Monday, July 30, 2012

Not a Cancer Blog

I said I wasn't going to write any more about cancer. So I'll just let other people's words speak for me.

Meet Suleika Jaouad.

And as far as running goes- I've decided to be lazy for another week and catch up on things like doctor's appointments and laundry. Also, Pretty Little Liars and celebrity fashion. Everyone needs a vacation from their problems!

Tuesday, July 24, 2012

Intervention: Cancer

I was going to stop blogging about cancer as soon as the Rock n Roll 1/2 marathon was over (for which you could still donate here.) But then I thought of a fun post while I was in the shower, so you get one more.

***If we were to hold an Intervention for Cancer***
***A&E Style***

Ca: Hi. My name is Cancer. C.A.N.C.E.R. and I... I just can't stop myself.

I: Cancer, I'm an interventionist. I've been with these people since last night. They all have something they want to say to you. They'll say some things, then you'll say some things, and then we're done. Ok?
Ca: Sure. Whatever. But I'm not going anywhere.
I: That's fine. Just listen.

#1: Cancer. You have affected my life negatively in the following ways: I'm always afraid when I think you're coming around. I dread answering the phone because I keep thinking it might be you. You've torn apart families, stolen children, and ruined lives. I keep expecting you to go away for good, but you always keep coming back. Will you please accept the gift we are offering you today?

Ca: Whatever. You don't know me.

#2: Cancer. I have seen you destroy so many lives. You steal money. You make people sick. You move into a house and just sit there for weeks or months. You sap people's energy, and keep them from enjoying their lives. When you are around it's so much harder to live the lives we want to live- to do the things we want to do- to make plans for the future. Will you please accept the gift we are offering you today?

Ca: No. I'm not going anywhere.

#1: Cancer. If you do not accept this gift of treatment today I will no longer sit idly by and watch you destroy any more lives. You will not be welcome in my home. I will not allow you to occupy space in my mind. I will do everything I can to keep my body and mind healthy so you have nowhere to live anymore. If you do not accept treatment today, I will fight as hard and as long as I can to make sure you never destroy another life.

#2: Cancer. If you do not accept this gift of treatment today I will put all of my efforts into getting rid of you for good. I will dedicate my time and my money to helping those who are actively working against you. I will support everyone who fights against you. I will provide them with knowledge, with resources, and with the comfort and support they need to stand up to you. I will not sit and wait for you to return. I will be an active participant in my OWN life and in my OWN recovery, regardless of your decision today.

I: Cancer? Do you have anything you would like to share with us?
Ca: No. This is !@#$ %^&. You people....

Yeah, that's as far as I got. I'm taking suggestions for endings. Cancer storms out of the room? Goes out for a smoke and has a buddy pick him up? Gets on a plane for a recovery treatment center in California??

Monday, July 23, 2012

FAQ's: RnR 1/2

Q: Did you want to finish in a specific time?
A: I was aiming for less than 2 hours 45 minutes, but, as always, the real goal was to finish feeling good enough to be a good parent later in the day.

Q: Do you think I could run a marathon?
A: Yes. Finishing a marathon is just a matter of dedicating yourself to your training. 

Q: Does your foot still hurt where the surgeries were?
A: Sometimes. It's a different width than the left one, so I'm still trying to find good shoes. 

Q: What does your doctor think about you doing so much stuff outside?
A: He's excited that I'm maintaining a healthy lifestyle. He cautions me about being outside during the middle of the day and appreciates that I'm diligent with sunblock. 

Q: Do you want to run another marathon?
A: Yes, definitely. But it takes a lot of scheduling, so it'll be a while.

Q: What's your next race?
A: I have no idea. Maybe the Schaumburg 1/2 again at Thanksgiving. 

Sunday, July 22, 2012

Breaking the Rules

I'm exhausted. And shivering. So I need to go to bed. But I wanted to post something about the race before the end of the day. And here it is:

I let Sawyer fall asleep with me on the floor before I put him in his bed. It's one of his favorite things to do, but it's NOT the routine we set up. The rule is that we put him in his crib and we let him fall asleep on his own. It works really well for him. He sleeps a lot better that way.

