I have no clue what to put here.
Perhaps some sort of rotating quote.
Dunno.

But those guys to the right...they're snorkeling off of Rum Point,
on Grand Cayman. You owe it to yourself to check that place out.



6.29.2020

I'm LITERALLY Tired of 2020!

Literally. I had plans to ride my bike 15-20 miles. Indoors, since DH went and gave himself a new injury (first he seriously sliced his right thumb. Then 2 days ago gave himself blood blisters on both heels from ill-fitting shoes).

Skechers...for realz!
But I don't want to ride indoors. And it's too hot/humid outside. And I don't like riding solo, anymore. And I jacked-up my left hip running too fast in brand new shoes. I felt good while running, but by the next AM I was limping. I rode an easy 13 miles in the basement, yesterday, but it's still tender.

I also didn't sleep for shit (and haven't 90% of the time since quarantine began). In part due to a new pillow that was incredible...for all of 1 night. It's really too flat and too soft. I'm a side sleeper and my 3-4 year pillow has become too soft. This new one is also too soft and flat, in spite of being marketed as a firmish side-sleeper pillow. Getting old blows. My neck and shoulders have been sore for months. Pillow issues, for sure, but Covid-anxiety is almost certainly a contributing factor. Thank Jeebuz for my bite splint, since I know I'm gnashing my teeth all night long, too. And I never sleep well after any alcohol, so the tasty pre-bed margarita made for 0 minutes of deep sleep. And it's been warm at night and our big beast cat thinks I'm playing every time I kick a foot out on top of the covers for climate control. And it's Monday (not that Monday has any significance in the 'rona world)....

Lately it feels like I have more days than not where I have to drag myself into starting a workout. I know a lot of people are struggling with lack of motivation and excessive exhaustion from *gestures around* all of this. I have a hard time not fearing that cancer's making a return engagement, especially in light of recent sketchy blood work.

Clifton 5
The rugrat got new shoes, too. He's only ever liked Sauconys, in his relatively short running career from 8th grade to age 19. But in my motherly running wisdom, I thought he might prefer some beefy Hoka One Ones over his HEAVY clod-hopper Sauconys designed for flat-footed supinators to wear with orthotics (both of his feet rotate out to the right. It's a sight to behold while running behind him. My PT friend is fascinated and puzzled by his biomechanics).

1 run in and he's over-the-moon enamored. So much so that he begged for a 2nd pair for work, so I found him a similar pair of Hokas in black and ordered them. He needed new work shoes, anyhow, and does a fair amount of standing.

I hope this means that he might run more and walk less. A 19 year old male should be able to easily outpace/outdistance his 11+ min/mile 47 year old minus-a-lung-lobe cancer-surviving mom.


Fxck Cancer!


6.20.2020

I'm still standing!

Still NED!



That's not to say that my 6 month scan/labs didn't include some drama. There's always some drama. My new oncologist (who seems very cool and knowledgeable and friendly -- I think I'll keep her, unless that should change) is concerned by the trajectory of my ANC/neutrophils #s. They have been low in the past, but are on a slow descent, years after my last chemo. This ups my risk of contracting bacterial or fungal infections, which would be extra bad if I were to catch Covid and develop pneumonia. 

It's also possible that it could be a sign of secondary cancer as the result of chemo damage, like blood/marrow, though she reassured me that that would not be terribly likely when all of my other blood counts (other white cells, red cells) look good. Low ANC was problematic for me during chemo and required $$$ Neulasta injections for my last 6/8 FOLFOX chemo cycles.

So, in 7ish weeks I'll be back to the cancer center for my next infusion port flush. I'll have another blood draw to see where I am, then. Hopefully back up...or at least not down further. If levels continue to trend downward, then I may be looking at a bone marrow biopsy. Meh. I really want to avoid hospitals for a long damned time. Because of Covid, but also because I have had my fucking fill of them in the past 3.5 years.


Fxck Cancer!


6.13.2020

Schrödinger's Cancer

I think my DH coined this phrase. It's what we've taken to calling the seemingly endless period of unknown between a CT scan and meeting with my oncologist to discuss results. While some people receive results the same day, my oncologist has split his time between 2 cancer centers and I've always had a 7-12 day wait to find out if I'm able to continue looking ahead to the 5 year "cured" goal or if I'm facing more surgeries and/or chemo. Am I still NED (no evidence of disease) or am I living with some degree of malignancy.

Yesterday I had a CT scan and have another 5 days to wait until my results. I would have had another 11 days, but my beloved oncologist, Dr. C, will no longer be dividing his time between 2 centers. So, I get faster results, but my new doc won't be literally the smartest person I know, any longer. I don't think she's a colorectal cancer specialist, either. I'll give her a chance, but I may choose to follow Dr. C. It wouldn't involve a massive hassle, since he'll be 45ish minutes away, rather than 25. And as long as I'm only doing scans every 6 months, that's no biggie. I could probably continue to have scans, blood work, and port flushes closer to home and just make the trip to Grand Rapids for in-person appointments. Were I still in active treatment, there is no question that I'd follow him. An MD friend of mine is also a patient of his and she thinks the world of him, too. She's very much encouraging me to stick with him. I still have 6 months to make up my mind....

I have seen my blood work. My CEA (tumor marker) is largely unchanged...but it was never even close to above normal, even when I had a massive tumor in my ass. What's frustrating is that my white blood cell count is still low. And this time even lower than 6 months ago. I'm >2 years out from chemo, so it should have rebounded. My ANC is also low, now. But I think I figured-out why.

I've been working on losing weight on-and-off since late last Fall. When I haven't actively been cutting calories, I've been eating too many carbs and not enough protein. When I've cut calories, I've focused on eating plenty of veggies, berries, and salads...but not so much protein. Especially as I avoid a lot of red meat and I'm so tired of chicken. Most days I'm probably getting half the protein I should be ingesting, from the look of my diet log (Lose It!). *light bulb moment* Insufficient protein can cause low white blood count, brain fog, sluggishness, poor/slow exercise recovery, dry skin, hair loss -- all things I have been struggling with.

