My journey to a healthier me

Tales of my life

Today is my Uncancerversary

5 years ago today, I was sitting in a hospital waiting room.  I was waiting for my name to be called.  I was waiting to go into surgery to have the cancer removed that had invaded my body.

It was early morning.  I was not nervous or even scared, which I found odd when I thought about it afterwards.  My husband, on the other hand, was extremely nervous.  I remember telling him not to start crying or I would too.  He had a list of people he was to call when the surgery was over, which I reminded him about.  He walked with me to the operating room, then went to a different waiting room.

I can remember thinking how glad I was that it was finally the day.  It seemed to take forever to arrive.  From the moment I heard the words “you have cancer”, I waited anxiously for the day when it would be removed.  I had complete faith in my oncologist and his team.

I remember cracking jokes just before the meds knocked me out.  I was laying on the table, and my arms were outstretched because they were trying to put the needles in.  I have tricky veins so they were having problems.  My arms were strapped down.  Then the table started moving up.  I joked that I felt like a scientific experiment.  A few people laughed.  I thought it was hysterical.  Of course I was drugged up LOL.

The next thing I remember is coming out of what felt like a very deep sleep.  My throat hurt. A lot.  And Dan was standing next to my bed.  I’m pretty sure he was crying.  He wasn’t allowed to stay long.  I remember asking for ice chips because my throat hurt so bad.  I remember being in a big room.  I assumed it was the recovery room.  I think at one point someone told me they were waiting for a room to be available to move me to.  I’m pretty sure I just went back to sleep.  I remember waking up a couple of times, but not for very long.  If I remember correctly, I did ask for my glasses at one point.

Anything else that happened that day, I don’t remember.

I would later learn that the surgery went very well.  I would spend 5 days in the hospital.  And it would take me several months to feel pretty normal again.

It would take a couple weeks to find out if they got all the cancer out with the surgery.  I was really hoping they did.  I didn’t want to have to go through chemo or radiation.  I was nervous when I finally got the call from the doctor.  They got it all and I would not have to have chemo.  I’m pretty sure I cried.  I would have to have regular followups for the next 5 years, but I was okay with that.

So today is 5 years since my surgery.  In a few weeks, I’ll have my last followup with my oncologist.  My oncologist and his team have taken really good care of me.  They have treated me like a person, not just a patient.  And to me, that is an amazing thing.

So today, on my Uncancerversary, I want to say …

Fuck you, cancer!!

 

 

 

 

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The privilege of voting

Yesterday was Election Day here in Ontario.

Although I’ve lived here for 16 years, I only became a Canadian citizen 2 years ago.  This would be the first Mayoral election I would get to vote in.  I was super excited.

When I turned 18 and could vote in the United States, I practically ran to get registered.  I knew it was a privilege to cast my vote.  I also knew that it was my right.  And I exercised that right in every election.

When I moved to Canada, I knew I couldn’t vote here, but I didn’t know I could still vote in the US.  I was a little disappointed I couldn’t.  When I found that I still could, I felt that excitement again.

Then I made decision to become a Canadian citizen.  The process was long, but it finally happened in November 2012.  (Actually, I’m now a dual citizen.)   I could hardly wait for the next election so I could vote.

We had a provincial election not too long ago, and I voted.  But I was really waiting for the local election so I could vote for our Mayor and Councillors.  And finally that day arrived.

In the town where I live, 7 people were running for Mayor; and 22 people were running for 6 Councillor positions.

I read all I could about the Mayoral candidates.  I wanted to make sure I voted for someone who would do great work for our city.  I wanted someone who would be passionate and word hard.  I was confident who I chose to vote for.

Admittedly, I didn’t do as much research on those running for City Council.  I knew a few of them, by reputation, because they were running again.  I should have read up a bit more.  I’ll do better next time.

Looking at my Facebook feed during the day, I was thrilled to see friends excited about the election and their plans to go vote.

My amazing friend Liz wrote this:

“It’s election day!

Right and privilege. Right and privilege.

A young man offered his life for both. Don’t let him down.”

So wonderfully said.

Later, Liz posted that she had voted.  One of her friends commented that she thought it was pointless to vote because she didn’t know anything about who was running.

I hate comments like that.  I commented back that voting is NEVER pointless.

