Thursday, June 14, 2012

I Won't Back Down

Check out this video...taken by Dimity while running ZOOMA Annapolis! Thank you, Dimity, for sharing my story so elegantly and reminding me that I am one strong, badass mother runner!

Monday, June 04, 2012

13.1 + 13.1 = Awesome

The last two weeks have been busy for me. Besides getting my head in the game for my Johns Hopkins appointment and wrangling boys through the end of the school year, I also tacked 13.1 miles. Twice. Not exactly the best plan I've ever made, I do not recommend running two half marathons so close together, but it was awesome!

The first half I took on was the Marine Corps Historic Half on May 20th. I ran this one last year and had a good time. This year I LOVED it! I just had fun and felt very strong nearly the entire race. I PR'ed (or PBR'ed - personal best race - as my brother, the beer lover, would say) with a 2:29 and was thrilled to get in under my goal time.

Homestretch of the Marine Corps Historic Half

My dear friend Jody and I trained for this race together. She is faster than me but we trudged through our training runs side by side with strollers and kids. Jody, one badass mother runner, too had an awesome race, cruising through the finish at 2:03. a couple minutes short of her time goal, but awesome nonetheless. I mean, who pushes a stroller for 8 miles up and down hills and will runner slower just to hang with her friend? Only a badass mother runner!

It was during the training for the Historic Half that I learned my thyroid cancer had returned after a 6 year hiatus. Boo. Jody spent many miles listening to my fears, concerns, and giving voice to my irrational thoughts. One of those irrational thoughts was to sign up for another half. Not usually a bad idea, but doing it 13 days after the Historic Half? Why the hell not!

Two happy BAMRs - Historic Half- I do love the port-a-potty scenery

The next 13.1 I took on was the ZOOMA Annapolis Half on June 2nd. (Jody was smart and took on the 10k.) I wanted to do this particular race because the authors of my favorite running book (Run Life a Mother) were going to be there. For the 13 days in between the races, I wondered whether running both so close together was such a good idea. I PR'ed (or PBR'ed - personal best race - as my brother says) at the HH and thought I probably could PR again since Annapolis is a less strenuous course. Sure it has lots of rolling hills, but those were easy gentle hills compared to what I'd run on May 20th. I'd settled on getting in at 2:30 or better, but ultimately I wanted to prove to myself that even if I have cancer I could tackle it.

Jody and I drove up to Annapolis the day before so we could get our bibs and visit the expo...and meet Dimity McDowell and Sarah Bowen Shea. We brought our books for them to sign and while they were signing them I threw out the idea of one and/or both of them hitting the pavement with me. At first it was a no, then a let me think about it. I then threw out my cancer card, I was willing to use all my tricks!

Dimity accepted with a condition of taking some video and being able to write a blog about my story. I was delighted that not only would she be accompanying me on the course (without properly training, but that's the kind of BAMR Dimity is!) but she felt my story was worth putting out there.

Dimity bringing me home at ZOOMA Annapolis Half

I could go on about how great it was to have a cheerleader every step of the way and how easy conversation came with my new friend, but you really should hop over and read what Dimity wrote at Another Mother Runner. I am very touched and humbled by her thoughts and the comments left by others. If I am able to encourage even one Survivor to get up, get moving, and be strong then the all pain and soreness I felt after the second race was worth it!

Saturday, June 02, 2012

Watchful Waiting

On May 31st, I had my much awaited appointment at Johns Hopkins. It was crazy driving to and from Baltimore, a 2 hour drive took at least 3 and a half hours. I was very thankful to have Ian with me to drive and be a note taker. Not to mention the support he gives just by being there! He has missed other appointments in the past because of deployments and I am grateful when ever he is able to be with me.

As soon as Dr. Ball walked in, I knew I liked him. He then took the time to go over my thyroid cancer history. And not just a brief overview, really get into the meat of it (thumbs up for tackling that!). It took over half an hour to get through my entire history and Dr. Ball not only looked at my copy of my medical file but also listened to what I said (thumbs up for understanding that I know my disease!). As we talked, Dr. Ball talked to me as an intelligent and educated woman (thumbs up!). I have never liked when doctors use all the simple terms with me, I want to know exactly what is up and how to talk about it. Having this doc treat me as a valued member of my care sealed the deal that he is the guy for me.

So the news I got was not fantastic, but it wasn't bad. We are in a "watchful waiting" mode. I'm in a gray area with my thyroid cancer right now. My Tg (tumor marker) isn't high enough to indicate there is bulk disease but there is in fact disease that just can't be found yet. So there isn't any treatment to be done at this time. You can't do surgery if you don't know what to take out and doing chemotherapy isn't an option right now. If my Tg continues to rise, oral chemo will be an option, but that may be years down the road.

Radioactive iodine, the treatment I've had in the past, is not a good option either.There are signs that my disease has become RAI resistant. I also had 3 stout doses of RAI so there's a good chance it won't work anyway. I have to admit that I am not sad that this choice is experience with RAI was not pleasant.

I had a very thorough ultrasound done on my neck, about 45 minutes of pictures. We will likely do an FNA (biopsy) of at least one lymph node but both Dr. Ball and I suspect that it will come back clean. Better to be safe than sorry.

I also learn that I had extranodal extension (spread outside the lymph nodes) with my original tumor and lymph nodes in subsequent surgeries. Because of this it is much more likely that I will have nodes pop up with disease in the future. I will be having regular testing done to watch for this using CT and/or PET scans, maybe once a year. I will likely have ultrasounds through in there as well. My Tg will be monitored through blood work, with and without Thyrogen a couple times a year. It's a good thing that this cancer is slow growing but it's also frustrating! You have to wait for it to make it's move but the waiting could be years...for a girl who isn't so patient this is not a great place.

So that's where we are at. Watchful waiting. And while I'm not thrilled with the idea of more waiting, I have a plan in place and that is exactly what I need. To know that I am being cared for by an excellent physician who is committed to my health.

And the best part is that watchful waiting doesn't interfere with my life or running!