About this blog

I was diagnosed with breast cancer on June 11, 2010. As a result of my treatment, I have lymphedema in my left arm. I draw my strength from the Lord, as well as my family's Scots-Irish heritage. Our Graham's were a tough and scrappy bunch of fighters on the Scottish/English border. They came to America and continued to fight when necessary: in the American Revolution; the Civil War; and my brother is a Captain in the U.S. Army. My ancestors settled this country against all odds. My great-grandmothers on both sides of the family were pioneer women who settled the West. Along with that heritage, and the full armor of God, I am walking the walk and fighting the good fight.

Saturday, April 30, 2011

Down to the wire

Summer is on its way! The weather today in San Diego was absolutely gorgeous.  The kids have less than 30 days of school left, and summer plans are in the making. One thing I want to do this summer is take a mommy and me swim class with Jean-Marc to get him used to the water. To do that, I need to figure out my bathing suit situation.

I've loved Land's End clothing for some time. I've always liked the casual look they  have. More recently, I've appreciated the brand because they consider a "small" in the size 6-8 range, so that works for me. There is something really encouraging about knowing I'm putting size small on! Maybe it was because it was a pair of Land's End shorts in size 14 that were too tight two years ago that pushed me over the edge to say "enough is enough!"

Anyway, I was pleased to find out from a friend that many of their swimsuits come with mastectomy pockets on the top.  Did you know that my foobies are waterproof?  Yep, I can get them wet in the pool or the ocean and all I need to do is wash them in the shower afterwards.  As long as there is a little pocket in the suit, I can slip my foobies in and no one will be the wiser. This was great news, since I had purchased 2 new swimsuits last spring before my diagnosis. Because they allow you to mix and match, if I could find a top that matched some of the bottoms I already had, I wouldn't have to buy an entire new suit. As luck would have it, they did!  I went ahead and ordered the top only in a cute navy with white polka dot that matches some bottoms I have. I also got a whole new suit that is more athletic looking in pink. (I couldn't just get ONE item!)

The suits came today. I love getting stuff in the mail that I've ordered! Especially fun stuff like clothes. The pink suit looks pretty good. I was a teeny bit disappointed that it doesn't look like I could just wear the top without the foobies in it because it has a molded cup. But it will look okay anyway.  I would like to have the option of just going without "breasts" altogether, but I'll have to find another suit that doesn't have a molded cup.  That will be my "flat" suit.

Anyway, the polka dot top looks cute, and matches the bottoms perfectly.  The only problem is that it has an underwire. I was told to stay away from underwires because it impedes the flow of lymphatic fluid.  So there is the chance that it may not work with my lymphedema. I'm not sure what I'm going to do about it. I haven't even tried it on, so maybe it won't fit too tightly. We'll see. If it fits too tight, I'll have to return it. If it isn't too tight, I may keep it and see what happens. Any of you survivors out there have any experience with underwires?

Regardless of the suit, I'm really looking forward to the summer time.  This summer is going to be SO MUCH BETTER than last summer! Last summer was such a detour for us. We went from all of these plans to be active and enjoy the time together to the drama of surgery, recovery, and chemotherapy. It was no fun for anyone. This summer I'll be training for the 3 Day in November, going to France on a family vacation, taking the kids to the beach, celebrating birthdays, and making the most out of every day that God has given me. I can't wait!

Thursday, April 28, 2011

Absolutely ridiculous!

Yeah, its another post about my hair. This regrowing stage is very awkward. I'm glad that it is growing out, but there are some days when it looks absolutely ridiculous! 

I've seen other women in the hair regrowth phase and they are able to spike their hair and look kind of cool. So I bought some wax and have tried to do that a little bit. The problem is that as it comes in, it is kind of curly, so spikes don't really work. It has a tendency to stick out on the sides. A few days ago, I thought I'd go with it and just see how it would look sticking out all over-kind of an all over spikey thing. As my kids would say....it was an epic fail! Needless to say, it was a hat day that day!

