cost us an average of around $1600/dog rescued last year, mainly due to medical expenses. Now that LA has hit the 90% save rate for dogs, those that are available for rescue tend to be the ones that need a little more TLC- so the cost of rescuing is going up.  Our help is needed to be the intermediary to get these types of dogs healed and into homes, as the shelter simply cannot provide the medical care and proper environment for healing.  Your donations go a long way to helping us provide this care.
-Last year, we rescued kittens too!
This is so important to me, that I trained hard right up until February 1st, the day that I had a mastectomy due to stage 0 breast cancer.  I know I’ll be OK, and I still hope I can get out there for both the LA and Boston Marathons, but it’s up to my body now. I can still help dogs while I’m recovering, and so can you. Because even though my life has to go on hold temporarily, the shelters keep taking in dogs. Until it stops, I have to keep helping.
Donating is easy. All you have to do is click the link: Peggy Runs4Pits in LA and Boston! Follow me on IG for more updates on my recovery, training, and ACPB dogs: @duvenroo.
27336372_10159887409015321_8179344352364554822_nKirby, one of our new guys.
Thanks for your support!
XOXO
Peg

I looked

Today was the first day I had a full, head-on look at the site of my mastectomy.  It wasn’t as bad as I thought.  it’s only partially inflated, and that’s pretty much all it looks like- a half inflated boob. Again, I was expecting this to be somewhat upsetting, and it wasn’t, at all.

Things seem to be progressing just fine- the drainage is tapering off.  I’m still pretty sore, and at times it feels worse than others, but it’s not unmanageable.  My butt is sore from sitting/laying more than I’m used to.  But, I did manage to tag along while Will walked the dogs last night. So yes, I’m up and moving about.

IMG_1120Can you even tell which side they operated on? This photo is deceptive.

The worst is over!

I’m home! Surgery went well.  They did not find any additional cancer (woo hoo!) and did not have to take my lymph nodes (bigger woo hoo!) which was what I was most anxious about.  I thought I would feel sad about the loss of my boob, but have been nothing but happy since I woke up yesterday evening.  I think the hospital staff thought I was nuts because I was smiling and happy the whole time.  And it wasn’t just because I was high on pain meds, ha ha ha. I was doing my walking loops in the hospital wing at around 11 pm last night thinking about how unbelievably happy I am to be done with the big surgery.  And feeling pretty good.  Sore, yes, but nowhere near what I thought it would be.  Recovery is gonna be a piece of cake! Can’t wait to be back in action.  But, they are telling me I need to rest too, so I’m gonna keep this short today. 🙂

My nurses’ aides:

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D-Day

Well, January went by both slowly and quickly.  It seemed forever while I waited and waited and begged and begged for a surgery date.  And then all of a sudden, they gave me a date that was less than a week away.  And now here it is! February 1st. Everyone is asking if I am scared or nervous.  I don’t really know what to feel.  I am somewhat anxious with anticipation.  I just want this done.  I am not really concerned about the surgery itself, just what they might find.  I know it’s all out of my control, but the worry that they may find something invasive, that they might not be able to save my nipple, that they might have to take all of my lymph nodes and then I’ll spend my life worrying about lymphedema….but it’s all ok.  I’ll be Ok.  And just like with anything else, I’ll figure it out when I get there.  This month has been a journey and I’ve already learned a lot about myself along the way.

In a completely unrelated note, I am once again a Skirts Sports Ambassador and I’m so excited for another year with these amazing women.  The support from the SS community in the last month has been incredible.  It’s not just an apparel company, it’s a community of amazing women and I am proud to be a part of it!

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