Many times over the years I’ve heard people complain about those in office.  Yet many of those same people didn’t bother voting!  To them I say if you won’t exercise your right to vote, you have no right to complain about who gets elected.

I’ve lived in 2 of the greatest countries in the world.  And in both we have been given the right and privilege to elect those who run our countries, our provinces and states, and our cities & towns.  So why don’t more people vote?  It boggles my mind.  I just don’t understand it.

Looking at the numbers this morning, my town had less than 50% voter turnout.  I just don’t understand it.  Some cities and towns had really good voter turnout.  I’m not sure why we didn’t.

The man we elected as our new Mayor won by 161 votes.  A good example of how every vote counts.

Hopefully those we elected as Mayor and Councillors yesterday will do a good job.

And if they don’t, hopefully next time we will elect people who will.

It is our right and privilege to vote in every election.

Men and women serve in our armed forces to guarantee us that.

Something we always need to remember.

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My wandering mind

I’ve noticed something recently.

My mind tends to wander while my feet are pounding the pavement.

I don’t know if this has always happened and I’m just noticing it now; or if this is something new.

It doesn’t matter if I’m outside or inside.

It doesn’t matter the distance or time I plan to go.

It doesn’t matter if I’m running, walking, or both.

And it doesn’t even matter if I have music or not.  This one surprises me a little, to be honest.  When I’m outside, I only put 1 earbud in so I could still pay attention to what’s going on around me.  Sometimes I don’t use them at all.  Inside, I normally put both in.

Slight off-topic for a second.  A couple of weeks ago, my favourite duckie earbuds started to die.  Very upsetting.  They are so cute.  When people ask about them, I would always say “you can’t be unhappy with ducks sticking out of your ears.”  I’m currently looking for another pair, or something just as cute.  I still listen to my music most of the time, but I put it on low if other people are around or if I’m inside.  If I’m relatively alone or outside, I put the volume higher.  I’m sort of getting used to running without earbuds, which I think is fine for outside.  But for running inside, I would still like to wear them.

Anyway, back to the topic at hand.

I’m not sure when I started noticing it.  Maybe it was when I started running farther.  Maybe it was a day when I had a lot on my mind.  Maybe it was a day when I was struggling with my run.

At first I tried to get my mind to concentrate on my running.  But it kept wandering off to other topics.

It took me a while to realize that is actually a good thing.

Now I let my mind go wherever it wants to.

And I think it actually is helping my running.  I don’t quite understand how or why, but I’m not going to question it.  It’s working.

I seem to be able to go farther than I could before.  I don’t seem to struggle as much either.

It kind of cracks me up when I think about the different topics my mind wanders to.   It changes all the time.  Each run is a little different.

Some days I replay conversations in my head.  Or possible future conversations.

I think about my blog.  Sometimes I write posts in my head while running.

I think about the races I’ve run recently.  And sometimes I jump ahead to ones I plan on running, or would like to run.

I think about my family far away.  I think about my cats and what they might be up to when I’m not home.

I think about the squirrels who come to my yard every day looking for peanuts.

I think about the weather.

I think about football.  I think about hockey.

I think about travelling — places I’ve been to, places I want to visit.

I think about my journey — where I started, where I am now, where I’m going, where I hope to be in the future.

A song starts playing and I think about why I chose that song for my playlist.

I think about my friends and how lucky I am to have them in my life.  I think about how long I’ve known them.  I think about how I met some of them.

I think about tv shows and movies.  I think about celebrities.

I wonder if other runners think about weird stuff too when they’re out running.  I wonder what types of things they think about.

If I’m running outside, I often map my route out beforehand so I know where I’m going and what distance I should cover by the time I’m done.  So sometimes I think about how far I should have gone by a certain point.  And I sometimes double check my tracker to see if I’m right.

If I’m running inside, I sometimes count the number of laps I’m running, again to know how far I’ve gone and how much farther I have to go.

Sometimes, I’m not thinking about anything.  Sometimes I just listen to the sounds of my feet hitting the pavement (or the track).  There’s something kind of magical about that.

Or I just listen to myself breathing.  There’s something magical about that too.

 

What do you think about when you’re running?

 

 

 

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Why do I race …

As I was out running today, this question popped into my head.  And this post basically started writing itself.

