Monday, September 23, 2013

Race to my first haircut 2013!

As I wake up from my chemo coma, it is finally REALLY starting to kick in.  I am done with chemo!  Holy crap!  I am done with chemo!

Now, as I mentioned in my last post I still have a long journey of treatment ahead, but I also have a lot to be thankful am done with chemo!!! 

Additionally, as trivial as it may sound, I am really looking forward to my hair growing back. Not only do I look a heck of a lot cuter with a head full of hair, but with the weather changing, it is just plain cold!  

Here is what I remember regarding hair growth from my first round of chemo in 2011:

My head hair started falling out about 2.5 weeks after my first chemo infusion.  The rest of the hair on my body eventually disappeared as well-although i managed to salvage some eyelashes and eyebrows.  This time around, my head hair once again started falling out about 2.5 weeks after my first chemo infusion.

Even though it appears as though I still have a good amount of hair, it was falling out in chunks.  
So we shaved.  Much less traumatic than waking up to a pillow full of hair and finding hair in my food!

The rest of the hair on my body has thinned but overall has been a bit more stubborn.  I still have quite a bit of arm hair and leg shaving is still required at least once weekly!  Annoying!

Back in 2011, if I recall correctly, my hair started to fill in a bit at about 6 weeks after my last chemo treatment.  At 8 weeks I had a super, duper short buzz and from there my buzz kept getting longer.  It took almost two years to have a solid ponytail.

I finally had my coveted ponytail when I was diagnosed with my recurrence and here I am, September 2013, back at square one.  

Regardless, even though waiting for hair to grow is more boring that watching paint dry, I'm pretty excited about it.  So each week I will document my minuscule hair growth here.  That is....until I too get bored with it:)  

Without further ado, here is where I'm at September 23, 2013:

Ironically, today, while waiting for acupuncture, the theme song to Top Gun came on.  I felt pretty bad-ass with my aviators.  But, I digress...

Let's see how fast that fuzz grows!  You can follow my hair journey here!  

Sunday, September 22, 2013

Chemo, Round Two, ding, ding, ding. Done!

My week went like this:

Thursday riding beautiful Fall trails in Park City with one of my favorite gals:

Friday sitting in the infusion room:

Friday evening: the post-infusion crash.  AKA: kitty-cuddle time.  

Friday (infusion day) started off less than ideal.  Shannon had returned from Interbike, a cycling tradeshow, late Thursday night.  He was whipped.  I was to be at the hospital at 9:20 AM for labs and IV placement and I wanted, actually NEEDED, to ride my bike in to start the day off right.  Unfortunately, with all the bikes I have, none were functioning very well.  My dualie's front brakes were toast, Shannon had schleped some parts off my race bike so it didn't even have brakes, which left me with my townie, road bike, or cross bike.  I figured I'd take my cross bike as it would still allow a little bit of dirt therapy on the Shoreline.  Unfortunately, halfway to Huntsman, my rear derailleur cable broke and I was stuck in my hardest gear.  I single-speeded it on the road the rest of the way and arrived a tad bit grumpy.  Chemo and broken bikes on the same day don't mix well with me!  Oh well, all is good now.  My bikes are being worked on as I type and should be up and running beautifully by the time I am ready for a spin!

Infusion day was uneventful.  This is always a good thing.  The IV nurse easily hit a vein-phew I made it through chemo without requiring a port!-, labs were drawn, IV was placed, and I was on my way to meet with my medical oncologist.

Lab results came back sufficient for me to proceed with treatment:

Blood Counts
Target Ranges
>1 in treatment
>1 in treatment
RBC count
Mean Corpuscle Volume
<98 in treatment
Protein Status

Total Protein
>6.6 in treatment
Electrolyte Balance

Kidney Health


RBC Distribution Width

My interpretation:  My WBC count and Neutrophils went up.  Yeah!  Actually, my Neutrophils are the highest they have been since my first treatment.  This is great news.  My oncologist attributes this to the extra three days between infusion #3 and #4.  I'm sure this helped, but I am also convinced that my nutritional support was a factor as well.  As per my Nutritionist's recommendation, I increased my Astralagus intake, focused on increased Vitamin C through food (think Red peppers, kale, broccoli, strawberries), and made an organic, grass-fed, bone broth stock that I used for soups and just poured over rice and quinoa dishes.  Regardless, WBC counts are good, with the exception of lymphocytes which seem to be down a bit.  Not sure what to think about that one.... Additionally, my RBC, hematocrit, and hemoglobin are all down a bit as well.  Not surprising as I have reached the end of my chemo treatment, my body has been through a ton, and perhaps it is in need of a bit of a rest.  Regardless, I will be working to increase these values as well.  I am already using a Whey protein supplement and Chorella which both help support RBCs, but will be adding beets to my RBC boosting regimen!  Any yummy, simple, and of course healthy beet recipes are appreciated.  I also noted on my labs that my RBC Distribution Width has been slowly creeping up.  As far as I know, this is indicative of oxidative stress on my body.  Well duh, I just finished four hard-core (as everyone keeps reminding me and I try to ignore) chemo treatments.