I am blessed to have a wonderful hairdresser friend who was able to fit me in yesterday on short notice.  (I called her in desperation during the "hat" day!)  She actually cut some of the hair to make it look like a short haircut. It definitely looks better, and I appreciated getting some advice on how to deal with this hair situation. It basically is just going to take some time.  I met a fellow survivor a few weeks ago in church who told me that when she was bald, she promised God that she would never complain about another "bad hair day" if He would just give her hair again. She said she never complained since. 

I'm not so gracious. I'm not really complaining. It is just something completely new that I need to get used to.

I'm getting a lot of very nice comments from people and I appreciate everyone's support. I can't help but feel awkward about it. I've never worn it this short before-a shoulder length bob has historically been the hairdo that worked for me.  One friend pointed out today, that I should look at this experience as a way of "experimenting" with shorter hairdos. I  suppose that is an optimistic way of looking at it. Being an optimistic person, I could get behind that way of thinking. Another friend commented today that with this new look, no one would ever know that I had cancer.  

That is a good point. Another way of putting part of it behind me, although it will always be a part of who I am. It sounds good to talk of cancer in the past tense!

Prayer Requests:
My ongoing prayer request now is that the cancer never come back. That I be able to make clean and healthy lifestyle choices that will make my body an inhospitable host to cancer. But even more than that, I pray that God would keep the cancer from coming back. I know that I can do everything in my power to prevent recurrence through diet and exercise. But ultimately, it is in the hands of God. I pray that it His will that I be cancer free. Of course, I want His will in my life. So if it is His will that the cancer come back, I pray for the grace and strength to bear it and glorify Him in the process. (But I'd rather glorify Him cancer-free!)  But in the words of Jesus, "not my will, but Thy will be done." 

Friday, April 22, 2011

Level 3, baby!

I reached a milestone this week.

I've gone back to doing Jillian Michael's level 3 workouts from her website. I haven't done that since my surgery last July. Yesss!

I joined Jillian's website back in the fall of 2009. I had lost 10 pounds on my own and after starting to watch "The Biggest Loser" that season, I was interested in Jillian's program on her website. For a small subscription fee, I got access to menu planning and customized workouts that change daily.  The workouts at all levels consist of 5 circuits. Each circuit combines some weight training, core/abdominals, and high intensity cardio intervals.  I really enjoyed doing level 3 because the cardio intervals were more interesting-going beyond jumping jacks and jumping rope and getting into things like burpees and plyometrics.  I credit Jillian's program with the other 40 pounds that I lost the following winter and spring.

I had about 10 more to go when I was diagnosed with breast cancer last June.  When I got "the call" telling me I had breast cancer, I tried to call my mom. She wasn't home, and it wasn't a message that I could really leave on an answering machine. So I went upstairs and did my Jillian workout. Life was going to go on as usual. I did my Jillian workouts 4 times a week diligently up until the day before my double mastectomy on July 22nd.

After my surgery, I obviously had to recover physically from the surgery. I also have to be careful for the rest of my life regarding lymphedema in my left arm. Especially since I have had it triggered during my treatment. Because of the loss of strength and lymphedema, I was afraid to go back to the circuits. I still worked out, but focused more on cardio.

But nothing really got me into shape like Jillian's circuits did.

This week, my gym closed for a couple of days in order to "upgrade" their equipment. On top of that, Jean-Marc was not quite recovered from his intestinal bug (which may have been rotavirus.) So I decided to give the level 3 workout a shot.  I was able to do it, was really sore afterwards, and felt GREAT!  I did the circuits again today and they were a bit harder-my legs were like Jell-O. But I did it. On top of that, I was elated to find out that I had lost nearly 2 pounds this week during my weekly "weigh in" on Fridays.  That is despite slipping up in my eating many times over the past week. There is just something about the circuits that work for me. After today's workout, I know I'm going to be really sore tomorrow! There were a ton of lunges, holding squats for a minute, and other just insane things. My legs were shaking and I sweat like a dog!  And I loved every minute of it.

