Category Archives: Thyroid Cancer

You Have To Dream…


It’s been a few weeks since I’ve written a blog post. I was gone for five days to Canada, for a little mini-vacation with some friends.

I’ve been biking like crazy, mostly stationary, to keep my cardio up while my fallen arch foot heals.  I’ve been fully optimistic and confident that my foot would be healed in time for me to get back on track for the marathon in November.

I did a lot of walking in Canada.  The day after I got home, my legs were in a lot of pain. I could barely walk. I think I compensated so much, to not have the arch pain while walking, it just strained my other leg muscles.

Like a sunset setting on the horizon, as it is in the picture, I was beginning to see my dream of the marathon slipping away on the horizon- for now.

It’s one thing to be optimistic and not to give up.  But it’s another thing when you can barely walk, and know you have to push your body way beyond what it can do with a significant injury.  I needed to be running serious mileage right now. Instead, I could barely walk without some type of pain.  The reality is for now, my foot is not healing at the pace I need it to be to run 26+ miles in less than 2 months.

I just couldn’t give up on it though completely. I was still holding out hope, that maybe I would find a way. I’m determined, if nothing else.  Yet, I know- you can’t run a marathon with a foot injury.  I could risk much greater injury and a much longer recovery time.

A few days after I got back from Canada, I woke up, with a weird itchy spot on my forehead- above my left eyebrow.  It felt like an intense mosquito bite, but itched way more. I looked at it closely, and I saw two little puncture marks- like fangs marks there. I concluded I got bit by a spider.  It was itchy the entire day.

The next day I woke up and my forehead was swollen.  The area had turned into a rash, and was turning black.  The entire left side of my face had serious pain- like I had been hit with a baseball bat.  But just on that side of my face. My right side was fine.  There was a “pins and needles” sensation now at the rash site.  My neck lymph nodes (what are left from my cancer neck dissection) were swollen like golf balls.

I Googled home remedies for spider bites, and the only thing that relived the intense itching was a baking soda and water paste.  I was glad it was a Sunday, and I had no place to be, because I left that paste on the rash site the entire day.

I went to work on Monday, but I could tell, this was not getting better. It was getting worse, and I was starting feel like I had the flu.

I called my doctor and got in.  She examined the rash thoroughly and concluded I likely had an infected insect bite, and prescribed antibiotics.  She recommended Zyrtec for the itching.

Within a few hours of taking the first dose of antibiotics, I felt somewhat better.  I noticed my lymph nodes were going down. Then I got a call from my doctor. She said as she was thinking about it, she was concerned  I could have a mild case of shingles.  She said many of the symptoms I had, were like shingles, but not all of them.  I told her the antibiotics were making me feel better for now. She said that was good, but if any rash appeared on my eyelid, or in my eye, go the ER.  I may need antibiotics via IV, or it could be shingles.

I was really surprised. I thought only really old people got shingles.  I have learned since, that isn’t the case.  I Googled it when I got home, and I didn’t feel like I had shingles.  I had some symptoms like she said, but not all of them.

Two days later I woke up, with my left eye entirely swollen shut. I felt like I had a light case of the flu, but no fever.  I had two new tiny patches of the rash on the left side.  The pain in my face was very intense.  I guess at that point, I realized I probably did have shingles. I debated just going to the ER, like my doctor said, but other than my eye being swollen, there was nothing on my eye itself. The new rashes were much higher on my forehead.

I called my doctor’s office and they said to come in, with the understanding my doctor may send me to the ER for the IV antibiotics.  I came in and this time my doctor felt I definitely had a “mild” case of shingles.  However, she said the rash still didn’t look like a typical shingles rash.  She tried to get fluid from the rash, which is common in shingles, so she could send it in for a culture, but as hard as she tried, she couldn’t get any fluid to sample. She said that was really odd.  But she prescribed me an antiviral medicine used to treat shingles and said she didn’t know for sure.  She was confident I had the bacterial infection and either a mild case of shingles, or a viral infection too. She said I could have had a viral infection starting, got bit by something, bacteria entered, so that is how I ended up with both.  Either way, she said she didn’t feel I needed to go to the ER.

Walking out of her office, hobbling back to my car, I just had to laugh. Or cry. I chose to laugh, and shed a few tears, so I guess I did both.  What are the chances, I’d get a foot injury and this weird infection / shingles? I knew then, and accepted it.  My immunity was down now too, and it was just not going to be a wise decision to try to heal my foot, get over shingles / weird infection, and then start immediately running or keeping up with biking and training.  My body was speaking loud and clear to me.  I’ve learned to listen.  It is a “No” to the marathon for now.

