Giveaway Time!!!

If you follow me on Instagram, I’ve hinted at a giveaway over the past day or so, and here it is!

I wouldn’t be a good runner, PT, person, etc. if I didn’t talk about the importance of staying healthy. Not just going to the doctor when you are sick, but also being proactive with your life. That’s why I had my surgery in September and am having another one in a weak-and-a-half. Prevention is key!

With that said, I’m running a quick giveaway (winner to be chosen Sunday, May 13, 2018) of a full sized Boobi Butter box. You can be a man or woman to win, because cancer doesn’t discriminate. I do ask, however, that you be 18 or older. This box will include a bottle of Ice Rose oil, Boobi Butter salve, a decal for keeping track of breast changes, and more! It’s super easy to enter.

  1. Fill out the Rafflecopter (link below)
  2. Comment on this post about how you stay proactive with your health
  3. Be sure to follow me on Instagram and Facebook.

a Rafflecopter giveaway
 

You owe it to yourself, your family, and friends to take part!

Advertisements

I am a mutant

The following is a guest post I wrote for my sweet friend Kari over at Life Kari Style

Instead of rewriting it, I cheated and copy/pasted it. Except I wrote it, so I guess it’s not exactly cheating.

————-

Why do you ask questions to which you already know the answer?

Charles Xavier. Though a fictional character, his words rang ever so true to me in April of last year. That’s when I decided to have genetic testing to see if I had a breast cancer gene mutation (BRCA). I knew what the results would be.

My mom has had breast cancer twice, once in 1994 with a lumpectomy and full treatment (chemotherapy and radiation), and once in 2013/14 with only radiation. After the second time, her doctor suggested she have the genetic testing done, but for our (my sister and me) benefit, not hers per say. That would give us some information that we could then choose to do something, if we wanted.

My momma

San Antonio with my mom and younger sister

(l to r: mom, me, my sister) A few years before I had my first child

At the time my mom had her testing done, I had just had my second baby and our family was living with my folks while I worked as a travel therapist in Texas. I didn’t even give my mom’s mutation a second thought. I was too busy working and helping my husband raise our young family.

Fast forward to last spring (2017), I was wrapping up training for my first ultramarathon, a 50K. I realized it had been a solid three years since my last full physical and the last one was with my midwife, after my daughter was born. So, I went to a local gynecologist recommended to me by my endocrinologist, and friend. I had a few concerns about my hormones and monthly cycles and actually went in to ask about a hysterectomy. Well, when you say that word to any doctor, and you’re under the age of 75, they start telling you about all the stuff we “should” do instead (i.e. blood work, ultrasounds, monitoring things, etc.). Why can men have a vasectomy with few questions asked, but a woman can’t choose to have an unnecessary organ removed from her own body?!

Anyway, I’d mentioned to the doctor that I rememberedmy mom having one of the BRCA mutations but I didn’t know which one. To which the doctor replied, “You really should find out which one. And then you should decide if you want testing too.” I already knew I would get tested as I’d begun researching the risks of breast cancer and how genetics play a larger role than heredity. However, not only did my mom have a history that started in her early 40s, her mom had a history of breast cancer when she was in her early 30s. So I figured I had dodged a bullet by being super active and I was still breastfeeding my daughter (3.5 years old at the time). Needless to say, when my mom faxed over her test results and I gave them to my doctor, I had to make a decision…get tested or keep hoping I’d be fine.

I was tested the third week of April and my results were ready by May 8. The doctor has you come in for those types of results, to discuss everything, either way. So I went in the following day and found out the answer I already knew: I, too, was BRCA1 positive. This, along with my family history, meant my breast cancer risk was 87%. I’m also hat a higher risk for ovarian cancer. However because I’ve got no family history of that, we decided to wait on that decision.

Now I had to decide what to do. There are basically three options when you have a BRCA mutation.

1) Semiannual imaging (mammograms alternating with MRIs) and hope they don’t find something twice a year.

2) Take tamoxifen, a cancer drug, for 20-30 years and deal with side effects like…

• Fatigue

• Hair loss, although uncommon and is usually mild

• Headache

• Hot flashes

• Impotence

• Nausea/vomiting

• Vaginal discharge

Ummmm NO!