I still have to be careful.  I don't think its wise to go full bore 4 days a week like I did a year ago. Doing Jillian's new DVD, "Ripped in 30" six days in a row made my arm swell.  But a couple of days hopefully will be okay, as long as my arm doesn't swell up. I'm sticking with the 3 pound weights and not going up to 5 and 10 like I used to. Like everything else, I'll have to keep an eye on it.

It isn't just about the weight for me now. It is a sense of being strong, healthy, and able to do something that I was able to do "BC."  Jillian's workouts got me through some really stressful times post-diagnosis. Along with my faith in Jesus Christ, it was an anchor for me. I may not have known how "bad" my cancer was, or when my surgery was finally going to happen, but I knew that I was going to do that kick-butt workout that day and do it well.  Last July, I was afraid that I would never be able to do those workouts again.

But I proved that wrong this week. Level 3, baby!  Thank you, Jesus!

Wednesday, April 20, 2011

My bad

Nobody is great at everything.

I'll admit here and now that I can be a bad car-parker. I drive a Honda Odyssey. Sometimes, especially when I'm turning into a space making a right turn, I don't get square in the middle of my space. It can be hard in smaller parking lots, or if there are big cars next to me. On occasion I will back out and try to realign myself to get in better. It depends on how much space is between the car next to me, or if my tires are on or over the line.

Today I pulled into a space in the parking structure at the San Marcos Community Center. It was Jean-Marc's "Move and Groove" class that he missed last week because he was sick and I was going to a funeral.  He had been cooped up for 2 days in the house and really needed to get out and have fun. He's been sick with this nasty flu for a week and is just getting over it. We were ready to have some fun, and Miss Amy had an Easter egg hunt planned.

Anyway, I'll admit that it wasn't my best parking job. I didn't realize it until after I had gotten Jean-Marc out of the car and we were walking away. My tires were on the line on the right side.  But then again, so were the tires of the car next to me, which more than made up for the extra space I was taking up. We both did a bad job of parking. I decided it was too much to get the 2 year old BACK in the car, to re-park when the other car was also over the line on the other side. Besides, they had several feet of space between our cars to get in.  So we went on our way.

I came back out about an hour later to have a note on my windshield:

" Hard to get into my car when you park like this. Think about being more curteous. (Their misspelling) Having cancer has made you rude!" 

How do you like that!?

(By the way, they know about the cancer because I have a pink ribbon "survivor" magnet on the back of the van.)

I was pretty shocked, since it didn't seem that bad, especially since they had also done a lousy job parking. I'll admit it wasn't my shining moment, but did it merit such a nastygram? At least they didn't say that I deserved to have had cancer, or that they hoped it comes back because I parked lamely.

One reason this annoyed me is that I always like to have the last word. It's another one of my faults, I suppose. With them leaving a note and then disappearing, I wasn't given the opportunity to respond. I've been pondering various possible responses I could have had if given the chance in the hours since:

  • Actually, I've been parking like this for a long time, so I guess I've been rude for awhile!
  • Or something inspired by my late Grandpa Graham:  "Get your own da** parking garage!"
  • I've had cancer...what's YOUR excuse?
  • I'm glad you got that off your chest. Do you feel better?
  • Jesus loves you.  How can I pray for you?
Regardless of the note, I do want to better myself in all ways, including parking. I just don't want that anonymous person to get the satisfaction of thinking that it was their nasty note that did it. May our paths never cross again!

Thursday, April 14, 2011

Maybe once in awhile is okay

I am not going to make a habit of this. But yesterday, I did not do any manual lymphatic drainage nor did I bandage my arm at night. For the first time since the start of the year, I left it all alone.

Call me lazy, but I have good reasons.

I drove up to LA and back to attend the funeral of a dear friend's father. When I got home, I was greeted with a sick two year old. As I was holding him on my lap to comfort him, he puked all over me in my black dress. Lovely. Our dinner turned out to be delivered pizza, and we ate it a bit later than usual because I took some extra snuggle time with Jean-Marc before putting him to bed and ordering dinner.  I was pretty tired, so I plopped down on the couch to watch this week's installment of "American Idol" before dragging myself up to make lunches for the next school day. By the time I got up to bed, I was exhausted. Eric was already asleep with the lights out. I had not rolled my bandages earlier in the day because we left so early to get up to LA. Did I want to spend at least 30 minutes on my arm? Or see if I could get away with ignoring it?

