Tuesday, April 24, 2012

Continuing to move

Since my biopsy I've run approximately 29 miles.  Some have been hard miles and some have been easy but as always they've helped me deal with the stress of what is going on.  My favorite miles are long slow runs and trail runs.  The trails here are gorgeous, even in the early spring (yes, it is still early spring here) when very little has bloomed and the woods are mostly brown.  It's quiet . . . I mostly have the trails to myself.  Yesterday, I saw three "white flags"--the telltale signs of spooking deer.  And, nothing beats the zen of running on rocky, rooty, hilly trails and having all thoughts focused on staying on your feet and off your butt!

I met with the surgeon today who explained that based on the results of my biopsy they aren't really worried about breast cancer (which is what I thought was the concern) but instead there is a concern that I might have chronic lymphocytic leukemia as the abnormalities are consistent with that disease.  I keep getting reassurances that it is very unlikely that anything is actually wrong with me, but just in case they need to find out.  My "google" research shows that if it is cll, it is uncurable but that I could go decades before ever needing treatment.  I'm still hopeful that this is just another blip in the chain of all of my weird medical test results that mean nothing (I have a lot of them).

So May 3 is the magic date.  I will be having a minor surgery--but I'll only be getting a local, not being put under anesthesia which makes me happy and the cut will be small per the surgeon.  He plans to remove exactly one lymph node and stitch me back up.  He said I should be back to work the next day and my question of when I could run again was answered in a way that provided me some humor:  "If it was me I would probably run later that day, but since you're the patient and I'm the doctor I should probably tell you to wait until the next day before running."  Yes, I definitely picked the right surgeon.  He is, after all, the founder of the Marquette 50mile/50k and runs faster, further and likely more often then me.  I had expressed my time goal for my upcoming 1/2 Marathon and before the consultation ended he was giving me training advice.  That's the first time in weeks that I've come out of a doctor appointment feeling better than I went in, even with the possibility of having cll.

To end the day, I do what I often do . . . I went and ran with my 10 year old lab.  It seems to be helping as I actually feel calm and peaceful this evening and ready to take on the next round of testing.

Saturday, April 21, 2012

Short-lived good news

As it turns out, preliminary results don't mean a whole lot . . .  Less than 48 hours after receiving the good news I received a call that the additional testing showed abnormalities in 4% of the cells taken from my lymph nodes.  Apparently the professionals can't tell if the abnormalities are cancerous (breast, lymphoma or something else), something else entirely or nothing.  Tuesday I meet with a surgeon to schedule a "minor" surgery to have one or more lymph nodes removed.  That is the only way to determine whether the abnormalities are cancerous or not.  I haven't been able to determine how long surgery is going to keep me from work, running and getting on with a normal life.  (Am I really talking about "normal life" when there's a possibility I may have cancer?)  In my grand optimism, I'm hoping it will be less than a week.  I'm also trying to figure out how to tell the surgeon that I can't have the surgery until the first week of June so that I can run the Bayshore 1/2 Marathon Memorial Day weekend.  Considering that he is the founder of a local 50mile/50k trail race somehow I think I might be able to convince him that waiting a few extra weeks won't make a difference in the long run.

So what did I do a mere 2 hours after getting the news?  I ran of course.  What else was I supposed to do?  I was at a point where I thought I could run.  I was at least 48 hours out from the biopsy.  And to be honest, I really need to burn some stress and growing despair that something might be seriously wrong with me.  I've logged almost 20 miles in the 48 hours since getting the news and am currently feeling a bit more at peace with this whole situation.

I'm not sure what the future brings, but at least for now I live to run another day.

Tuesday, April 17, 2012

Ready to move forward (Part II)

Only a few short hours after the "torture fest" and I've already received the call.  Preliminarily, all looks good, but I have to admit it's always nerve-wracking to see your doctor's phone number come up on the caller ID at 6pm the same day the testing occurred.  Thankfully it's just a sign of a great doctor who knew I'd be worried until I had an answer.  The answer--no cancer detected and the cells showed no abnormalities.  Yippee!