A week later, I feel 100% again. I have the original rash, lingering, and the scabs are black. It’s not the prettiest thing you’ve ever seen, but a band-aid covers it, and no one even sees the band-aid. I joke with my family and friends, I’m a hot mess.  🙂

My foot is starting to feel better using Superfeet Orthotics.  I can wear them in my daily shoes and have no arch pain. I’m still trying to figure them out for running.  The other day I took the boys to a football field, and was able to run about 1/4 mile in my normal shoes, with no pain.  So I know my arch is healing. Long term, I will be fine and 100% again.

But it was hard for me to not feel disappointed, I have to put my dream of running a marathon, on the back burner- yet again.  I know was I on track and on pace to have this be my ultimate race. I was striving to finish in the top 10 for women. I was on pace for that.  I feel in my heart, had I not gotten hurt and some weird mysterious rash, or shingles, I would have achieved that too.

Vanessa, my sister, has been so helpful.  She helped me realize I did all I could. It wasn’t like I had just stopped training and was vegging on the couch every night, expecting to run a marathon.  It kind of put it in perspective for me.  I did the best I could.  In the end, that is all I could ask for. I know at the time my foot injury happened, I was the best runner I could be.  I was on course to accomplish what I set out to do.

My other sister, Mara, pointed out sometimes life doesn’t care about our plans- it gives us what we need.  That helped me see, it just was not in the cards right now for me. I do need to get my foot healed and strong.  I do need to get better from, what I think was a mild case of shingles.  I have had cancer. I’ve had radiation infused into my body. I’ve had 68 lymph nodes removed from my neck. I have a generally weaker immune system than most people.  I don’t normally think this way, but it is clear I need to give my body some extra TLC right now to recover.  Not pushing it to extremes, when it is already stressed.

This week, I cancelled my reservations in Las Vegas, and started the process through the marathon insurance I bought, to get my race fee refunded.

I’m not giving up though.  I’ve realized making peace with all this, to even have this dream and try to go for it, no matter how many times it takes me…it is so much more than I ever thought I’d be physically able to do again.  In my training, these past 8 weeks (before I got hurt),  I’ve run further, stronger, longer, and faster than I ever have before.  To realize I got closer than I ever have- well, that is something.  I can run, and am working on my dream.  There was a time I didn’t know if I’d even be able to walk up a few stairs again.  Even though I couldn’t go all the way with it this time, it’s there.  The desire is there.  There is no way I would have been given this desire and dream without a way to accomplish it at some point.

So for me now, I get healthy. I get back to 100%.  I figure out running in shoes that aren’t minimalist, with orthotics and learn running this way. I start from the beginning again.  I start one mile at time. If one mile feels good, I go another mile.  And another. And I’ll do this all fall, winter, spring, until I’m ready. When I am, I’ll be attempting the marathon again.

I’ve realized this about dreams and goals. You have to have a dream to even get going.  If you have a dream, it’s worth all you can give to it.  Even if you have to try many times, it will make it that much more worthwhile in the end.

I have to postpone my dream for now- but that is what it is- it’s a postponement.  I’m not quitting and I’m not going to stop dreaming. I’m going to cross a marathon finish line. When I’m healthy I’m going to take my dream and run with it.  I am going to make it come true.

Maybe that is the lesson in all this.  Without dreams and goals, what is there? Without trying to improve yourself, you never grow. Without disappointments and setbacks, you never see what you really are determined to do. Without dreams, the journey never begins.  After it is all said and done, the journey is the means to arrive to the destination of your dream.

To me now, having an unexpected detour in the journey, well that is what keeps the dream alive. There’s nothing to feel “bad” about, when we fall short of a goal and a dream. Sometimes dreams come easy, sometimes they don’t.  But giving up and stopping- that’s like snuffing out your ambition, hopes, and dreams. I don’t think that is good for anyone. It’s locking a part of yourself away, and not allowing yourself to live up to your true potential.

This definitely has been a learning experience for me.  Sometimes, we just can’t physically, or for other reasons, achieve what we want, when we want.  This has taught me, I still really want it. It’s taught me, I have the potential and the talent.  It’s taught me, sometimes I have no control, and when I don’t, I just have to allow and keep moving forward. Not as a failure, but as a triumph. This is me. This is who I am.  This is what I can do. This is what I am trying for. I may not always succeed, or have it turn out like I thought, but I’m living. I’m trying, I’m not locking anything away. I’m not holding back. Even if I don’t have the success I think I should have, in the way I think it should be, I am still successful.  I just have to see it.

