My journey - battling lymphoma

Recently I celebrated my 46th birthday. I love celebrating birthdays! Then I participated as a co-captain for our local "Quabog" Relay For Life and the Pack 57 Rocks! Cub Scout Team. This was the time frame that I had discovered an uneasiness in my stomach and growth in my spleen and stomach. After weeks of monitoring, my husband Steve took me to the doctor who felt the lumps and ordered a CT scan. The CT scan showed a massive area, my spleen enlarged to twice its size and an additional growth lower in my stomach. Next was the localized CT guided biopsy and subsequent PET scan. The biopsy showed positive for lymphoma and most likely Diffuse Large B-cell Lymphoma.

This is my online journal sharing my experience through battling this cancer that has abruptly entered my life for no apparent reason. The story is documented here if you want to start from the beginning, you can check the archives on the side bar.

As a top competitive master athlete this year winning my age group at the Marine Corps Marathon and placing 3rd in the New England Trail Running Championship I have been truly excited with my results of late and am a truly driven athlete. Driven by goals.... my goal right now.... to beat this "thing"!

Tuesday, July 27, 2010

Don't go back to eating donuts! :)

I remember when I was sitting in the doctor's office after Relay weekend here in Belchertown.  I had my CT scan on Thursday and had spent 2 days volunteering at various times with the event and getting our team together to participate.  We had received a call from the Drs office and they said that Dr. Levheim would be back Monday and it best that I talk to her.  So - we enjoyed our weekend at the Relay, on the boat with family - our favorite summer things to do.  When Dr Levheim came in she had this look - look of concern?  worry?  Not sure how to describe it, but something wasn't right -- my enlarged spleen was about to have a meaning...  then she said it -- "Nancy - you have cancer, the CT scan clearly shows this mass that looks like lymphoma".  I was Sunk...  I looked at Steve, seeing the look of disbelief in his face..  and said, "Are you sure?" --- She replied "Well, not until a biopsy would we know for sure.  But yes - it looks like you have cancer."

This is crazy-- I thought and said out loud - "I am healthiest person I know - in the best shape of my life - what the heck!"  --- I eat well, I seriously exercise EVERY DAY. and watch everything, get my screenings and more.... the epitome of health.  Eek.  "Ok -- well what now - what do we do? " I asked....  "You need more tests" -- she said.  So we hurried out of the room to get the referrals and appointments, let's get it done, let's get it out of my body.  Let it begin -- that was it.  I am glad she made me wait until Monday - although it is all pretty crazy that this happened on my Relay weekend, as this will be my new "birthday"   - -  the day I learned I have cancer - the Relay will be my celebration of survivorship every year.  Count on it.

When my friend and colleague Jeff heard the news he said "Oh man - I am going back to eating donuts!" --- that statement put a smile on my face.  The first reaction from most people when they hear of my diagnosis is disbelief because I am in such great shape and watch my diet so well!  People often ask me what is my diet, how do I sustain this level of athletism through nutrition.  And now that I am diagnosed with cancer food takes on a whole new meaning, and different tastes, or lack of makes eating a necessary act, not so much a joy as it always has to me.

I have been on Weight Watchers in the past, my friend Judy got me into it and I recommend it highly just to get the discipline in portions - WW really teaches you the balance of eating and counting the points is so much easier than counting calories.  Good food in moderation equals a healthy weight.  It is affordable and there is such a large support network.  Very cool indeed.  I have lost up to 20 lbs on WW.  But in the past few years I have been able to maintain my weight through my food choices and exercise.

This is my typical nutritious day:
Breakfast:  Whole grain cereal with nonfat milk (my absolute favorite) with fruit of some sort (banana, blueberries or strawberries) on top.  OR McCann's Steel Cut Oatmeal (YUMM!) OR 2 eggs over easy, wheat toast and sausage patties (just for the protein). 

