Sunday, June 28, 2015

Lahey Health 5K 2015

Yesterday wrapped up one of the craziest weeks I had scheduled for the summer. It involved attending the New Kids on the Block concert with my best friends from the 3rd/6th grade, a surprise baby shower, hosting a wedding shower for my running buddy and the culmination of months of fundraising and bake sale-ing at the Lahey Health 5K.

This is always one of my favorite events every year. It raises money for the Lahey Health Cancer Center's and as a survivor out of the Lahey Cancer Center it's always an important date on the schedule. I've been running the race since 2012. Actually, I won the race in 2012, having just noticed that my sports bras were starting to fit funny. 2 months later I learned how much I would need the Lahey Cancer Center.

After I was officially declared NED in 2013 my colleagues and I decided that would be our team name for the Lahey Health 5K. Every year our major fundraiser is a bake sale at the hospital. Dietitian's love to bake, and as a department we really go all out. Here is our table from this year:
The philanthropy office gave us a banner to make our table more "legit". Well, to say people were generous or that our baked goods were delicious would be an understatement. We raised $1,302 from the bake sale. That's a lot of dough (terrible pun, I'm not sorry). However, my favorite donation of the day came from a gentleman with a cane who handed me all the cash he had in his pocket, $4. He apologized for such a small donation, but felt compelled to hand over his cash as his mother had passed away from ovarian cancer at the age of 49 and he knew how important the cancer center was. I smiled at him and shared with him that I was a survivor out of the center. He looked at me and burst into tears and thanked me for sharing that with him. I smiled, myself in tears at this point, and thanked him for his donation. I honestly didn't care if we raised any more money after that. There were many other folks who came to the table and didn't buy anything, but just gave donations. Many of them come, who I don't know their names, but recognize their faces, and they know I was once the bald dietitian, ask me how I'm doing and give a donation. How can you have a bad day with baked goods and generosity on display? So very grateful for all who stopped by the table that day.

Team NED is a compilation of people. Some of my colleagues and some of my friends. We decided to get T-shirts made this year. Grey and pink (I can't help myself) with Team NED down the front and No Evidence of Disease on the back. I ordered them through and really can't say enough about their customer service. They noted that our t-shirts were for a charity event and even made a donation. It was really fun to match everyone who was running and walking this year. Saturday morning we laced up our sneakers and headed out to Burlington High School for the race at 8 am.
Well, actually, my day started much earlier than that, at 4:30 am to be exact. See I was hosting a bridal shower in the afternoon and there were cupcakes that needed frosting and crostini that needed toasting. My first round of buttercream failed, but the second batch came together nicely. I had a couple of handfulls of cereal and a fairly good amount of buttercream frosting when I got picked up to go race. In fact, I smelled like buttercream and still had some on my face when my running buddy (and bride for the shower later in the day) picked me up. When her and I headed to the line I looked at her and said, "Something pretty terrible in my GI system is about to happen". She smiled and headed to the front of the pack as she was going for the win. I hung back for the second wave of people as my legs have been heavy, filled with lactic acid and have hurt constantly while running consistently for the last 6 weeks.. And its been getting worse. I haven't been able to run faster than 9 min miles during my training runs. I thought by hanging back I would go out at a more reasonable pace. Boy was I wrong.

When the second wave was let go, I took off. My running competitiveness got the best of me and although my legs were burning just standing on the line my first mile was 7:40 minutes. Now, in years passed I would have been mad about how slow that was. This year I was mad that I went out so fast. I had just passed my oncologist out on the road, who said to me "I've been waiting for you to go past!". I told the other dietitian who was running with me to go on ahead. Once he was out of view, I vomited a small amount of buttercream and kept running. I then passed through the second mile at 7:51 minutes. There was a lot more trouble to come. I vomited some more buttercream, I walked the giant hill and then I sprinted into the finish. It is officially the slowest 5K I have ever run by 3 minutes. My legs hurt so much the entire time and I am frustrated that I am running slower now than when I was just 3.5 months of treatment. But, Team NED did produce the Lahey 5K Champion and it was great day to see everyone out there. And....I was able to pick up my third survivor shirt. They were pink this year!
We wanted people to read it says survivor

Go Team NED! 
After drinking some water and taking some team photos, I put my survivor shirt on. It's fun to give fellow survivors the nod and the woman volunteering in the snack tent had her pink shirt on and a layer of peach fuzz for hair. She asked if I wanted to pat her head, which I did. She looked at me and said "Look how straight your hair is now!" I laughed and we chatted about her upcoming Chemo perm and how my hair is slightly darker now than it was, but 2 years later the texture is exactly how it was prior to chemo. This made her smile and we went our separate ways.

