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Archive for June 23rd, 2012

Running isn’t just good for me (and you) physically, it helps mentally, too. Phil always told me that when he has something big to think about, he goes for a run. And he’s right. Even with my music blaring in one ear (I never put both ear pods in – learned that in self-defence class – always stay aware of your surroundings), I can think more clearly and better concentrate on a run. This first run I thought about a million things, but the one that really stands out is my upcoming meeting Thursday morning at Dana-Farber.

I received a letter the other day from the Development office at Dana-Farber, wanting to thank me for my significant donation in December and to find out why I made it – what my story is. And boy, will they get a different story than they probably expect – it’s certainly evolved since I wrote that check! So as I ran, I began to think about what I will tell them.

And halfway across the Harvard Bridge (amongst the ‘Smoots’), I began to cry. I cried as I ran (thank goodness, once again, for sunglasses) and thought about telling them how devastated I’d been in mid-December when my dear school friend Sarah found out that her 10-month-old daughter has cancer – a neuroblastoma in her lower pelvic area and a nodule in her lung. It was so unfair!!!  I thought about the other people close to me who’ve been hit so hard by cancer, like my friend Kristen who lost her brother Greg after his long, brave fight with the disease. And it being close to Christmas, I thought how no one really needs anything more than health and decided to make that donation to Dana-Farber in honor of Mirany and everyone impacted by cancer. I printed out the donation cards from the website and give those to people instead of other gifts for Christmas. And then March came… I cried some more, just thinking about how I’ve gotten to know Dana-Farber more than I ever wanted to.

I am happy to share my story with them (heck, I can just give them this blog address!), my heart just breaks for Sarah, Scott and Mirany’s lives, my life, my family and friends going through this with me, all of us, and wish in this one way we were all where we were last November: blissfully ignorant of this damn thing called cancer.

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I just ran four miles along the Charles. It felt soooooooo good!!! It was my first time running in forever – since just before surgery, which was almost eight weeks ago.  And when I say running, it was back to my very beginning – walk/run intervals of one minute each the entire time. It was also the first time running that I didn’t have to pull my hair back in a pony tail, which kind of hurt, but at least it is easier – no hair in my face! 

As I got ready to go for my run, I had a mini-heart attack thinking my iPod was  also in my stolen backpack, but thank goodness it wasn’t – and that my running shoes weren’t either! There are certain things I HAVE to have with me to be happy and comfortable on my runs:

  • My iPod – can’t run without music
  • My GymBoss – interval timer – best little thing in the world. So simple, it clips on, you can set for any intervals and it doesn’t interfere with your music or phone – only $20 at www.gymboss.com
  • My phone set on MapMyRun so it calculates everything from where I am to how far I’ve run, what my average pace is, current pace, etc. (and for safety and occasional texting)
  • Water – duh, must stay hydrated
  • Chapstick if I can find somewhere to put it
  • Sunglasses or a hat
  • My keys (kind of important to get back in the house) 

I know – who AM I??? Running and I have always had a love/hate relationship. For the first 37 years of my life it was mainly hate. I was never really athletic – was always the overweight young girl (kids called me thunder thighs in fifth grade) and never lost that feeling of being chubby, even when I wasn’t any more – still look in the mirror and just see a fat face. And when we had to run a mile in school, I was always amongst the slowest and wheezing away – long before I had asthma.

But I saw how incredible  Tara looked as she ran (and did pilates and ate right) off 60 pounds in the last couple years and I thought it might just be a necessary evil to try.  And I had been supporting our Boston Marathon Running Team at work and have great role models in Phil, Matt, Kai, Andrew, Steph and others who made it actually look fun.

So in the fall I tried it, starting with a Couch to 5k program recommended by my boss who had recently started running, too. I soon abandoned that for my GymBoss, though as  I wanted to do it at my own pace. It wasn’t easy, but it did make me feel better and I fairly quickly started dropping the pounds – and the dress sizes. Overall, it was more than 20 pounds and about four dress sizes. And that was with hardly watching what I ate at all – just running intervals (usually 3 or 4 minutes run to 1 minute walk for 3-5 miles, 3 or 4 times  a week).  

That was one of my frustrations about this damned disease – that I would have to stop running for a while and I didn’t know if I’d ever be able to really get back into it again – since it took me 37 years the first time! But I’ve actually been chomping at the bit – especially since I heard I had to have chemo and the steroids would make me put on weight, and since I found I still love food, even when it tastes bad during chemo (figures, huh?). I do not want to be fat again. It’s going to be bad enough being bald and pimply (also thanks to the steroids) and not being able to get a good tan. Never mind not having real boobs – I have to do something!!!

So I must run whenever I am feeling up to it. Tara practically glowed when I announced to my wig party friends that Dr. H had given me the ok to start running again. “I never thought I’d hear you say that and sound so excited!” (And Tina and Vanessa just smirked and shook their heads. 😉 ) Actually, it was the very first thing I asked him when he walked in the room and I was so excited I barely noticed the huge expansion syringes.

But boy do I feel the expansions now! As soon as I started the first ‘run’ interval and put my arms in the running motion, it hurt! Especially my right side. But while the pain did stay through the entire run, it actually eased a bit; it didn’t get worse. So maybe the running will help that, too. My feet also hurt a bit at the beginning, but felt better after the first mile or so. It’s funny the things you don’t think about, though – like how it isn’t even easy to do the same pre- and post-run stretches that I did before surgery. I must remember to keep doing my PT exercises – between those and running, eventually my body will be back to normal! (Ok, maybe I’ll need to learn to eat a little better, too – so many things to work on!)

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For the first time in what seems like forever, I woke up yesterday feeling good. With a clear head, feeling hardly any pain (just expansion ones), I actually felt like me. I had energy, I felt like I actually could concentrate and get things done at work, and I forgot about being sick for a little while. It’s only when I catch my reflection in glass that I’m reminded.

I’m excited. I know this is for a limited time, but I am counting on feeling this way until round two starts on July 3. And I am going to cherish every minute. I am so thankful – it means I can really pack and run and work and just be me for the next week and a half!

Tonight I met some old friends from National Grid for dinner. It was so good to catch up with them and enjoy food without being nauseous and have a drink without being concerned about medications and to stay out past 9 p.m. without being exhausted. I even elected to walk home because it was such a beautiful night in the city and I wanted to enjoy every second of this good feeling. And then out of the blue, halfway down Newbury St., a cute young guy stopped me and gave me a flower. I started to say no thank you and then changed my mind and graciously accepted it. Why not? We both smiled and wished each other a good night. A really nice ending to my day – and a sign of good days ahead!

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