Faith is taking the first step, even when you don't see the whole staircase. - MLK, Jr.
Courage is being scared to death...and saddling up anyway. - John Wayne
Everything should be made as simple as possible, but not simpler. - Albert Einstein

Wednesday, April 28, 2010

Long Week

Sorry it has been so long since I have posted. Monday (April 19th) we found out that my ANC (Absolute Neutrophil Count) was too low to receive chemotherapy. The count should be at least 1.0 and mine was 0.88 (normal is 1.7). The ANC is a clue to how hard the chemo has hit the bone marrow, and when it is low it means you are at a greater risk of infection. They can't give more chemo because it will cause your bone marrow to stop producing white blood cells again, causing all sorts of fun side effects. Cody and I decided to stay another night in Houston and try again on Tuesday, hoping my body will make more white blood cells during the night. Surprise it did! My count was 0.98 Tuesday morning, close enough that they could go ahead and treat. So I received the same FEC treatment, but this time I was not as prepared mentality - secretly hoping that my counts would be too low and I would get another week of feeling good. Mom came over from Houston and stayed with Cody and me for two days in Austin while I started feeling better, it was a HUGE help to have her around. On Wednesday Cody had to give me a shot of Neulasta to force my bone marrow to make new white blood cells, so that I will not have low counts again and my treatment can continue on schedule. The shot was little, but I HATE SHOTS!! He had to give it to me in my stomach, and it was awful. It didn’t hurt but I still get nauseated thinking about it. I recovered from this round on FEC much more quickly that the last time. I’m not exactly sure why but maybe knowing that I would feel better soon, and all the unfounded dire predictions about how crappy I would feel, made the difference. Thursday Mom took me to try on bras for the Graphics Art Bra show in May. It was fun trying on the different styles and designs, and seeing all of the wonderful creations that people submitted. I’m excited for the show! I feel great again, and am keeping up my exercise routine. I think the exercise helps to minimize the effects of the chemotherapy. It is also a good way for me to get out of the house and out of isolation. Now I’m off to walk and maybe get some flowers for our front porch.

Here is a picture of our springtime backyard that we completed this weekend.  Now if it will only gradually heat up this year...maybe we can keep our flowers through June :)

Friday, April 16, 2010

Pictures from Texas State Triathlon

In transition before the race...I'm number 285, which means I start at the end.

 Cody looking relaxed in transition.  He gets to start at the beginning (number 55).  Why don't the women start first?

Mark and I have the same haircut!

 Exiting the water after the swim.  My wetsuit makes me look - and feel - like a stuffed sausage!  But it does help with buoyancy, making the swim a lot more fun

Cody skipping along his way at the start of the run, oblivious to the hill that awaits him.


On my way through the finish line shoot - slow, but not last!

Celebrating after with Mom and Dad.

Time to go home and rest!

Better late than never...sorry it took so long to get these posted!

Art Bra Show

Art bra fashion show and auction on May 22, 2009 to benefit the Breast Cancer Resource Center of Central Texas and the Pink Ribbon Cowgirls at the Bob Bullock Texas State History Museum. The museum’s rotunda and lobby will be used for a full stage and catwalk. This time there will be eats from the Belmont, Bona Dea Bread, Cover 3, Cupprimo Cupcakery, J. Black’s Feel Good Lounge, North by Northwest and Pie Fixes Everything. Brooklyn Barbieri will provide live music, while a DJ will keep the tunes flowing during the fashion show. News 8 anchor Crestina Chavez and the Paramount Theatre’s executive director Ken Stein will be the hosts.

Purchase Tickets: here or call 512-544-0902.

Tickets are moving fast, half are already sold, so get yours today! I'm going to be one of the models, and it should be a lot of fun. I'm excited, next week I go for my fitting.

Monday, April 12, 2010

Texas State Triathlon

It was a very early for both Cody and I on Sunday as we left for the Texas State Triathlon at Aquarena Springs in San Marcos, TX (about 30 miles south of Austin). Aquarena Springs is an old theme park with glass bottom boat tours, a mermaid show in the underwater theater with Ralph the Swimming Pig, and a gondola ride over the lake. Cody and I both remember going to the park in the early 80’s as children. The vestiges of the old theme park are still there; the theater is partially sunk in the lake, the wind howls through the gondola cables, and you can still take a glass bottom boat tour. It truly is a hauntingly beautiful place.

