Archive for October, 2012

Breast Cancer Awareness, Day 22

This week, I have some personal accounts of cancer for you. They are not all breast cancer, but really, “You have cancer” has a smiliar effect on anyone, regardless (more or less) of what kind of cancer it is.

Today’s personal account is from a woman who wishes to remain anonymous. She is a breast cancer survivor.

As I pondered about what to write for this piece, it occurred to me that I did not wish to dwell on the physical aspects of this journey, because in reality it has been a much more profound emotional and psychological experience.

I am a believer that all things happen for a reason. That reason may not be apparent to you at first, or even for many years. However, the journey you take may not just be about you. It may be for someone else’s benefit. Perhaps someone you love needs to learn lessons from your experience. We are always teaching.

I have learned that so much of what we have to deal with daily is insignificant and unimportant. Many people are so wrapped up in themselves…what they wear, what they drive, what kind of electronic device they own etc. These “things” do not define who we are, no more than this diagnosis defines me!!! Are you kind? Are you compassionate? Are you emotionally intelligent? Are you emotionally available to others? This is what really matters…at least for me!

I have learned to be careful not to be too quick to judge others, for everyone is struggling with their own battles. Say a kind word, smile more, lend a hand, and speak softly.

I have learned, most importantly, that I am loved!! The support and immense love I have felt from my family and friends through their acts of kindness and caring have been overwhelming and humbling. When we are faced with our own immortality, these are the things that matter. It may sound cliché, but remember that every day is a gift, that is why it is called the present.

Epilogue:

What a coincidence!!!……..

As I am writing this, I am on a flight to Salt Lake City. The airline is selling “pink” lemonade for $2.00, with 50% of the proceeds going to breast cancer awareness and research. I don’t like the “pink thing” much. It is corporate’s way of capitalizing on someone else’s tragedy to make a buck. Distasteful to me….just my thought.

Breast Cancer Awareness, Day 21

Men have approximately a 1 in 1,000 chance of developing invasive breast cancer.

All of the statistics from the past week have been courtesy of www.breastcancer.org.

Breast Cancer Awareness, Day 20

Overall, white non-Hispanic women develop breast cancer more often than black women, but it is more likely to be fatal in black women.

Native American, Asian, and Hispanic women are lower-risk for both contracting and dying from breast cancer.

Breast Cancer Awareness, Day 19

From 1999 to 2005, breast cancer rates decreased in women aged 50 and older by about 2% per year. Hypothesis in the medical community: this was the result of the decreased use of HRT in menopausal women, now suspected to be a cause of breast cancer.

Breast Cancer Awareness, Day 18

Just under 12% (1 in 8) women will develop invasive breast cancer in her lifetime.

Breast Cancer Awareness, Day 17

Breast cancer death rates have been decreasing in the U.S. since about 1990, particularly in women under 50.

Tired, but working hard

It’s Wednesday and Nichol didn’t forget!

Hi friends.

How long does quinoa last? I am literally still eating the batch I made over a week ago. It tastes pretty okay, and it smells as normal as quinoa and black beans will ever smell, so… I’ll just keeping eating it.

My week has been uneventful. I don’t have anything really new or exciting to tell you. Tomorrow I will have 290 days completed. That’s about it.

I didn’t do much this week. I ran, I finished P90 (finally), I played with toys at Barnes and Noble, I bought books at Barnes and Noble, I house sat (?), I stated up too late playing The Simpsons Tapped Out on my phone, I ate quinoa by the truckload. I was not joking when I said that I made a lot of quinoa.

I’m just feeling a little rundown. My mood is really good, just really exhausted. However, next week will be good. I’ve got the Neon Splash Dash on Saturday and my first hike of the season on Friday!

I hope to have a little more energy next week and will be able to talk your ears off about all the healthy things I’m doing. Hope my lethargy doesn’t rub off on you.

If you’re going to the Splash Dash, look for me. I’ll be the one in white at the beginning and with the splashes of neon color all over at the end. Haha.

Breast Cancer Awareness, Day 16

The most commonly-diagnosed cancer in U.S. women is skin cancer.

The cancer with the most deaths in U.S. women is lung cancer.

Breast cancer ranks #2 on both of those lists.

Breast Cancer Awareness, Day 15

Stats week! I’ll share some breast cancer statistics with you each day this week.

Today’s stats are about genetics:

Roughly 85% of breast cancers are in women with no family history.

Having a first-degree relative with breast cancer (mother, daughter, sister) roughly doubles your odds of riding the cancer bus.