Now I just have to get rid of the pain in my left armpit, where the doctor hit a muscle, and wait 48 hours and I can get back to threshold repeats, hill repeats and my previously scheduled 12 mile run later this week.  As the saying goes . . . on with the show!

Ready to move forward

So I had the biopsy this morning.  Actually, I had two biopsies and two aspirations this morning.  This was much more than I expected as it was only supposed to be a biopsy of my left axilla (lymph node), but after an ultrasound the Dr. decided to do both sides to make sure she got a good sample.  I'm not sore yet, but considering that I had about 5 needles stuck in each armpit (not including the Lanacane) and she hit a muscle at one point (that I definitely felt!) I'm pretty sure I will be hurting pretty soon.

I've been a bit freaked out about this even though I know that most likely nothing is wrong.  I've been working really hard to convince myself that all is okay--to the point of following my training plan obsessively since I found out I needed the procedure.  This resulted in me running yesterday when the weather was miserable and I don't regret it as it helped calm the nerves a bit.  Still hard to believe I found the ambition to get out for a trail run after 4-5 hours of heavy rain, then sleet, then snow as the temperature dropped from 42 to 27.  Oh, and there was a nice 20-40 MPH wind coming off Lake Superior.  The trails were wet, muddy and snow covered while the snow continued to pelt me the face.  It was kind of hard to worry about whether there is something seriously wrong when I had to concentrate so hard just to make sure I stayed on my feet and off my butt.
So it left me wondering . . . am I crazy?  Or are other runners as dedicated (obsessed) as I am?  I recognized early on that running provides stress relief that I can't find anywhere else and that has been a huge motivation for me.  I'm on hold for 48 hours because of the biopsy but then hopefully back to normal training and back to normal life.

I'm probably crazy since I'm already counting the hours before I can lace up again, but if makes me normal in the rest of my life that's good . . . right?!?

Wednesday, April 11, 2012

The beginning

I guess this isn't really the beginning as I started running just over 10 years ago, but heck there's no time like the present for adding another dimension, right?

The title of my blog "Running to Live" is the result of my obsessive need to run, as much and as often as reasonably possible so that I can give myself the best odds possible of living long enough to see my kids grow up.  It's a morbid thought, I know.  But it's fitting since I originally started running (in 2002) so that I could run a Komen 5k to honor my mom, then a recent breast cancer survivor.  For some reason running stuck (despite growing up being about as inactive as possible).  Sadly, just over 3 years ago my mom died after a brief fight with pancreatic cancer.  I was pregnant with my son at the time but swore that I would run 100 miles for each year of her life to honor her.  She was 65 so that was a pretty big feat for a small business owner with a baby on the way and an 18 month old (at that time).  Three years later I've knocked off 2,400 miles with 4,100 to go.

This is the year I will turn 40, yep the big 4-0!  When my wonderful husband, Chad, asked me what I'd like to do to celebrate I knew it had to be something active.  So, I suggested a backpacking trip since it's been a few years since we've been able to get out and a trip to the Disney Marathon.  Jokingly I suggested we run Goofy's Race and a Half Challenge (http://espnwwos.disney.go.com/events/rundisney/wdw-marathon/) together since symbolically it's almost 40 miles over two days.  I was fairly certain he would laugh at me because even though he is a runner also it seems a bit crazy to attempt something like this.  Instead, he agreed and we started making plans.  Registration opened yesterday and we were going to sign up right away, as we have been waiting for registration to open for 2 months now.  However, in a twist of fate the results of a recent medical test require me to undergo a breast biopsy next week and we've decided to wait until the results are back before making the commitment just in case the results are not what we hope they will be.

In the meantime, I continue to run . . . for me . . . for stress relief . . . for a bit of time to myself . . . but most importantly to live.