Friday, July 13, 2018

July 4th-Peachtree Road Race

Celebrating the Fourth of July!

My son Nick came down from Boston on June 30 and stayed with us until July 5th! I was so excited to not only have him here for the week but to be running our first Peachtree Road Race together since he was a teenager in 2001!



Last year on July 4th, I was nearing the end of my 33 radiation treatments. Nick told me then that he was going to come down this year and we would run the Peachtree together. I quickly agreed, but I wasn't wholly convinced that I would be up for it! I was not only feeling pretty rough physically but emotionally as well. However, Nick planned his vacation for the week of the 4th, and we both joined the Atlanta Track Club in January so that we would be guaranteed an entry into the race.

My good friend Lyniece also somehow managed to get picked in the lottery for the race! This would not only be her first Peachtree, but her first ever 10K!!

Although Lyniece and I had been walking and slogging (slow jogging!) a bit, we only did 6 miles once before the race, and that was on the Saturday before the 4th! It was HOT and HUMID, but at least we knew we could cover that distance! It felt so odd to be worrying about being able to finish a 10k-after all-I'm a marathoner-at least I WAS before that stupid cancer. 6.2 or 26.2 miles.....this would be "just another stupid marathon" for me!




Since Nick and I both opted to pick up our race packets at the expo ($15 extra to have them mailed!) he got us a room near the starting line of the race so that we could just stay in Atlanta overnight and not have to stress about getting into town before the roads started to close. Hubby Ray drove us down for the expo and hung out with us for a few hours before heading back home.

Peachtree Expo

Race Day

I have to tell you that I was VERY nervous! I was more worried about the heat and humidity than the actual running. I have NEVER been a huge fan of running in the heat, and now that I have Lymphedema and have to wear a stupid compression sleeve-I dislike it even more! And yet-I was going to do this run on the 4th of July in HOTLANTA!?!

Nick, Pam, and Lyniece-Ready to GO!

Off We Go!


It was so crowded at the start that you could barely walk when the gun went off. We walked for a few minutes and then Nick said, "Let's run!" He somehow managed to get through some of the crowd. By the time Lyniece and I were able to take off, Nick was out of sight! We gave him a hard time at the finish for taking off and leaving his "poor old mom," but I was happy that he had a good run! He was a bit worried himself because he had mainly been running up in Boston-in an air-conditioned gym!!

Ray, Conor, and Alex woke up very early on race day and drove to Piedmont Park so that they would be there waiting at the finish! Many of the roads in the area of the park close on race morning at 5:30, so when I say early, I mean EARLY!! Lyniece's husband Joel and two of their kids also came down to the park for the finish!

Conor said that he wants to run the Peachtree next year, and Lyniece's daughter, Sarah said she would like to as well! Yep-nothing like 60,000 sweaty, tired, gasping for air runners to inspire kids!! LOL!

Ray texted me this pic of Nick after he crossed the finish line.




















Lyniece and I finished a little after Nick (yep, I lost THAT bet!) and after picking up our t-shirts, we posed for the photo below.



I won't say that we RAN the entire 6.2 miles, but we finished the darn thing, and we were both smiling as we crossed the finish line!

And then it was time to celebrate-SO MANY THINGS! Finishing the Peachtree Road Race. American Independence Day. Family. Friends. And most of all, it was time to celebrate..........

                                                                      

Tuesday, July 10, 2018

1 Year Anniversary

Hey, Y'all!

I hope everyone had a wonderful Fourth of July! I sure did!

I sat down at my computer this morning with my first cup of coffee, fully intending to share with you some of my fun experiences from last week. However, after noticing the date, I realized that today is an anniversary for me, and I decided to postpone the previously planned post and to commemorate this significant anniversary instead.


July 10, 2017

One year ago today was a truly significant event in my breast cancer journey. I received my last radiation treatment! 33 treatments done!

I had made it through chemo, a mastectomy, and now this!!


Time for the burns and wounds to heal.


Time to move forward with my life!

Oddly enough, I was experiencing some very mixed emotions that day. I was so happy to be done with radiation, and yet I knew that I was really going to miss these beautiful, fun people!! No matter how tired or down I felt when I walked into that facility, I always left with a smile on my face thanks to one or more of these folks!




And this guy.....what can I say?? My sweet hubby-Ray was with me every step of the way-taking care of me both physically and emotionally. LOVE THIS MAN!