So now I am done with chemo.  I AM DONE WITH CHEMO!!!!  Back in 2011, I considered my final day of chemo the day that I finished cancer treatment; it was a day to celebrate.  While completing chemo for a second time is definitely worth celebrating, I still have a long journey ahead.

October 1st I meet with radiation oncology to come up with a final radiation plan and to get measured in preparation for treatment.  October 11th, I will have an echocardiogram to see the (hopefully) lack of damage to my heart from chemo.  The same day I will have labs drawn for final clearance to start radiation.  I am roughly anticipating starting radiation on October 14th.

Over the past two years I have been diagnosed with cancer twice, had five surgeries, two rounds of chemo, am about to start radiation, and have no clear idea of when my cancer treatment will ever, if ever be done.

That said, I am still optimistic for the future and I found this gem of a research article that gives me additional hope.  It is well documented that breast cancer treatment causes weight gain, muscle loss, and osteoporosis, not exactly performance enhancing for a wannabe elite cyclist!  What a downer!  However researchers at Oregon Health and Science University found that women who underwent treatment for breast cancer and participated in a progressive weight training program maintained lumbar spine and total hip bone density!!!  The control group participated in a twice weekly flexibility program  and significant BMD (bone mass density) was lost in this group.  Additionally, women on Aromatase inhibitors (yep, that will most likely be me), gained more bone-free lean mass than women who were not.  Okay, just like I don't exactly fit the demographic of women with breast cancer, I don't exactly fit the demographic of women studied in this group (mean age 60, BMI-29, and body fat %~40%)  Regardless, it still gives me hope.  Hope is good!  The study can be found here:  Breast Cancer Res Treat. 2011 Jun; 127 (2): 447-56.

Weekly workouts and photos can be found here and here!

Thursday, September 12, 2013

Muscle and Fitness Hers interview

Recently I was interviewed by Muscle and Fitness Hers for their September/October issue.  Yes, jokes can be made for my (lack of) muscle, although with my recent emphasis on weight training, I actually think they are getting a wee bit bigger! (Note:  I have found tons of excellent weight workouts in Muscle and Fitness Hers!) Jokes aside, the magazine staff was delightful to work with and the interview was a really good experience.

The magazine is on stands right now and my interview can be found on page 20 or you can check it out here:

Note:  I was much more wordy in the original interview, but it was cut down a bit (with my approval) to fit the space.  I could talk on and on and on about how I train, but somehow we reduced it to a sentence!

Tuesday, September 10, 2013

Wasatch 360

This past weekend was the inaugural Wasatch 360, a 360 minute (or 6 hour) race in nearby Heber, Utah and also a fundraiser for Summit Bike Club, a Utah-based program that supports youth development.  Racing is not even close to being on my radar at the moment, however when I was invited by two young girls to be on their 3-person relay team, I simply could not refuse! It was also for a good cause!

The week got off to a fun start with a Labor Day ride with friends at the Trailside Skills Park

and on Tuesday the Gear Rush cyclocross skills clinic

Note:  Cyclocross season is just around the corner, and although I will not be racing cross this year, I will be honing my skills for future redemption!  In just one short week I have significantly improved my mounts, dismounts, cornering, and sand skills.  Look out UTCX gals:)  

The rest of the week was spent working and doing mellow rides; saving as much energy as possible for my weekend 'race'.

The night before the race I emailed back and forth with one of my teammate's Moms.  I told her that since the girls put the team together they could decide the race plan i.e: order of our relay team.  

The morning of the race I met up with my two giddy teammates.  They informed me that they came up with a plan and that I was to go first!  They also explained to me our team name, "We Enve Ewe".  Ewe is a sheep and since sheep used to graze near the race course.......I thought it was perfect!  Their excitement was infectious and I was more than happy to lead our team out with the running LeMans start and first lap.  

I put in a smooth, efficient, and even kinda-sorta quick first lap to lead us out.  The girls raced their hearts out coming into the transition area after each of their laps huffing and puffing.  

In the end, I got to stand on the podium with future racing stars.  

What an amazingly fun day of normalcy.  

Lots of friends came out to help raise funds for Summit Bike Club

even Dizzy