Saturday Run

It was way to icy to run outside and the group run had a location change so instead I went to the gym with a fellow DFMC runner Heather to put in our mileage. I put in 13 miles on the arc trainer with the 4.68 miles I did on Monday and 10.4 miles I did on Wednesday I am at 28.08 miles for the week which is the maximum amount of mileage on my team’s training schedule. I’m in great shape!

Next week, the team will be running in Wellesley at the Boston Sports Club and I look forward to running with my teammates again.

Weight Wednesday

Today is Weight Wednesday. I decided to not lift today just in case the group run is canceled in Saturday. Instead I went to the gym and did 10.4 miles on the arc trainer since the running conditions outside are still horrible from yesterday’s storm leaving Massachusetts with about three feet of snow.

Today’s question relates to strength. How do cancer survivors thrive on inner strength?

What is resilience? For a cancer survivor, it might be defined as the ability to recover, the strength to move forward, and the awareness of the needs of your own body.

Resilience is a strength that comes from within and is self-motivating. Research has shown that cancer survivors, when questioned, many times identify their own inner strength as one of the primary sources of strength as they experience and recover from a cancer diagnosis and treatment.

Many cancer survivors can identify with this concept, although it may be hard to put into words at first. Here are a few thoughts to consider as a cancer survivor reflects on their own resilience:

How do you bounce back from difficult situations?

What are your coping mechanisms?

How do you gain strength and courage to move forward?

What motivates you?

Are you able to ask for help when you need it?

What is your support system?

What inspires you and makes you feel whole as a person?

Cancer survivors have this amazing ability to survive and thrive despite the physical and emotional stress of cancer.
If there are any cancer survivors who are reading my blog please share your thoughts on this topic. I would love to hear your opinion on what you feel is resilience and how this inner strength has helped you in your experience.

Motivation Monday

Today is Motivation Monday. This morning I went to the gym and did the arc trainer for a half an hour since I had a doctor’s appointment this morning. I did 4.68 miles in a half an hour.

Today’s question relates to cancer patients getting a cold. What happens if cancer patients get a cold while on chemotherapy?

When a cancer patient is undergoing chemotherapy treatment, it almost always lowers his white blood cell count. Sometimes this happens only for a short period of time and the white blood cell count bounces back, other times it becomes an ongoing problem. Because white blood cells are the body’s weapons against infection, having a low white blood cell count weakens the cancer patient’s immune system. This means that when cancer patients catch a cold or flu, if their white count is low, they may not be able to fight off the infection as well as they normally would.

In this case, a cold or flu can quickly become more serious, leading to a high fever, pneumonia, or other complications. It’s important for caregivers to understand the causes and symptoms of low white blood cell counts, so we’ve put together a longer article on the subject with more information.

When you’re caring for a cancer patient and he catches a cold or flu, watch him closely for signs that the illness is becoming more serious. If his fever rises above 100 degrees or he develops a cough, chronic headache, or other symptoms of a bronchial or sinus infection, call his doctor.

Sunday Funday

Today is Sunday Funday. Unfortunately the group run was cancelled yesterday so today because the roads are still very icy I am putting my miles in on the arc trainer. I plan on doing 14.2 miles on the arc trainer today plus adding on the 7.8 miles this week will be a total of 22 miles for the week.

Today’s question relates to fatigue. What causes fatigue in cancer patients?

What is fatigue?

Fatigue can be confused with tiredness. Everyone gets tired. In fact, it is an expected feeling after certain activities or at the end of the day. Usually, we know why we’re tired and a good night’s sleep will solve the problem.

Fatigue is less precise, less cause-and-effect. Fatigue is a daily lack of energy; an unusual or excessive whole-body tiredness, not relieved by sleep. It can be acute (lasting a month or less) or chronic (lasting from 1 month to 6 months or longer). Fatigue can have a profound negative impact on a person’s ability to function and quality of life.

What is cancer-related fatigue?

Cancer-related fatigue (CRF – sometimes simply called “cancer fatigue”) is one of the most common side effects of cancer and its treatments. It is often described as “paralyzing.” Usually, it comes on suddenly, does not result from activity or exertion, and is not relieved by rest or sleep. It may not end – even when treatment is complete.

What causes CRF?

The exact reason for cancer fatigue is unknown. CRF may be related to both the disease process and treatments, including surgery, chemotherapy, and radiation therapy. Cancer treatments commonly associated with CRF are:

Chemotherapy. Any chemotherapy drug may result in fatigue. This may vary from person to person. Some people say it lasts only a couple of days. Others feel the CRF persists through and beyond completion of treatment. Drugs such as vincristine, vinblastine, and cisplatin often cause CRF.

