Wednesday, September 26, 2012

Hello my name is Amy, and I'm addicted to running

Running has become more than just what saved my life, it's what is allowing me to keep living.  I'm not a crazy runner who has to lace up everyday and log every mile, obsessively track my times and chart my progress, nope, because of my old lady arthritis I'm only able to run 2-3 days a week.

I'm not going to lie though, I am an addict.  I get such a strange feeling of anticipation about every run I go on.  I wake up earlier than my alarm almost every time (who knew!) and I get butterflies and a nervous stomach.  And that's before EVERY run, not just on the rare occasion that I "race".

But in my heart I do race every time I run.  I race myself and I race cancer.  I have recently been training for my first ever half marathon.  I registered last spring, long before I ever knew I would have breast cancer.  Ironically, it's an event that benefits Komen Oregon.

I set a goal of a sub two hour half, weeks before my bilateral mastectomy and reconstruction.  I took one month off from running after my surgery and my first post-op run was August 10th. I logged 2.25 miles at a 9:30 pace.  OK, I AM one of those people who obsessively tracks their time.  You got me.

But those 2.25 miles were the greatest miles I've ever run.  I was told I wouldn't be able to run pain free after a month.  But guess what?  I did. Suck it cancer.  I was told I wouldn't be able to swim after a month.  But I did.  That same weekend.  And it felt AMAZING.

I am not trying to brag about my accomplishments, I just want you to know.  I really just want to tell you that cancer never got me down.  I didn't miss a beat.  I got back on that horse.  All those fun little catchphrases. 

And, I've been running ever since that 2.25 miles.  Most recently I logged 10 miles in 1:34.  And the route we took was a VERY hilly course.  (again, not bragging, I just can't quite believe I could do it)

The doctors to me there were lots of things I couldn't do, but I proved them wrong.  Unfortunately no one told me I wouldn't be able to post a sub two hour half marathon.  So I don't have anyone to prove wrong, but all the same I'm pretty sure I'm going to make it. 

Before when I set the sub two hour goal it was just about saying my first half marathon was a sub-two hour time.  Now, quite frankly, it's about me giving cancer the symbolic middle finger.  Yes, indeed, I don't care about being able to say my time, I only care that I can reach a goal I set before I was sick so I can shout a big, huge F YOU to breast cancer.

I don't usually blog about running, mainly because this blog has always been about being a mom, but quite frankly running has become something that is such an integral part of my life AS a mom.  I never knew what I was missing all those years I didn't run.  Honestly, the chaos part of the blog is my life in one word.  Bliss now includes snuggling with the kids and my husband, and running. 

My head is still pretty messed from the whole cancer thing, tamoxifen has done a number on my emotions and I'm simply a total wreck.  But with every step I take in my Nike Zoom Structure Triax shoes, with every hill I run, every race I finish and every time I obsessively log and track I feel just a little more like me. 

Friday, September 7, 2012

Full Time Crazy

Oh my goodness. With the start of the school year, let the insanity begin. This year I am gainfully unemployed and it's kind of weird. Not weird in a creepy short guy hitting on me outside of a bar this week (this is another blog post I promise), but weird nonetheless.

I do have plenty of things to keep me busy this fall until I can convince some poor, unsuspecting employer to hire my emotionally unstable and menopausal-symptomatic ass.

For example, I still have a few doctor appointments here and there for physical therapy, mental therapy, etc. Yes, I finally realized when I lost my shit during a consultation with a dietitian that perhaps I DO need some professional help.

Jim Beam is not a licensed therapist, and only helpful for a little while.

I also started a nonprofit foundation last winter with a group of people I hope will still call me a friend when this is all said and done. It's called Cause + Event Foundation.

We're launching a nationwide race series, starting in Portland, Oregon on November 11, 2012. The idea is that every race has a cause, but no race has every cause...until now. Our C+E Foundation will donate $5 from every registration to the charity of the runner's choice.

Running a fledgling foundation and planning a race is slightly time-consuming as well. For more information on what the heck I was thinking, here's the website:

This week I figured I'd have time to do the normal stay at home mom stuff, like laze around, eat bon bons, hit the spa, "work out", ha ha ha ha ha. SAHMs NEVER DO THIS STUFF, just so you know. No time, to tell the truth. I wish.

And may I say that I have NO FRIGGIN' idea how I kept all this school crap straight before, when I was working and didn't have an iPhone. Seriously.

Just in keeping track of calendars alone I'm losing my mind. There's a calendar with 1/2 days and in-service days that I need to track. Then there's the free dress day calendar I have to keep up with. Soccer practice and games. Volleyball practice and games. Yikes.

Then I got the "show and tell" calendar from my son's teacher. First of all, I feel like show and tell is really a once a month kind of a gig. But in his class they do it every week.

But we've got to add a degree of difficulty to it because it isn't enough that I have to remember that he's got to bring something for S&T every Thursday. No, that's waaaay to easy. Now each week is themed. Yes, THEMED.

For example, next week he's supposed to bring something that reminds him of a fun summer memory. Hmmm...let's see, his mom spent the summer recovering from Breast Cancer. Where's the fun?!

The following week is a family photo, which THANK GOD we had done at Christmas so as long as I remember it, we're good. My reminder for that morning on my iPhone literally says "PUT FAMILY PHOTO IN BRADY'S BACKPACK FOR SHOW AND TELL" with an alarm set. I think I'll go with the old "aaaooooogaaaa" car horn sound, that should get my attention at 6am.

