Tuesday, November 20, 2012

A little reflection

The holiday season is upon us and 2012 is coming to a close.  This means shorter days, colder weather, and that the two-year mark from my diagnosis is quickly approaching.  Although I am not planning any particular celebration, it is worthy of a little reflection.

Two years ago, on January 25, 2011, at 35 years old, I was diagnosed with breast cancer.  Like most young women who are diagnosed with breast cancer, it was shocking and unexpected.  My exact staging didn't come until a few weeks later when the tumor was removed and the pathology report revealed Stage 2 Invasive Ductal Carcinoma.  2 cm in size, ER/PR+, Her2-, Grade 3 to be precise.  2011 was spent undergoing cancer treatment including 4 surgeries (2 lumpectomies followed by a mastectomy and reconstruction and four months of chemotherapy (Taxotere, Cytoxin).  I am currently 1  year 4 months into a 5-year Tamoxifen regimen-not that I'm counting or anything.  

Cancer treatment is already a distant memory, and while my cancer related posts have dwindled, cancer is still a huge part of my life and who I have become.  I continue to be under the close supervision of multiple oncologists as well as undergoing diagnostic testing every four months alternating between mammogram, MRI, and Sonocine (whole breast ultrasound).  Additionally, my current medication, Tamoxifen, is not without side effects.

Cancer has probably affected me most in the decisions I make every day.  While striving to keep this body of mine healthy and cancer free, I pass on that piece of cake that is sky high on the glycemic index.  I've replaced cow's milk with almond milk.  I make a conscious effort when riding my bike on the road to not suck in car fumes.  I use glass tupperware instead of plastic.  I pay attention to the ingredients in my personal products.  I have converted to a plant-based diet.  I eat organic.  The list goes on.... And while it may seem sad to some that I don't get that piece of cake, I don't find it sad, I find it empowering.   Even though my primary medical treatment (chemo) has ended I feel like I am actively treating my body every single day by making healthy choices.  I do have some control over what my body is exposed to!

The reason I rarely blog about cancer, despite the inevitability of cancer being entwined into my daily life, is because I still consider myself first and foremost an athlete.  An athlete who happened to undergo treatment for breast cancer.  Two years ago, there was a lot of uncertainty.  I remember being scared that I would no longer be the athlete I wanted to be.  I remember being scared for my life.  My story is about taking control of my body, not giving up, and returning to pre-cancer passions.  Sure those fears still sometimes linger.  Sure there are bumps in the road.  And yes, cancer has changed me.  But if there is anything the past two years have taught me, is that it is possible.   Whether it is returning to racing as a pro mountain biker or participating in a weekly group ride or whatever your passion may be-IT IS POSSIBLE!

So for now, this blog is about living a life full of pursing passions after breast cancer.  I can't predict the future, and we all know there are no guarantees, but I hope that this theme lasts a very, very long time.

On a lighter note, in addition to racing cross every weekend, I am back to BMX racing.  Last weekend was the first of a few races I plan to dabble in this winter.   Nothing makes you feel more like a kid than hopping on a BMX bike and throwing elbows with other women over a 35 second effort.  Check out the video.  (I have the red helmet).  I was giddy with excitement all day!

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3 comments:

  1. A little reflection is good. May you have an even more successful year racing next year!

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  2. Hi,

    I have a quick question about your blog, would you mind emailing me when you get a chance?

    Thanks,

    Cameron

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  3. Jen, You have great perspective on your ordeal. It is awesome that you have beaten cancer, yet you still make such purposeful choices.

    Nice work on the BMX course, too!

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