Who are you running for?

I'm participating in the CIBC Run for the Cure this weekend again, this year as a survivor.
The fund raised go towards incredible research and patient support here in Canada and I'm so proud to be a part of it yet again. I've experienced the good that comes from this charity and know of a lot of good researchers funded through it. As a last minute plug - if anyone would like to donate to the cause, pop me an email and I'll send you a link.
I remember running the race in the past and seeing the survivors in their pink shirts and being in awe of them and all they had gone through. At first I was happy to be able to run 5K. Then the next years I ran for a family friend Shirley who fought and eventually died from breast cancer. There was so much strength and support between the survivors. So many tears. So much hope. Now, this year I will still run for Shirley...and well just because I'M HERE too still dammit! Muahahaha! :)
I can't wait for Sunday. One of my best friends and my sis-in-law are running (OK probably walking) the 5K with me. It's gonna be a bit of an emotional day but I am really looking forward to it. I get to give back a bit for all the good I received during treatment. It's gonna be a good day :)

A little bit of the old Ludwig Van

Nice weekend really. After being back at work I feel like I'm losing so much of my days...it's gonna take some getting used to!
After hitting the farmer's market and lazily reading books all day we got out on a nice date. Jay and I received tickets to the symphony so we got all poshed up and went to listen to Beethoven's 5th and a few other concertos on saturday. It was so nice. Beethoven is my favourite composer...I loved it!  After that was a local artistic event (Nuit Blanch-sort of a street arts festival) so we went to check out the exhibits as well until it got too chilly and we headed home. Sunday was chores, with a walk to the library and some tasty supper. I tried out my new ebelskiever pan and am happy to report that fresh ebelskeivers full of raspberry jam are an insanely delicious supper. Add to that the fact that our slowly organizing house is slowly turning into a normal house again and I must say good job everyone.
Well done. Yes.

Now it's back to work.

OK then. Anything else you'd care to tell me about? Sheesh...

Well...here's something new.
As I mentioned previously, I had to see someone about my heart as a result of some effects from my herceptin treatment. Well, at the cardiologist today I learned that I have a congenital heart defect - an aortic bicuspid valve. I went in because the ejection fraction of my heart was lowering and found out about this instead, which had not been noted before because I've not seen a cardiologist before.  What it means is, basically, instead of having 3 flappy bits in the valve that fit together like a mercedes symbol in a normal valve, for that valve I have just two, that meet in the middle. This is what my mum and my grandma had that eventually led to congestive heart failure. Right now it is nothing to be concerned about, but in combination with the lowering ejection fraction that herceptin was causing it may mean that I'm done with my herceptin treatments (sigh) so that we don't damage my heart inadvertently by making it pump harder and enlarging one side of my heart. I'm finished 3/4 of my herceptin so if I don't get them all it's not so bad. I'm actually glad they didn't find this until now and I got all the herceptin treatments that I did. Unless my ejection fraction goes back to normal in time I may be done herceptin. I have another echo cardiogram in a few weeks to see if I'm improving...I'll have to wait and see. This throws a whole extra stick in the wheel  but I'd rather have a good heart for the rest of my time here. (And it's gonna be a long time!)

Frankly, I'm shocked, mostly because after my mum got quite sick I had an echo cardiogram done to check if I had inherited this condition and at that time they told me I was normal. My (now) cardiologist (who I love...he's a happy friendly greek man with kind eyes who answered all my questions and explained everything very well to J and I) went back to look at the old test results and he said that yes, the test showed abnormalities, but only ones a cardiologist might be able to see and not necessarily ones to be picked up by a regular GP. All these years I was thinking I'd dodged a bullet there and not inherited heart issues...but apparently I did win the valve lottery after all.

What does it mean? Well for now, I'm just fine health-wise. I can exercise and do what I wish, but will have to take ACE inhibitors and possibly beta blockers in the future to help my heart stay strong for the rest of my life. When my heart valve ages and stops working normally and it starts to effect my heart and health, likely somewhere in my late 50s or 60s, I will have to have the valve replaced with surgery. My mum should have had this done but her doctor recommended against it because of her age and frailty. For me - we'll be keeping an eye on it every year and since I'm a healthy person now I know that when the time comes (gulp) I'll get the help I need. A bit freaky, but after everything I've been through this seems not so bad. The devil you know and all that...