I chose the latter.

Of course, I was paranoid all night and didn't sleep as well as I could have if I had taken the time to take care of my arm. I can feel tingling in my hand and arm that I associate with lymphatic fluid either building up or draining. I felt little tingles all night and was paranoid that I'd wake up to a Michelin man sized arm!

Thursday is my usual day to measure the arm. Thank the Lord, the measurements were all good. One place on my upper arm was 1 centimeter bigger than last week, but it is still under my target size. I'll get back into the routine tonight. I don't want to repeat this very often.

My physical therapist thinks I could qualify for a custom sleeve that would be quicker to put on at night. I'll have to wait until the end of the year for Kaiser to pay for it, but when that time comes, I think I will order one. I can still bandage when I need to in order to customize the wrap when needed. But during times when my lymphedema seems to be under control, it would be a lot easier just to strap on the sleeve and turn out the light!

By the way, Jean-Marc seems to be doing okay today, a severely diarrhea diaper this morning notwithstanding. (TMI??)  I'm not sure he is out of the woods yet, though. Eric suffered through these same symptoms all week last week. Prayers for healing are appreciated, as are prayers that the rest of us stay healthy!

Tuesday, April 12, 2011


I've been going out more and more without a hat, scarf or wig.

I've gotten so many kind comments from everyone about how cute my new 'do looks. How its in style, how I could even play it up more with color, etc. How I've got a "pretty face" and nicely shaped head to pull it off where as others may not.  One lady this morning who didn't know about my cancer commented how she loves her short hair and wouldn't ever grow it out again.  I told her I didn't have much of a choice.  She was sweet about it. Anyway, all the comments are very gracious and nice. It does help me deal with the necessity of going out with the hair I do have.

But I feel exposed. Every time I catch a glimpse of myself in a mirror, or car window, I'm taken aback. On the other hand, that isn't a new thing. Gosh, there have been many times in the past 10 months where I did not even recognize myself at all.

At this point, going back to the wig would be just plain weird.  Hats don't always work with what I'm wearing. I still wear a bandanna to the gym, but you can see sideburns peeking out.

I just have to press on and deal with it.  I remind myself that tomorrow, it will be longer than it was today.

I never considered myself a vain person. I remember going out of the house "BC" barely even brushing my hair. I would just put it up in a clip or combs and be done with it. Now I have to consider drawing eyebrows in so I don't look like a lizard. What about the head? Do I wear a hat? Does it match in style or color to what I'm wearing?  Even when I wear my hair "out" I have to put some gel in it to try and avoid the "rooster" look that it seems to want to do on its own. I probably need to get some shaping around my neck and ears with a buzzer, just so it looks a little cleaner.

And what is up with facial hair??  I've been told that comes with age. (Read: menopause)  It is seriously funny looking around my neck and jawline. Like a thick peach fuzz.  As my hair grows on my head, it is getting thicker.  I'm not sure what to do about that-I want to avoid chemicals, but I really don't want to look like Chewbacca!

On the other hand, going out without a scarf helps me feel like a normal person again. I don't have to "treat" my head, or cover it up. I've earned that "survivor" ribbon that is on the back of my car!  I'm not a walking advertisement for cancer anymore. If you didn't know me, you wouldn't know that I ever had an "issue."

Someone asked me yesterday if I thought I could go on as if I never had cancer. Definitely not. For one thing, I will deal with lymphedema for the rest of my life. That's a daily reminder.  My body has been permanently altered as well. Although we get used to it, the ragged scars remind me if I look. As an aside, I wore my prosthetics the other day and I caught Eric looking at me really strangely.  He just thought it looked weird for me to have breasts again.  I'm not sure if that's a good or bad thing!  There are also the dietary changes that are important for me to fight any recurrence. That is a permanent change. I've come across many who have treated their own cancer through dietary changes alone with success.  If they can beat the disease that way, it will give me the best chances to incorporate those habits into my diet to fight illness-whether it is cancer or something else.  But that is another blog post.