So, I'm going to make a better point of paying attention to my protein intake, even if it means drinking more smoothies. Muscle Milk's cake batter flavor is pretty good. It's a good excuse to make more batches of chili, too. That's one of the few ways that I don't mind eating chicken, since the beans and sauce and tomatoes add so much flavor to otherwise bland meat. I could eat a lot of chicken salad, too, and an occasional pouch of flavored tuna.

Cutting back on alcohol would be helpful, too, though I'm not really indulging more than 1-2 nights/week, in large part because I end up exceeding my calorie goals fast with more than maybe 2 servings. Booze can cause low white cells and it ups my cancer recurrence risk.

Inspiration
Buuuut...martinis are so fun. We made our first traditional vodka martinis in the past week, as well as DH's first lemon drop. I cleaned-out a mostly junk cabinet to move all of our adult beverage glassware, shaker, bar accessories, and sad assortment of liquor bottles. Even with only a few bottles, it's hard to see what's available. So DH wants a woodworking project.

This is cheap RTA unit on Amazon, but would be really nice in something like real walnut or teak. He could source the glass doors through his work.

This is only 30" wide...we'd likely go closer to 36". Maybe attach the stemware holders to one side. Perhaps some sort of LED strips for interior illumination.

Our deck needs to be redone (the cheap wood was still oozing sap for probably 5+ years, so the stain didn't stick), but we have too many mosquitos to make that a priority. A classy midcentury modern piece of heirloom quality furniture seems like a far more satisfying project.


Fxck Cancer!


6.02.2020

"Ugly Americans" On Display

Last evening Trump authorized tear gas canisters shot at peaceful protestors outside of the White House. All to clear a path so that he could have a brief photo op with a Bible prop in front of a church across the street (apparently Barr's idea). He also authorized military presence in every city of every state -- upon 0 requests for such action from any states. We've become the authoritarian nation that we've declared war upon countless times in my 47 years. White nationalists/"Boogaloos" are chomping at the bit for civil war.

Earlier today, Joe Biden spoke in response to the nation. The often whispered, gentle, measured, reassuring, and compassionate words that follow are such a stark contrast from what we've been subjected to over the past 3.5 years.
Biden wasn't my first choice in the primary. He wasn't even my 3rd choice. But I will gladly vote for him on November 3. He will bring with him the sort of cabinet that Obama employed. And he is already acting presidential, nearly 8 months out from inauguration. We just need to get him there. The coming 5 months until election will be long and painful. Protests and riots nationwide (and worldwide) have overshadowed the still very terrifying reality of Covid-19. Trump is still doing everything in his power to position roadblocks between voters and their polls.



Fxck Cancer!


5.31.2020

"Quarantinis" -- my newfound hobby

This won't be recipe blog format...I'm not going to write some screed requiring 20 minutes of reading, just to get to the desired concoction.

In light of governor-mandated (luv my guv -- Gretchen Whitmer!) homebody-ism (as opposed to our pre-covid homebody norm), everyone seems to be picking up hobbies and crafts. As a proper WI girl, my chosen hobby is to make an existing or create a new Martini-of-the-Week. They'll all be vodka-based, because gin is nasty. Sorry, not sorry. Plus they're cheaper than our recent $30/bottle wine fixation.

"True Blood" martini.
In the future I might try to take photos with better lighting...but probably not.
Last night's creation I'm dubbing True Blood...because we've been binging the Sookie Stackhouse vampire dramady series on HBO in recent weeks.

As we were drinking these, riots and looting were taking place by opportunistic assholes in Grand Rapids, after a peaceful protest against the killing of George Floyd by police in Minneapolis.

So...the beverage. It's kind of a variation on a cosmo, but using tart cherry juice.

Recipe makes 2.

True Blood Martini

6oz. vodka
juice of 1/2 lime
1 TB Luxardo™ maraschino cherry syrup
5oz tart cherry juice

Add vodka, lime juice, Luxardo syrup (spooned from a jar of Luxardo maraschino cherries), cherry juice and ice to shaker (ours has marks up to 12oz., hence the close estimate for added juice quantity), shake, and strain into glasses. Garnish with Luxardo cherries and lime wedges. Cheers!

Next week I think I'll take on the lemon drop. DH has never had one.



Fxck Cancer!


5.26.2020

Unofficially Summer

Yesterday was Memorial Day -- the official unofficial kick-off of Summer...at least in the Great Lakes states this has always been the case. This year it also has evidently been the unofficial end of Covid-19, based-upon the actions of a disconcerting # of people. I fear a steep learning curve waits just around the corner.

In Michigan, as in much of the US, people loaded-up their vehicles and campers and headed to the usual tourist hot-spots. Northern MI and the Upper Peninsula (aka "the U.P.") were open for business, as their infection numbers have remained low. Yesterday traffic was backed-up as travelers hit the toll booths before crossing the Mackinac bridge to return to quarantine. 2 SYMPTOMATIC people from out-of-state also made their way up to Traverse City...and then were tested positive. One was hospitalized, one had to quarantine alone in a hotel room for 2 weeks. Stupid shits.

As nauseating as those photos of the bridge traffic were to see, places outside of MI were experiencing their own shitshows. Mobs of mask-less people people flocked to crowded destinations without elbow-room. As easily as the 'rona spreads on cruise ships, in 2-3 weeks we can almost certainly expect outbreaks all over the place.

click for full-size graphic
It's only a matter of time before I give up and completely unfriend a few remaining conspiracy theorists on FB, as well. The one who was homeschooled and completed only 2 years of CC doesn't surprise me -- she's the same one who shared a BS video when I was on chemo (the video was some garbage doctor claiming that something like 96% of people who undergo chemo die. 100% of people who undergo life die. I'm not sure what this clown was trying to prove. Nothing about that claim was factual. Not undergoing chemo/immunotherapy for advanced cancer is pretty much a 100% death sentence in a relatively short time). Surprise, she is also an anti-vaxxer!

The ones who really get my dander up are the RN who believes anything Trump spouts (including debunked claims of dangerous meds miraculously curing infected patients) and the public school teacher who latches onto conspiracy theories and will not let go, not even when her sibling and other educated people spell-out why those making the claims are not to be trusted (people with direct connection to Trump who are clearly working to undermine epidemiologists and avert attention from Trump's shit handling of the situation since day 1) and/or share links to peer-reviewed studies that present reality.

