Special thanks to Missy Marsh for this fun article. It was a pleasure meeting you
Special thanks to Missy Marsh for this fun article. It was a pleasure meeting you
Last August I competed in my first ever Triathlon, Iron Girl in Columbia, MD.
It was a Sprint Tri, but my first foray into endurance sports, and my first big ANYTHING since being diagnosed with Breast Cancer!It was a truly emotional and empowering moment.
Well, after that, I was on such a runner’s high I decided to step it up a notch.
So I signed up for the St. Anthony’s Triathlon in St. Petersburg, FL, along with my Fiancé, Mike and my brother, Derek.
This was the 30th anniversary of the St. Anthony’s Triathlon. More than 3,500 athletes from 44 states and nearly 23 countries competed, including Former Pittsburgh Steeler Hines Ward. Growing up in St. Pete, I would see the Cyclists go by our house every year. So I figured this hometown race was the best pick for my very first one!
Now, to be completely honest. I didn’t train for this race nearly as much as I would have liked. My personal trainer, Aaron Gamble at Sport and Health, did all he could to get me ready. Of course, I had every excuse in the book, from a Busy Schedule to just pure lack of motivation, but there was no way I was going to back out. I agreed to do it, so I was definitely going to follow through.
Once again I was proud to wear the Yellow and Blue, representing Team fight and the Ulman Cancer Fund, which is based in Baltimore
Race Day was extremely memorable. First off, one of my best friends from high school, Whitney, who I had lost touch with over the years, was in the same swim wave as me. So we were able to start the race together.
Whitney passed me even before we got to our Bikes.. But I saw her several times throughout the course and she cheered me on every time. It helped give me an extra push! Thank you Whitney!
My Brother, Derek, went off in the wave right before me. So when I got to the transition area to begin the Bike leg, he was still there waiting for me.
Derek and I left transition together and completed the entire race together. I don’t know what I would have done without him there. We were able to motivate each other, push each other.
The best part was we crossed the Finish Line together! Tears welled up in my eyes as we began running through the tunnel, with folks I didn’t even know cheering us on. We accomplished something neither of us thought would ever happen (and something I bet my parents never thought they would see!!)
Even better, was the support we got throughout the race. My Fiancé, Mike, started an hour before me, so he was already done when we began the run. He was there cheering us on coming out of transition, and even joined us for the final 3 miles of the run!
My Brother’s girlfriend, Melissa, my parents, and some of our childhood friends were there, holding signs, clapping and yelling encouragements throughout the race. It truly meant a lot to all 3 of us that they all got up bright and early to show their support!
I even found a sorority sister of mine out on the bike course. Liz was volunteering to make sure we were all safe.
I finished in about 3 hours and 31 minutes. I wasn’t racing for time, I just wanted to finish!
Once again though, I underestimated myself(I tend to do that).I thought it would take me at least 5 hours to complete the race. I just started biking last year, I hate running with a passion, but somehow, out there on that course, sharing that moment with my loved ones, all my fears and worries went away.
Although I’ve been Cancer free now for 4 years, I’m still discovering every day what it taught me.
Courage, Strength, Love, Perseverance and I know there’s much more to come!
So, it’s been a while since I last blogged. I just wasn’t sure what to talk about, But I recently realized that putting my thoughts down in words is soothing and enlightening. I’m going to try and do it more often although it may still be sporadic..
Here’s a recent article I wrote about my experience completing my first ever Triathlon!! It was originally posted on my stations website, here
This past Sunday, August 19th, I raced in the Athleta Iron Girl Triathlon in Columbia, Md. joining 2400 women, swimming, biking, running through Howard County. This was my first ever triathlon, but more importantly, it’s my first since beating breast cancer 3 years ago.
I got up bright and early Sunday, around 4 a.m., proudly put on my Yellow and Blue tri-suit, and drove the hour to Centennial Park to join my fellow Team Fight teammates.
At 6:30 a.m., before the race began we all participated in a dedication circle. Picture this: 100 plus people, standing in a circle on top of a hill, holding hands, with the sun rising behind us. It was a beautiful sight to see. Every one that spoke that morning honored more than one person, magnifying just how far cancer’s roots have spread.