Lunch:  Cereal again - just for ease and I work at home so I need ease.  OR English muffin with PB & J (a true weakness).  OR a protein (Soy) frozen fruit (strawberries, blueberries or raspberries) shake in the Vita mix (add Shaklee Performance and sometimes use Physique) with OJ,

Dinner: We  love to cook together and get into habits with cooking the same thing time and time again and get pretty good at cooking that one dish.  I have various recipes that I love! 
Protein is key:  Fish, Chicken, Pork or Steak (right now we are on a fish kick --- love making scallops in the saute pan)
Salad:  Fresh tomatoes are amazing - I love making capresse with mozzarella, basil, garlic, EVOO, & aged balsamic vinegar.  We always have a salad.  fresh greens, fresh veggies
Starch:  Sweet potatoes are the best!  I also love Chiabatta with butter and garlic toasted in the oven.
Dessert:  Whip up strawberries in the Vita Mix - add Cool Whip -- the best dessert ever and so GOOD for you.  Always good to treat yourself - we have this most every night.

Snacks:  Almonds, Blueberries, fresh veggies

During this period of discovering I have cancer my apetite is supressed, my taste buds changing.  It seems I can't eat very much at all and honestly it doesn't taste that great.  Wine is something I really love, and it just tastes horrible.  :(  I am sure I will find what "comfort" food works and I will continue to get my nutrition so I have the fuel necessary to train daily as it is so important to me to stay in shape and be on top of it.  My health is what is going to keep me strong --- so that is my plan.

Please note:  I am not a donut eater, although Brother in law - John owns a Krispy Kreme in Puerto Rico and well - they just smell delicious - so I hate to be a Donut Downer!  When I was a kid I loved Chocolate Creme Filled and Boston Creme.  Sometimes on the way up to Mount Snow we stop and treat Schuyler to Chocolate Glazed DD's.  

Photo of me at my first marathon for American Cancer Society Determination  (our charity runner program)- The Vermont City Marathon in 2009 - I placed 4th master! I raised more than $1100 for that race
 and close to $5000 for the 3 marathons this past year (MCM and Boston too!)
Me at MCM in November 2009 - I won the master category!  Yay!

This the foursome that I connected with that were all running ACS Determination in Boston this past spring.  Charlie dyed his hair pink for his mom a breast cancer survivor (he runs for her all the time!), Cara is hilarious and such an amazing person (she rocked Boston!) - her mom was the survivor speaker at the breakfast for ACS and there is DP Turtle (aka David Pittman) a twitteraholic that is truly inspiring others with his adventures and dedication to ACS Determination as a long time volunteer.  GREAT GROUP of people -- I meet them everywhere, but this is truly a special bunch!
I ran a 3:23 in Boston and was pretty happy, although once you run a 3:05 PR it is hard to get thrilled about a 3:20 ish....  :)  Although when you look at it I ran a 7:46/min/mi which is still pretty darn fast!

Lastly, but most important -I am so excited that I have still have Chicago in my sites for October. 
Cara and Charlie and Judy are running and DP will be there to give us water!  :)  HA (he has another marathon in his plan -- but is going to be there!)

Please consider a donation to my efforts - I need to raise $1000!  Any amount is truly appreciated. 

Nancy Runs Chicago!

And if you are running Chicago and want to join my team - there are no numbers available as the race is closed out at 45,000 runners.   But you can join if you have a race number and want to make a difference through the ACS Determination charge!  It has been such a great experience as a seasoned athlete to have my running and racing make a difference in the fight against cancer --- it takes a lot of people to do a lot of great things to find a cure. 
Make a difference today -- join me or donate to my efforts if you can!

Nancy's Chicago Marathon Team
"Boston or Bust!"


Sasha said...

The donut thing....I found it funny that you mentioned chocolate glazed DD....that is the only donut my son will eat from that place. If we head out on long drives we stop at the one in town and get him one as well.

Chicago have been bloggin this whole experience...and I think you should actually write a book. Everyone has their own story and I think that this is a very inspirational one ( as most cancer wariors and survivors stories are)..but I know the impact that reading these blogs has had on me and I can't help but think of how other's who are going through the same thing would find so much strength, HOPE and determination in reading your words. I beleive you said this was very therapeutic for you to do share your journey with us..I am sure others would find comfort in reading this as well.
I ws listening to Destiny's Child "Survivor" and thr chorus made me think of you....went on my playlist for my race..really got me motivated!
Thanks "Coach" and keep kickin butt!

Jane said...

You and I love the same foods - our daily diet is almost identical! I have a donut about once a year, such a treat, and went crazy and ate TWO last week from the Donut Hole in Destin, my most fav donuts!!! Sorry to hear the wine taste bad : ( Thinking of you!