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"!

Thursday, October 7, 2010

Chicago Marathon - Here we come!

2 days  21 hours to go!  
Start time: 7:30 am
Date:  10-10-10  (Schuyler's birthday!)
Location:  Grant Park, Chicago IL

What?: 26.2 miles - a marathon - my 27th marathon

Why:  Because I can!  It hasn't been easy training or actually sticking to this goal after being diagnosed in July, with some doubters out there, people thinking I am pretty crazy (which I may be!) and just the struggles with having chemo all summer long and dealing with how to actually TRAIN for this marathon.  I signed up, was diagnosed with cancer, started treatment, figured out that I could still run and train long miles (although - believe me NOT easy miles...) and now the day has come!  The marathon will be the ultimate test of my will, my body and my DETERMINATION to live, to run and to complete this distance!  Yay!

For the American Cancer Society -- I have raised as of right now - $1809.60 - and our team (Judy & I - "Boston or Bust!) - has raised $3329.60!  I am thankful for my friend Judy for encouraging me to sign up for Chicago (before diagnosis) and for sticking with me as I continued the quest in training through treatment.  Her support of me has been unfailing throughout this and as a friend for more than 11 years now.  She has missed me at the national meetings, calls me almost every day to check in and make sure I am not down or stressed.  Laughs with me and cries with me too.  :)  There have been quite a few true friends that have really shown their light strong through this battle and she is truly one! :)  I love having a "team" in DetermiNation, because then it is not always all about you, but also as a team you can celebrate eachother's efforts.   And Judy has rocked this one!   I also love DetermiNation because it is a chance to make a difference in the fight against cancer and spread the good word of the work of the American Cancer Society.  As a participant and fundraiser and volunteer - it gives me such pride to support the organization that I work so hard every day to reach others and promote Relay For Life corporate involvement and the mission of what we do at the Society to fight this dreadful disease that I now have the experience first hand to say that with more meaning and MORE passion.    Photo above is one of Judy and I at the Applefest Half in NH when she came to visit in 2009.

You have read about the Dream Team in an earlier post --- well we are getting together on Saturday - which may be the only time I see Charlie because he is SO fast!  :)  David is bringing cake and Cara and I are going to be partners through this thing.....  BatGirl and Wonder Woman!  Yes - my sister made the costumes and they are awesome. All lycra, short skirts and insignia and the capes to match.  Can't wait to share photos with you all!  We are going to get the crowd's attention and are actually planning on bringing a camera for scenic shots!

Although a personal note - I am sharing Cara's response to me trying to get her off the hook from running with me the whole marathon (I really don't want to hold her back because she is SO fast and I will drag her down ....)

Cara Turano
September 30 at 3:35pm Report
You are fine! I keep up with you through FB and blog and I have been worried because you seem less vocal. Take your time and I know you are feeling crappy. I am SO glad that you don't have treatment next week - that will make this whole marathon thing a lot easier and you are tough enough to beat this nasty thing without something even nastier hurting you.

As for the race, I am completely disregarding that paragraph! Girl, I have paced other people all summer. I am just as ready to run a 3:30 as I am a 5:20 and I am going to race Huntsville in December. Nancy, Chicago is about giving Steve a 4 hour or so break and letting me be your rock. I figured we could sign autographs and maybe have a fan club when we cross the finish line. :) If we walk, or fly, or skip, or stroll, or cartwheel, you are stuck with me...congratulations to you!! I even bought an eye mask and Charlie is worried about me running in it. I am going with you every step, cowgirl, and I will carry whatever you need to get through 26.2 miles in my utility belt. Did you really think you could get rid of me that easily?? Psshhhhh....I refuse to hear it. I have to many things to tell you and learn from you. We start together and we finish together....PERIOD.

I love you too!! I cannot believe we get to reconvene in Chicago in a few short days...I am gonna be right here every step of the way through the cancer battle and the Chicago Marathon. It is who I am and it is what you deserve.


Wow - that totally had me in tears when I read that note.  She is such an amazing  person and has sent me cards EVERY week.  I feel like we have been friends forever and I really only have spent time with her that one experience at the Boston marathon.  Yes - I do NOT have to have the Methatrexate treatment anymore, it was determined that there is not benefit from continuing that after meeting with the medical director at Baystate.  A HUGE RELIEF for me in readying myself for this marathon.  I feel so much better this week and the taper has been good for me to refuel and regenerate so I am in top/peak condition for a chemo ridden patient running a marathon.  :)
Whoo Hoo!

The Schedule: 
Friday:  5 PM direct flight to Chicago - staying at the Hilton Airport Hotel
Missing the ACS DetermiNation dinner

Saturday - ACS DetermiNation warm up run is at 6 am which is too early for us to get into town so I am missing that too.  I was bummed to get the schedule and see that all the events just didn't fit.
Expo - morning
Meet the Dream Team at the ACS DetermiNation booth at the Expo
LUNCH with the Dream Team!
Staying at the Palmer House on Saturday and Sunday so we will check in after lunch
Lay out clothes and get prepared for the marathon
Rest & relax
Dinner with my sweetie

Early wake up - call Schuyler because it is his birthday!  He turns 9!
Meet Cara dressed in Wonder Woman costume.
Check clothing bag with bus
Find Elite B coral
Stretch and ready
7:30 am start - on your mark! get set! GO!
11:30 am finish --- I set my goal to qualify for Boston (even though I have qualified with my Boston 2010 time) - which for my age group is a 4:00 hr marathon.  I think it is do-able and with Cara's help and support - it is a slam dunk.  But of course I will listen to my body and slow when I need to and honestly will enjoy every mile of feeling alive, hearing the cheers, feeling the strength and just finishing this marathon will be enough for me.  :)

Steve will be on the course taking photos and meeting us at spots along the course.  We were here in 2007 and he was so wonderful to be there encouraging me, he knows the course and is ready! :)
Find Steve at the finish - go to the ACS DetermiNation tent - CELEBRATE!
Pizza Party for ACS DetermiNation - hope to be there after relaxation at the hotel.

Photos are from 2007 - last time I ran Chicago with a tiger tail and tiger ears in the "heat wave" when they "cancelled" the marathon. 2007 results: Chicago Marathon (3:26:13)- 896 overall - 128 female - 15th in age group

Monday - Recovery day -  10 am flight home!  :)
Tuesday - Blood tests and see Doc Mullally
Wednesday - Treatment
Thursday - Treatment
Friday  - Recovery day!

Thanks for stopping by -- stay tuned for more updates and photos from after the marathon.  IF you wish to track me here is a link and my race number is 4399.  Think of me, send me strength and power thoughts!  Please leave a comment if you stop by!  I read ALL comments and am thankful to all of you for your prayers, concern and love.


DP_Turtle said...

Looks like a fully weekend of fun! I'm in corral B too, so we'll enjoy some quality time on the "walk out" from the DetermiNation tent to the corral ... then standing around wondering if we have time for one more pee before the gun goes off!

So looking forward to the Dream Team reunion!

Ashley Sisk said...

I'm going to be thinking about you this weekend. Best of luck to you!