I feel like I rocked the swim portion — 0.6 Miles in Centennial Lake in just over 24 minutes. Next, was the bike — 18 miles through a very hilly Howard County. Now, I know a triathlon is considered an individual sport, but I have never felt more part of a TEAM than I did out on the course. Every time I passed a rider wearing the same outfit as me, she would yell “Go, Team Fight!” Same goes for the 3.3 miles I ran after that!
As I came around the final turn, heading down the home stretch, the trail was lined with people, many of them wearing Yellow and Blue, all of them cheering me on towards the finish line. It was then that I realized what I was about to accomplish. Honestly, I never thought this was something I would do, I never thought this was something I could do.
But it’s not just what I did, it’s what I saw that made this weekend so special. Jessica, a member of team fight, who just underwent a liver transplant a year and a half ago, was the final leg of a relay, walking the 3.3 miles. We waited for her to make the final turn, and as she walked towards the finish line at least ten other Team Fight participants got behind Jessica, cheered her on and followed her across the finish line. It was emotional and inspirational. The perfect way to end the day!
After my diagnosis, I promised myself I would stay as positive as possible and I feel like I am keeping that promise…however, I guess I didn’t realize how all of this was affecting me. I was active, but the surgery took me back a few steps and I had to start all over, it felt like, to regain my strength. I was becoming lazy (lazier than normal :~). But a few weeks ago, I went back to my old stomping grounds of Panama City and saw all my old friends. It was so refreshing, filled with fun and laughter that it made me realize how blessed I am for the people in my life.
When I landed back in Baltimore a couple days later, it was like I was a whole new person! I had more energy, I was actually looking forward to going to work that day, and thanks to my wonderful friends in Baltimore I was back playing tennis and kickball! It’s like something just clicked, and I realized how blessed I am to still have my life and to be cancer free and not have to go through chemotherapy!!
(Then, when I got back I got the chance to meet one of my favorite groups!! Boyz II Men!! They were so great and still just as exciting to watch!)
Now to the other stuff, the treatment…I got my first injection a couple of weeks ago. The nurse injects a capsule in my stomach that slowly releases hormones over the month, it wasn’t too bad at all (after they numbed my stomach) and I actually didn’t really have any side effects. I hope that is how it will be over the next 5 years!!!
I saw the doc today, my bone density is good (which is good news since the medicine I am taking supposedly affects it) but my vitamin D levels are low so I have to take some supplements!! How does a Florida girl have low vitamin D???? I guess this Baltimore living is getting to me already!!!
I just want to say thanks again for all your prayers, emails, letters, Facebook messages and phone calls of support!! It really has helped me through the last few months…Also, a big thank you to everyone who had donated to the Komen Race for a Cure. I have already raised over $8000!!! CRAZY!!! I love you all!!!
Sooo, I am happy to start this entry with some Wonderful news. my last test results just came back and the doctors have changed their mind on the recommended treatment. I no longer have to have chemo!! The results stated that my chance of recurrence is so low that the docs think I will be fine with just doing hormonal treatment.
Wow, I still can’t believe how blessed I am to have avoided chemotherapy…the funny thing is, it took me a few days to fully realize what that meant. I had my mind so focused on chemo, preparing myself for it so the hair loss wouldn’t be so traumatic..it was so set on chemo that I didn’t fully understand what the news meant. It wasn’t until two days later, when I told my boss, that I realized I dodged a bullet. I had a renewed energy in my step.
This is my first year covering professional football, so when I got the news about chemo, my heart dropped. I knew my energy would be zapped and it would be a tough season. But now??? I can’t wait!
As most of you know I am walking in the Susan G Komen Race for the Cure this October in Hunt Valley, MD. I solicited many of you for donations (keep em coming!!) and the generosity has been mind blowing. I set a goal of $1000, but I apparantly underestimated you all. I raised over $5000 in two days..now I have an infinite goal…lets just raise as much as we can. A lot of that money is used for breast cancer research…and I strongly feel that thanks to the money raised, and the research that has been done to develop new tests, helped me avoid chemo. The decision was all based on that one test! So keep the donations coming, it’s all for a great cause!!
Thank you to everyone who has donated, those of you that are already participating in races around the country.
A big thank you to everyone for your prayers. It is thanks to your faith and support that such good news has come my way!!
So, I’ll start with the good news first..I feel great! I am healed from my surgery and feel pretty much back to normal. Trying to keep things as normal as possible for the next month or so until I begin treatment.