Gene mutations known to be associated with breast cancer can be inherited from either parent and give you up to an 80% chance of developing the disease in your lifetime, often prior to menopause. (These ladies are also at increased risk for ovarian cancer.)

Breast Cancer Awareness: Happy Birthday To Me!

Today, I turn 37. As my birthday gift to myself, I am allowing myself to ramble 🙂

When I was in my late 20s and starting to get fit, people who were roughly my age now told me to wait until I was their age — then I would understand.

Now, creeping into my late 30s, people ten years older still tell me to wait until I’m their age — then I’ll understand.

This is what I understand: those people have given up. They are blaming on age what is mainly a lifestyle problem.

I grew up eating crap. Even most home-cooked meals were skewed towards meat and heavily skewed towards highly processed crappy (delicious) carbs. We ate a lot of fast food. We watched a lot of TV. I was always chubby. You can’t say that I’ve just always eaten like this or grew up active.

In college, with the freedom to eat as I so chose — and a local dairy with $1 homemade ice cream pints — it only got worse. My slightly “big-boned” body got really fat. I loved all types of sweets. I believe I’ve been quoted as saying that “I don’t eat all that healthy shit.” You can’t say I don’t understand having a sweet tooth or a love of everything fried.

I changed slowly. What I fueled myself with started to look different. I joined a gym and read books on stationary bikes when I had free time. Then I started to spin. And take other classes. I started to feel better and look better, and I was hooked.

After finally hitting a healthy weight, having a body that didn’t jiggle, being strong, I was diagnosed with cancer.

I had five invasive procedures (three with anaesthetics), six months of chemotherapy, along with a six-month cocktail of other drugs, nearly a month of radiation. The cancer was decimated, and so was the rest of my body.

I started to eat well and exercise again. I started to reshape myself. You can’t say I’ve never started over.

Most breast cancers — indeed, most any cancers — can be prevented by taking care of yourself. Eat well, exercise often, maintain a healthy weight, don’t smoke.

(As an aside: I mean a real healthy weight, not an American healthy weight, which, according to most of us, is at least 15-20 pounds over. Most people are in denial about their body and about their diet. I have had people telling me I am “skinny” since I was about three weeks postpartum. Nowhere close to skinny. While I’m not a huge fan of BMI, it is a decent indicator of some health measures for the average Joe. My BMI is too high. People look at me and scoff, saying that BMI must be wrong if mine is too high. No — you’re just used to looking at really fat people. I’m less fat, so I look thin. You also know that I eat a fairly healthy diet and exercise regularly, which skews your vision. And, in some cases, just because I’m less fat than you are doesn’t make me a healthy weight.)

Post-cancer, I completed three sprint triathlons. The first one was amazing. My pride in training and completing it has been rivaled only once in my lifetime (see: senior recital). My body was getting stronger, and then…

I got pregnant. Most of the time, I didn’t go crazy on junk food. (Ladies, this is the time in your life when, more than ever, you need to eat well!) But there were weeks at a time when it seemed I couldn’t possibly feel full. I ate half of a large pizza one night and wasn’t stuffed. That is crazy. I know growing a fetus requires more fuel, but not that much!

Also, while pregnant, my body was tired. A three-mile bike ride took about half an hour and was exhausting. No exercise for six weeks postpartum, and then I climbed back on the wagon. Again.

I’m getting closer to my pre-pregnancy body … and then I’ll be continuing to work towards my pre-chemo body. It takes time, it takes diligence, it takes patience, it takes support.

There is nothing special about me that makes it possible for me to work to be healthy. It’s something that is important to me, so I do it. It is simple. It is not easy.

Assuming it is easy for other people is just your internal attempt to let yourself off the hook.

Make yourself accountable. Today. Now. Do it. You’ll be glad you did.

While I am in spin class, pushing myself as hard as I can on a bike that’s not getting me anywhere, this is my mantra:

You can use it if you want. Or make your own. Just make it positive 🙂

When I turned 27, I was not inspiring.

Today, I have had many people tell me I have inspired them to change their lives. I have been witness to them do it. I have heard celebrations of how many pushups I can do, how long I can hold a plank, how I wasn’t tempted by some crap food that used to appeal, how my old pants fit again, how I haven’t been this size in 2/8/20 years. And now they inspire others.

You owe it to yourself and to the people around you to take care of yourself and be a beacon of hope and inspiration in your community.

Who are you going to inspire?

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