So here I am today, one-year later-still having some issues from all of my treatments. Still in a LOT of debt due to medical bills. Still very nervous about the possibility of a cancer recurrence. And yet, STILL ALIVE! And STILL THANKFUL for EVERY. SINGLE. DAY.


Later this week I will share the post that I had initially intended to share today! It will include fun, family, heat, humidity, friendship, photos, and my first 10K (Peachtree Road Race,) since going through cancer treatments.

Moving forward!
     

Friday, June 15, 2018

My Pink Perspective

Before I even begin, I feel that I must warn you that my chemo brain has been especially aggravating the past couple of days, so I may or may not make much sense as I try to explain my passion for pink!

Many women who have been through breast cancer embrace the pink ribbon. As a survivor myself, I certainly do. Many others, however, do not, and I respect that.

Shortly after I was diagnosed with breast cancer, I started to hear about the controversy surrounding the pink ribbons. Seriously?? This was now causing controversy??? I read a couple of articles on the subject and determined that a lot of the debate stemmed from people feeling that the breast cancer ribbons were being exploited by companies using the ribbon to advertise their own products and to bolster their image in the process. I understand the concern, but I believe that initially, the pink ribbon was about giving women the courage to speak openly about their bodies, and their illness-not about exploitation and profit. I also believe that for the most part, that still holds true today.

I can only speak for myself, but I for one have gotten through many horrible, scary, and sad days thanks to a lot of amazing women whom I'm proud to call my "Pink Sisters." I have also received some of the most beautiful, heartfelt gifts involving pink ribbons, that have made me feel so very loved throughout my journey.

One of the complaints I have heard is that the ribbon stands for breast cancer "awareness," and that we don't need more awareness of the fact that breast cancer exists. Maybe that's how some people view the ribbon, but I have a different view-I happen to think that the ribbon is drawing awareness to cancer patients themselves, and to the many things that we all need, especially a CURE! Maybe I'm naive, but I think that people are inherently good and that they just want to show their support to someone who is going through a difficult time, and a beautiful pink ribbon, or simply wearing pink is one way of showing that support. Heck, my husband and 17-year-old son, along with some of my dear friends put on pink tutus to show their support of me in my first post-treatment 5K (Paint Gwinnett Pink 5K) this past October! And soon we will be dusting those pink tutus off, putting on our pink ribbon shirts and once again-proudly standing at the starting line of that same 5K!





I'm sure there are individuals, companies, and groups selling breast cancer items and exploiting the pink ribbon for their own profit. I also know that there are many, many individuals, and groups who use that same pink ribbon to legitimately raise funds for cancer research, for mammograms and many other much-needed services for breast cancer patients in need.

I personally think it would be such a shame not to recognize that something as simple as a pink ribbon can mean so much to many of us cancer patients and survivors and that it CAN make a difference in our lives.

Again-we each have a right to our own feelings and opinions on this matter. For myself though, I will continue to embrace the pink. After all, I think I look pretty darn cute in pink! 




Friday, June 1, 2018

Freakin' Out Friday

Hey, Y'all!

I woke up this morning determined to get out the door for my walk/run before the heat and humidity became unbearable. I did not want a repeat of yesterday when I waited until late morning and had to force myself to go past the end of my driveway! I eventually managed almost two-horrible, slow miles, but it was torture!

Today was much better-I got out an hour earlier than yesterday, but I still intend to start getting out the door immediately after Ray and the kids leave for work-around 7:00 am. I just seriously HATE the summer heat here in Georgia!

Anyway, about that "Freakin' Out" thing--

As I mentioned in my last post, I received a Fitbit from the folks who are conducting the weight loss study that I am participating in. I really intended to only use the thing when I was going out for "intentional exercise" sessions. However, when I talked to my coach this week, she said that they would really like for me to wear it all day, every day. They will now be tracking not only my miles but my daily steps as well.

It's actually a bit creepy when you think about it! They already had access to my weight! The minute I step on my scale, the data goes directly to my coach. Now, at any time, they can go online and see how many steps I have taken, how much food I have eaten, what my current weight is...............




As creepy as it sounds though-It's just what I need! I need to be accountable. No overestimating how much I'm moving on any given day. No fudging the numbers when I weigh myself.

So now, I'm really trying to be more aware of how much I'm moving about during the day. No more sitting for too long at the computer! I'm really hoping to take full advantage of my "stalker!!"........Time to get this weight off for good!

Do you have something or someone to keep you accountable in regards to your training or weight loss? If so, please share!