2 days ago should have been my first duathlon of 2020. In spite of having gained at least 10# in the past couple of months, my runs have slowly been getting faster. I'm back into the 11 minute average pace range, which doesn't sound fast (and would probably be nearing 10 minute range, without the weight gain), but I've been stuck in the 12 minute range (or slower) since I was first undergoing chemo 3 years ago. My outdoor gravel rides have been strong. I feel like I could have had a really good race. It's surreal that I'm still trying to outsmart Death, only now...Death isn't in the form of rogue cells in my body, but danger from others that I can't control. In some ways Cancer was easier.

Speaking of that Devil, I'm only 2 weeks away from my next port-flush and bloodwork, then 3 days later I have my next CT scan. The events of this past holiday weekend and locals clearly becoming rapidly less careful to prevent Covid-19 spread have me pretty nervous about going out amongst others. The last time I was out in public was for a port-flush. That was mid-April. It's a good thing I don't really miss most public interactions. Nor do my spouse or kid (the kid sees plenty of people in his essential job, though he does miss his GF and we miss her parents, too). Mostly we miss going to the movies. If I had to pick one public activity that could be resumed without risk of picking-up that virus, enjoying a big-screen movie or two every month would be it.



Fxck Cancer!


5.03.2020

Death is Not the Only Damage

Something I'm noticing in too many discussions of Covid and the relatively high rate of survival in healthy people under retirement age...is that these conversations are missing the entire picture. Sure, many of us who contract this virus will survive, but many of us will not survive unscathed. Some people have never personally tangled with Cancer, and it shows. Survival doesn't come without a cost. The same holds true with this devil.

Even relatively asymptomatic Covid-19 survivors are being found to have damage to a variety of organs...lungs, heart, liver, kidney, neurological, intestinal.... As someone who has survived a fatal disease, but not without permanent internal organ damage/loss, I just really want to slap people who minimize the seriousness of living out the rest of their days without all of their critical organs intact and fully functional. A friend-of-a-friend developed blood clots and scary high blood-pressure. Otherwise healthy people in their 30s and 40s have suffered strokes.

Courtesy of Cancer I'm already missing some of these body parts that Covid can damage. You're a big fucking dumbass if you think this is NBD. Think about several more decades with even minor damage to any one of these necessary organs...or damage to a combo. Trust me, you don't want to go there.

#s are steadily rising in my county and the county to our immediate north...as well as the greater Grand Rapids area to our east. Shit's bound to get ugly before the end of the month. The dipshits congregating in packs who forced our state park to close, yesterday (in addition to the long lines of people shunning social distancing in favor of batter-fried hot dogs), may finally get the wake-up call they so crucially need. Unfortunately, they are bound to throw under the bus a bunch of us who have been diligent in our adherence to safety protocols. American exceptionalism is so ugly.


Fxck Cancer!


4.27.2020

The Covid 19 (not to be confused with Covid-19)

In the same vein as the long accepted college Freshman 15, it's already becoming an accepted theory that many of us will find ourselves putting-on the Covid 19. It's probably not a good thing that I'm already halfway to this chonky milestone. It's especially bad, considering the fact that in the first week or two of shelter-at-home I was so petrified that I was mildly queasy and lacking appetite...so I lost 2-3# before gaining 9ish over my baseline. Jeez.

Can I blame Target? I ordered some toiletries and needed to add $5 to qualify for free shipping...so I threw in a 2# bag of Jelly Belly™ beans. That sort of set me off on a carb binge. Stuff I was somehow able to avoid from brick-and-mortar stores became suddenly so tempting when delivered to my front door. Plus all the delicious breads DH has been making...and wine. And difficulty procuring fresh produce when we're only hitting the store every 7-10 days. All on top of cutting back on my mileage to not overly tax my immune system.

I really don't want to log all of my calories, as "dieting" would add another source of anxiety to an already stressful existence, but it may come down to that to slow my rolls.

At the very least, I need to do a better job pacing myself for the next year or two of this viral "marathon".


Fxck Cancer!


4.25.2020

Every day a new nightmare!

My craving for knowledge has a definite downside in the time of Covid-19. Literally EVERY day there is a newly uncovered Coronavirus horror. Yesterday it was a story re: the discovery that some people in their 30s-40s -- without pre-existing issues -- are suffering (and frequently dying) from blood clots and strokes. A friend-of-a-friend without history of high blood pressure or clotting issues just recently was diagnosed with both, shortly after receiving a + test for Covid-19.

Other asymptomatic people are developing rashes, particularly on hands and feet. To think...we all initially were under the impression that lung issues were the worst symptom associated with this virus. The reality is that people have been diagnosed with damage to heart, liver, kidneys, intestines/colon, and brain. Even those who have had "mild" symptoms.

Yesterday I ran a "virtual race"...my first 3 mile race (vs. the standard 5k distance). I didn't race it so much as spend the time thinking about my online running friends who are also participating in their own socially-distanced distance runs of varying lengths. I probably won't be participating in very many of these sorts of events. There are a lot of fee-based virtual races that send participants a shirt and medal, but I don't really "get" the concept of a race that doesn't have a start/finish line, timing, and the social component of the event. Some of these events have people run a specified distance, then record their time...which assumes that everyone is honest (nevermind the fact that no 2 people are running exactly the same route at the same time and under identical conditions). Anyone using Zwift for more than a ride or two knows exactly how that plays out.

I'm halfway through the 45-49 age group and have managed only 3 races. I was really looking forward to a year full of duathlons on my brand new tri bike. Now I'm just hoping that races might return before I move up to the 50-54 age division. Even if they were to be held in 2021, until there's a widely available vaccine and/or successful drug treatments, I won't be participating.

For now I'm downgrading my mileage goals for the year (run: 700 --> 550mi, bike: 3300 -- > 2500mi). My goals are no longer competition-focused, but with the intent to maintain moderate fitness, keep my immune system from becoming overtaxed, and to avoid injury.


Fxck Cancer!


4.14.2020

Every Day's a Blur

And every day I go to bed with the relief that we're one day closer to a vaccine and a [hopeful] end to this pandemic nightmare. And every day I wake up with a moment of innocence...before reality enters and takes a shit on my reverie.