That is so much more than crossing a finish line. It’s living.  It’s living up to your full potential, and having zero regrets.  I don’t need an official marathon to teach me that.  I’ve learned it.  On the journey- on the path to my dream.

Marathon Training Week 2- The Will To Prepare

Will to Prepare

Week 2 called for 25 miles, with the longest run 9 miles.

Last week I discovered on my long, hot, run, that I hadn’t prepared for that run. Mentally or physically

I believe in using visualizations, to help achieve results.

I used hypnobirthing with my second child, to have a successful VBAC, even though I was told, if I didn’t have the baby in 30 minutes, I’d have to have another C-section.  Well, I “had failed to progress” for hours, but once I used hypnobirthing, methods, in 20 minutes, I was ready to have him.

When I was faced with a 12 hour surgery to remove cancerous lymph nodes in my neck, when I had cancer, I listened to a hypnotherapy health recording that taught how to relax and visualize a successful, easy, and peaceful surgery.  Much of it talked about the body and mind healing.  I listened to this every day, a month before my surgery.  When my surgeon said he started operating, he discovered much of the cancer on the right side of my neck, which had shown on a few ultrasounds, was gone.

Since he didn’t have to operate on that side, my surgery was 8 hours, and my surgeon said he couldn’t remember a surgery in almost 20-years, that had gone as well as mine, and also where there was no cancerous lymph nodes, even though the labs and ultrasounds before showed there were.

When I entered my first and only competitive/elite division race, I listened to a hypnotherapy sports performance mediation for about a month before.  I placed 2nd in my age group. It was the only time I’ve ever placed in a race, and the only time I’ve ever listened to a hypnotherapy mediation with the goal of optimum performance.

I believe the mind is so powerful, and can really achieve anything. But just like with going out and physically running, you have to mentally prepare too.

I had a very mentally trying week for week 2.  Monday after work, my car wouldn’t start. I have never had that happen before.  I was actually on my way to run. I called my dad, who came and helped me jump the battery.  I also had my 7-year post cancer check up- I hadn’t had one in 2 years, an it was weighing on my mind, if everything would be OK.  It was, thankfully!  🙂

Like anyone else, I have my share of challenges that arise every week, that take a mental toll.  I have two kids, I’m a single mom, a full-time, and sometimes stressful job, I’m responsible for a lot of details, with numerous clients’ finances. I have personal things that arise too, that divide my attention.  I try to be a good mom, friend, and sister, daughter, co-parent, and sometimes it’s just a lot going on.  Sometimes the last thing I feel like doing, is expending more energy mentally and physically to run.

I decided to just try to take a few moments this week, before I set out to run, to just put all these other things behind me, and focus on the run for that day, and how I was going to do it.

Before my long run of 9 miles, later in the week, I  took some time and visualized what I was going to do, and how I was going to do it. I knew it wasn’t going to be easy, as it was hot outside, and I was tired- mentally and physically.

I even took a water bottle with me, as I was heading out in sunny, upper 80 degree weather.  I HATE running with anything- it gets bothersome for me, and I feel like I spend more time focusing on what I’m doing with the object, than running. The runners who run holding their phones, have my admiration- I would have dropped about 50 phones by now, if I ran holding it.

The first 3 miles were really hard.  It was one thing after another.   My calves would not loosen up. In my mental preparation, I had forgotten to stretch them.  I knew I was just going for the distance, not speed, so I relaxed and just found a comfortable pacing to see if my calves would loosen.  When my calves felt better, the water bottle was really annoying me.  I tried putting in my waistband of my skort, but that annoyed me more. I finally spotted a good spot to stash it on the trail. I knew I could run about 5 miles on this trail, and then pick it up on the way back.

As soon as I stashed my water bottle, I felt so much lighter, but then something broke in my sunglasses, and they kept sliding down my face. The sun was blazing and I was running into the sun- I didn’t want to take them off. It was almost funny, because if I hadn’t stashed my water bottle, I would have had one had on that and one hand on my glasses. Not exactly ideal running form.

I just couldn’t find a consistent rhythm until mile 4.  The trail took me by the bank of a creek, and it was so hot- I was wishing I had kept my water bottle, but knew I was just a mile away from it.  I dunked my visor in the creek and put it on, and the cool water was great.  Then I crammed my sunglasses into my hair (I have really thick hair) and then put the visor around them, and they were finally secure.

Now, I was finally off and running, almost 5 miles into it.  I found my water bottle, drank a bit while running, and then I was able to secure it to my waistband without it flopping all around as it was lighter, and then the part happened that makes me love running.