So...how was your thursday? Hopefully a lot better than mine. Ah, don't take me too seriously -mine got better too. Before I went back to work J took me to the local specialty bra shop because they were having a sale today and I picked up 2 more mastectomy bras and a few tank tops with built in mastectomy bras. I just learned my insurance has an extra health fund I can use to cover more mastectomy bras, so I wanted to get a few more to have more options for what I can wear. It was fun after all that serious doctor stuff - the lady fitting me is from near Cardiff in the UK and is a big Doctor Who fan so we yacked while I tried on many pretty things and left with ones that make me feel quite pretty indeed...so hey - the days' getting better already. :)

The horror...The horror...

My house is a gong show. After nearly a year of treatment, a basement flood in August (just shower water thankfully) and a summer of J working festivals and having all his gear and our camping gear all over the house and deck and yard our house really is in a sad state. It's not dirty...just so incredibly unorganized. We can't find anything...it's maddening. With a few weeks of working together we've nearly got all our camping gear cleaned up and stored away and we have finally went to a laundromat to wash all the alkali dust from our burning man stuff so we're starting to make a slight dent in things. OK...when I say we I mean mostly J. Now that he's freelancing and home a lot more he's decided his side project is to work at cleaning the house a few hours every day until it's organized...and since he's really good at organizing it will actually get done. It will take a while because he's very meticulous, but in the end I'm hoping everything we keep will have a place and he'll know where it all is because he put it there. Already our DVDs, CDs and TV area no longer look like a monsoon hit the shelves.
I'm going to try and focus on the kitchen and living room, bedroom and my craft room (where all the flood stuff got dumped to sort through...sigh...) and hopefully by christmas we'll have recovered most of a house where every surface isn't covered in clutter...and more importantly where we know where things are. I'm taking it easy at first. My first full time day at work was yesterday and when you add that to walking to work I was sleeping like a baby rock by 930!

...but all in good time. When winter comes and we're trapped indoors it will be nice to not look around the house and think "ugh...messy" or play Find the Thing when we need a tool or something we haven't used in a while. For now I'll keep J supplied with caffeine and Swiffers and let him loose :)

I heart my bike

The world is trying to help me ease back into health. Case in point: There is a transit strike in my home town so to get to work I dug out my bike on the weekend. I forgot how much I love riding my bike outdoors. I used to ride it to work all the time. I'm giving myself a bit of extra time to get here, and my route to work is on a bike path complete with critters and a river so it's really not a bad journey. Gets me a bit of exercise too so hey - it's all good.
I am trying to track down a local trainer who has experience with post-mastectomy patients to start an easy workout program after my birthday (the end of Oct). Exercise is one of the easiest ways to prevent cancer from coming back, so extra points for activity I figure. Starting this week I plan to spend the next while doing my upper body physio, some lower body strengthening and walking/biking/restarting the C25K I was beginning before I got bronchitis to get some activity every day. Hopefully in november once it snows I can swim a few times a week before work...I'm looking forward to that as a change. For now it's just a challenge not to do too much and look after myself. I know me - I want to just jump in and do it all like I did before and that simply is not possible yet. And even when it is...do I want to be that rushed again? I just don't know. What I do want to do is enjoy my body and *live* and make sure I spend the time telling the people I love how much I appreciate them, and doing all the little things I love to do. Just because I can :)
For now, I'm enjoying the fall. Time for long walks with J, canning things, making some beer and wine and just enjoying feeling better. This weekend was the local comic expo so I got to be nerdy and hang out with my bestie. It's the little things you know? :)

Knock on wood

I just had a cardiac function test on monday and my doc just called to say that my ejection fraction has gone down. It's still OK, but they want to have a few more tests done and see a cardiologist before they give me another herceptin dose. I have another function test in a month too to see if it will go back up again. Given my mum's death from congestive heart failure and the many health issues she had with her heart they are being cautious with me. Yes, I'm glad they are keeping an eye on me, but it makes me nervous because herceptin is the magic drug that helps her2+ cancer people like me stay healthy and I hope I get to finish my regimen of it. I am hoping things will go back and I will be fine and get to finish up my treatments. I feel fine (well except for this damn lingering cold) so I want to stay healthy. Thing is, there's a little voice in the back of my head that won't shut up that makes me worry about what happens when all my treatments are done...and I thought I had 3 more months of not worrying before I had to try and wrap my head around that. I just have to remember...I'm healthy now. I'm better...

