I get that question a lot these days since I started my running journey in June 2012. Most people would think I run to get my pre mommy body back after giving birth to two almost 8 1/2 lb babies. Not so!!! I have always been someone that enjoyed staying in shape not for the way it made me look but because of how strong it made me feel. Even during my pregnancies I tried to be active by walking and doing Zumba. When I was in high school I ran track during the off months of competitive All Star Cheerleading. I was an 800 meter runner for the most part and sometimes filled in for the one mile if needed. I was by no means a distance runner and never really had the desire to run more than a mile. I'm more of a fitness, lift a few weights, gymnastics, dancing, throw in a little yoga kind of girl so it was a real challenge to try to run more than one mile at a time.
Last year around March 2011 I finally thought I was going to try to get myself back into shape after my third battle with Melanoma in January 2011. I decided I was going to go to a class called RIPPED. Yep, sounds pretty fun huh? While lifting what seemed like 100 reps of 5lb weights I felt and heard a pop in my left bicep. I didn't think much of it and continued working out. The next morning my arm was so red, hot and swollen around my bicep that I couldn't even extend my arm. After an MRI of the arm we found out sure enough I tore my bicep tendon. I kinda laughed cause the Dr. said "what exactly were you doing to tear your bicep tendon? I mean that usually happens to old men over the age of 50." Me: "Well sir I wish I could say I was curling 50 lbs but it was more like 5" haha!!!Thankfully it wasn't a complete tear and I didn't need surgery Praise God!!!!
After I healed from the bicep tear I never really got back into shape. April 2011 was PET scan time for me and my friend Joe. In early May 2011 we found out I had some questionable lymph nodes that would require a 6 week followup scan then core biopsies and my dear friend Joe was told the melanoma had now spread to his lung. After I found out about Joe, I immediately went into fighter mode. I was arranging bake sales, making dinners for him post surgery, and rallying the troops to help give him support. I was researching the best treatments out there for Stage IV melanoma. My friend had lung surgery in the summer of 2011 and was back to work as an ER nurse by the end of September 2011. I remember He had his followup PET scan in early October and my PET scan was at the end of October. We were so thankful to find out both of our scans came back with no evidence of disease. Then the week before Thanksgiving 2011 Joe came in to the ER and was very sick. That night he looked me in the eye and said "the monster is back." After a day full of scans sure enough the cancer was widespread throughout his body. My dear friend fought a courageous battle with such grace and the army of his friends and family fought with him all the way til he entered the gates of Heaven on February 13, 2012. You can read about my amazing friend Joe by visiting www.caringbridge.org/visit/joestevens. My friend Joe taught me a lot. He taught me that life is short and the most important thing is to love God and to love people. While he was in hospice he always talked about how he loved to run the trails of lake Vesuvius or ride his bike through the mountains. I told him when I healed up from my recent surgeries that I was going to start running 5K's cause I wan't to run to make a difference. He said "when you run, run for me."
|Me and Joe|
In May of 2012 I had a wide excision to remove a early melanoma vs severely dysplastic lesion from my right hip. It was during that time that I started this blog and decided I wasn't letting this cancer control my life anymore. Sure I have anemia, sure I get swelling from lymphedema in my left pelvis, sure I get pin prickling pain in my left hip, sure i've had a mini stroke,sure I have stage II kidney failure and sure there's that high chance that the cancer may come back but right now God has given me two good legs and by golly i'm going to use them. I went all out and joined the tough mudder group from church (which by the way tough mudder is a 10-12 mile military style obstacle course) before I even healed from surgery to push me to train hard. Starting out in June I could barely run a mile without literally almost passing out and by the end of July I ran my first ever 5K! I wasn't the fastest but I felt invincible crossing that finish line.
|Hands and Feet 5K 9-1-12|
2nd place in my age group ~Time 28:26
Me and Hattie (my BFF) who has been there with me through it all.
|Poage Landing 5K 9-15-2012|
|Poage Landing 5K|
Me, Liv, & Deb (she is seriously like my sister)
2nd place in my age group
|Liv and I enjoying a post 5K banana|
Stay tuned for more blogs about my running adventures and the Tough Mudder coming up on October 20, 2012. All Proceeds for Tough Mudder goes to the wounded warrior project. I feel it's the least I could do to endure 10-12 miles of mudd for the freedom these men and women have given to me. My next Vandy appointment is October 22, 2012, Local Oncology visit is November 2012, and scan time is December 2012. I run in the Melanoma AIM walk November 17, 2012 in Charlotte NC. Please consider sponsoring me in the fight against Melanoma by clicking here. Don't forget to share the love and spread the lotion!