One breast cancer survivor told me that as time goes by, you get more confident about your health. That is probably true. Having normal length hair will help me too.

Monday, April 4, 2011

Meeting NED

I had a follow up with my oncologist, Dr. P, today. It was the first time I'd seen him since the day before my last round of chemotherapy. Since then, I've been through lymphedema and radiation.

Going in, my question was basically....how am I going to KNOW that I'm okay?  Many people have asked me if I'm "in remission," or if I've been "given a clean bill of health." I didn't know what to tell them. I feel good, but then again, I felt good a year ago and had a 3.5 centimeter tumor in my breast!  I have survivor friends who go in periodically for blood tests. Some even have had a post-treatment PET scan. Should I be doing these things? In a way, there would be a level of peace of mind to get a scan and be told that it was "clean."

I dressed for the gym, since I was going there after my appointment. I wore my new shirt from my race yesterday. It's a really nice blue shirt. Not T-shirt material, but like my other workout shirts. Of course, it says "Carlsbad 5000" all over it. When Dr. P walked in, he saw the shirt and asked me if I ran yesterday. He seemed pretty impressed when I told him I did. We had a nice chat about the race, the elite winners (who ran the darn thing in barely over 13 minutes!)  He asked if I was going to do any more races. I mentioned the 3 Day walk in November--60 miles in 3 days!

I had one question for him that I told him I should have asked last July. Exactly what stage was my cancer? He didn't volunteer it back then, and I didn't ask. I was kind of afraid to hear the answer. Besides, I was still going to get the full panel of treatment, so what did it matter? He confirmed for me what I had guessed reading my pathology report-Stage IIIa.

He did a brief physical exam and thought everything looked good. I asked him if any of my supplements could interfere with the tamoxifen. I ran down the list of supplements I'm currently taking: Vitamin D; Vitamin B; biotin; omega 3 fish oil capsules. No problems there. I asked him to order a Vitamin D test to check my levels. They were half of what they should have been last fall. Since then, I've been supplementing a lot and want to know if its helping. He asked me how much D I'm taking. I paused for a second and told him the truth...10,000 a day. He was a bit surprised by that, but didn't tell me to stop, and ordered the test for me.

Then we got into the subject of peace of mind. I mentioned the idea of a PET scan, just to be sure. At this point, he is of the opinion that there isn't any upside to it. My scan last June did not show any metastases. He believes scans show 'incidentalnomas." That's his way of saying false positives. Rather than giving peace of mind, you end up freaking out over nothing. A PET scan isn't going to show the errant cancer cell floating around my body, anyway. Having gone through all of the treatment that I have, he considers that the cancer is gone.  Besides, the radiation exposure of the PET scan isn't healthy if you don't need it. The bottom line was that the costs outweigh the benefits. As for the blood tests, he thought they were a waste of time as well. I forgot exactly why-maybe I'll ask Eric later to refresh my memory.

If I feel any unusual pain in my torso that doesn't go away, I should come see him.

Can I live with that?

I asked him what I should consider myself. Am I in "remission?" He answered immediately, YES. Can I say I have "No Evidence of Disease?" (NED) He said YES. In fact, he said he considered me in remission after my surgery. The chemo, radiation, and hormone therapy is just overkill to make sure it doesn't come back. If I do have errant cancer cells floating around, my immune system and other systems should be able to tackle it. If not and the cancer comes back somewhere else, then it is what it is. Doing a scan now isn't going to change that.

Can I live with that? I could have pushed for a scan, but at some point you just have to live. There are no guarantees in life. Everyone's body is going to die at some point. I just got a preview that mine may go from cancer. Maybe it won't.  It isn't worth obsessing over and exposing myself to even more radiation than I have had already. With the hormonal treatment, exercise, and new way of eating to fight disease, I'm just going to LIVE.  Live with my new friend, NED.