-last option-

3) A preventative double mastectomy with or without reconstruction.

I already knew my choice. I knew, before I’d gotten the results, that I’d be choosing number three. There was no way I was going to put myself through the anxiety of possibly finding something every 6 months, or dealing with the side effects of an actual cancer drug.

I also knew that I was not going to put my kids through me having to go through cancer treatments and then have surgery anyway. I wanted to be around for them. So, as soon as I left the doctor’s office, I marched my pretty little DDDs to the office at the end of the plaza, to the surgeon she recommended. I had a consultation set up. Between May 8 and my surgery on September 7, I’d had a pelvic ultrasound, my first mammogram and breast ultrasound (because I had denser tissue), my first breast MRI, and numerous surgeon and plastic surgeon appointments.

Kari asked me a few things and I want to make sure I answer them here too.

What are some things you want women to know about the genetic markers or breast cancer in general? Everyone, yes EVERYONE, carries the BRCA genes. However, not everyone has a mutation. If you have a family member with a mutation, it does not mean you will have it too. (Note: mutations can happen in any generation.) If you want to get tested, talk to your doctor or a genetic counselor.

The mutation doesn’t discriminate based on whether you are male or female either. My general surgeon (see below) has the same mutation and will be having a mastectomy in the near future as well.

Breast cancer is not so much dependent on your family history as much as the genetic component. However, your family history will make your risk (if you have the mutation) higher if there are direct members with cancer (ie mom, grandma, dad, grandad). When you get results, there’s an actual risk range they discuss with you and it’s different for everyone.

Day after surgery. Best surgeon ever!

How has the mastectomy changed your life or what hasn’t changed that you thought might? There’s no going back to what I once knew as “normal.” There’s a new normal now and I’m still adjusting to it. I opted for a reduction as well as the reconstruction. So, I figured all my clothes would fit better…wrong! That’s been a huge, albeit superficial, thing to adjust to. The whole process made me realize that my breasts don’t make me, I make me. And that what I want my children to see. The mastectomy has also opened the doors for so many great conversations with women who’ve had the same thing or have contemplated the testing.

Date night, two months post op, and first dress I purchased with my new measurements in mind.

And not that I thought it would change, but the love my husband has shown throughout the past 6 months has been amazing.

What can friends or loved ones do to best support someone in a similar situation? On the flip side, what are some things they may want to not do. Lol. Don’t ask if we want or need meals after surgery…just bring them. Everyone needs to eat. Haha

Be a listening ear and go to appointments if you can. Doctors throw a LOT of information at patients and even if you write stuff down, you still forget.

Once the initial post-operative healing is over, that’s when real healing begins. Please continue to ask how your friend is doing.

Do NOT call it a boob job. It’s not a lift, or an augmentation. It is reconstructive surgery. I have nothing left to augment after the removal of all breast tissue.

Don’t assume a person has cancer if they are choosing this route. And do NOT ask if they considered other options before deciding on a surgery.

Lastly, the only person who can crack jokes about my foobs (fake boobs) is me. You can laugh, but don’t make a joke at my expense. I’m still grieving and humor is a great coping mechanism.

I’m quite open about my experience, if you see me in person, and more random fellow mutants have seen my breasts than even my family. I am happy to answer any questions you have or will steer you towards someone who might answer it better.

Lastly, my journey is far from over. The final step in the mastectomy healing will be tattoos. As I opted to not keep my nipples (a tiny cancer risk I wasn’t willing to take), I figured that if I’m going to have tattoos (many opt for amazing 3D nipple tattoos) they’d be epic. So 1-2 years post op, I’ll be getting a killer chest piece to cover my tattoos. **If you have a great tattoo artist you’d like to recommend, let me know!**

As for procedures, I will be having a complete hysterectomy this summer. That will be the last surgery (Lord willing), with regards to the BRCA1 stuff. I’ll always do self exams on my chest, and follow recommendations from my doctors for skin checks and such, but now I won’t have to worry about whether I’ll become another statistic in the fight against breast cancer. I’ve already beat it!!

Recent trip to Gatlinburg, by myself, to renew and recharge.