It happens like that sometimes.  Someone says something, or I say something, and suddenly I have the makings of a post for my blog.  I like when it happens like that actually.  I think some of my better posts have come about that way, sort of by accident.

So there I was running along, and something in me asked “Why do I run?”  Well, that’s a pretty easy question to answer.

I run to improve my health.

I run to test my limits, and to break through them.

I run to clear my head.

I run because I can.

And as I continued my run, another question popped into my head – “Why do I race?”

Now that got me thinking.

And I knew it wouldn’t be a simple answer.

When I first started working with Tyler, he asked me what some of my goals were.  I told him I wanted to be able to do a 5K race.  At the time, I wasn’t actually thinking of running.  I was okay with walking.  I just wanted to do a race.  He helped me get there a year before I thought I would be able to.  I still remember that first race, and always will.

So I guess the first part of the answer is because it was on my bucket list.

After that first race, I found myself thinking about others races.  That first year, I only did the one race.  But the next year, I did three 5Ks and one 10K.  This year, I’ve already done five 5Ks, with the possibility of 2 more.

So I guess the next part of the answer is because it’s addictive.  I think ALL runners who race would agree with that one LOL.

All my races have been local ones.  Almost all have been in the town where I live, 2 have been in neighbouring towns.  All my races have supported local causes, raising money for local charities.  I love that.  That’s a big reason I picked those races to do.

So the next part of the answer is to raise money for local charities and causes.

There is nothing like the running community.  Everyone is accepted.  It doesn’t matter if you’re fast or slow.  It doesn’t matter if you’re new to running or have been running for years.  You pass another runner, they smile, nod, wave, give you a high five, or give you words of encouragement.  It doesn’t matter if they don’t know you personally.  You are a runner.  They are a runner.  You’re like family.  And they cheer for you as you cross that finish line, whether you win or not.

So the next part of the answer is for the comradery.

And as I continued to run, I thought of reasons why others probably race.

I do several chats on twitter, and most have to do with running and/or racing.  And I follow a lot of runners.  A lot of them give reasons like:

I race for the bling (medals)

All the races I’ve done so far have been small local ones.  Medals only go to the top runners.

I race for the food/beer after

None of the races I’ve done have given beer at the end.  They’ve all provided snacks (like milk/chocolate milk, juice, water, granola bars, fruit), but nothing extraordinary.

I race for the swag

None of the races I’ve done have given swag bags.  Some have given t-shirts, one gave a headscarf, but that’s it.  Most have done draw prizes.  I think I won something once.

I race to win.

I don’t think so.

But then that little voice inside me said “Come on, those are all good answers, but you know the number 1 reason”

And I smiled and chuckled to myself.  Yeah, I know the reason.

I don’t race to win.  I’m a slow runner.  I may never be fast enough to win a race.  But that’s okay.  That’s not why I race.

I race to finish.

Each and every time I cross that finish line, I accomplish something.  Something I didn’t think possible a few years ago.

Every time I see and hear the crowd cheering as I near and then cross the finish line, I feel an incredible sense of accomplishment.

Every race I’ve run, the goal has been to finish.  I’m not concerned about how long it will take me.  Yes, it’s nice when I have a good time, but that’s not paramount.  The goal is to cross the finish line.

And that will be true for every race I run in the future.

Why do I race?

To cross the finish line.

 

Why do you race?

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

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Happy Thanksgiving! (2014)

It’s Thanksgiving weekend here in Canada.  It took me a while to get used to having it in October instead of November, as it is in the US.  But after living here for a little over 16 years, I’m used it.

The holiday is essential the same in both countries — You gather together family and/or friends.  You cook a big turkey dinner.  You eat a little too much (haha).

In Canada, it’s on a Monday in October.  (It’s the same day as Columbus Day in the US.)  In the US, it’s on a Thursday in November.

On both days, you can watch American football on TV.  You can also watch hockey on both days, at least this year.

What’s most important, though, is remember all you have to be thankful for.  While we should do this on a daily basis, Thanksgiving gives us an extra opportunity to do so.

And that’s why I decided to write this post.

 

I’m thankful for my wonderful family.  Even though we live far apart and don’t get to see each other very often, I love you all very much.

