Thursday, February 27, 2014

Better off NED!

Happy 1 Year Survivorversary to me! As slow as August 2012 to February 2013 is as fast as my first year as a breast cancer survivor went. As strange as it may seem having cancer increased my quality of life. I'm happy to report 1 year later the positive attitude that my journey gave me is still in place.

I took the day off from work today to celebrate and I also decided to throw myself a "Better off NED" party this weekend. Two thing pre-cancer Sara never would have done. But, as my entire family has learned and  now embraced, all victories big and small need to be celebrated.

Today I am celebrating being Breast Cancer free with the 4 B's. Breakfast, Baking, Bon Jovi and Boogieing. Lets just say I am not following the low sugar lifestyle today. Heading out to breakfast for a giant stack of pancakes then to one of my favorite places; the grocery store, to get my baking supplies. For the rest of the afternoon if you need me I'll be dancing to Bon Jovi while baking in my kitchen. With a giant smile across my face. : )

Elton John was right, today I really am feeling like a little kid.

Wednesday, February 19, 2014

Trying not to take it personally

I work in a hospital, which means I see a lot of sick people. Over the past year and a half I still haven't found a way to not take it personally when a patient with breast cancer comes in. Your always rooting for your patients, but perhaps for these I am rooting a little harder.

These fighters with their peach fuzz and sometimes devastating stories make me so grateful. I am grateful for the way everything turned out for me. I am grateful that that PET scan was clean. I am grateful that the CT, mamograms, bone scans and physical exams have all come back clean. I am grateful that a week from tomorrow it will be a year that I completed my treatment. I think because these women remind me of the other side of cancer. The nasty disease that people battle for often years and undergo much much more treatment than I can even imagine. I think that is why I root for them just a little bit harder.

Sometimes that lock box in your mind, where you keep your fear of recurrence, sometimes that door creeps open. That door creeps open when you visit these patients and read their stories.The door creeps open when it's the Olympics and the last time the Olympics were on you were being biopsied, scanned and diagnosed. But, each day that you put between you and cancer treatment and each time your able to help your patients in their journey helps to close that door.

What also helps keep the lock box closed is when you have interactions with new members of your track club. One of the new members came the Tuesday after I finally got back on track. Everyone had come over to say congratulations.
Newbie: "Did you PR or something? How come everyone is congratulating you?"
Me: "No PR. It was my first race back since beating cancer"  

Boom. Lock box closed.

You know what also helps, this ad that is playing constantly during the Olympics. I love it.

Thursday, February 13, 2014

Nice Shout Out

One of my favorite blogs (and now I will be forever biased towards) is Especially during heptaganol (HEPS!) championships {for those who the following was gibberish its the best track and field conference championships consisting of the Ivy league teams} it's my go to to keep me updated on the amazing performances. Even now 10 year out, I am a frequenter. Well, thanks to one of my GBTC teammates Heps Track posted a great article recapping my return and the role running played through out my cancer journey. You can read the piece here.

Not to be outdone my running club gave me a little shout out too!

Aren't we all a happy bunch? Runner's high, it's a real thing.

Sunday, February 9, 2014

Don't Call it a Comeback

Actually, I am not ll cool J and I will definitely call it a comeback.

I had a great time returning to the track. I got up in the morning and started my day with the playlist. Or, maybe started the day with Kelly Clarkson's "Stronger" 2 to 3 times in a row while I got dressed. Had a little moment when I got up. Just absolutely overwhelmed with where I am in my recovery and so grateful for the way everything panned out. Still amazed by the outpouring of support. Then my adrenaline kicked in.

I was one of the first people at the track. Our race wasn't scheduled to go off until 10:20 am and I usually warm up about an hour before the event. To make sure I had plenty of time I got to the track at 8:45 am.Old habits die hard. I warmed up with a giant grin on my face. When we were lined up one of the other 400 m legs was sharing positive words with all the other runners. I reiterated to her what I had e-mailed out to my teammates looking for "smiles not splits". She looked at me and said "I'm stealing that". I also looked around at all the college students on of them discussing how it had been forever since she had run a Distance Medley Relay (DMR). She hadn't done one since her freshman year. She was a junior. That is when I said out loud "Holy Crap I'm old". I also looked at my coach, who was sporting a pink tie (very nice touch Coach), and said "I don't remember how to do this." He looked back and stated "Run fast". One of my teammates who has been there longer than my 10 years on the club, came over while I was waiting to get on the line to give me a high five and go get 'em. 

Our 1200 m (leadoff) runner was named Hope. How freakin' perfect.

I took the baton from Hope with our team in the 7th position. I can't even express how electric a baton feels in your hand. Well, it got something going and my legs felt good. I had a girl in front of me in a white jersey. She was about 30 m ahead. Made it through the first lap and didn't feel like I was going to die. Surprised,  I focused more on the girl in the white jersey and reeled her in on the back stretch. As I went around her and headed in the home stretch there was my good friend waiting to take the baton. Ear to ear grin. She told me she did a little happy dance on the inside seeing me come around the corner. Handed the baton off and the following grin was engraved into my face for the day:

Photo thanks to Coach Tom

Now, the goal of the relay was achieved. I got back out on the track. I didn't get passed. I passed someone. All around win. I did not care what my split was, I knew it would be slow. I was happy with how I felt. We took photos shared high fives/hugs. I cooled down. Then I ran into another coach who said "Nice 62". As my training would dictate I could probably run a 66, I looked at him and said  "Me??". "Yes, I had had you at 62.5". What??? So officially not the slowest time I have ever run. Another win on the day! A giant victory in recovery. Officially feeling like an athlete. That was a nice surprise too.