I'm finding a sort of pattern to my days. Good days alternating with bad. Good hours alternating with bad. My runs are good if I choose routes that would otherwise be unsettling. No more runs on scenic public paths or gravel roads with minimal vehicular traffic. These are now the domain of noob runners and pedestrians that seem ignorant of social distancing guidelines, much less which side of  the road they should be on (the left...facing traffic, FYI). Suddenly playing chicken with cars while sticking to gravel shoulders is my best bet for avoiding humanity.

It's a shame, as the path that runs right by our subdivision is <1 year old and we eagerly awaited its installation for years. It was supposed to be a safe place to run, separated from car traffic. Frustrating irony.

In the past week I've unfriended and snoozed more people on FB than in the previous decade+ that I've used that social media platform. I have utterly 0 patience for shit-for-brains who criticize our governor's protective responses to the virus. MI currently sits at #3 for cases. Most positive tests, hospitalizations, and deaths have taken places on the other side of the state, so a disturbingly large percentage of residents on this side of the state don't think we should be held to the same standards as the Detroit area. There's a clear lack of Scientific comprehension amongst local Trump-supporters. I wouldn't give a fuck what these imbeciles did, were they only endangering themselves and their families/friends. But that's not how this virus works.

My son is an "essential" retail employee. Which means he gets paid shit and is expendable. But he loves his job and he really is needed. And with Autism, it is extra important that he has some socialization while most of us are sheltering at home. I just hope we won't regret him working, now. Every night when he returns home we have him strip down to his underwear in the garage, toss his work clothes in a storage tub, dump the clothes in the washing machine, and immediately shower.

Tomorrow I have a scheduled infusion port flush. I've had anxiety over this for a month. I'll be glad to have it behind me, as my next one isn't for another 7ish weeks, along with blood work leading up to my next CT scan. I only fear that things could be so much worse, then. By then I expect some businesses will be back to business-as-usual and we will have our 2nd round of infections. This area isn't likely to avoid mass virus outbreak for long if beaches and factories are fully open.

After my port flush I'm hoping to find some TP (and Lysol, paper towel, hand sanitizer, etc.) at a nearby Target. That seems like a safer option than heading to Meijer, as Target only carries limited groceries. People have been hoarding these necessities in such ridiculous quantities that we've been unable to find any of the above in close to a month. So thankful for my bidet!!

I'd be crazy not to fill my half empty (half full?) gas tank before returning home, too. Gas has fallen to <$1/gallon, since no one is driving. It's done wonders for air quality, so that's a plus, too. As soon as I return home I'll be doing the garage-strip-down-followed-by-shower routine.


Fxck Cancer!


4.02.2020

Posted to FB...

Stuff I pondered on today's run:
• 3 years ago I was mid-chemo
• 2 years ago I was recovering from ileostomy reversal
• 1 year ago I was preparing to lose a lung lobe
• 1 month ago I was training for my first full race season back from 3 years of Hell, on a brand new bike to celebrate tenuous survival

Now I'm preparing for year 4 of putting my life on hold and isolation. Chemo forced me to isolate. Ileostomy reversal forced me to isolate due to (fortunately temporary) severe low anterior resection syndrome (google that. It involved me wearing a diaper at 45). A year ago I struggled to attend my son's HS graduation, since I could barely breathe.

Folks, if you are healthy, still employed, and still have insurance...isolation for a couple of months and to a lesser degree until a vaccination is out in <1 year is really doable. You're reading this on social media. You have streaming entertainment and video-chat. Go spend some time on Cancer Twitter to comprehend what social distancing is like for those of us who have been practicing it for years. Those of us who have been enduring this long-term did so without the rest of the world having any firsthand empathy. We've watched our peers out enjoying the life we weren't able to. I've spent so many days of the past 3 years in tears as I looked at photos and/or read reports of favorite races that I was missing...year after year. This year I registered for races that will be cancelled and I'll be out money, but at least I'm not alone in my misery.

Fxck Cancer!


3.28.2020

2 Weeks of Quarantine

The last time I was out in public was 3/13. I saw my PCP to make sure that I had a script for albuterol and to get a referral for a Dexa (bone density) scan. Now the Dexa scan is postponed for an indeterminate time, along with my yearly mammo. I'm officially done with allergy shots after 6 years, too. I had been on maintenance for 5 years, so I still received the bulk of benefit, fortunately.

I have a port flush scheduled in 2.5 weeks. I'm pretty terrified about that. A friend on Twitter posted something suggesting that a person could safely stretch a port flush out to every 12 weeks, instead of every 6-8. So I may see if I can at least go to 10, which would buy me a month. Will things be more resolved in 6ish weeks...? I don't know. We're nowhere near peak, here. On the other side of the state (Detroit area), things are rapidly becoming desperate.

People in my community are still behaving like idiots. White, suburbanite Jesus freaks who clearly believe that bad things only happen to poor minorities and/or city-dwellers. Some folks are in for a very rude awakening. Neighbors are still congregating elbow-to-elbow. Kids are still playing roller hockey, basketball, and climbing-around on playgrounds. Parents defend these activities by imploring that "kids still need to be kids." No, motherfuckers...kids still need to not be disease vectors for everyone else. And there are kids being diagnosed and dying or suffering permanent lung damage, as well.

Lots of chatter about people still shopping for non-essentials where my son works. Fuuuuckkk...you morons don't need to be buying mulch and landscaping, now. These were not essential activities pre-COVID-19.

I'm no longer doing my solo runs on paved paths. They're too busy -- both in terms of walkers/runners/cyclists and cars on the adjacent road (my car has not left our garage since that previously mentioned doctor's visit). Last night I opted for a nearby gravel road. And it was MUCH more enjoyable. I felt like I had literal breathing room. Plus I was able to enjoy a truly surreal and comical moment. I heard Flock of Seagulls' "I Ran" coming out of the woods. I thought I was in the middle of some bizzaro dream-sequence and found myself nervously giggling. As I rounded a corner I spotted a guy on his ATV with a boombox heading down his long driveway.