I’m thankful for my husband.  We’ve been through a lot in 16 years of marriage, but we got through it together.

I’m thankful for my 3 beautiful cats.  They bring such joy to my life, even though they sometimes drive me a little crazy.

I’m thankful that I volunteer with such an amazing organization as Celebrate the Hero.  It makes my soul happy.

I’m thankful to be a citizen of 2 great countries — Canada and the US.

I’m thankful to live in my beautiful town.

I’m thankful to be cancer free.

I’m thankful that I can run.  I may not be very fast, and I may not be able to run that far, but I can run.

I’m thankful to be on this journey to be a healthier person.  Even with all the ups and downs, twists and turns.

I’m thankful to all those who support me on my journey.  I can’t truly put into words how much it means to me.

I’m thankful to have an amazing group of friends.  I’m so lucky to have all of you in my life.  I hope I tell you often enough just how much you mean to me.

 

Those are just a few things I’m thankful for.  The list is in no way complete.  There is so much and so many people to be thankful for each day.  Make sure you take the time to appreciate all you have.  And tell those you love just how important they are to you.

Happy Thanksgiving everyone!

 

 

 

 

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Questions for fellow runners

The more I get into running and doing races, the more I realize how little I really know.

I consider myself a newbie runner.  I started running last year, but was only able to run a couple minutes at a time.  It wasn’t until earlier this year that I could run for what I consider long periods.  And as with anything new, I found myself needing a lot of help and guidance.

I’ve found many fellow runners on twitter, and get a lot of advice from them.  I also do several twitter chats about running and racing ( #runchat – #racechat – #bibchat ), as well as ones about health/wellness, fitness, and motivation ( #wellnesschat – #healthywaymag – #poweredbybits ).  I’m always on the lookout for others, so if you know of any good ones, please let me know.  One of my favourites is actually about coffee ( #coffeechat ) but we sometimes talk about running as well.

These chats have provided some much needed information, advice, motivation, and inspiration.

But I still find myself with a lot of questions.

With that in mind, I decided to write this post in hopes I might get more answers, guidance, and information.

So where should I start? …

Shoes.  Always a good place to start. I know proper shoes are essential.  I know the best place to get them is a running store.  Here’s a few things I would like to know or unsure about …

How often should I replace my shoes?

Should I buy more than 1 pair at a time?

For those who’ve been running for a while, are you loyal to one brand/one style?  Or do you like to mix it up?

Do you have different shoes for different terrains? Or for different types of weather?

Do you keep a separate pair for training indoors?

 

Let’s continue with other feet related questions …

Do you wear socks? (seems like a weird question, I know, but I know some people who don’t).  If you wear socks, are they a special type? If so, what kind are they?

How do you deal with blisters or calluses?

Do your toes ever cramp up when you run?  If so, how do you deal with that?

 

Let’s talk about water and fuel (food) …

Do you run with water?  I’ve found I can run without it in cooler temps, but when it’s hot and humid, I need to have water with me.

If you run with water, how do you carry it?  And how much do you carry?

Does the distance you run determine whether you carry water and/or fuel with you?  If so, at what distance do you carry it?

What kind of fuel do you use on a run?  How do you carry it?

How long before and/or after a run do you eat?  What are your favourite pre and post run foods?

 

Okay, on to other topics …

I’ve run in heat & humidity, but not in rain or snow … what do I need to know about running in colder temps?

I know I’ll need to dress warmer, but not sure what I should get.  Any advice?  What essentials that should be on my shopping list?

I’ve also only run during daylight … any advice on running in low light (early morning or evening)?

Do you prefer to run alone or with other people? Why?

When you first started running, did you have a coach or someone to help you?

Have you ever needed to correct your form or help with other running issues?  If so, what did you do?

 

Now let’s talk distance …

What is your favourite running/racing distance?  Why?

How long did it take you to work up to your farthest distance?

How often do you increase your distance?

When you first started, how often did you run?

How often do you run now?

 

One final question …

What is your best advice for someone new to running, like me?

 

Well that’s all the questions I have.  For know.  I’m sure I’ll come up with more as time goes on.  Don’t be surprised if you see another post like this one.  Maybe next time I won’t have as many LOL

I would appreciate any and all information/advice you can give.

Thanks.

 

 

 

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