Overall, team NED raised over $2,000 for the Lahey Health Cancer Centers, produced a race champion, and taught me what I already knew; buttercream frosting is a terrible pre-race meal. Overall, and this might just be the concert I went to earlier in the week talking, but I'd say Team NED has the right stuff. Thank you for all who donated, cheered and purchase baked goods. I'm grateful for you all!

Wednesday, June 17, 2015

Call to Action Update

Here's the update from the Young Survival Coalition
It looks like Senator McCain will not be seeking a vote on the amendment. For today it's a win and the DOD's Breast Cancer Research Program gets to continue. For today....

Tuesday, June 16, 2015

Call to Action!

The breast cancer advocacy world is on fire with discussion about opposition to Sen. McCain's (AZ) amendment #1482 to the National Defense Authorization Act. Here is the text :

What is concerning here is that this will do damage to the Department of Defense Breast Cancer Program. If you click on the link you can see all the other medical research that the DOD does. The vision of the DODBCRP from their website is to end breast cancer by funding innovative, high impact research through a partnership of scientist and consumers. One of the consumer advocates from the breast cancer research program is Noreen Fraser, the woman behind Stand Up 2 Cancer.

Because of sequestration the NIH has already had their funding cut; as a breast cancer survivor and individual who is participating in a clinical trial, the research world can not lose yet another source of funding.  There have been too many strides made in treatment methods and I would hate to see it stall because their isn't money to run trials.

Call to Action: go here (putting the link here in case I can't get the widget to work) to send letters to your senators today to ask them to oppose this bill!

Sunday, June 7, 2015

Happy National Cancer Survivors Day!

Today there are 14 million cancer survivors living in the United States. Today is National Cancer Survivors Day and the goal is to increase the quality of life and have healthier and happier survivors. The American Cancer Society has compiled a great list of resources here.

For me as a breast cancer survivor there are certain things that I try to do (some more successful than others) on a daily/yearly basis.

Maintain a Healthy Weight
This means keeping my BMI between 19 and 24.9. Last years visit to my PCP for my annual physical where my weight had creeped up 10 lbs since finishing treatment was a good wake up call. My weight was still within a healthy range, but if I kept eating cookies like cookie monster I was headed for 10 additional pounds each year. It helped me refocus on getting back to the 80/20 rule. Eating well for 80% of the time and allowing for whatever (cookies!) the other 20% of the time. And, it's always helpful to just keep running.

Following the 80% 
When I eat like the dietitian that I am it means 5 to 7 fruits and veggies per day. Organic if they are on the Dirty Dozen listCurrently, cherries are in season and I take about a cup with me to work every day. Ideally, I eat them in place of having chips with my lunch. But, sometimes I'll have both. I have organic or at the very least rBST free dairy, daily. Usually in the form of skim milk and fat free yogurt. And if my gut has been out of whack, I enjoy some Kefir to help re-establish my gut bacteria. Whole grains, the whole time. Even my cookies are made with white whole wheat flour. I eat mostly lean proteins: chicken, fish, chicken, chicken, nuts, peanut butter and chicken. 

At least 4 hours of exercise per week 
I've been a little more tired than I would like. I think its a combination of tamoxifen and getting older (or so I've been told). In order to keep myself from just coming home and sitting on the couch when the weather and schedule allows I've been taking the bus halfway home and then running the rest of the way. They are not the prettiest of runs, but they are getting the job done. Sometimes, however, my body is not willing to run. In order to get my "steps" in for the day I'll walk home from where I usually pick up the second bus. It takes about 30 minutes (if there is no snow!), but again I can be done working out by the time I get home.

Practicing Gratitude 
 Even though I may not write it down each day, I like to recognize something I am grateful for each day. Sometimes it as simple as as being grateful for my individual co-survivors, sometimes it is as silly as being grateful for chocolate (which is needed) and sometimes I am grateful for concepts such as supportive colleagues.

And today's daily gratitude is pretty easy. I am grateful for all 14 million of my fellow cancer survivors!