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.

Sunday, September 25, 2011

No way...its not gonna happen!

I continue to walk. And walk. And walk. This week, I did nearly 33 miles. This next week, I'm supposed to do 35.

But I'm flirting with an injury. Rather, its an old injury that I can tell is trying to flare up. I got it diagnosed over 15 years ago. It's a tiny fracture of the sesamoid bone in my left foot.

According to foothealthfacts.com:

What is a Sesamoid?SesamoidA sesamoid is a bone embedded in a tendon. Sesamoids are found in several joints in the body. In the normal foot, the sesamoids are two pea-shaped bones located in the ball of the foot, beneath the big toe joint.
Acting as a pulley for tendons, the sesamoids help the big toe move normally and provide leverage when the big toe “pushes off” during walking and running. The sesamoids also serve as a weight-bearing surface for the first metatarsal bone (the long bone connected to the big toe), absorbing the weight placed on the ball of the foot when walking, running, and jumping.
Sesamoid injuries can involve the bones, tendons, and/or surrounding tissue in the joint. They are often associated with activities requiring increased pressure on the ball of the foot, such as running, basketball, football, golf, tennis, and ballet. In addition, people with high arches are at risk for developing sesamoid problems. Frequent wearing of high-heeled shoes can also be a contributing factor.

Types of Sesamoid Injuries in the Foot

  • Fracture. A fracture (break) in a sesamoid bone can be either acute or chronic.
    • Sesamoid2An acute fracture is caused by trauma – a direct blow or impact to the bone. An acute sesamoid fracture produces immediate pain and swelling at the site of the break, but usually does not affect the entire big toe joint.
    • A chronic fracture is a stress fracture (a hairline break usually caused by repetitive stress or overuse). A chronic sesamoid fracture produces longstanding pain in the ball of the foot beneath the big toe joint. The pain, which tends to come and go, generally is aggravated with activity and relieved with rest.

My situation is more of a chronic one. It isn't too bad right now.  It has come and gone for the last 15 years. But I can tell it is just wanting to flare up. To avoid this, I've modified a few things.

First, I'm done doing high impact cardio intervals. Sniff.  No more plyometrics or jumping jacks, jumping rope, etc., while cross training. I'll stick to low impact elliptical, stair climber and stationary bike. 

I kind of took today off. I was supposed to do 4 miles today. But I walked the dog a little over a mile yesterday and then this morning. Combined with some "extra" mileage I did during the week, I'm only about .55 miles off of my week goal of 33 miles. I'm also going to save my longer walking days this upcoming week (11 and 15 miles) for later in the week. Hopefully by then, I'll be okay.

I'd appreciate your prayers, though. We have about 8 weeks to go of training before the 3 Day. I really, really want to be able to walk all 60 miles. Of course, the organizers say there is no shame in taking a sweep van that weekend. If I'm really hurt, I will. But I really, really would like to walk all 60 miles.

Thursday, September 15, 2011

Hoofin' it

My days these days are filled with steps. Steps, steps, steps. Miles and miles are being logged as I train for the Susan G. Komen 3 Day for the Cure.  Honestly, if I had known how much time would be consumed in training for this event, I may not have signed up.

On the other hand, it is really a physical challenge. A year ago while in the middle of chemo, this was on my list of things to do once I was done with treatment. I signed up for it while in the middle of radiation. I was determined! 

The thing is, you don't just go out and walk 20 miles. Or you might, but then could you get up and do the same thing the next day? And then the next? The bottom line is, you have to train. Even though I wasn't "out" of shape when I began training, I definitely felt the difference in long distance walking.  I'm following a suggested 16 week training program. This is week 10. They "suggest" you walk 4 days, cross train for 2, and rest for 1.  My walks this week are 4, 5, 9, and 12 miles.

