Friday, September 28, 2012

To the Perimeter

During those long training hours leading up to my Ironman 70.3, my mind wandered far and wide, cycling through the To Do list, my plans for the evening and weeks to come, the status of my relationships, all the way out to the perimeters of wildest dream and deepest fears. I had moments of confidence that breast cancer was firmly in the past and I will live a long healthy life. And I had moments of dark foreboding in which I worried that as soon as I had the triathlon behind me and faced the upcoming round of cancer-related checkups, I would be thrown back into fighting for my life.

Right now I don't know what I'm up against, but I do know the coast is not clear. The first red flag came in the form of slightly out of whack blood test result. I got a call from the oncology nurse following my every-three-month check-up saying "Nothing to worry about" but I should re-test in six (now four) weeks.

The second red flag came yesterday.

Because I take Tamoxifen, I see a gynecologist every six months for an ultrasound of my uterus. This drug makes a bigger difference to my survival chances after breast cancer than chemo and radiation combined. Unfortunately, it can also cause endometrial cancer. (FYI: The endometrium is the lining to the uterus.) Mine, as it turns out, is quite a bit thicker than it was six months ago. "Probably polyps," says the doctor, which will require surgery, but nothing compared to the hysterectomy I'd be facing if it turns out to be cancer.

On Monday I'll undergo a sonohysterogram, which is like a souped up ultrasound in which they squirt saline solution up into the uterus through the cervix. I've had one before, back in the miscarriage days. It's a crampy, uncomfortable affair, and like all such through-the-cervix things, reminiscent of an abortion procedure, a traumatic association for me.

But I will be glad to have more information.

At least I hope I will be glad.

Sunday, September 23, 2012

Behind the Scenes

I'm a little shy about this video because I'm sharing some very rough musical composition of my own, as well as a taste of the drama leading up to my half-ironman race. But I must say, I'm having more and more fun making these videos, and putting more and more of myself into them. I hope you're enjoying the results! More of my videos here.

Tuesday, September 18, 2012

The Joys and Perils of Love and Lobster

Had a lot of fun making this video. Check out the romantic drama. More of my videos here.

Friday, September 14, 2012

Into the Sunrise

The morning of the race, we (Jim and I, my mother, and a lot of nervous and excited people in wetsuits) walked down the beach to the starting line just as the sun was rising. Couldn't have asked for a more beautiful beginning. Thanks Mom, for the photos!

In the past week I've had three major milestones: (1) a reception for my solo art show, (2) my first half-ironman 70.3-mile triathlon, and (3) a once-over by my faithful oncologist, scouting as she does every few months, hoping not to find signs of the return of my arch-nemesis, breast cancer.

Briefly, a report on each:

(1) The art show reception went by in a happy but painful blur, which is to say, I was proud of the work, glad about the turnout and the enthusiastic response, and, especially toward the end of the evening, distracted by terrible lower back pain. Finally I excused myself and headed for home, worrying all the way, as I had over the last few weeks, that my back was going to make impossible the half-ironman I'd been working toward so hard and for so long.

Before the race began there were repeated announcements encouraging racers who were uncomfortable in big waves to skip the swim. I feel so lucky that I had plenty of opportunities growing up to play in the ocean. I was not worried about the surf.

(2) Two mornings later, Jim and I were up at four in our motel room, and I was excited. My back wasn't perfect, but since my only goal was to complete the event in under seven hours and have fun doing it, I was optimistic that I'd make it through. And though I did have pain on the bike, overall, the experience was a very pleasant surprise. I was actually having fun, and I felt strong throughout. And I finished under SIX hours with a time which, I later learned, was good enough to earn me third place in my age group, and was just five minutes shy of qualifying to compete at Nationals! Though sore and still recovering five days later, I am nothing but pleased with the experience, and already thinking I may want to do this event again next year.

At the finish. My time: 5:50.08.

(3) Speaking of next year, there's nothing like a cancer check-up to put a damper on any long term planning, nothing more humbling than an every-few-month reminder that not a single day is guaranteed in this life. But luckily there were no suspicious lumps or bumps this time around. Blood test results aren't in yet, but barring any red flags prompting a call back to the cancer center, I am planning to savor every minute of the days ahead of me that I don't have to fight for, however many I am allotted. And if the time comes that I have to fight, I will do my best to savor that battle as well.

On the podium with my medal and certificate. I was very surprised to find myself there!

Monday, September 03, 2012

Happy Birthday Millie!

In four days: art show reception.
In six days: 70-mile triathlon.

Millie is feeling blue - in this video, I figure out why.
Also, guest musician Alex Beroza is AWESOME. I had fun making kaleidoscopic special effects to go accompany the track:
"Art Now" by Alex (feat. Snowflake)
is licensed under a Creative Commons license:

Today was Millie's third birthday. Time flies when you love your pooch.