But today I saw too many "In Memory of" ribbons with the simple word - Mom - written on them. It was probably just that thing of when you learn a new word you hear it everywhere. But tonight I figured that if ever Sawyer (seriously, God forbid) has to write that word on any kind of ribbon, we will have spent as much time snuggling as I could possibly give him. It doesn't mean I'm going to spoil him. It just means I'm going to love the snot out of him for as long as I am lucky enough to do so.

Thursday, July 19, 2012


I just received an email from the Rock n Roll Race coordinators with official tips for running in Sunday's heat. I'm passing them along to you in case you were thinking about tackling an outdoor event in a stupid high temperature...

Here are a few tips for running in warm weather:
  • Do not push yourself. Run at a comfortable pace and ease up if you feel warm.
  • Eat salted foods. Add a salt pack to a cup of fluid and drink it at the Start and another half way through the race. Salt packets will be available at the start and can be found on course at water station 3, approximately mile 4.5.
  • Don't over-drink. Drink when you are thirsty and no more.
  • Use spray stations and sponges along the course and at the finish to cool off.
  • If you are warm and don't feel right, stop at a medical station to get checked out.

And if you also were wondering how race organizers help runners deal with extreme heat, here is the rest of the email...

Keep an eye out for the following cooling stations on course:
  • Misting Stations
  • An Ice/Sponge Station at approximately mile 10.5
  • Cooling buses located at miles 7.4, 9.9, 11.1 and 11.9
  • Ice towels, ice sponges and misters will be available at the Finish Secure Zone
  • An ice tent in the Finish Village
Visit our website for more information and stop by the Health & Fitness Expo to listen to Dr. PZ Pearce speak.  Dr. Pearce will be available for questions at the medical information booth during expo hours.
In the event temperatures rise above a safe degree to run in, tail vehicles will be in place to transport participants to the finish.

That "Tail Vehicle"? Yeah, that's the vehicle that chased us during the 2011 Nashville Marathon. I've seen that vehicle. I've vowed NEVER to get on the stupid thing. Here's to slowing down and NOT GETTING ON THE BUS!!!!!

I will not check the weather... I will not check the weather...

Dang it.

Runner's World reported that athletes who were not told the temperature performed better in the heat than those who knew the actual figure.

There goes that advantage. Sunday's weather has gone from hot to dangerous. Starting a race at nearly 80F is going to be a challenge. Ending it at 95F is insane. I'm pulled between slowing down like an invalid, or boosting my speed just a little to get the dang thing over with. Obviously the correct answer is slowing down, walking through EVERY water station, and hydrating like a crazy person in the next 3 days.

Good thing G2 was on sale!!

Tuesday, July 17, 2012

An Aside

My morning quiet-time of internet surfing found me back at the DetermiNators website. Yet another story of yet another amazing woman got me crying. And I wanted to write to her and tell her how much I appreciated her story. But... I don't want her to know I had cancer. Is that weird? She had BIG cancer. There's no way I can write to her and say, "Yeah! That's what I felt too!" without the asterisk and the footnote that says, "you know, for the 15 minutes I had cancer".

Two lines!!

(Stephan says if you have to explain a joke, then it's not funny.... I wanted the title of the post to be something about getting a 'positive' response to my speech... and like, "two lines" is when you get a positive pregnancy test, but I'm not pregnant so I don't want anyone to get confused. So does this mean it's not a funny joke?)

I've forced many people to read my speech. Everyone likes it!! In a few hours I have to participate in a conference call to run through the night's events. It's going to be in the 100's for temperature, so my taper week is turning into a 'stop running' week. I know I have to pay attention to my nutrition this week and focus on high density carbs (wheat, whole-grain stuff) so I have fuel in the tank for all 13 miles. Oh, and here is the course map if you are interested in where we'll be going.