I'm still finding plenty to occupy me...workouts, reading, endless streaming content (Tiger King...OMG!!), pet care, going to bed earlier and getting better sleep.... So far, I think Cymbalta is really helping with my sleep and I'm mostly not feeling like I'm climbing the walls and holding my breath. I hope that continues. I now suspect that I would have benefitted from this as soon as I was diagnosed with Cancer, too.


Fxck Cancer!


3.22.2020

My watch says it's Sunday

I woke up this AM and briefly thought it was Monday...and wondered why my DH was downstairs watching his stories, rather than in his home office. Every moment of every day for about the past 9 days has been completely FUBARd.

Like everyone else around me, I vacillate between being utterly petrified and unable to do more than stare without focusing at nothing...unable to breathe and feeling like my heart would explode. This is broken-up by brief moments of feeling like everything will be OK. But I have NO reasons to believe that everything will be OK. 6 people in my county have now been confirmed +. I have to believe that the real # is at least 10x greater...and that is almost certainly an extreme low-ball estimate.

My son works in a retail environment. He doesn't have a lot of direct contact with customers and tends to work quieter hours...but it's a grocery/dept. store (competitor to Wal-Mart). His job is important. He'll be receiving at least a week or two of $2/hourly bonus. It's not enough for the risk he faces. Finally truckers and retailers and food service and nurses and teachers are getting the appreciation they always should have received. In the future when there is discussion of people not deserving a livable minimum wage, I hope people will drill home how critical these folks were to everyone's survival during this dark period.

I got in a run under overcast skies, today. Time spent outdoors is more necessary to my entire health than ever before. I had planned for 5, but the cold and smokey air (WTF, It really shouldn't have to be said while in the midst of a pandemic that DESTROYS people's lungs...but don't burn fucking leaves!) and the feeling like my immune system would benefit from less-is-more led me to cutting a mile from the planned distance.

After 3 doses of Cymbalta, I am finding that the undesirable side effects are lessening. The first couple of AMs I had some wooziness and eyesight focus issues for the first couple of hours. By 3pm I felt pretty normal. Today I really felt mostly normal right from the get-go. Sleep has been pretty typical for the past 2 nights, too. Never enough, but I'm getting deep sleep, so that's a good sign.

Also, it seems to be helping my hot flashes (which have never really been too awful, fortunately), which is welcome, since my oncologist has nixed HRT. Perhaps it's placebo effect, but I feel like I'm able to take deep breaths for the first time since before I lost my lung lobe, too. I have to wonder how much of my reduced lung function was legitimate panic attacks, rather than functional/volume reductions from the lung loss.


Fxck Cancer!

3.20.2020

The Hits Just Keep Comin'!

aka: Cymbalta, Day 1

I took my first 60mg, 1/day capsule, last night. Oh, man, I knew to expect some onboarding side-effects, but I feel SO gross! Apparently for the first week or two it's not at all unexpected to experience dizzy/wooziness, insomnia, nausea, and diarrhea. YES, I have all of the above! I really hope this shit works, because I'd hate to have to wean-off in a month or two, only to go through similar with a different med.

I'm still planning on pedaling a few miles in Watopia, but it may be really slow and I am not sure I'll make it much more than maybe 45 min.

And I'm still waking and having a brief moment of forgetting reality. It feels like the predictions for how this might play out and how long we'll all be in quarantine are expanded with every passing day. Can I avoid catching this for that long? If I were to catch it, would I survive...? Could we have a vaccine and/or treatments before the worst might hit my family...?

Fxck Cancer!


3.19.2020

I'm not sure what day it is...

...But it's the first day of Spring.

14 years ago I started Couch-to-5k on the 1st day of Spring. I had 0 intentions of doing more than a bucket-list 5k race, then getting bored and going back to my sloth-like ways.

Well, it didn't actually play-out that way. 14 years later and I'm still an endurance junkie in running shoes and on bikes, though my distances and speed have both taken a major hit subsequent to cancer.

My regular cardio workouts have certainly given me a leg-up with cancer survival and mental health.  I really never felt that I needed more than an occasional Ativan to turn off the parts of my brain that were spinning-out when I was first diagnosed and surrounding routine scans (aka "scanxiety"). But it turns out my aerobic activities aren't adequately quieting the Fear Beast of COVID-19. I'm actually feeling so frozen into place that I'm struggling to get myself to throw on my workout clothes, lace up my shoes, and go. When I do drag myself out the door or down to the basement to my Zwift set-up, I find myself struggling not to cry. And failing at that, 50% of the time. Today I called my PCP/PA re: anti-anxiety/depression meds for long-term use. He is starting me on Cymbalta.

I'm hoping this won't be a permanent thing. These meds don't come without their own set of risks and side-effects. I hope the world goes back to a place where we can leave our homes and not risk our lives, simply by breathing the air, shaking hands, or hugging friends. I desperately need so many hugs, right now. I need to be with close friends and sharing a meal and laughs. I desperately need to take in a distracting movie. Insult added to injury is that Wonder Woman 1984 is likely to not release, this year. We were able to take in the first WW film very early into my cancer journey. Now I don't have my favorite super-heroine to save me, even if for only 120 minutes.

Fxck Cancer!


3.16.2020

I can't even come up with a good title

COVID-19. Pretty sure this is a synonym for Hell. Here were are, trapped in our homes (assuming we're not the assholes shirking recommendations to remain sequestered from others). Yesterday I went out for what I was hoping would be a soothing 5 mile run in the sunshine. Instead I returned irritated by the sheer # of people suddenly taking to the outdoors. I know I shouldn't gripe about the ones who were being responsible and simply enjoying walking/running/cycling solo, in pairs, or as families. But I ran through a nearby park and a group of about 20 teenage boys playing football left me so enraged and sad and scared.

In the pre-Coronavirus world, the same sight would have left me thrilled. Kids setting down the phones, tablets, and game controllers to be active and social. But, for now, it's entirely irresponsible. Nearly as irresponsible as the people packing bars and restaurants. As a result, in <1 hour our governor (MI) has declared these establishments all close to general business. Only take-out and delivery will be permitted. I'm so thankful for her relatively speedy response to the pandemic.