The swim took place in Spring Lake which is fed by hundreds of natural springs and the headwaters lake for the San Marcos River. The lake is a protected natural area and only certified scientific divers are allowed to swim in it, but every year 300 lucky people get to swim in the lake for the Texas State Triathlon. Since the lake is so environmentally sensitive the race is a time trial start. This format means that the racers line up in numerical order – race number order – and dive in one after the other, every 3 seconds. This type of start is a great way to start a race; racers don’t get kicked, punched, or otherwise abused by other racers like in a mass start. The only problem with the swim is that the water is so beautiful and full of things to see that you just want to float along with the current, head underwater, staring at the bottom. I swam freestyle for about 200 yards, and then settled into a steady breaststroke with long looks at the bottom. My wetsuit helped to provide buoyancy so I could float for a few seconds without sinking. It was a great swim! Once out of the water I walked to transition (I was trying to save energy). While I was changing into my bike shoes and putting on my helmet, some other girls had a coach who kept yelling, “It’s transition ladies, not a tea party!” I find this hilarious! It’s not like any of us were going to win, and who cares anyway? This is a local race, not the Olympic trials.

By the time I got out on the bike course the drizzle had been falling steadily for a couple of hours, and the roads were soaked. Several of the earlier riders, aka “the guys” actually crashed on the course by going too fast for road conditions. The bike portion of the race was an out and back course. Cody passed me going the other way about 2 miles into my ride; he started at number 55 (I was 285) and he was much faster. I also passed my friend Mark a few miles later at the top of one of the steepest hills on the course. Seeing him also going the other way really helped me to power up those last few hills! I have never been so happy to see a turn around point in my life! Once I turned, and it was a tight, wet turn, it was 7+ miles back to transition…almost all of it downhill – YEAH!!

Whoever designed the run course (walk course in my case) this year must be a sadist. I say this only because the first mile of the run, after leaving the transition area, was straight up a horribly steep hill. That hill was awful!! Looking off the side of the road I could see that my head was inline with the treetops. They did post funny/philosophical signs on the poles of the hill, giving me something to think about other than the pain involved with getting up the hill. My favorite “Why doesn’t McDonald’s serve hotdogs?” Interesting question. Anyway, I managed to run the downhill sections of the course, and finished the race in 2:05. Not a great time, but I was not last! Cody and I think it was a fairly respectable time, and next year I’m going to blow my time out of the water!
Not a great time, but I was not last. Cody and I think it was a fairly respectable time, and next year I’m going to blow my time out of the water!

Thank you to you all for your well wishes and congratulations – special thanks Mom, Dad, Diane, and Nancy who showed up to cheer us on. I’m really looking forward to doing another race and especially the Danskin next year. I plan on doing the races in Austin and Seattle, so if you want to join me – start training for 2011!!

Tuesday, April 6, 2010

National Young Adult Cancer Awareness Week (NYACAW) April 4-10, 2010

This week is National Young Adult Cancer Awareness Week.  Every year there are 70,000 young adults that receive a diagnosis between the ages of 18 - 39.  We face unique challenges; mine are cognitive, career, fertility, long-term side effects of chemotherapy, and the particular nature of my cancer.  I'm not sure what exactly raising awareness does, but I've done my part and you are all now "aware" of young adult cancer.

Friday, April 2, 2010


F.E.C. (Fluorouracil, Epirubicin, Cyclophosphamide) sounds evil and hard on your body.  It has taken me three full days of doing nothing to start to feel better.  Now I can understand why people don't want to go back for more after 21 days.  Nothing like starting to feel normal just to get knocked back down again.  The good thing is that they have figured out how to battle the nausea, so I was not the typical picture of a chemo patient hugging the toilet.  They gave me three anti-nausea medications and steroids via IV before the three different chemo drugs so there is no waiting period before they take effect.  They give you Ativan to battle the nausea but also to help relax you and not make you so nervous, and that is a good thing.  The bad thing about all of these drugs is that they have the combined effect of turning your brain to mush.  My brain is only now starting to recover and it still feels like I'm in a cloud.  I wonder if my chemo brain will get worse over time, or if I will get used to it and my brain will remain permanently muddled.  I hope it starts to recover when I'm finished with all of this, if not there are a lot of years ahead to live in a fog.  The drugs also burned off my tastebuds so not only do I have a drastically reduced appetite, eating is a chore because it tastes like nothing; texture is more important than taste.  My hair has been growing back but I expect it all to fall out again.  It won't be very dramatic this time, hard to tell when the fuzz falls out.  I also have some leftover symptoms from the Pacitaxel, mainly that my fingernails have very dark bruises on them and they hurt.  But that should fade with time.  I keep getting stronger everyday and plan on doing the triathlon in a week.