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The Road So Far

Thursday, December 29, 2011

Well, itís short and sweet. A few lessons learned that I simply donít want to lose sight of as my mind gets caught up in planning for 2012. My road in 2011...

emoticon Iíve been saying that what is important to me is to regain my strength, my flexibility, my stamina. Iíve been strength training three times a week since August, and have seen a difference in all of those areas. The challenge is that I havenít lost any weight at all... and really, I have to admit to myself and to the world that that is a bit disappointing. Not crushing, just... sad, somehow. I know rationally that it will happen eventually (likely when the onco okís cardio for me) so I have to keep my eyes on the prize. Itís about taking my power back.

emoticon Having a trainer at the gym is the BEST. She is pushing me far beyond what I would be comfortable doing on my own. If Iím having a problem with something (dizziness, scars causing pain, etc.) she knows which exercise is safe for me to do, which ones will break up the scar tissue and give me more flexibility, etc. BEST money Iíve spent in a looonnnng time!

emoticon When I first learned Iíd be having a bilateral mastectomy, I was pretty convinced that I would go breast free (i.e. no restructuring, and no foobies). As it turns out, my particular situation has made that a requirement, at least for the moment. I was very self conscious of my ďflat topĒ (especially with a round belly just below it LOL!). Returning to work where part of my job is to stand in front of groups of people and give presentations and training was particularly emotional. As it turns out (and as is usually the case) I worried for nothing. I have one co-worker who began after I went on leave who didnít even realize Ė she was amazed that I ďcamouflage it so wellĒ. Turns out people just donít spend that much time looking there Ė who knew!?!

emoticon I donít have a large circle of friends and family is quite limited as well, but what I do have are the absolute best at support, making me laugh, sharing and caring, and I am so very very blessed to have them in my life. Seriously, hearts and love go out to all of them.

The past couple of years have been focused nearly exclusively on recovering from IBC. Now Iím going beyond Ė 2012 will be made of awesome! Iím wishing all my SparkFriends an awesome 2012 as well!

  Member Comments About This Blog Post:

TRACYZABELLE 12/30/2011 5:26AM

    emoticon Here's to a healthier and happier New Year

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TEDYBEAR2838 12/29/2011 8:26PM


You are right, no one really notices.

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DRUIDPRINCESS 12/29/2011 4:44PM

    Thank you for sharing your story with me. Your journey has so many similarities with mine, including being a trainer in front of groups of co-workers! I wish you an awesome 2012, where you can look forward rather than back, and reclaim a beautiful life.

And if you do decide to have reconstructive surgery in the future, make sure you do it in your own time, with a surgeon who comes to you with lots of positive reports from other breast cancer survivors.

Love and strength to you!

Lyn (from Australia)

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JULIEANNCAN 12/29/2011 2:01PM

    Great reflections! I wish you a very happy and healthy new year! Thank you for sharing your thoughts. emoticon

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What better time to declutter?

Tuesday, December 20, 2011

Well, itís the Holiday Season and Iíve been taking advantage of it to declutter and finding creative ways to pass on some things to others that we donít use anymore.

The two guys who delivered our freezer last week-end each got a Kínex type set for their boys, and a , floor size Snakes and Ladders for the little girl.

Iíve just free-cycled three separate types of Trivial Pursuit games, Electro-Magnnetix, Xpandagon and a wooden Sudoku set.

My DH has brought various games to his work for his clients, as well as some clothes.

It feels wonderfully light and bright to see those smiles and know that weíre sharing instead of tossing things away (as *some* people in the family wanted to do!) And seriously, so little effort went into finding new homes for these like-new items, so I encourage everyone out there who does have some things lying about unused to share when you can.

If I donít get in to Sparking again soon, I just want to wish everyone a wonderful Holiday Season. I hope you can spend it with family and friends, in good health, and in good spirits!

emoticon emoticon emoticon emoticon emoticon emoticon

  Member Comments About This Blog Post:

SHEILA1505 12/21/2011 12:24AM

    Yes - I do this too - tomorrow I will pass on outdated bedding, pillows, etc to Garden Services workmen who are always happy to sort thru the pile and share - if they can't use something, they always know someone else who can.

