Wow, its been a while since I've updated my blog! My last post was from mid-December when we were in West Virginia for two weeks to spend the holidays with David's family. The two weeks flew by between family activities, snow runs, and some nice rest and relaxation.
Kona Drugged Up on the Plane
With the Nieces - Hello Kitty Shirts!
Shrek the Halls Ice Show in DC
The Ice Sculptures Were Amazing!
A few days after we got back to San Diego I was scheduled for my first post-radiation/chemo MRI. My radiation oncologist and neuro-oncologist both told me that what we wanted to see was that the tumor hadn't grown. That would be a win. I told them both that I instead would be hoping that the tumor was GONE. Hey, I know that's unrealistic, but one can hope.
I've had a couple MRIs before and this one was just as pleasant (or possibly more pleasant) than the others! Can you smell the sarcasm? If you haven't had an MRI you're lucky. Being stuffed into a tube with your head constrained by foam blocks and a cage while the machine beeps, clicks, and makes endless other horrible noises for an hour is NOT fun. But oh well, its a necessary evil and regular part of my life now. At least it doesn't hurt.
Anyways, getting to the important part - I saw my neuro-oncologist the day after my MRI and we received good news. The tumor has shrunk!! Granted the shrinkage is minimal, but its better than it staying the same size so I'm happy. If I had to estimate I'd say it looked about 3-5% smaller based on what we saw. The chemo and radiation worked!
A few days after my positive MRI I was scheduled to run my first race of the year. I use the word "race"loosely since my main goal was just to finish. I had run this race the past two years and last year's race was my standing PR. I had much lower expectations this year since I had only been running a few miles (slowly) just to stay in shape. Luckily Tara was signed up for this race as well and kept me company the whole time. I'm proud to say that we only took a tiny walk break through the water station and otherwise ran the whole way! We finished with my slowest 15K time ever, but it still felt like a win.
Resolution Run 15K - Beautiful Day in San Diego
Mini Mermaid Club
On the afternoon of the Resolution Run I had plans to meet my friend Karin and her group of girls in the Mini Mermaid Running Club. This club is similar to the Girls on the Run program and has different themes for each lesson. The lesson that Karin had asked me to attend was the lesson on role models. Karin introduced me to the group and talked about how I had cancer and how I continued to run throughout my treatment.
Talking to the Mini Mermaid Running Club
I talked to the girls about having cancer, loving to run, finding motivation when I was tired, and how much it helped to have friends around who were encouraging me. At one point I asked the girls if they knew what chemo was. Several girls raised their hands and the one I called on said "chemo is when your hair falls out". Haha yes. Chemo is when your hair falls out. The girls asked a few other questions and then I passed some of my race medals around for them to see.
Mini Mermaid Running Club
After I left, the girls had to complete a workbook exercise on the lesson and their answers were so cute! I was a little nervous about speaking to this group at first since I had no idea what level of conversation was appropriate with 8-10 year olds when it came to cancer, but it all went well in the end and I'm glad I had the opportunity to go. Thanks Karin for inviting me!
Don't Give Up Something You Love
New Dose of Chemo
While I was going through radiation for six weeks last year I was taking a lower dose of Temodar (130mg) everyday. For this year I will be on a higher dose for 5 days of the month, and then I have a 23 day break. For January, I was on double the original strength (250mg) and in February on for the rest of the year I will be on triple the original strength. (Assuming my body can take it of course.) I will have blood tests twice a month to monitor my blood counts, and if things are looking off and it seems like I'm not recovering properly the next dose of Temodar will be postponed.
When I received the prescription for the January dose I pored over the package insert. I hadn't done this the first time since I figured whatever was going to happen would happen. This time I read through all of the side effects to mentally prepare myself for something "worse". The most common side effects that were reported were fatigue, nausea, vomiting, anorexia, and hair loss. Awesome. I knew to expect the fatigue and nausea, but anorexia? What did that mean? Well, about three days into taking the new dose I got it. Not only did I totally lose my appetite, I couldn't stand to eat. Most foods were unappealing to me, and several suddenly became repulsive to me. The smell of David cooking bacon one day sent me running into the other room. Bacon?! I love bacon!
For a little over a week I could barely force myself to eat anything. Cereal, fruit, and crackers were about all I could tolerate, but they don't make for a balanced meal and if I had to estimate I'd say I probably only consumed 300-400 calories each day. I was also pretty tired for the week and I'm sure starving to death only contributed to this. For this coming month though I have a new plan. I bought a case of Ensure (okay fine, I bought Costco's generic version) and I plan on drinking a few of those a day. They're pretty concentrated in calories and vitamins and I have my fingers crossed that the taste of them doesn't turn me off.
As far as hair loss goes ... a lot of hair started coming out during the week I was on the chemo. When I'd brush my hair there seemed to be 3-4 times as much hair in my brush. This ended a few days after I stopped taking the chemo. Thank God! I'm praying that losing hair each month doesn't leave me bald by year end. I only have half a head of long hair to begin with! :(
Two weekends after my new stronger dose of Temodar I ran the Carlsbad Marathon! Just kidding, I totally didn't. I ran last year with Tara and had plans of pacing her though the last 8-10 miles this year, but unfortunately I just wasn't feeling back to normal yet and decided to spectate instead. I felt fine being up and out and about during the day, but I was still pretty fatigued when I ran and I didn't want to push my body. David and I drove up to Carlsbad to cheer on Tara and several of my other Girls on the Run friends and we got to see them run by at miles 16, 20, and the finish.
Carlsbad Marathon Finishers - Go Girls on the Run!
It was hard to stand on the sidelines of a race and I actually started crying at one point. I was excited to see my friends, but I was so sad that this was something I wasn't sure I'd be able to do again.
Speaking of being able to run a marathon ... I'm signed up for the LA Marathon in March and have been somewhat training for the race, but my training is way off schedule because of the chemo and I'm not sure I'm going to be able to run at this point. I thought that I'd only be down for one week from the chemo. I didn't realize that I'd be totally out from running for one week and then slowly starting to feel better for the next two weeks. By the time I feel strong enough its time for the next round. Only being able to complete one long run per month is not adequate for a marathon.
For now I'm listening to my body and only running as far as I feel like I can. I have regular blood tests and of course I won't run at all if things don't look right. If my blood tests do look okay though and I'm feeling strong enough and trained enough, I'm going to try for LA. Tara said she'd stick by my side and she'd be okay if we even had to walk most of the race. From a sub-4 hour marathon to wondering if I can even run/walk a marathon. Life changes so quickly! Don't take it for granted.