You can find me on social media. I use them to document my fitness/wellness journey. I tend to share more on Instagram but have a running page on Facebook as well. I would LOVE to have you follow my journey.

IG: @willrunforsweettea

FB: Will Run For Sweet Tea

What’s happening?

It's been a while since I wrote and two months since my race. I'm still super bummed I didn't finish the Keys100 but more bummed that I haven't gotten my running mojo back.

Just before the race, I had blood work done through my doctor. First, how about a little back story?

If you've followed any runner, for any amount of time, you know we don't hold back when it comes to sharing. Is very similar to being a medical professional: there's nothing off-limits to discuss in the lunch room. Anyway…most runners talk about their typical training/race rituals. They usually include (upon waking) light breakfast and coffee, bathroom visit (thank you coffee), hydrate, run. Add in women's issues and you have even more bodily functions we have to deal with. This backstory will be no different. I've never had regular cycles and after my youngest turned three, my menstrual issues got worse. No real reason for them to either, so I implored the help of a new gynecologist. Both of my children were born with midwives so I knew I wanted to get established with a more local doctor for routine labs and such. So I went in to discuss my issues and the conversation went to "Pelvic ultrasounds, possible birth control options (for hormonal regulation), and the like." I casually mentioned that my mom, a 2-time breast cancer warrior had recently gotten the BRCA blood test. At the time, I want sure which one (BRCA1 or BRCA2) and my doctor wanted to find out so we could discuss options.

The next week I had my ultrasound done and the results were clear. Yay! But I also had the privilege of telling the doctor that my mom's BRCA mutation was BRCA1. I had already decided that I would have the same genetic testing done to see if I did too. She asked if I was sure and I eagerly signed the consent form.

By May 8, I had my results: BRCA1 positive. The race was 12 days away. So, I had more motivation to pound the pavement. And think, and think some more. As soon as the doctor told me, I knew what my choice would be. You see, there are basically three options for mutants like me
1) Semi-annual MRIs/Mammograms/Ultrasounds
2) Take an anti-cancer drug (Tamoxifen) for 20+ years
Or
3)A prophylactic bilateral mastectomy

There was never a doubt in my mind that I would be choosing #3. I have two young children and refuse to make them go through me being sick with breast cancer and subsequent treatment. This way, they are just seeing me recover from a night at the hospital (in the simplest terms).

From the gynecologist, I immediately marched to the end of the plaza and made an appointment with a surgeon to discuss my options.

The worst thing I did was join all the BRCA "support" groups I could. Ugh. So many women in various stages of recovery/surgery/hate/love/etc. It was all too overwhelming. I have since connected with a select few groups and individuals who, I feel, are most supportive of my wants and desires.

Anyway, first was a baseline mammogram. I'm going to be honest. This was a piece of cake. But DAAAANG. That solidified my not wanting to have semi-annual imaging done. I can not imagine the anxiety that accompanies these tests. Every. Single. Time.
Waiting to go back

These choir member "robes" are all the rage this year

Praise the lord my results were clear. However, I found that I have dense tissue and once the mammogram came back clear, I was still required to get an ultrasound. Yay…more random techs squishing the goods 😒

Next up was meeting the general surgeon (GS). This was about a month after my results came back. He was jovial, real, and cut to the chase. There was no BS and my husband liked him. That was half the battle. He then referred me to a plastic surgeon he works almost exclusively with and ordered a breast MRI.

During all this, I was running off and on, and trying to get in some walks when I could. But, really… the motivation was gone by now.

A couple weeks after I met the GS, it was time to meet the plastic surgeon. His office staff was amazing and he had a great air about him as well. I was warned he might have an "off" sense of humor, but I felt nothing off about the visit. We decided on a reduction (yay!) in conjunction with the reconstruction.
Side note: a mastectomy with reconstruction is NOT a Boob job. There will be no breast tissue left. It will only be implants.
In doing a reduction, the excess skin can be used to help sling and support the implants. I'm ready to be able to easily purchase a sports bra off the shelf and not have to order it!