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JULIEANNCAN 12/20/2011 8:04PM

    emoticon Happy holidays to you and yours!

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TEDYBEAR2838 12/20/2011 4:27PM

    emoticon MERRY CHRISTMAS emoticon

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ROCHELLE62 12/20/2011 9:05AM

    I live in a poorer neighborhood. I have what I consider "the portal" curbside. Everything I have taken out there has disappeared. It is nice for me to know that someone wants it and is anxious to drag it home.

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TOOTERFISH 12/20/2011 6:27AM

    i have done this too.. it's a fantastic feeling? isnt it?
as you clear out the material items.. you bring in more meaningful moments.
a laugh, a smile, good conversation, a memory. It feels so good!

Joy and contentment are fabulous feelings.

Happy holidays

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TRACYZABELLE 12/20/2011 3:12AM

    It is a great time to pass on things that you can no longer use! Better yet those people who get you useless gifts, either donate them as well or tell them to donate the money to a cause. PLUS you are less cluttered

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Back to Sparking!

Sunday, November 27, 2011

Iíve been away from Spark for quite some time. I think I needed to step away for a bit and actually experience life so I could assess how things are going: good, great, and room for improvement LOL! I obviously wonít be able to be online as often as I was when I wasnít working, but I will try to get on more regularly.

Good stuff... well, now that I think of it, not much. Iím feeling like I have a lot of great stuff going on right now. Being back at work has been wonderful, and Iím feeling a great sense of accomplishment and empowerment at seeing my past experiences coming together for this particular job. Things I love to do Ė especially writing and working with groups Ė are a big part of this job and two loves that I hadnít been able to incorporate into my work in the past.

My guys (husband and son) are also doing great. My son turned 18 at the beginning of the month, and itís astounding to me that this young adult was that small baby all those years ago. Heís at college to do a paramedic course, and heís loving it. My DH is doing well too, and has settled into himself at work as well as at home. Heís such a wonder to me Ė creative, empathetic, helping people shine. I often pause and just glow in being grateful for all my blessings.

I went basement shopping this morning with my sister (i.e. going through clothes that I had stored down there) and I found some clothes that I can't wear anymore since the mastectomy that fit her. But here's the great part -- the clothes that were too small for me last year fit me now. So even though I haven't lost weight, I have obviously firmed up. Woo Hoo! Then we went shopping and she bought me some workout clothes in thanks for giving her my clothes. Bonus!

Planning for food and having the energy to cook continue to be issues with me, but I refuse to let go of my 3X per week sessions with my personal trainer. Iím gaining so much strength and stamina, and Iím feeling my confidence in my physical body coming back. Itís been a very long time coming, and I canít let go of that now that Iím on the road to recovery. Decemb er 3 will be my one-year mark of being cancer-free (which I count from the day my treatments ended), and I still have a long road to go but I have tangible knowledge that I can do it now.

So food is taking somewhat of a second place to training, but I still strive to eat healthy meals Ė I just donít necessarily cook them! Pre-cut veggies, fruit salad from the coffee shop across the street, sushi (no sauces)... my choices are healthier than they used to be, even if Iím not preparing it myself.

Some lessons learned, if I can call it that...

Part of the answer for me is to be hyper vigilant right now as my struggle changes from day to day, and to accept that I will have to at least have a modicum of awareness for the rest of my life. Push through, always, always keep trying, and once things work donít be afraid to try new things anyway. Changing things up is what keeps it fresh and keeps it working!

Changing my inner dialogue, because if I keep repeating to myself something wonít work, is unpleasant, will be hard... it will be! If, on the other hand, I keep repeating to myself that yes, I can do this, and picture myself doing it, it becomes so much easier! So yeah, fake it til I make it!

Treat myself as well as I would treat my child (e.g. healthy foods, keeping active, etc.) or a stranger (e.g. no bashing or rudeness, no Ďpickingí on them for their appearance, etc.) Why do I treat myself worse than I treat others? I am just as important as them, and appreciate support rather than negativity just as much as others do!