My body just took over. It knew what to do.  I had no tight muscles, nothing in my hands, no annoyances.  I don’t even remember thinking about anything- I just ran and it felt easy.  My mind felt like it shouldn’t be this easy, but I mentally made myself not think that.  I hadn’t seen another person yet on the trail- it was just me and I felt like I was free to just run.

Mile 7, it was almost time to turn around, as at that part, I was 2 miles from home.  But I knew- there was a hill- a big hill- if I wanted to push it, that hill was about .10 of a mile away. I didn’t have to do the hill though.  I was feeling so good, and I was actually getting energized- not tired.  I’ve visualized running up many hills before, and do, they are the best training.  So I went for it.  I saw at the steepest part it was 11% grade, but it didn’t feel that hard on this run.

The final 2 miles went as the previous 4 had.  It was all just clicking. I finished the run, with mile 8 being my fastest mile.

I don’t pay attention to the overall time until I’m done.  I was surprise to see I ran the 9 miles in 1:33.  I knew I was much slower in the first half, and time wasn’t the goal, but I was really happy to have that time, for a longer, hot, run with all the little issues I had, and even throwing in a decent hill at the end.

I am definitely using mental preparation from here on out.  Preparing mentally is a huge part of all of this. It always has, and I believe it will make the difference for me for the rest of my training and on race day.

49 miles ran, 16 weeks to go…

The Only Way You Can Know…

“The only way you can know is give it all you have
And I hope that you don’t suffer but take the pain
Hope when the moment comes, you’ll say, I, I did it all”~ One Republic

This song came on my shuffle the other night when I was running.  It’s currently one of my favorite songs for running.  I can be having the worst, slowest run, and if this song comes up, it instantly perks me up.  Sometimes I’ll hit repeat on it a few times, it motivates me that much.

Many times when I run, everything gets so clear.  The other night, I had an amazing view of Long’s Peak, as the sun was setting, the sun shining through the clouds, and it all became very clear to me that for me, running is how I live.  It’s how I heal myself. It’s how everything makes sense to me.  It’s been my guide, and my solace for 7 years now.

“I owned every second that this world could give
I saw so many places, the things that I did
With every broken bone, I swear I lived”~ One Republic

When the above lyrics were playing, I substituted “with every broken bone, I swear I lived,” with with every mile I’ve run, I swear I lived.” All the thousands of miles I’ve run since 2009, after I had cancer, they have all led me to a healthier mind, body, and spirit. Every mile I’ve run has allowed me to live my life to the fullest physically that I can do.  I’ve amazed myself over the years with running- reaching physical goals, at times I could only dream about. From not being able to get out of bed without help, to placing second in an elite division for my age group, just a year later. To running personal bests for distances, running further, to getting out there and running even on days, I didn’t want to.  To not quitting.  To living.  Running has allowed me to achieve those goals and so much more.

When your body gets a disease like cancer, it can feel in ways your body “failed” you.  It’s hard to not feel defective at times.  I have carried this with me for years. I don’t talk, or write about it very often.  I still don’t know what caused my cancer, but I don’t focus on that. Running has been the anti-venom to counter those thoughts for me.  Running has shown me time and time again, how healthy my entire body and spirit is.  I don’t have all the answers, but I know I couldn’t have the level of personal success I’ve had with running if my mind and body were not in sync and healthy.

I thought about after the very first 5K I ran, just 2 months after having been so sick, I couldn’t get out of bed or take care of my children.  It really was a feeling I can’t put into words, and I decided then I was going to run a marathon “some day.”  That was my goal and still is. I’ve never let that go, or rather that desire has never let go of me.  In a way, I felt and still do, when I run one, it will be full circle.  I feel like my running and my health isn’t complete until I run a marathon.  It will be my giving it all I have- Mind, body, and spirit.

I’ve been toying with running a marathon finally this year. I’ve been slowly but surely building up my mileage on long runs.  But I hadn’t committed yet.  It’s the last major running goal, I’ve wanted to do, which is still unanswered.  Like the post I wrote, Are You Committed or Interested? When you are committed you accept no excuses, just results.  In my mind, I’ve been accepting excuses on why I couldn’t do a marathon yet.  There are always reasons not to.

But running the other night, just reflecting on how far I’ve come, these lyrics playing, and me realizing in that moment, this is what I do. It’s who I am.  I’m a runner.  I’m a survivor, I’ve endured and healed every injury I’ve ever had, and come back stronger.  I have given it my all so many times, and it’s always been an amazing experience and reminds me “I lived.”

This all led me to the thought, “What am I waiting for?” The only way I will know, is to give it all I have and to own it.  The only time any of us have is now.  There will never be a better time to finally go for my dream.