That's all for now-I have to get up and MOVE!!

BTW-For those of you who are old enough-do you now have this song stuck in your head??? You will now! You're welcome!! LOL!






Have a great weekend, Y'all!! Keep moving!

Pam

Tuesday, May 22, 2018

Giving Up On Running Would Be Like Giving Up On Life

Returning to the world of running after breast cancer is proving to be more of a challenge than I thought it would be, and yet I must keep trying. Walking is great, but I somehow feel the need to reclaim the runner that I'm pretty sure is still lurking inside this old battered body! Running has always been such a huge part of my life. This may sound a bit dramatic, but I feel very strongly that for myself, personally-to give up on running would be like giving up on life!


This past October I walked the Paint Gwinnett Pink 5k with some of my precious family members and dear friends. It had only been a few months since completion of my cancer treatments, and I was actually a bit worried about even walking 3 miles! I was determined to do it though! How could I NOT make it with the support of my family and friends! It was an incredible day-very emotional, but also fun, and I can't wait to do it again this year, but with one difference-I want to RUN it this time!!

Pam's Pink Posse 2017
I have already signed up for the 5k run for this coming October! You can read more about it right here.

Peachtree Road Race

I am also registered for the Peachtree Road Race which is a 10k! The Peachtree is in Atlanta on July, 4th. I know that there is no way that I will be ready to RUN this 10K, so I'm not going to stress over it. I'm just going to focus on surviving this one! 60,000 people running through Hotlanta on a sweltering July morning??!! What could be more fun than that??!!

Check out one of my Peachtree photos from the "olden days!!"

I was pretty sure I was going to die from heat stroke that year!

I'm SOOO excited that my son Nick will be coming down from Boston for this one! The photo below is from our last Peachtree together-approximately 15 years ago!

My good friend Lyniece will be doing the Peachtree RR with us, also! This will be her first! I don't have a running photo with Lyniece, but I have one of us together-celebrating my birthday! We are also hoping to find a race bib for Alex so that she can experience the Peachtree with us! Ray, Conor, and most likely Lyniece's family will be waiting at Piedmont Park to greet us after the race!





















Also, on the running/fitness/weight loss front......I received this Fitbit Charge 2 from the folks at Dana Farber and Fitbit!


I will use it for the weight loss study I am participating in! The good news is that I received it free! The bad news?? My weight loss coach has full access to all of my info!! Soooo.....no being lazy anymore!! Actually, maybe that's the GOOD news!!

Do you use a Fitbit or some other activity tracker? I'd love to hear from you!

Gotta go get in some mileage now! Keepin' on, keepin' on..........

Stay strong, Y'all!

Wednesday, May 16, 2018

Weight Loss after Breast Cancer

Hey, Y'all!

First of all-I wanted to post this photo from one year ago that popped up on my Facebook memories.

The FB post said, "Radiation treatment today! One down-thirty two to go! Peace, love, radiation and HEALING!!"

Sometimes it's hard to believe it was a year ago, and other times it seems like it was a lifetime ago!


May 16, 2017  




May 16, 2018


I had an appointment on Monday with the NP (Wan) at my Oncologist's office for some blood work and follow-up for the two clinical trial studies I have been participating in. The only lab results I have received so far are the glucose numbers, and I was happy to see that the number is down from 98 to 91! I need to get that number down even more, but that's a good start. I should be receiving the rest of the results over the next few days.

I mentioned that the follow-up was for two different clinical trials that I am participating in, and one of these two I decided to drop out of. The study required that I take 300mg of aspirin daily, and for various reasons, I decided that I did not want to continue taking such a large dosage of aspirin. I will, however, continue with the second study.

In November of last year, my Oncologist asked if I would like to participate in a clinical trial study that investigates the impact of weight loss on breast cancer recurrence. The study is sponsored by the National Cancer Institute and the Alliance for Clinical Trials in Oncology-in partnership with Dana-Farber Cancer Institute and Fitbit. The study will involve nearly 3,200 overweight and obese women with breast cancer to test if weight loss can help prevent the disease from returning.

The results of this study will help determine whether weight loss programs should become a part of the treatment for women with breast cancer.

Although I have been a runner for many years, I have struggled off and on with my weight. Over the years I have been motivated by different factors to change my eating habits in order to lose weight. Often, my motivation was related directly to vanity! I wanted to LOOK better. I wanted to fit into a particular outfit for a specific occasion. Sometimes I wanted to lose weight in order to feel better, but more often than not-it was that vanity thing!