The horrors of the past 3 years under Trump have only been amplified. It feels like a new piece of evidence of his selfish mismanagement is coming to light every day. His sycophants are unswayed. It's clear that nothing will change on this front. I'm not even certain that losing friends and family members would smack any sense into these people if nothing else in the past 3 years has. So many still believe this is a hoax and are behaving irresponsibly to "own the libs."

I minored in Sociology. Never before has the concept of "American exceptionalism" been so starkly demonstrated. A shocking number of comments I've read in the past 3 days state that we're somehow different from the rest of the world. As if our immune systems are superior to the immune systems of members of our species in other industrialized nations. Fuck, our healthcare is inferior to every one of our peers. Wake up, assholes!

I am pretty much constantly numb with terror. In many ways this is far worse than the early days of my Cancer diagnosis. At least then I felt reasonably confident in my oncologist's reassurances that he could "cure" me. Now there is no one able to offer similar soothing words. We're all flying blind. I have so many risk factors. Just 1 would be unnerving, for certain. But asthma on top of a missing lung lobe on top of damage to my immune system from chemo that ended >2 years ago... The only things in my favor are age (47) and aerobic fitness. Reading the medical accounts of what this virus can do to even healthy lungs leaves me quite literally breathless.

Selfishly I mourn the fact that my entire 2020 race season will likely be cancelled. This was to be my first full race season since my cancer diagnosis 3 years ago. My beautiful new tri bike may not see the light of day, this year...or at least not in competition. 2/3 races I've paid for will likely not offer refunds. 1 will only be refunded because I paid for available race insurance. I wish all races offered insurance coverage. DH and I joined Fxck Cancer Endurance Club (link below) to raise money for cancer screenings and support. Our kits may go unworn, but we'll still raise money. This viral menace makes that all the more necessary.

We'll almost certainly be cancelling a family trip in May. Until life is more certain and DH is able to return to work, my vivarium will remain frogless (nervous energy will have some killer-looking plants and isopoda, though!). If even one of us were to land in the hospital, then daily feedings wouldn't likely be possible.

My upcoming mammogram and dental cleaning will be postponed. After 5 years of allergy shots, I will be discontinuing my monthly maintenance injections. The risk inherent in keeping these appointments outweighs any benefits.

I remain cautiously hopeful that life will go on, but I don't think it's going to be in 2 weeks. Probably not even in 2 months. My son's community college (as well as every other college/university in the state) cancelled classes through early April. It's almost certain they won't be returning to classes this school year. Public schools have followed suit. College and HS seniors are faced with not being able to graduate after years of hard work.

It's no hyperbole to say that I feel like I've aged a decade in 3 years time.

Fxck Cancer!


2.29.2020

Leap Day

It seems fairly appropriate that I've spent the last week overhauling my 29g bioactive terrarium that will eventually house 3 dart frogs. I got a bug up my butt to rescape it, and am SO glad I did. It seemed to make the most sense to move it into the room where my 50g aquarium sits (which will eventually be converted into a 36"x18"x18" terrarium...maybe in another year, when my last 4 dwarf neon rainbow fish have likely reached the end of their 3-5 year life expectancy. Mine are ~4, now. I'll rehome my Siamese algae eater -- 10 year life expectancy -- and the eternally renewing stock of Endler guppies), prior to the remodel. Now I can see both tanks from my desk area. It's nice to keep all of the critter maintenance stuff in one space, too.

I removed the scraggliest bits of Wandering Jew vine and added a new little Austral fern and Jewel Orchid. Those should provide some nice frog cover, once critters are added sometime around late May/early June.



Jewel Orchid + Zebra Isopod photo-bomber (part of my "clean-up" crew)
I failed to take many "before" shots, but above are some currents. I still need to add some moss seed and give that a few months to become established, toss into the trash a patch of sheet moss that failed to thrive, and clean the glass inside and out. Part of relocating the tank included rotating it 180º. It had been a paludarium (terrarium/aquarium hybrid that housed some red devil crabs) for a short time. Our tap water splattered on the front of the glass from a little waterfall feature and left some super stubborn limescale deposits that wouldn't scrape off. Hours with a terrarium-safe mineral-removing gel wouldn't touch it, either. This will no longer be an issue, as the terrarium's future amphibian inhabitants require distilled or reverse-osmosis water.
Hot-Mess "Before"
I enjoyed a lovely run in the sunshine, though it was far colder than it looked. That will change overnight. I am SO ready for 40s! Time to start pulling out some lighter/shorter tights and thinner tops. Soon the gloves and heavier hats can be stashed-away. I am READY! I'm actually starting to get burned-out on Zwift rides, too. I really want to get out on my new tri bike. I'm curious to see how it handles on the roads. My previous tri bike was never properly fit to me and didn't inspire confidence in handling. I only raced once on that bike and was already feeling the effects of the yet undiagnosed cancer. Now I'm all kind of slow (at least on-foot) from all of the surgeries and treatments. I hope there's still a ton of room for improvement. <3 months before I start setting some new post-cancer PRs with my new ride.

2.18.2020

Another Year Down!

Yesterday marked the 3 year anniversary of my cancer diagnosis. With every passing year, my odds of a normal life expectancy increase. 3 years is a pretty big milestone. 5 is the ultimate goal...though still no guarantee. It's still not rare for colorectal cancer cells to linger "dormant" for a decade or more.

But I'll take my 3, gladly! Especially as one who has had a lung metastasis. The vast majority of stage 4 colorectal cancer patients require chemo for life. And that life is often relatively short, unfortunately. I've already lost so many friends to this disease. Fit, otherwise healthy people <50.

Last night I celebrated by attending my monthly bunco game...and eating so much delicious junk. Then arrived home to leftover pizza -- yay!

Today I finally got around to applying some sweet decals to my Christmas present 2019 Canyon Speedmax CF 8.0 tri bike. A friend-of-friends does vinyl decals and designed it for me. It looks so amazing! I'll be adding some random red and blue stars. Those aren't my fancy aero wheels in the photo. My good wheels have yellow (Mavic) decals that the WW decal nicely picks-up. Eventually my pursuit bars will have blue bar tape to match the blue in these decals (and the blue stars). I really can't wait to ride this outdoors, in spite of the fact that I'm pretty happy to roll around on Zwift most of  the time. I don't have to worry about inattentive or downright aggressive motorists on Zwift.