The bad news, I met with the oncologist this week to find out what my recommended treatment will be. She feels as though I would benefit the best from chemotherapy and hormonal treatment. The chemo drug is Taxotere. I would have 4 treatments, one every 3 weeks. Of course that means all the typical side effects: hair loss, lower white blood cell count, nausea, irritated eyes, weight gain and more. Then I will take a pill called Tamoxifen every day for the next 5 years.
How do I feel? I don’t know, such mixed emotions. I know this is the best treatment option for me to lower any chance of the cancer coming back down the road, either as breast cancer or some other kind. Although they completely removed the tumor, when you have cancer, some of those cells tend to break off and travel through your body. There is always a chance for some to mutate somewhere else in my body. The Chemo plus continued hormonal treatment will hopefully kill everything that is left inside and prevent it from coming back…
All I can say is it will be an interesting next few months…it’s football season so I will be extremely busy with work, and I plan on working through the treatment to the best of my ability. My greatest risk is getting sick, since my white blood cell count will be low and my immune system susceptible to other illnesses.
It will be a tough road, lots of ups and downs but I know that in the long run, I will be healthier and stronger!
I must start out this blog by saying…I am blessed..I have the most amazing family in the world, and who better to recover with than family. I just returned from a week long trip to Italy with 10 other member of my family. We had the most amazing time, I have never eaten so much delicious food in my life ( granted I have never eaten so much food period in my life) or drank so much Vino..But I must say that was the best week of my life.
I got a little worried because when we arrived in Rome, my bags did not accompany me..and my pain meds were in that bag..We had a full day of touring Vatican City ahead of us too. But it all ended up okay, i wasn’t in too much pain and my bags showed up that night!
Now I am back to work covering Ravens training camp..long days in the sun but it’s actually fun. Today was a great day, I got one on one interviews with QB Joe Flacco..WR Derrick Mason and CB Dominique Foxworth…I am ready for football season to start.
This Thursday I meet with the oncologist to find out what they suggest for treatment. Everyone please keep your fingers crossed that I get good news, the docs have all told me I would most likely have to undergo Chemo, obviously that’s not the road I want to take but if that’s the path God has for me I am ready to push through and get healthy. Everything happens for a reason right??? We are all tested in different ways. You know, lately everything has been so good that I forget I still have a long way to go. I am getting my range of motion back, I have been going to the gym, my strength is back. It’s hard to think that I still have at least one more surgery to go, and possibly some heavy drugs. That it could push me back again…but I guess that’s where we build our strength from, not only physically but mentally as well.
Wow!! What a difference a day makes!!!I feel a million times better today!! It must be because I had a Wonderful birthday!! Went to this amazing Greek restaurant last night in Baltimore called The Black Olive!! MMMMMMM, it was delicious…an inconspicuous restaurant on a residential street!! What a wonderful time we had! Thank you Elisa, Matt, Tim, Mike and Mom!!!
CommentsGuru.com – Forward This Image
First off thanks to everyone for the birthday wishes!!! It has been a nice day and am looking forward to my birthday dinner tonight with friends!!
So, many of you have been asking me about my doctors visit yesterday. Both drains have been taken out so I can wear normal clothes again and I feel some what normal. But the test results are still preliminary. They tested the rest of the tissue on both sides to make sure the cancer hadn’t spread and they all came back negative but the doc had not received the final results yet. The tumor was actually even a bit smaller than originally thought. Now I just have to get some genetic testing done to determine my chance of recurrence and what my form of treatment will be….Chemo or no Chemo.
But this week has been good. The pain is subsiding slowly but surely and i am getting my energy level back!
Despite the the emotional ups and downs and physical pain of going through something like this, I feel like I was very lucky for catching this early, especially I my age. My mother has been wonderful, as well as my friends. Although, this isn’t exactly the type of attention anyone wants to get, you all have been truly amazing. The flowers and cards and emails and phone calls. I am a very lucky girl, to have friends like you around the country. I think it’s your outpouring of love and support that has made this detour bearable and successful so quickly! I love you all and again I thank you from the bottom of my heart!!
Well, the past week of recovery hasn’t been too bad…The past couple of days I have been able to go outside and walk around for an hour or two before I get tired! I am slowly but surely getting there. I have my post-op checkup tomorrow…Hopefully they have only good news!!!
I’ll keep you all updated!