Mom and I meet at least once a week, usually Wednesdays, while Jean-Marc is in preschool. We literally walk all morning. Yesterday, we logged 9 miles. My problem is that it takes so darn long to walk!  Fortunately, Jean-Marc is in preschool 3 days a week. He likes to stay an extra hour and eat a sack lunch we bring him. That's good, because it gives me extra time. But even at that, its pretty much impossible to do more than 10 miles in that amount of time.

Tomorrow, I plan to do 12 miles. To get it in, I'll wake up at 5 a.m., and put in 3 miles before the kids wake up. Then I can be home, get everyone breakfasted and ready for school, and do my morning taxi shift. take the kids to school.  Mom will meet me at Jean-Marc's preschool and then we'll head over to a nearby area where I have mapped out a nice 9.31 mile course. 

Mom and I are having a good time spending the time together, that is definitely a plus. Other than the time involved, the other downside is that for all of the effort I'm putting in, I'm only burning about half the calories in twice the amount of time!  Oh well.

I do want to keep my feet into the running community, though. Last weekend, mom and I ran a 5k. I just wanted to see if I could still run. Not only did I run, but I managed to have a personal record time of 27:30. Even better...I got a medal! What a shock that was!  I was 3rd in my age group (40-49).  I would have been happy with the personal best, since this course was much hillier than the one was last April in Carlsbad. But to get a medal on top of it was sweet!  Mom medaled too-she got 2nd in her age group, and it was her first 5k!

One other thing I'm newly determined to do is become fluent in French. During our vacation last summer, I realized that I had been a part of this extended French family for 15 years and how well do they really know me if I can't truly express myself?  So I'm working through Rosetta Stone level 2 and will be ordering levels 3-5 as well. Every Saturday, we are having "French Day" in our home. Everyone must speak only French to each other that day. It's a little exhausting for me by the end of the day, but c'est la vie!

My life right now revolves around my training, my kids and family, my linguistics and my God. (LOL, not necessarily in that order!)  That's a far cry better than a year ago when I was struggling with my hair falling out.  If I don't update much, please forgive me. I'm probably either ferrying kids around, or out walking the streets of North County San Diego!  

Tuesday, September 6, 2011

Paranoia will destroya

First the good news: The swelling in my arm has gone down. Eric and I measured it last week and it is back to the size it was before our trip. I'm very glad for that.  Thank you for your prayers in that regard. I still massage and bandage most nights, but at least its not as urgent that I do so. It's all about maintenance now.

As I go on with life, I find myself experiencing moments of sheer panic. I had similar episodes during all of my pregnancies. The dreaded "what if." Every little pang, twitch, sensation in my body would throw me into a world of panic about the baby inside of me.  For instance, "is that the placenta separating?" (Having had a miscarriage at 14 weeks before didn't help assuage those fears any!)  But things worked out just fine and I have 3 beautiful kids on the earth.

Now these pangs, twitches and sensations make my mind go straight to thoughts of recurrence.  Unlike a pregnancy, it won't go away in 9 months.  As regular readers know, I exercise a lot. It's not uncommon for me to have strange spots of soreness here and there. But I know that I also probably manufacture phantom pains as well. For instance, right now I've been paranoid about my belly. Am I feeling pain in an organ? God forbid...my liver?

I'm sure this is a common thing among cancer survivors. At these times, I try to remind myself that I really am not in control of much anyway. My life is in God's hands, and it will end at some point. At least life in this body, that is.  This life is terminal.  I just don't want to have it end with me wasting away with cancer. I don't want my kids to remember me like that. Surely God has something better planned for me?  Certainly He put me here to do something with this disease-to speak out, to help others, to teach? To do something more than die and leave 3 young kids?  But it has happened to others, why not me?

I am thankful to have assurance of where I am headed once this body is done. That has helped me from the day of diagnosis not be so afraid. When it is over, I will be face to face with Jesus, my Savior. It will be glorious. But still.  The process can be terribly terrible, you know?

I'd appreciate your prayers that my mind be at peace and that I not have these bouts of paranoia. Like my college roommate would sing, "paranoia will destroya!"

God bless!