I also spent a decent amount of time, today, working on my terrarium and researching potential occupants. It's been a long-term work-in progress. At one point it was a paludarium with a water feature and briefly held about a half-dozen red devil crabs. They were adorable and entertaining, but the largest one was a serious asshole and went around beating up and killing all of his tankmates...until he was alone and died an angry little man (I think it was a male, anyhow). They aren't typically a species that doesn't play well together, but it apparently only takes one rotten apple.

I'm not entirely pleased with my current set-up, but it's mostly because I'm working with the limitations of using a 29g aquarium as a terrarium (and a section of the glass has horrible limescale build-up that we've been unable to remove from a "crabitat" water feature). A purpose-built terrarium would be be preferable. Something taller and deeper. Someday when all the fish in my 50g aquarium are gone, I want to put a terrarium with the same footprint on that stand. My aquarium is 36x18x18. I'd like a 24" tall terrarium with doors that open on the front, rather than trying to dig around from overhead to prune plants. I really enjoy the planted/scaped aspect of terrarium/vivariums and would like to be able to have some taller plants. Perhaps with a couple of rough green snakes (very small, skinny, bright green snakes that eat only bugs -- no rodent friends for dinner). Or maybe more frogs.

Ranitomeya amazonica 
I'm kind of smitten with these tiny guys. They're a "thumbnail" poison dart frog. It appears that they will get along in small groups, so 3-4 should do OK in my set-up. And they will love all of my dwarf bromeliads. They should happily hang out in those and breed in ones that hold water in their center cups (fun fact, pineapple are bromeliads!).

I won't likely be adding any little frogs to my terrarium until May. We're planning a week-long road-trip out West and these little guys need daily feeding until they are full-grown. I don't know anyone locally who I could trust to come in every day to feed wingless fruit flies or teensy crickets. Plus I may have to have them overnight shipped and it's still too cold for little froggies to travel to MI.

Fxck Cancer!


2.12.2020

I'm Toast!

Every birthday since 34 I've logged on-foot or on-bike some sort of numerically significantly distance, as I started running just after my 33rd bday. The runs were generally something like 1/10 - 1/5 my age, because I'm not so unhinged as to run my age (though I DO have friends of questionable sanity who run their age -- but most of them have warmer weather birthdays, live in places that don't have a legit Winter, or are actual ultra runners who think nothing of throwing-down a few runs > marathon distance/year). Cycling my age has never been an unreasonable # of miles...but riding indoors pre-Zwift just plain sucked, even for what would be modest outdoor mileage.

Last year was my first birthday with Zwift and I was recovered enough from 2017 Cancer treatments and surgeries and ileostomy reversal in Spring of 2018 to log my 46 miles on the nowhere bike.

Today's 47 miles played out similarly...my lungs are likely closing-in on as well-adapted as I can expect after losing my right upper lobe, early last May (the remaining lobes expand to fill much of the space and work of the missing lobe).

I logged 25 miles solo in "Watopia", changed into a clean, sweat-free kit, pee'd, grabbed a snack, then trundled back down to the basement to finish my distance with a group event on the cyber-rendition of Richmond, VA's UCI World Championships course. The last 6ish miles of that ride were solo, again, including the climb-y bits of the course.

I feel incredibly fortunate to still be alive, much less fitter than probably 3/4 of women my age. This morning I learned that another member of the colorectal cancer community is no longer with us. Another woman who was fit, otherwise healthy, and <50 when diagnosed. Yet another reminder that this is not solely a disease afflicting sedentary, elderly people.

I don't know how many more years I'll be able to "ride my age," but I'll continue to do so for as long as my health allows. Perhaps at 50 or 60 I'll need to set a goal of 1/2 the miles corresponding to my years on the planet. But to not do at least that much feels like it would be to squander the gift of continued existence, even if Cancer has slowed me down, a bit.


Fxck Cancer!


2.11.2020

By Popular Demand

Posting only because I always seem to lose track of this image (and runner friends are regularly trying to locate it, as well). It's been over a decade since I last ran a marathon, but I am still no stranger to "tweaks" the week or so before a big race (mostly duathlons, in recent years -- Olympic distance is my jam). Nowadays I have more scanxiety in my life than I do taper madness....


I have no idea who created this graphic, but it's good stuff and a true classic.


Fxck Cancer!

This Town Needs an Enema!

I am totally NOT a fan of MI in February...or January. November is less snowy, but cold and a fugly mix of brown and gray. March is the same. I essentially loathe half of the year, here in the Upper Midwest. I don't tolerate cold well, particularly not after chemo and losing a lung lobe (not to mention the risks of falls or repeatedly re-spraining my bum left ankle. My hips and pelvis are likely in weak shape after pelvic radiation and cancer-induced premature menopause. I'm too old for that shit). And the quality of our heated indoor air seems to exacerbate my lungs, indoors. It's a lose-lose.

The potential for sun in this forecast is relatively high for Winter, here, believe it or not.

Zwift is awesome, but even that generally amazing app has its limitations. I think the ability to make it play nice with our freebie treadmill with that new Runn device will help, but it won't replace outdoor running. Cabin fever is legit. I feel like SAD has become a thing for me. As a kid I LOVED Winter, but I've not really enjoyed it at all since I was 30-ish.

The Groundhog didn't see his shadow, which I believe portends an early Spring, but it doesn't really matter. I still look out my window at a non-sexual 50 shades of grey and want nothing more than to hop in my car and head to New Mexico, never looking back.

Why NM? Because of this.

Las Cruces looks like my idea of Nirvana. The weather, the scenery, the terrain, the food, beer, wine...weather (yeah, I said weather twice -- they average only 60 cloudy days/year. 5 cloudy days/month sounds ideal)! And it's not a big city, nor a small town -- depending upon how the population is defined, it's somewhere between 100-200k people. We currently live in a town of ~10k and it's a bit too insular. The locals are none-too-welcoming to new people. In particular to new people who are not relatively far right of center, politically. 70% of voters in our county supported Trump in the last election...and I don't see many signs of that changing this Nov., unfortunately.

I've even found a "dream house" (though I'm not sure what the elevation options might be). 2192sq. ft with room for a home gym/storage and space for Dane to visit with possible future offspring and/or my brother or friends. Housing would appear to be significantly cheaper, in that region, than it is, here.