Let's face it, we cannot expect a borderline ADD 6 year old boy to remember he has show and tell, let alone what the F he is supposed to bring.

I am, however, really worried about the last week of this month. For the theme it says "show us or tell us about a God given talent."

Yeah, so we recently discovered Brady's INCREDIBLE (and I do say that with pride) ability to make fart noises in his armpit AND knee pit. And I mean, the KID. IS. GOOD.

I was proud and mortified all at the same time upon discovery of said talent, but then proud won out and mortified just sucked it up.

That said, we have had many long conversations about the appropriate place to demonstrate this ability, so I'm really really really hoping that he doesn't select this one for S&T the last week of the month. Proud will give in to mortified, of that I am quite certain.

Even as I type this I can feel anxiety setting in because I took a "mental break" from calendaring to type this blog and I still have a year's worth of days off and half days to put into my calendar.

I'd better get cracking, and for the LOVE of GOD help Brady discover another talent, other than pit-farting. There's just nothing good that can come from that for show & tell. Well, except another blog post.

Sunday, September 2, 2012


I'm coming unhinged, slowly but surely. I can feel the cracks opening deeper, I can feel the ebb and flow of emotion pushing further in and out. And I can tell, without a doubt, that I'm struggling to be me again.

You'd think that surviving cancer would set me along the proper path, indeed, surviving is a special gift, one that isn't always given to everyone. But, instead of feeling like I'm headed in the right direction, I've got this feeling in my soul that I made a wrong turn, that I've taken a different route.

I can blame it on many things, one of them being that I dodged a pretty big bullet this summer. Yes, as I frequently remind people, early detection saved my life. I try not to dwell on the "what ifs" any more. I am moving forward, as best as I can.

I'm letting go of the guilt. The guilt is slowly seeping down, out of my body, with every pounding step I take in my fancy running gear on the unforgiving pavement.

I can blame it on the whiplash we went through as a family: lump found. cancer diagnosed. surgery scheduled. boobs removed. cancer free. no chemo. All in a 26 day time period. I can't even believe the kids are going back to school. Where did summer go? Oh yeah, we lost a month of our lives we'll never get back. Oh yes, forgot about that.

I can blame it on the Tamoxifen, that wonder-drug that causes women to have hot flashes and mood swings, kind of like menopause in training. My poor husband. My poor children. I feel like I have PMS. Every. Goddamn. Day.

To be truthful, I've got nothing and no one to blame it on but me. I'm the one who has tried so very desperately to wear a bright shiny happy my glass is half full face through this whole inconvenience.

Yes, I'm the one who has worked so hard to make it seem like I'm OK, that I'm BETTER than OK. But I'm not, and I don't want to pretend anymore.

I promise with all my blackened shriveled up half of a heart that I won't be Debbie Downer on my blog. No, this might be the only time that I show you my guts, my raw meat, the stuff that no one sees (well except those people who carved me up and stuck temporary boobs in my chest).

But I need to come clean. I hurt. Physically I hurt. Every night these freaking tissue expanders hurt. I can't sleep on my side because it hurts, and it hurts only slightly more than sleeping on my back.

Emotionally I hurt. As much as I try to put a bird on this thing and call it art, it kind of sucks. It sucks to lose a month of your life. It sucks to recover from this shit. And it sucks to go through all of it, because my family suffers with me. They don't deserve this. And yet, I know I'm lucky and I have nothing to complain about. So I haven't been. But I'm coming apart.

I'm tired. Tired of having boobs that I can't feel, tired of being uncomfortable, tired of not being able to do all the things I used to do. Tired of feeling bad because I'm reaching the breaking point, and as I mentioned before I GOT LUCKY. So why do I feel so bad?

I don't know. I don't have any answers. I want to feel like me. I want to be me. I want my old nonexistent sad little saggy boobs back. I want to hug my kids and my husband and not feel like there's a big ass log stuck in my chest that I can't feel.

I don't want to be such an emotional train wreck so my husband and kids can count on me to be me. Normal (I know, I know that's a stretch), less hot-wired, easy tempered and for the love of all that is good and holy, not having a damn pity party over nothing.

I feel like I took a wrong turn somewhere, and I'm on a really old part gravel and part paved road, with giant cracks left unmarked, that goes uphill, never down, winds and winds and just when you think you've reached the end, there's another bend ahead.

I know with every fiber of the human being I pretend to be that I've got nothing to complain about, nothing to be sad about, and nothing to feel like this over. I got lucky, I dodged a bullet, and every other happy little catchphrase I've thrown out there.

But today, just today, I have to be honest and not blow smoke up your running skirt. This sucks. It totally sucks. Do you want to know how much it sucks? It sucks so much that I'd willingly give up running for the rest of my life to get those 26 days back and just be able to be me again.

I'm sorry for always making sure that glass seemed half full. I kidded myself thinking that I did it for my friends and family, but to be honest I think I tried to convince myself more than anyone else that I could handle this. And, I can handle this. But not today. Today I just need to give myself permission to feel sad. And so I did.

Yes. I've taken a wrong turn. But just as sure as I know my name, I know that soon I'll find my way back. I'll be on the right road again, running and smiling, and each and every day feeling a little bit more like me.