Speaking of the whole death thing, I am so grateful that I know the Lord. Death has been overcome by Jesus and I don't have to fear it. What always made me kind of sad was to imagine my kids and family without me. I was going to be with the Lord because to be absent from the body is to be present with Him. (2 Corinthians 5:8). But it would be sad to have my kids grow up without their mom. But you know, in the end, it is all in God's hands, not mine. I need to trust Him and not lean on my own understanding.

For now, I'm going to focus on living a healthy lifestyle with NED. For you survivors out there, I'm curious about what kind of post-treatment screening or follow up your oncologist does with you. Scans? Bloodwork? Nothing?

Sunday, April 3, 2011

By the numbers

I got my official results for the race today. I am thrilled that my time was even better than I guessed. My "chip time" was 29 minutes, 6 seconds. That is the time between my foot crossing the starting line and finishing line. I'm also satisfied that I was in the first half of my group. In my division, I was number 143 out of  336. That means 193 were slower than me!

Hopefully next year I'll do better.

Tonya Jamois #6342

San Marcos, CA
Age: 41 Gender: F
Clock Time29:49
Chip Time29:06
Overall Place687 / 1457
Gender Place515 / 1196
Division Place143 / 336
Age Grade86.8%

Run, mama run!

Today I ran in my first race, the Carlsbad 5000.

If you would have told me two years ago that I would be running in a 5k race, I wouldn't have believed you.  But then again, if you would have told me a year ago that I had cancer, I wouldn't have believed that either. Life is full of surprises, isn't it?

I've been working on my 5k times over the past several months at the gym. My goal on the treadmill was to do 5k in 30 minutes or under. I never quite got there, although last Thursday I clocked it at 30:22. Secretly, my goal today was to do it in under 35 minutes. I'm not an experienced road runner, and with it being my first race, I was cutting myself some mental slack.

Wouldn't you know it, I finished in under 30! I don't know my exact time yet, we left before they posted them. They give you a little tag that you wear on your shoe that starts your time when you cross the start and finish lines. They will post them online tonight and I'll check to see then. But I know I was under 30 because when I crossed the finish line, the posted clock was 29 minutes and change.

There were hundreds of women in the "masters" class.  That's a nice way of saying women of a mature age. Ahem.  Yes, 40 and above.  I was worried yesterday about embarrasing myself by being slowpoke. Once I got there and saw some of the other women, that concern was gone. I definitely wasn't in the best shape of everyone there, but I wasn't in the worst, either!  I overheard people talking about how they were planning on walking the course. So I knew I wasn't going to be last!

Near the starting line, they had flags that said "10 minute mile," "9 minute mile," "8 minute mile," and down to 5. The closer you were to the starting line, the faster the mile. I guessed that you were supposed to stand in the general area of your speed to start.  It seemed like a logical point so the slower runners wouldn't be in front and be in the way of the speedier ones. I went ahead and stood in the 10 minute mile section.  I tried to warm up a little bit, but it was kind of hard. I was anxious.  I had my heart rate monitor on and just standing there my heart rate was at 90.  Ridiculous.

When the horn blew for the start, everyone slowly started moving forward. When I got to the start line, I started to run. I found out quickly that not everyone was honest about their speed when they were lining up. I found myself passing a lot of people, and having to run zig zagged to get around them. At that point, I figured, forget about time. Just run.

From the get go, my heart rate went through the roof.  I think it was the adrenaline and anxiousness. I didn't like to start out so high, though. It didn't bode well for my endurance. But it was liberating to be participating in the race. I thought in the early minutes about what I've been through over the past months. Running this race was like a victory in itself. I even shed a little tear over it. Eric and the kids staked out a spot near the beginning of the race and cheered me on as I passed. That was nice. I'm glad I asked them to come with me this morning.

Then it became about finishing. I wanted to run the whole thing, if possible. At the 1 mile mark, they had a clock running. I saw that I was under 10 minutes. Cool!  If I could just keep that pace up, I figured I might just make a decent time for myself.  The course itself is gorgeous-you are running in Carlsbad Village and most of the course is parallel to the beach. Lovely! The weather was perfect for running. Slightly overcast, but not to chilly. Especially once we started running.  I spotted an elderly lady running in front of me at a steady pace. My goal became to keep up with the "old lady."  At the 2 mile mark, I was under 20 minutes. That was encouraging, and I knew I was getting done.  But my heart rate was way too high, so I walked a little bit. I fell behind the old lady and that was that.  I would say I only walked about 30 seconds. I just couldn't stand seeing people passing me!