back in the bike saddle

I picked up a cold in the US but have been trying to get back to being active now that it's mostly gone (just the odd annoying cough or sniffle). We ate our way through the US and it was glorious, but we are both trying to be healthier now and get back into a vague sort of routine again. So, this week I've been hopping on my exercise bike for 20 minutes in the mornings and doing my physio arm exercises like a good girl before work. I admit I haven't been doing the strengthening exercises since before Burning Man and in order for me to start doing more vigorous workouts I need to build up base strength first, so it's a start. It feels good to do a little in the mornings.
On monday I even tried to do a little lower body stuff and did 30 squats and 10 lunges back, forward and to the side along with 20 bicycle crunches. It's silly how stiff my quads and butt are still today form those...lets me know I need to get back to doing more and build myself up again slowly. It'll come. I can exercise without wiping out all my energy now, but still have to ease into things annoyingly slowly to ensure I don't develop lymphedema in my arm. After another week on the bike I hope to start back at my couch to 5K program that I got into before we left and work on that until the snow falls and keep up the physio and lower body work at home. For now, walking home from work is a nice way to end the work day and get in some relaxing time with J.
Tonight I have to make 8 gallons of crabapples into wine before they go bad. I may never want to see a crabapple again!

The one where Geo jumps back into her life with a smile

Hiya. It's been a while hasn't it? Sorry about that.
Life has been full and fun and good and I've just been busy :)

Burning Man was beyond fabulous and now that I'm back home we are spending a few weeks trying to get the playa dust out of everything we took there. I've been doing some fall canning and starting back to work part time. It's been just over 1 week back and it's so nice to be back. I admit it would be nice to stay off, but everyone has been so nice to me, especially when I've been back that it is a joy to be back here...even tho there is so much to do. Ah well...bit by bit it will come. We had a real holiday...the first one in almost a year where we just...well...had a holiday. Nothing to do with me or work or being sick...just fun. It was awesome.

Burning man was like going on a camp holiday to another planet. That's a salt flat desert. With naked people. And free drinks. And art everywhere. And nice hot weather. And flaming octopi. And...And...yeah. Pretty hard to describe it to be honest. I can't even describe how much fun we had. The drive down there and back was a great time too. I love travelling by car in the US...everyone is so friendly (and you can buy cider at the gas station - I'll never get used to that...). J and I just got to spend time together and relax and he had probably the best birthday of his life out there in the desert. J's parent's lent us their vehicle to drive down so we didn't have to worry about vehicle problems and we really enjoyed their posh tripmobile (Ford Flex's are awesome...they hold so much STUFF...and they're kinda pimpin too...). When we got back we said goodbye to our old well-loved, but rust-bucket, protege and traded it in for a nice 2012 low milage Mazda 3. It has heated seats, no rust AND, more importantly, it has a working suspension and the hatch even holds itself up without a piece of 2X4! (Ooh! Ah! Such luxury!)) I loved our 2002 yellow car but it was falling apart and needed about 4K of work done to it...so we took that and put it towards this newer one. It's so nice to have a reliable car again. We even got a decent trade in on the screaming yellow madness, so we were able to send her off without regret. Our new car isn't yellow (it's white) but that's OK. It is reliable and will keep us going for many years to come :)

This weekend was make stuff weekend. I have a friend with an apple tree and crabapple tree in her back yard who is desperate to get rid of apples so she and I and another friend spent saturday making LOTS of pies to freeze and on sunday I gave in to my need to preserve things in the fall and spent all day canning up some peaches in light syrup, crabapple jelly, pickled dill carrots, hot pepper jelly and roasted garlic jelly. Some will be for christmas presents I think.  I still have two 5 gallon pails of crabapples to do something with. I believe a batch of wine will use up one of them...and I'm hoping my mum-in-law will take the other one. I actually have a blister from processing the bucket of apples I did yesterday to get my 15 cups of juice for jelly. I made lots of jelly! My mum used to make it and we've all eaten up the last of her preserves, so it'll be nice having some to give to my family. And eat. Nom. I have never made the garlic or pepper jelly before but I love pepper jelly so I'm hoping they'll both be tasty gifts and neat foodie things to try with roast chicken or pork. I still have a giant mint plant that I need to turn into something tasty in the next few days too...but hey.
For now, it's off for a walk in the sun and then a trip home to set up our camping gear in the back yard and hose it down and pack it up for another winter before a nice BBQ with some fresh brussel sprouts for supper. I hope you are all enjoying the fall and have been having a wonderful last few weeks. I sure have been :)