The ACS sent out our schedule for the weekend and listed their cheer stations. I'm excited to see friendly faces as I run. This race will be weird for me since it's the first one that I'm doing completely by myself. I'm a little worried about driving home after the run- usually I'm totally uncoordinated and a hot mess, but there's a concert afterward, and plenty of places to sit and rest up to make sure I'm solid before getting back in the car.

Oh, the concert? Yeah, Cobra Starship is the headliner and they start at 10am, so I better be done running by then!!

Friday, July 13, 2012

"Continually Amazed"

So.... this is happening. The DetermiNation Director read my speech and sent it back with edits. They're no-big-deal edits (use "365 days a year" instead of "all the time"). BUT I posted a link to the speech on Facebook to try to get my friends and family to read it over since I didn't have much time to obsess about it myself.

I learned that I hadn't really told everyone about the whole Cancer thing. I got a lot of "Dude, you had cancer? How'd I miss that one?" emails back. I guess I just had a lot of other things going on. My amazing goddaughter was born just after the second surgery, my grandma was in a rehab facility because she started going 'downhill', and we lived hell and gone away in Montana. I had stuff to do. I didn't have time to wallow in Cancer.

So I just didn't. The phone call to my mom was about as dramatic as the diagnosis got....

********CUE FLASHBACK MUSIC ********

Me: Mom, it's malignant melanoma. 
Mom: Does that mean cancer?
No. Tell her no. Say NO.
Me: Yes. 
Mom: Should I be worried.
Yes, because I'm freaking out
Me: No. Let's agree not to worry. I won't worry; you won't worry.
Mom: Ok. 

********END FLASHBACK MUSIC ********

So when I got the email back from the Director with the edits I was a little put off that she wrote, "...I am continually amazed by what you've endured and accomplished." 

[I really hope I'm not being a jerk here by quoting her, it really was a very kind email]

Because... well... my Cancer lasted all of about 15 minutes. Compared to other cancers, there really wasn't much to it. A few stitches (ok, like 20 in a very painful place), some crutches, and then boom. Over. I was diagnosed in May and the whole thing was over in July. 

I don't know where to go with this in my head. I was so so so so so so lucky. "One and done" as they say in the business. I don't want this whole thing to be about what "I" did. It's more about the services and people who were there when I needed them, AND how we can make sure those services continue to be available. AND.... how maybe one day, instead of everyone being famous for 15 minutes, maybe one day, everyone's cancer will only last 15 minutes.

Tuesday, July 10, 2012

My 5 Minutes

I've never actually written a speech. But I've written plenty of blog posts. So I thought I'd have a crack at writing my speech here. Any comments??

**Here is the revised edition (for some reason I can't get rid of the underlining).**

Thank you for that kind introduction, Alison.
My name is Anna. Iam also known as Sawyer’s mom, Stephan’s wife, a massage therapistat Massage Envy, and a DetermiNation runner.

When people ask me to tell them about my journey I
usuallysay, I had cancer. Now I don't. But I need to fill a few more minutes here!

I was that kid in school who faked all sorts of injuries in order to skip gym class. Through my advanced acting skills I was able to avoid running a mile until I was well into my twenties. When I was 29 a doctor removed melanoma from the bottom surface of my right foot. After the stitches healed I bought my first pair of running shoes. A year later
I was 9 months pregnant when
I ran/walked my first10k. Two years after that I finished my first marathon in six hours and thirty minutes.

As members of the DetermiNation Team
I'm sure many of you have wondered what you would do if you ever got that phone call. The one where the doctor comes on the line (you know they only do that for bad news rattles off some words, and some numbers, and then puts you on the phone with the nurse to schedule your next appointment. After you sit stunnedyou might cryor phone a friend or family member. Heck you might even post the news to Facebook.