The downside of DH having a good job with a great company is that we're kinda stuck here until he retires. That feels like a lifetime away. And life feels awfully short, in light of my last 3 years. I get really down at the thought that if Cancer were to become an unwelcome guest, again (odds are not in my favor), I'd be trapped in an upstairs bedroom (since the only full baths in our house are on the upstairs floor) for the last days of my life. Perhaps it's not normal to dwell on death like this on the eve of one's 47th birthday, but it's not normal to have stage 4 colorectal cancer since age 44, either. If I'm going to die at home, I'd at least like to see blue skies out the window and have the ability to be wheeled-around the entirety of my home, including outdoors. My dad died in a basement apartment. He didn't have any access to the outdoors for the last weeks of his life. That has really stuck with me, as I have endured the very same Cancer that killed him. These are the sorts of thoughts that keep me up at night. And I'm up a lot at night, thanks to the long-term effects of trying to remove all of the known cancer in my body, along with some pretty critical body parts (learn all about LARS, Low Anterior Resection Syndrome).


Fxck Cancer!

Cyclist Problems



Fxck Cancer!

2.10.2020

Ooh, shiny!

Heads-up for my running friends. Zwift Run is still in free beta testing. This turns any treadmill into a smart treadmill, for all intents and purposes.

This $100 gadget is nifty -- early birthday gift from my hubby who researched it and saw glowing reviews, including from DC Rainmaker!

I'd pretty much given up on trying to do Zwift running, short of spending $$ on a Stryd pod or upgrading to a smart treadmill. I couldn't really get my Apple Watch or Scosche Rhythm 24 armband to work reliably for HR and speed/cadence. This thing seems bang-on accurate for speed. In theory it might be able to read cadence, but I think it likely depends upon where it's positioned alongside the belt (we set it up way at the back where there's a perfect flat/smooth spot away from where I would errantly kick it). I'll likely just wear my Scosche armband for HR and cadence.

Way cool!

And now we're guaranteed to have an early Spring.


Fxck Cancer!

Relevant to My Interests

The month I was diagnosed just happens to be Cancer Prevention Month. Oh, the irony....



Fxck Cancer!

I couldn't help myself...

...so, welcome to zoomydu.wtf.

Hilarious.


Fxck Cancer!

.WTF!

So I'm looking at top-level/custom domains for this stream-of-consciousness written heap. I'm highly amused at the thought of registering one of the following:
.wtf
.run
.bike
.fail
.rocks

Of course, .bike is $10/year more than .run. I can only imagine how $$ .tri would be compared to both!! Kinda leaning towards .wtf. It's a shame there is no .du. Zoomydu.du would be incredible! I could do .me or .us....

#2...

Post number, not a poop joke. 💩 Though those have been a mainstay of my life for the past 3 years.

I'm reasonably certain that no other cancer carries a greater potential for humor than colorectal cancer...aside from anal cancer, perhaps. Sometimes the treatments/"cures" require humor to make survival worth the misery.

While I'm still not in a great place -- the constant fear of recurrence weighs so heavy, 24/7 -- the 2 years of near constant treatments and surgeries is somewhere I hope I never find myself, again. Stats are not in my favor. That lung met means that cancer cells were swimming around my entire body until filtered-out by an organ. A cell or two got trapped in my lung to develop into a metastasis. The odds of that being the only spot are slim. With every passing day my likelihood of having this in the rearview increases...but I'm still 2-3 years out from when my oncologist might deem me "cured". And I know FAR too many people who have received that "no evidence of disease" (NED) declaration, only to have cancer return 5-10 years later. Those were often cells that laid dormant for longer than expected. That's a truly terrifying thing to ponder.

Running and cycling have done more than keep me in the best health/strength, possible -- before, during, and post-Cancer -- they have also acted as great distractions from the reality of my situation. There's no time to dwell on the what-ifs while Zwifting with thousands of fellow runners and cyclists from around the globe. The same holds true when I run outdoors and let myself be absorbed by Nature and my favorite podcasts.

This year Derek and I will be raising money to Fxck Cancer with other endurance athletes. It seems to me that there's no better use of my time doing the beneficial things that I love than to also benefit others and help prevent more late-stage Cancer diagnoses.

2.09.2020

New Post...New Blog

Not really sure where I'm going with this. I haven't blogged in nearly 5 years. Losing my nephew to a brainstem tumor right before Christmas 2013, then my dad <11 months later, and 2 years after that receiving my own cancer diagnosis (same cancer that killed my dad - colorectal)...well, it just made me not feel a whole lot like writing about anything at all, but especially shanked a running/cycling-heavy blog, since chemo, chemo-radiation, and surgeries (since diagnosis I have lost most of my sigmoid colon, rectum, and my right upper lung lobe to a metastatic spot) made those things such a monumental challenge. I still kept at it, because if there's one thing I'm good at, it's being a SLOW, stubborn broad, but exercise for fitness and mere survival just didn't seem all that entertaining to document. And I got tired of thinking about Cancer, much less writing about it. There were no races for 2017 and '18 and only later in 2019.

I've had a couple of clear CT scans, so 2020 marks my return to doing my run - bike - run thing. I've got a sexy new tri bike. I'm Zwifting my ass off (well, figuratively. I've still got 15#s more of that than I'd like). My kid is in his frosh year of college. When I last blogged he was still in middle school.

We're still in MI, but in the midst of the most loathsome season. It's been a mild one, but I just hate everything about Winter. New Mexico calls...the part with minimal snow and a scattering of palm trees. I love Zwift, but I'd really love to be able to run and bike outdoors year-round. I swear chemo made me extra cold-sensitive and increasingly heat-tolerant.

I probably won't be as regular about this as I'd like, but there have been times in the past year or so when I've had stuff I wanted to document someplace other than social media, but my old blog just didn't feel like the right spot, either. If I were really serious about this, I'd go to the hassle of a WordPress blog...but at nearly 47 I know me...and I hardly see the point of going that gung-ho. But I will probably register a domain, at some point. Mostly because the whole blogger.com thing kinda makes me cranky. I've tried to separate myself from the Google-Borg as much as possible.