When I turned onto the last street, I saw the finish sign. I did my best to sprint, and I did pick up the pace a bit. But I couldn't keep it up. I saw the clock under the finish line and it was at 28 minutes and change. I did my best to run as fast as I could. I could hear the announcer talking about an 80 year old woman who had just finished in under 30 minutes. Good for her. Could I do the same?  I did my best and sure enough, crossed the line before the clock turned to 30. Eric and the kids were in the crowd at the finish, but I didn't see them.

It was a tough run for me. As I went, I thought about things I would do differently next time. For one, I ate too much last night. My bright idea was to have pasta. I also had some chicken. That was all well and good, I just ate too much of it. I woke up full this morning. I even skipped the planned banana. I did have some green smoothie, but that was it. I felt like I had a bucket of lead in my belly the whole time. Yuck.  Next year, don't overindulge the night before! I also didn't run with music. I think next time, I will bring my iPod. Music can really pump me up and keep me going when it gets tough.  Finally, I was suffering from a bit of sore muscles in my left side. I can thank Jillian for that. I usually like the feeling of being sore, but on the run it gave me pain to think about.   Next time, don't get sore the week before!

But I did it! I beat my personal best time. I'm glad I did it, and hope to do it again next year. Maybe I'll make it in 25 minutes or less.....

Friday, April 1, 2011

Reality check

Miners take a canary down into the mine with them for safety.  If the canary dies, they know that they have a very limited amount of time to get out of the mine or they will suffer the same fate as the bird.  It's an early warning system.

I've got an early warning system of my own.  It's my left arm and hand.  I measure it every week to keep track of my lymphedema.

Yesterday, my measurements were up in several places.  In fact, on the upper part of my arm, it was over the number my physical therapist gave me as a goal number to stay under.  Darn!

As they told Maverick in the 1980's classic movie, "Top Gun," "You're writing checks your body can't cash!"  Maybe I am as well. I think its time to readjust my fitness regimen as well as my lymphedema management.

I had scaled back the manual draining to once a day. I was bandaging each night, but only wearing it for about 8-9 hours at most. I also was not wearing my compression sleeve all of the time during the day. I had definitely taken a step back just to see what would happen.  At the same time, I upped my activity level.  Particularly regarding upper body exercises with weights. I was using 3 pound weights, but doing the "Ripped in 30" workout every day.  The second level of the workout had a LOT of exercises in plank/pushup position. So even the cardio intervals were hitting my arms, shoulders and chest with strength training.  I don't have sore muscles in my arms, but I suspect I created a perfect storm which allowed my arm to swell a little bit.

It's not a huge deal. Luckily, I measure weekly so I was able to catch it early before it got out of control.  To address the situation, I'm back to twice a day massage, bandaging for longer, and wearing the compression sleeve more during the day. I also decided not to do the Jillian DVD every day like I had originally planned on doing. I can still workout, just not so hard on the upper body. Slow progression is going to be key, I think.  So maybe it will take me 60 or 90 days to get "ripped" instead of 30. It's frustrating, because I could have done it a year ago. But a lot has changed, and I need to meet my body where it is at now.

I'm still planning on the 5k on Sunday.  Olivier is going to run a 1 mile race in the "Junior Carlsbad" tomorrow. It should be a lot of fun for us both. I was looking around a bit online to see what people's times were for a 5k.  Some were talking about 20 minute times. Seriously?  I haven't even broken 30 minutes yet.  Even at that, I thought I was going to die! So now I'm a little worried about coming in last like a snail. Not that I'm competing against other people. I just don't want to embarrass myself! Yikes.

Anyway, please pray that my swelling is able to get under control. I wouldn't mind prayers for lots of energy and endurance on Sunday morning at about 8 a.m. Pacific time as well.