It makes me so appreciative and happy to write that I’m going to find out, the only way I can know….by giving it all I have.  It’s been 7 years training to get to this point, but I’ve committed and registered for a marathon on November 13, 2016-  the Las Vegas Rock & Roll Marathon!  One thing I really liked about this particular marathon is it starts at 4:30 PM- I’m an evening runner, so this is perfect for me.

I always train harder than I anticipate the race to be. I am going to be careful and build up mileage slowly but surely- I have six months, but come November, I’ll have my moment- finally- to own every second I can.  In the meantime I’m going to enjoy the training, and appreciate what my body can do.  Who knows when and if I will ever be able to do this again, so I’m going to make it count.  I’m doing it all!  🙂

Thanksgiving Day to New Year’s Day Motivation

One More...

Happy Thanksgiving to all my United States readers!

Thanksgiving is my favorite holiday, and not just because of the food.

I enjoy the time with family and friends, and having an entire day to think about all the blessings in my life.

I know we all do it from time to time- we get bogged down in what is wrong, and what isn’t working, rather than what is.  While no one’s life is perfect, every day we have is a miracle.  If you wake up in the morning, that is pretty good.  If you have people you care about in your life, that is even better.  If you can run, or engage in some type of physical activity, that really is a gift that is sometimes not realized until it’s gone.

That is one of the things I’m so thankful for- having had cancer, and not knowing for a while if I would ever be able to have my physical health back. During those hard runs, when I’m not “feeling it,” and I wish I wasn’t running, it instantly snaps me out of that mode, back to when I couldn’t– and my entire perspective and attitude changes. Instead of wishing I wasn’t running, I am so incredibly happy I am running, and most importantly, that I can.

I’m not a super, or a professional athlete. I have my good days and bad days with exercise just like anyone else. I do find even if I get out and do something- a short walk, a short run, some yoga, I always feel better and am so grateful my body allows me to do the perfect amount of exercise whenever I want.  It is an amazing thing, when you think about it.

In that spirit, with Thanksgiving kicking off the holiday season (unless you count Halloween 😉 ), it is hard to find time to be active and stick to your health goals.  On top of that there is all the delicious, once-a-year food, baked goods, candy, drinks, on and on, with many chances to engage in these foods.  I don’t believe any food is bad for you, as long it is in moderation, but the holidays makes it hard to keep things in moderation.  I don’t think you have to forgo holiday treats either. Life is about enjoying these things. Another plus for exercise though.  When you are active, you can indulge in things like holiday treats and not gain a lot of weight or feel guilty for indulging.

So with this in mind, I’d like to extend a motivation to all my readers starting today, Thanksgiving Day (yes today) to New Year’s Day, that you will set a physical activity goal to accomplish in the next 37 days. (#becauseWEcantdaytonyd)

I’m personally going to get a total of 37 miles in of running, hiking, biking, or walking.  That averages out to just a mile a day.  You can choose any goal you like, with the point being to extend yourself somewhat.  Maybe get up and walk 10 minutes on your break at work, instead of checking your email.  Go for a 15 minute walk after work.  Do 10 minutes of stretching and core work in the morning, or before you go to bed. Like the picture in this post says, try to do something more, even just one more minute of exercise than you normally would do.

It can be a family affair and with co-workers too. I’m going to encourage my family and my friends to do this with me, so we can motivate each other.  I am going to post what I did a few times a week on Running Free Blog’s Facebook page, and I’d love it if you do this, if you’d post too, and you can even track your progress there.  I’d like to see what activities readers are engaging in- we never know when something we do, can inspire someone else.  You could have had the worse day, and if you post you just got back from a mile walk, and the sunset was amazing- that could help someone you never met, to be motivated to go on their own mile walk.

Not only will it help with burning calories during the holidays, it will help manage the stress and the faster pace that comes with the holidays.  It will force you to slow down and appreciate you, and your body. It doesn’t have to be hard or be “work.” I guarantee you will have a different mindset if you do this e between now and New Year’s Day, and you will most likely start to look forward to this time, you’ve carved out.  You can walk a fast minute in about 15-20 minutes.  You may think you don’t have time for that, but how much time do you spend on Facebook, or playing a game on your phone, or texting? You can find 15 minutes a day for yourself and physical activity if you want to, and I hope you will want to- you are worth it!

I hope you join me- no better time than the present.  So maybe now is a good time to shut down your computer or close this on your phone, even though I do appreciate you reading, and start your TDay to NYD fitness motivation!  I promise in 37 days, if not sooner, you will be so glad you did!  🙂

Happy Thanksgiving!!