I hope everyone out there is doing great and, for those in Ottawa, appreciating this mild weather weíve been having. The snow will come soon Ė and hopefully skating on the canal for me!

  Member Comments About This Blog Post:

TRACYZABELLE 12/19/2011 2:41AM

    So awesome that your basement shopping went well! Now of course is crazy time with holidays-- looking forward to seeing you after the holidays

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KASEYCOFF 11/28/2011 2:16PM

    The fitness / recovery are coming along great - and I know just what you mean about counting the blessings. They're all around us, ain't?

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JULIEANNCAN 11/27/2011 11:03PM

    It is so GREAT to hear from you! I am so glad you are doing well and all of the things at the end of your blog are reminders that I needed for myself. Thank you for sharing all of this. Be kind to yourself and keep on working at it! emoticon

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CHEFKATLEANER 11/27/2011 10:49PM

    Sounds to me like you have made some wonderful progress while you've been away. It's wonderful when we're able to take the lessons we've learned here and apply them successfully in our daily lives. :D

Glad to see you back!

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FITGRL124 11/27/2011 10:17PM

    Hi emoticon I'm so excited to see that you've been doing well & that you're back around!!!! emoticon

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What a Month! (Countdown Ė 17 days left)

Thursday, September 08, 2011

Ok. I knew Ė I KNEW Ė that my return to full-time work after having been off for 1.5 years would be tiring, and require some adjustment. I didnít expect how much it would cost in terms of my metabolism (youíd think Iíd know by now LOL!) or my stamina, which practically disappeared.

It feels great to be working again, though, and Iíve been getting a lot of positive feedback on and on my work since my return. Thereís been some tension with new staff, but hopefully weíll work it out. You wouldnít know it by my blogs (or lack thereof), but Iíve rediscovered my love of writing. Most of my work has involved writing lately, with a few meetings thrown in, and Iím coaching a couple of colleagues in taking a more strategic approach to their activities. I have one whiz kid who has been teaching me loads of things on the programs that have been installed on our computers since I left. Itís left my morale high, but my energy low. I am slowly building more stamina, and donít fall asleep as soon as I get home anymore.

I did insist on keep up my 3X per week sessions with my personal trainer, which I began in mid-July. It was really, really difficult at first, and I would run out of breath and have to rest 4-5 times per session. My trainer was accepted at med school and moved, so I was assigned another trainer. I missed sessions because of that change, and because of long week-ends where either my trainer or I (or both of us) were away.

Still, I feel a difference. I no longer have to stop to catch my breath. I walked to the sushi restaurant near work with no pain in the legs or ankles. Weíre increasing the weight for my exercises. Iím still wiped out when I get home and basically go straight to bed after my shower, but the thing is... itís working!!! I cannot believe how empowering it is to have tangible evidence that Iím on the road to regaining my strength, my flexibility, my stamina. Iíve decided that this winter, Iíll be skating and snowshoeing again. Iím thinking of doing my first 5K next spring (I have a co-worker whoís ready to do it with me, and so are my DS and DH).

We also had a wedding out of town recently Ė old friends that have been together for a decade and decided to finally get married. It was a truly beautiful event and although I didnít get to go to all of the festivities (energy low, and heat high), I did get to bask in the joy at some of them. The whole thing was spread over two days, so there were multiple occasions to see everyone.

All of this means I havenít been keeping up on Sparking as much as I would like to. Unfortunately, this also means that I havenít been very supportive (sorry SparkFriends!). Most days I get home and just canít think of another thing to write, or even bear to look at a computer screen. I have been trying to spend some time to browse blogs and message boards, but those times have been few and far between.

I have a lot of catching up to do so off I go!

  Member Comments About This Blog Post:

SPARKCHANTAL 9/23/2011 7:05AM

    you did it! kudos upon kudos!

