Sunday, July 27, 2014

Striving to find my "A" game

When diagnosed with cancer there are many choices.  Medical choices need to be made.  Financial decisions need to be sorted out.  Priorities need to be reassessed.  One choice that is less discussed, is choosing how to respond to the often shocking and unexpected news of a cancer diagnosis.  While some of the emotions may be difficult to control, it is easier to control how you choose to treat your body.  Being a competitive athlete, I have a good understanding that the better I treat my body, the better I feel.  Back in 2011 and again last year, I knew that cancer treatment would be tough, however I also knew (well at least I hoped) that the better I treated my body the better I would feel during treatment and the more I would be able to enjoy life.  I made the choice to help support my body as best as possible during treatment and beyond.  One of the ways I did this was through good nutrition.

My point is, I want to be on my "A" game.  While my "A" game, for better or worse, may not look the same as it did 'before', I want to be at my full potential.  I want to kick-ass on the bike, at work, and just life in general.  I truly believe that supporting my body through good nutrition will help me to achieve my full potential "A" game in all areas of life.

Back in 2011, I blogged about my anti-cancer diet.  It has evolved a bit since then, especially with the advice of Nutritional Solutions.  Upon finishing chemo/radiation last winter, I have continued to follow Nutritional Solutions recommendations.

Which brings me to current lab work I had done last week.  I had a simple cholesterol and triglyceride test.  No biggie, right?  Wrong!  My recent oophorectomy and especially my new anti-cancer medication, Anastrazole (Aromatase Inhibitor) put me at increased risk for elevated cholesterol and triglycerides which often leads to heart disease.  There is always a cost to the benefit of cancer treatment.  This is one of the costs of my treatment.  Anyhow, I was relieved (actually psyched!!!) that despite this, my levels are still excellent.

Here are my results from 2012 and 2014:

So while an excellent cholesterol and triglyceride test may not seem like a big deal, to me, it means that perhaps all that hard work and good nutrition is paying off.  A small, but not trivial piece in the "A game" puzzle.

...and because no blog post is complete without photos.....


Angie Harker takes phenomenal photos!

 Moose hanging out on our street is a common sight.  
My neighbors say it never gets old.  I tend to believe them! 
 I named this guy, "Fred".  

Fred has a friend

PS-I have started an Athletefightscancer Facebook page to share blog updates, medical updates, photos, and other stuff I find interesting related to athletes, nutrition, cancer, and other occasional randomness.  Like it here:)


Thursday, July 24, 2014

One Year

One Year (and one week to be exact) I started chemo for the second time.  Although only one year has passed since STARTING chemo, so much has happened since then.  Radiation, oophorectomy, lots of doctor's appointments, and even more healing.  Throw in moving twice in the past three months, which in and of itself can be considered a major life event, and we have had an eventful past twelve months to say the least.

One year ago I was in disbelief that I had to go through chemo again.

I am not sure what my point is exactly except that even though treatment feels like eons ago, it wasn't, and we are both still healing.....

Which brings me to training.....

Since this year is all about healing and listening very closely to my body, I am a 'self-coached' athlete for the first time since turning pro back in 2006!  I have had some amazing coaches, who have taught me a lot and helped me get very fast on the bike, however at this moment I am not ready for the type of structure and intensity I have done in the past.  While I definitely try to have structure to my current training program and purpose to my rides, I have to be incredibly flexible based on what my body and mind is telling me each day.  At this point, there is a very fine line between pushing to gain speed/fitness and recovery.  (Note: lingering fatigue from cancer treatment is a common side effect and can last for a very long time.  Personally, although you won't find much literature on this, I feel that cancer treatment prolongs recovery after hard workouts/races, however from experience, I also know that this too improves with time).  I know I need to push myself in my training, but I also require increased recovery (both physically and mentally), which impacts how often I am able to get good, hard training sessions in.  This is compounded when I race as even more recovery is needed.  While I admit that sometimes it is a bit frustrating when I bag a planned session because my body is telling me NO!, it is also interesting to experiment with my body and discover what it is capable of.  I have always been one who enjoys the 'process' of training (almost) as much as racing itself.  I guess you can say that I love the 'art of getting fast'!  Another change in my self-coached program is that I have incorporated more weight-training into my regimen.  While I have always done weight-training in the off-season, for the first time I am continuing it through race season, and since there are only so many hours in a day and a finite amount of energy that can be dedicated to training, my time on the bike is impacted.  That said, being post-menopausal due to cancer treatment/surgery in addition to my current cancer medication that causes rapid bone loss (Aromatase Inhibitor), maintaining muscle mass and bone integrity is vital for my health.

Photo break:
Snowbird ICUP Pro Women podium.  I felt really good at this race and loved the course.  
I love this podium picture too.  Current stars, future stars, and me in the middle!

The Utah pro crew.  I feel like a giant between the two midgets:)

Thanks Angie Harker (Selective Vision) for capturing this 
awesome photo of me doing something weird with my tongue!

 Summer trip visiting family in Iowa.  Had to bring the bikes.
 Visiting the in-laws.  Iowa feels like a tropical forest compared to Utah.

Back to the blog:

So although things are a bit complicated in getting back to where I would like to be, overall
life is going very, very well.  We are feeling settled in our new home in Park City and love, love, loving it!  I pinch myself every day that we live in such a beautiful and peaceful place.  My summer has been filled with lots of awesome mountain biking, hikes out the back door with Dizzy, and weekly moose sightings!...and some pretty exciting racing right around the corner.  Steamboat Stinger, Wasatch 360, and Moab Rocks stage race to name a few!

Dizzy feels right at home on 'his' lounger.  He likes to chill in the cool mountain breeze.

The neighborhood moose taking a snooze next door!

Tuesday, July 1, 2014