Saturday, May 28, 2011

Time to Go!

My bags aren't packed yet, but by the end of the day, I'll be in Boston, ready to run the half-marathon tomorrow morning! The forecast looks very promising- cloudy and 65-75 degrees during the time I'll be running. I'm psyched and feel well prepared for this race. I was ready when I did it in the fall, but I had been dealing with significantly more injuries- hip and knee pain, a foot issue, and the pain of minor shin splints which seem to be inevitable for me. But this time around, things are are feeling a lot better- Thanks to custom running orthotics, conscientious stretching, and trail running many of my longer runs. I have developed a minor shin splint in the last few weeks, but with ice, it's been manageable.

I still haven't reached my fund raising goal, but I have hope that I'll still get there! If you are considering contributing, take a look at my page, and watch the video there. If it moves you, give a few dollars.

My actual 5-year cancerversary is Sunday, June 5th, but the celebration officially starts tomorrow at 8:00 AM.

Hope, Love, Run,
Marathon Girl

Monday, May 23, 2011


Lilly Oncology on Canvas Video...Awesome :) Look for me around 1:00

Write it Out

It's been almost two years since I finished writing the stories of my cancer experience. I wrote them all down in an effort to make sense of all the physical and emotional pain I experienced from the time I was diagnosed until I finished treatment, or at least I thought that was what I was doing.

When I originally started writing, I began with about ten blank Word documents, each titled some thing like, "The One When..." or "The One Where..." they were modeled after the ten seasons of Friends episodes I watched when I was first diagnosed and anything but sitcoms made me cry.

The documents were meant to be individual narratives that told the stories of the pivotal moments in my experience with cancer. But as I wrote one, I would think of two more experiences I needed to write about, and so I would create more blank documents, all with titles adhering to the same format. The more I wrote, the more stories I found I wanted- and needed- to tell. Some of the stories were emotional, others were funny, and there were others that I left blank for a long time because I knew that writing them would force me to relive experiences so painful I didn't know if I could put to words what had actually happened.

But eventually I did. In August, 2009, I wrote a final document, titled "The Last One." I then pieced the documents in order, and wrote a preface explaining them. I have only printed any of it once. I gave it to a friend to read, and have since emailed it to one other person. I recently began reading it again, and though I haven't yet reached the halfway point, I'm thinking when I get to the end, I'm going to feel like I have a lot more story to tell. I only told stories up to the point I finished treatment, and as it turns out, that wasn't really the end of the fight.

At the time, I felt I couldn't go too much further, because it was all too close to write about; it was my present life, not a memory. But now things are different, and I think maybe it's time to tell the rest of the story, the part that comes after treatment ends, but before I figured out who I really was after cancer.

I thought since I've been discussing it, I at least owe you a piece of the story. So here's "The Last One" which it turns out, isn't actually the last one, after all. It may still come at the end when I finish telling the stories that I haven't written yet, but it's a much shakier version of the person I have become, there is an uncertainty in it that I don't feel anymore, so I think I'll have to revise it, but a lot of it still rings true.

The Last One

It’s been three years now since I went to see Dr. Cassetty for the first time. Just yesterday I was driving through town and while at a stoplight, I happened to glance in my rear-view mirror where the people in the car behind me were waving furiously. They continued to do this while I tried to figure out just who was in that car. When I finally turned around to get a better look, I saw that it was Dr. Cassetty and his wife. I waved back and then the light turned green.

I have met many wonderful people who I wouldn’t have known if I hadn’t gotten sick. I am thankful everyday that I went to see him when I did. I am well aware that if I hadn’t, my story would have looked very different; I might not be sitting here writing this. Another doctor might have brushed me off at my expense; after all, it happened once to me.

The scars on my body have begun to fade, slowly but surely. And the anger I once felt toward the boy who broke my heart, the friends who abandoned me, and for the invincibility I was robbed of, have become blurred around the edges. Yet it still only takes a blink of an eye for those things to come back into clear focus; an irregular CT scan that threatens to destroy everything I have worked so hard to earn back, running into that boy’s father, or a party where one of those friends shows up- all these things send me back to that place where the future was uncertain.

I am proud of the person I have become, and while I never thought I would believe it, life might actually be better after cancer than it was before. While my value of life is greater, I do feel that it is at times a curse. For every thunderstorm I am grateful to be a witness to-they make me feel alive- there is a girls’ night out at work that I feel guilty about turning down because I don’t feel completely at ease with these young women, because I have not shared my story with them.

While I have to live with these frustrations, I am more than happy to do so. I view life differently and have embraced my new found love of exercise and, dare I say, sports. I savor the moments I can play tennis, ski, take pilates, step classes, and dance classes, I run races, swim laps, and lift weights, and of course I fly across the country to get back in that kayak each summer. These things have become my therapy, for both my broken body and as a means of fostering a winning spirit. I have come to view life as a competition. I don’t compete against others, but with myself; how much weight can I lift? How far can I run? How much can I live? When I run further, when I lift more, when I push myself further than I thought I could the day before, I build my confidence in the fact that I can win the medical battles as well.

I suppose this is where I should share the moral of my story. It doesn’t end with a ‘happily ever after’ and I suppose that’s a good thing because it means my story, my life, is still a work in progress. Thankfully, it isn’t over yet.

I don’t have any grand epiphany to share now that I’ve written this whole thing, but if I were to tell you what I have learned from all the things that happened, it is this: You can’t win if you don’t fight. Life is an uphill battle whether you have cancer or not. Things will always happen. Bad things will happen, no matter how good you are. But success is not about dodging the bad things. Success is taking the worst and turning it into something better.

Bad things will happen, and that sucks. But you have to keep going, because that is what you are supposed to do when life goes terribly wrong; pick up the pieces of your broken self and keep moving, because as long as you can hold yourself together and push yourself onward, you’re bound to get to a better place. Whether it’s health or heaven, eventually things will get better, and I am living, breathing proof of that.

Wednesday, May 18, 2011

Run, Bake, Repeat


My longest runs have passed, and I've used the extra time I have- which still isn't much- to step up my fundraising efforts. I'm still about a thousand dollars from my $2,500 goal, so I've taken to Facebook, email, and baking to work toward my goal. If you're scratching your head at that last part, it's not a typo...Yes, I've been baking to raise money! Without having a bake sale of any type, I've raised over a hundred dollars for my cause.

Thanks to a fabulous idea that I learned about from a friend, I've become skilled at making a delicious little treat called a cake pop. While they're a lot more work than a standard cookie or cupcake, they're a fundraising gold mine because they're as irresistibly cute as they are tasty.

By creatively displaying (and strategically placing) these treats in high traffic areas, like the main office at work, I've successfully informed a slew of people about First Descents, my charity of choice, and perhaps made their day a little sweeter in exchange for a few dollars.

Overall I consider the whole operation a great success. With any luck, I'll reach my fundraising goal soon! I know I have a ways to go, but I have high hopes! Thanks to all those who have contributed already- friends, family, FD supporters, and even a few people I've never even met. Your generosity inspires me. I'll be thinking of all of you in just ten days! If you've got a few bucks to spare, head on over to my FirstGiving page and check it out!

Hope, Love, Run,
Marathon Girl

Thursday, May 5, 2011

Skin Cancer Awareness Month

May is skin cancer awareness month. I stumbled upon this and found it funny(1:43), honest (1:24), and moving(2:39, 2:53). If you do just one thing this month to honor someone with melanoma, it should be watching this video.