When my doctor first suggested the Breast Cancer Weight Loss Study (BWEL) I jumped on it immediately because I so wanted to lose weight.

This time I had some pretty valid reasons for wanting to get rid of the excess weight.


  • To feel better about myself
  • To possibly help prevent a recurrence of breast cancer
  • To help future cancer patients/survivors
  • To improve my overall health
  • To set a good example for my family

Since starting on the Bwel program the beginning of December, I have only lost 7.6 pounds. That's not a lot. So maybe the program doesn't work?? Actually, I'm pretty sure it wasn't because the program didn't work, but because I didn't actually adhere to the plan the way I should have. I could give a lot of excuses-stress, holidays, birthdays, depression, etc. But it all boils down to the fact that I just didn't stick to the plan. I didn't keep my food log updated, I didn't always exercise as much as I should have, and I just ATE TOO MUCH CRAP that I should not be eating!


When I look at the graph of my weight over these past few months, I don't know whether to laugh or cry!!




I came away from my doctor's office with renewed determination to start living a healthier lifestyle and to get this excess weight off. Did you know that there have already been studies done that have shown that getting your BMI to a healthier number can decrease the risk of having a breast cancer recurrence by 55 to 60%???? That is freakin' HUGE!! Talk about motivation!! I had no idea we were talking those kinds of numbers here!

After talking to Wan, I decided that I have been underestimating the importance of living a healthier, more balanced lifestyle, and of getting the excess weight off. This is so much more than vanity. This could be life or death, folks!

Am I going to work harder on sticking with the program now? You bet I am! It's pretty much a no-brainer! I went through many, many months of treatments-chemo, surgery, radiation, and more- in hopes of getting rid of the cancer that had invaded my body, so why would I NOT do something that could very possibly keep that cancer from returning???

Do you struggle to get or keep your weight under control? If so, what motivates you? Is there any particular weight loss plan that has helped you?

I really appreciate any feedback you might offer! I should probably go work on my grocery shopping list now. I will be sharing some healthy recipes later this week.

Y'all take care!

Pam

Thursday, April 26, 2018

Thankful Thursday


I know that the whole, "Thankful Thursday" thing has been done so many times, especially amongst us bloggers, but I am genuinely thankful today on this Thursday,  and every day for having had this remarkable woman in my life.



RIP


My dear, sweet, funny, loving big sister passed away last Tuesday. As extremely sad as I am about her passing-I am equally thankful that she was my big sister. Zebbie was 16 years older than me, and at times in our younger days, she felt like a second mother to me.


Pam and Zebbie on Easter Sunday


I'm sure there were times when she felt the same way--like I was her very bratty child!

After my Dad passed away when I was 12, Zebbie moved in with my Mom and me to take care of the two of us, and she spent most of the rest of her life taking care of those she loved, including 2 children of her own. Zebbie was a single Mom and often worked 2 jobs just to make ends meet. Her life definitely wasn't all sunshine and roses, and yet, I don't remember her complaining.

My BFF, Judy Ballew was at Zebbie's funeral-holding my hand all during the service. I don't think I would have made it through the day without Judy by my side. Judy reminded me of all of the times that Zebbie played chauffeur to the two of us silly girls--taking us shopping, to the beach, to concerts, amusement parks,  and pretty much anyplace we asked her to take us. She put up with a lot of teenage drama from the two of us (okay, probably mostly ME!) without complaints. Looking back, I don't know how (or sometimes why!) she did it!


Judy on the left, Pam on the right-Zebbie, as always-our photographer!


One of the biggest regrets of my life is that over recent years, I didn't get to spend a lot of time with Zebbie. Our family moved to Connecticut and lived there for 12 years, and during that time I only saw her a handful of times. After moving back to Georgia, we still didn't see each other often, mainly due to health issues on both sides.  I have so many memories of my sister, and yet I feel there should have been more.

Friends-PLEASE-do everything in your power to spend time with your loved ones while you can.

This past Sunday was Zebbie's birthday. Her first in Heaven. Her sweet daughter Michelle had planned for family to stop in and wish her a Happy Birthday, even though she was not doing well and might not have known who we were. We were all sad that we didn't get to spend that day with her, but we were happy knowing that she was able to spend the day with our Mom, Dad, brother David and all of our other family and friends who were waiting for her with open arms.

Love and miss you, sweet sister.........Rest In Peace.........