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JUSTYNA7 9/11/2011 10:45AM

    Absolutely wonderful! You should go back and read some of your old blogs love. Could the exhaustion be related to thyroid levels? I'm not sure where you are with that. With all the business I finally gave in and had some lazy days. I did tai chi stretching from a very simple video and read... lots. Slept .... lots. Took lots of pain meds and "got over the hump" of being exhausted and sore and grumpy. Lots of deep breathing to try to increase the oxygen to my body.

They say that even if you sleep all day, your body can only recover from sleep deprivation by one hour every night. I certainly need my 8-10 hours sleep and wonder if it is sleep apnea or if I am just catching up every time I get a short night because of things happening, early guests etc. Maybe my sleep is more fragile than I realize. Hmmm. Anyways, you will figure this out! The cold nighs sure help me sleep better. Love fall!

Hugs, Justyna

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TRACYZABELLE 9/11/2011 9:49AM

    As long as you rememeber to make time for you!

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RUTHXG 9/9/2011 1:05PM

    I am SO glad to read about the good things at work & your physical progress! Thanks for updating us. This is great news.

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KASEYCOFF 9/9/2011 5:47AM

    Sounds as if you're doing well with balancing everything, and making real improvement in the endurance - that 5K is a wonderful goal!
emoticon emoticon

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JULIEANNCAN 9/8/2011 9:37PM

    I sure know what that transition feels like, although I wasn't gone for quite as long as you were. I hope it gets easier soon. It sounds like you are doing great with keeping up on taking care of yourself! Good for you! :)

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AGRLNKY 9/8/2011 8:05PM

    Best wishes to you in your job!

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TEDYBEAR2838 9/8/2011 7:41PM

    We'll be keeping a light on for you :)

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50 Days to 50!

Saturday, August 06, 2011

Well, today is day 50 of my own personal 100-Day Challenge (and also 50 days until my 50th birthday). Time has been going so quickly for the past few weeks, the effort of balancing my energy so I keep getting better (instead of having a setback) has also been quite a learning experience.

I strength train three times per week, in the evenings. Hiring a personal trainer may be one of the best things Iíve ever done. He pushes me far past the point that I would ever have thought I could go. Itís so encouraging to realize how much Iíve done, and then for him to tell me Iíve done more than last time. The first couple of weeks, I was in so much pain on the alternate days (and even longer LOL!), BUT now I have no problem. Now I want to start going for walks on my ďoffĒ days now that the evening weather is cooler.

As of Monday, Iím back at work full-time, about 9 months after having finished my cancer treatments. So the focus of my days is (1) work and (2) my workouts with my personal trainer. Iíve realized, though, that although I try to eat healthy food, Iíve pretty much forgotten how important planning and preparing ahead of time has been for my success. Oops! So this week-end, Iím going to make my plan for the week and prepare my freggies so theyíre easy to grab in the mornings.

My work days have been almost entirely taken up by writing or editing draft policy documents, very focused work the entire eight-hour day. Aside from energy management, itís the other reason I havenít been Sparking much lately. I just havenít had the heart to spend more time in front of the computer (although I have tried a few times). Hopefully Iíll start getting a bit more variety in my work-days (and less writing and computer time) so my Sparking can get back to normal.

In the meantime, I have been thinking about all my SparkFriends and hoping things are going well for all of you. Iím hoping to catch up with everyone this week-end!

  Member Comments About This Blog Post:

JUSTYNA7 8/8/2011 4:48PM

    We knew this day would come and oh my goodness, it is exciting and scary! Keep up with the challenge!

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GRACIOUSGRAPE 8/7/2011 10:16AM

    So happy that life is improving for you and you are well on track in all areas of your life! I should take some lessons from you, maybe then I would see more progress. I seem to let life get in the way of my own personal resolve and goals when it comes to exercise, especially.

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JULIEANNCAN 8/7/2011 2:40AM

    I'm glad things are going well and am encouraged by your increased energy to both exercise and work full time. I hope I will be able to say the same soon. Thinking of you. emoticon

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TEDYBEAR2838 8/6/2011 11:08PM

    I am so happy for you. You seem to have a good resolve to
lose the weight. emoticon

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LIGHTHOUSE0403 8/6/2011 8:42PM

  Wishing you the best!

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