I spent the rest of the day celebrating. I went and saw the professional track meet (World Record, World Junior record, good day). Had frappes and pancakes for dinner and went out to see my favorite 80's cover band.

This morning with a good amount of difficulty I got out of bed. With further difficulty I got to the gym and ran and did some weight lifting. And now I am pooped. On the couch trying to recover and headed for a nap. A content happy nap.

This song was on my "Return List" playlist and the 80's band played it last night. I sang along with a little extra volume. I was certainly feeling Forever Young (until I woke up this morning and tried to get out of bed). 

Thursday, February 6, 2014

The Return List

The team is assembled, the uniform and spikes have been located, the entry fee paid, and the final piece the "pump up" playlist is ready to go! I am out of my mind excited about Saturday because it is when I am making my return to the track! I will be running the 400m leg of a distance medley relay for my track club. I know that I will likely run the slowest 400 of my life, but I am really really ok with that. I am looking forward to putting that uniform on and lacing up my spikes.

I put out an e-mail to the running club list serv to find pieces of the relay. Our first leg hasn't run indoor track in 2 years because of injuries so she is looking forward to making her return, too. Our anchor leg is a high school student who has never raced track before (only XC). And our 800 m leg is one of my best friends on the team is running. She is totally injured and had a wisdom tooth out this week, but is insisting on running because she told me it was important for her to be involved. The two of us got a little emotional while discussing it on Tuesday night practice. I'm hoping that my adrenaline will kick in on Saturday to help me keep it together.

One item that I am hoping gets my adrenaline going is the playlist. I used a good mix of songs I blogged with, songs that remind me of track, and others. I titled it the return list and it goes a little something like this:
  1. Stronger- Kelly Clarkson
  2. How You Like Me Now- The Heavy
  3. Elevation - U2 (Big role in my college track days)
  4. Good Vibrations - Beach Boys
  5. Turn the Page - Bob Seger
  6.  Don't Stop Believing - Journey
  7. Everyday - Bon Jovi
  8. Can't Hold Us -Macklemore and Ryan Lewis
  9. We Weren't Born to Follow - Bon Jovi
  10. It's a Beautiful Day - Michael Buble 
  11. Don't Stop til You Get Enough - Michael Jackson
  12. Welcome to Wherever You Are- Bon Jovi
  13. Livin' on a Prayer - Bon Jovi
  14. Beautiful Day -U2
  15. Forever Young - Rod Stewart
  16. Hit Me With Your Best Shot- Pat Benatar 
  17. Because We Can - Bon Jovi
  18. Born to Run -Bruce Springsteen
  19. The Edge of Glory - Lady Gaga
  20. You Make My Dreams - Hall and Oats
  21. Total Eclipse of the Heart - Bonnie Tyler (Turn around....longstanding track club joke)
  22. Call Me Maybe - Carly Rae Jepsen 
  23. Bennie and the Jets - Elton John
  24. Takin' Care of Business - Bachman Turner Overdrive 
  25. The Chain - Fleetwood Mac 
  26. Glory Days - Bruce Springsteen (shout out to the HS track days)
  27. Dog Days are Over - Florence and the Machine
  28. (I've Had) The Time of My Life - Dirty Dancing Soundtrack
This is a 2 hour list. But 25 through 28 are most likely going to be  played post race. And yes, it is Bon Jovi heavy, but I like what I like.

Tuesday, February 4, 2014

Happy World Cancer Day

How did I just find out about this now? Today is World Cancer Day. A world wide initiative to " Target 5 of the World Cancer Declaration: Reduce stigma and dispel myths about cancer". The four myths they are focusing on are:
1. We don't need to talk about cancer
2. Cancer their are no signs or symptoms
3. There is nothing I can do about cancer
4. I don't have the right to cancer care.

Well I would say that this blog takes a lot of time to fight against #1.

There are over 506 events happening. Did you know that purple is the international color of cancer survivors? I participated by turning my facebook profile purple and Chevy donated $1 to the American Cancer Society. You can do so by going  HERE

I found out that today is the World Cancer Day while watching the super bowl. When this ad came on I got a little verklempt. I remember that hairstyle. And I love, love, love that the spot is titled "Life".

Sunday, February 2, 2014

Soy: the bain of my ingredients

Sometimes I feel like soy is in everything. And I am happy that it's not an allergy, but something I avoid. In particular I avidly avoid soy protein isolate because it can act like estrogen in the body. I have found it as a surprise in some foods that I happy ate before cancer.

Grape Nuts! Hot grape nuts with raisins was one of my favorite winter weekend breakfasts. While investigating why it was so high in iron, I found soy protein isolate in the ingredient list. Well they use the fancy wording: Isolated Soy Protein. Dyslexic version or not, still not going to eat it. 

Special K High Protein. This cereal was great to mix with bran flakes. But, guess what puts the protein in the High Protein? Soy Protein Isolate.

Although through out becoming a dietitian I moved away from eating protein bars, I would occasionally get a Cliff or Luna bar. These were especially helpful for long track meets. Well, I guess I will stick with peanut butter sandwiches and dried fruit. Less chemically stuff anyways.

I have put back granola, crackers, and cereal back on the shelves of grocery store. Yesterday, while hunting for ravioli I had to put back the whole wheat version because they were made with soy ricotta. In my ravioli? The item next to them in the freezer was tofu ravioli. After viewing all the options I ended up getting tortellini instead. They were filled with actual cheese. (And they were delicious with the savory pumpkin sauce I made).  Geez, I guess next I'll have to learn how to make my pasta! Man, this is why we tell people to shop the perimeter.

While reading ingredient lists I feel like Jerry Seinfeld cursing my nemesis. Soy!