And once you're online, the real fun starts. Google your diagnosis and you'll have three options. You have the Medical Community, who will scare you with their obscurity and giant words. You'll have the well-meaning Answer Community- people who post things online without any formal medical training. And finally you'll have the American Cancer Society, conveniently located at cancer. org

In rural Montana, where I lived when I was diagnosed, the internet was all I had. And thank..... well.... thank YOU, the ACS
, who
was there, online, with answers, with research, and with personal support at the Cancer Survivors' Network. This Network has an easy to use message board covering every type, and stage of cancer. Supportive people post answers to questions and comforting words 24 hours a day, 7 days a week, 365 days a year!. They also have a live chat, an extensive resource library, and the ability to create a profile for yourself. There is something magical about a complete stranger reading your story and typing back to you, "You are going to be ok." Knowing that people just like you have survived makes it real and gives you hope.

As a newly diagnosed cancer patient, y
You need to know you're not alone. You need to know you're not going crazy. You will NEED to know these things at 3:30 in the morning when everyone in your house is sleeping.

I'm thankful every day that the cancer was removed while it was so tiny. But it's left something far more insidious in its absence. Constant paranoia, extra vigilant attention to tiny details, and a feeling of betrayal that my body is out to get me
all remain. I share these fears with all cancer survivors- that any minute now the whole process can start over at any time. When the chatter in my head gets too bad I always turn back to to read the inspirational stories of other survivors, and to replace the fear with serenity and hope. By running with the DetermiNation team I've added a new dimension to my fight- now I fight for other people. I run to raise money to pass forward the comfort and support I’ve been given. I know how the blue glow of a computer screen in the early hours of the morning can reflect so much more than lines of text. It can shine hope deep into a cancer survivor’s heart.

It's been four years, three additional biopsies, and fifteen follow-up appointments since the Borders Were Clear. I am so very
very lucky to have escaped this diagnosis with such little pain. In fact, when I was asked to speak tonight I told my husband I didn’t feel qualified to speak as a Survivor. I never needed a wig or a car ride to treatment, or help at home. But he reminded me that that's the point of the ACS- to make cancer easier, to catch it sooner, to fight it more effectively, and, eventually, to make it gone. Thank you for fighting for me, for them, and for us. See you bright and early on Sundaymorning- good luck DetermiNation runners!!

Monday, July 9, 2012


When I got home from work today I had both an email and a phone call from a DetermiNation team leader. She was asking me if I would be willing to "share my story" at the team pasta dinner before the Rock and Roll 1/2 Marathon. It would be a 5-7 minute speech that would need to include some of the ways I used the ACS services.

I like talking to people. I like advocating for a cause I believe in. But am I exploiting my situation for attention? So many people have had more amazing Cancer Journeys than I have. They've lost more, they've fought harder, they've.... just.....  more.

The last time I was asked to "share my story" this is what I said:
"I had cancer, now I don't. I run because I can, and I raise money so other people can do the same."

What would I do with the other 4 minutes and 40 seconds?

You read this blog. You know I'm totally going to do it. But I just wanted to get some of my fears out into the cosmos before I call this lady back.

I feel like I survived the equivalent of getting drafted, then getting sent home for having flat feet. It was scary for a minute, but then nothing happened and I was fine.

I wish we could burn all those Cancer draft cards.

Sunday, July 8, 2012

Overheard: Leaving the Park

"I went to work today."
What did you do at work, Sawyer?
"I fixed peoples' owies and gave them money."
You gave THEM money?
So you work for a not-for-profit, huh?

Friday, July 6, 2012

Looming Deadline

The deadline for making a donation to the DetermiNation team is July 13th.

But I've already made the fundraising minimum!!!! Whew! That made me nervous. But because I have amazing friends and an incredible family I really didn't have to worry about raising the money. Most of this process was supported by people who wanted to participate in "massage for donation." I gave them a massage, they donated to the ACS. And I loved it!

But if you're still interested in pushing my thermometer over the edge, check out my fundraising website. Only a few more weeks until the half marathon!!!

Thursday, July 5, 2012

Drip drip drip

Just....... ran....... ten...... miles.......

It was 70F when I started but 90F 1 hour 54 minutes later*. I'm sitting in the kitchen with ice on my knees eating a popsicle.

*That's 12 minutes LESS than the Soldier Field 10 mile!!!