A couple of weeks later I had my MRI. What a crappy experience. There were no issues, really, and my results came back fine, but the supine position with your arms above your head, while your breasts are cradled in their own little cages, and the majority of your upper body is being supported by only your sternum SUCKS!!! And you end up with some excellent face creases. NOT! lol
another choir robe…pink this time

Originally, I was told that the surgery could be 4-6 weeks from the initial surgery consultation. That would have been last week. However, between the doctor's summer vacation (he, too, has young children) and our vacations, it was difficult to plan follow-up appointments. But we got them planned

Tomorrow is the day we schedule everything. I really want to go for a run, but now there's a tropical storm blowing across the state. So now you know a little more about why I've not run as much. Sorry the post was so long. But I don't think I could be a very good advocate for health, wellness, & fitness or be a good PT, if I didn't share the importance of preventative medicine.

Race recap Keys100 

If you follow my Facebook group page, you know that I did not finish the Keys100 50k. In fact, it was a month ago today. 

My crew


My training was pretty sound, nutrition on point (thanks Relentless Dietetics), Swiftwick socks kepts my feet dry (along with my Anti Monkey Butt powder), Engo patches were decreasing friction, and my Nuun hydration was hydrating, but the race gods were not on my side. The first 2.67 miles was full of self-doubt and the next 10 miles I developed a nagging hip ache that just wouldn’t stop. 

The course view did not suck


The aid station volunteers were amazing and even asked if I wanted to have them stretch out my hip. Unfortunately, had I gotten on the ground to stretch, I don’t think I would have gotten back up. 

Knowing what I do, I knew that had I continued to run, I would have been injured. So, I conceded and had my first DNF ever. And while I did shed a few tears, I know I did the best I could at that time. 

Thinking back on the weekend, I still absolutely LOVE this race, but I really feel like I would be more happy as a volunteer. So, next year…who knows?!  Until then, I’ll run for fun and fitness and focus on other health issues going on (more on that in a later post).  

The end of this journey and the beginning of another

Happy running!!

465+ 

The last two weeks of my challenge had me going through all the house to find items. I’ve now got two empty dresser drawers and I could probably fit the remaining things into even few drawers. I got rid of over 465 items. 


I’m sure I’ll continue to purge over the next few weeks/months. 

But in purging everything, and ultimately finding more space for running gear, I came across a TON of greeting cards and photographs. While I realized that I loved running across them, they have all been sitting all over the house, in bins, baskets, boxes, etc. and not being enjoyed. So…my next challenge, will be a purge of these “memories.”

Wait, though. I’m not just going to throw out my photos or recycle my greeting cards. I have a plan for them. I’d love for you to follow along with me in this journey. If you’d like to do this challenge with me, be sure to tag me using the hashtag #PicOrToss and my Instagram @willrunforsweettea

I’ll explain more tomorrow and there won’t be tasks every day, especially since I’ll be in Key West for a few of those days. 

Even Less is Even More 

Week two of my minimalist challenge has come and gone. I’ve cleaned out over 100 items and made room for almost all of my running gear. It’s still on the floor in my bedroom, but there’s less stuff on the floor with it. 


My husband even noticed there was less stuff. That’s a start. This morning we took four bags of clothes and two boxes of household items to a local church’s thrift shop. It always feels good to be able to help out the community! The kids hopped out and took bags in too. This is an especially great time of year to start over and to help others have a new beginning. I mean, with Easter tomorrow, I’m extremely humbled to be starting fresh and it’s not even a fraction of the fresh start Christ provided us at Calvary. ✝️

So, if you’re following along with my journey, on Instagram, or just the updates here, I hope this can be a blessing to/for you. 

Less is More 

I finished the first 7 days of my minimalist challenge. If you aren’t familiar with this challenge, each day of April, I get rid of the number of items that correspond with the date. So, on the first I got rid of one thing, one the second..2, and so on. By the end of the month I’ll have gotten rid of over 600 items! 

Again, what does this have to do with running? Well, former, I’m finding that my running gear (shoes, socks, foot kit items, first aid, night gear, etc.) are most important to me right now. The problem is, they take up a lot of room. Well…not a ton of room. But enough that I need to clear out some clutter. 

So, I’ve gotten rid of 28+ items in a week and I’ve been able to downsize even my running stuff that’s worn out and past its prime. 


Here’s to week two!