Radiation therapy. Radiation therapy can cause cumulative fatigue (fatigue that increases over time). This can occur regardless of treatment site. CRF usually lasts from 3-4 weeks after treatment stops, but can continue for up to 2-3 months.

Bone marrow transplant. This aggressive form of treatment can cause CRF that lasts up to one year.

Fit Friday

Today I went to the gym and went on the arc trainer for an hour. Tomorrow a big snow storm will be hitting Massachusetts so I am waiting to hear if the group run will still occur. Unfortunately, what this means is that the Patient Partner Meet Your Match Party is cancelled as well. I will have to wait and give everyone an update once I meet my patient partner and provide as much information as I can about him.

Today’s question relates to winter weather workout. What can cancer patients do in the winter for a workout?

If it’s not too cold:

  • Take the dog for a walk.
  • Try a winter sport, like skiing, snow-shoeing, or ice-skating.
  • Shovel snow. (Shoveling snow can be really strenuous. If it’s been a while since you’ve exercised regularly, discuss your plan and your health with your doctor.)

If it’s unbearably cold outside, try these indoor activities to get your heart pumping:

  • Meet a friend at the mall and walk some laps.
  • Do leg lifts or sit ups while you watch your favorite TV show.
  • Put on your favorite music and dance.
  • Clean your house. Scrubbing, mopping, and vacuuming all burn calories.

Adults should engage in at least 30 minutes of moderate-to-vigorous physical activity – above your usual day-to-day activities — on 5 or more days a week. Forty-five minutes to an hour is even better.

If you do plan to spend a lot of time outside, remember to tuck a tube of sunscreen in your winter coat.

While some of us may only think of sun protection when we’re spending a lazy summer day by the pool or at the beach, ultraviolet (UV) rays don’t disappear when the temperatures drop. While the sun may not be as strong in your part of the world during the winter months, its UV rays are reflected off of water and snow, and they are just as damaging now as they are in summer.

The most important way to lower your risk of skin cancer is to protect yourself from UV rays. That means a number of things: remembering to cover your head, wear sunglasses, and apply sunscreen with an SPF factor of 15 or more to any part of your body that’s exposed. Put it on before you go out, and reapply it 20 minutes later to be sure you’re covered. And don’t skip it just because it looks overcast outside: UV light still comes through on hazy days.

And don’t forget to protect your lips by using a lip balm with SPF. Protect your eyes by investing in wrap-around sunglasses with at least 99% UV absorption to block damaging UVA and UVB light.

Weight Wednesday

Today I went to the gym and did an hour and a half on the arc trainer. I skipped weight training today since I need to focus on getting in my mileage for the week since I will not be at the group run on Saturday. I already put in 7.8 miles on Monday and today I am putting in 7.8 miles more. The minimum mileage for this week is 16 miles and the maximum amount of mileage for the week is 19. So far, I am in good shape with putting in 15.6 miles for the week.

Today’s question relates to pain. How do breast cancer patients deal with pain in the cold weather?

Breast cancer patients who have had expanders put in after bilateral mastectomy deal with pain from the cold weather. To fix this issue, they put on extra layers of clothing and even a puffy vest because the pectoral muscle retracts in cold weather and this causes them pain.

Motivation Monday

Today I went to the gym and did an hour and a half on the arc trainer. I am going to put more miles in on the arc trainer during the week this week instead of at the group run since I will be away in NYC for a family event this weekend and I will be missing the group run.

At Saturday’s group run, I got to talking with some fellow DFMC teammates and one of these teammates is a part of a group of team members who are in remission from cancer and these people are considered living proof from DFCI. This woman battled stage two breast cancer and had a double mastectomy last year. She is now in remission. We got to talking about cancer awareness and about when she was battling cancer she did not want to buy or wear anything associated with pink or a pink cancer ribbon. We got to talking about this since she saw I was selling my breast cancer ribbon running socks at the group run. She said when she was battling cancer that many people came up to her and asked her why she did not wear anything that associated her with the disease and she said it was because she did not want cancer to beat her she wanted to beat cancer. With those thoughts, she beat the disease and on Saturday she bought a couple of pairs of pink socks from me and she said this will be the first time I am sharing my awareness for this disease since I am proud of what I accomplished because I beat cancer and cancer didn’t beat me. She said while she is training for the marathon she will wear these socks while she is running to show her awareness of the disease and the socks will help her persevere though the tough parts of her runs because she will wear them with pride.

Today’s question is related to breast cancer awareness. What ways can cancer patients support awareness of the disease?

Cancer patients can show their awareness of the disease by wearing breast cancer ribbon pins, socks, shirts, earrings, necklaces, and scarfs. If they are well enough they can participate in cancer walks or races such as: Making Strides Against Breast Cancer walks, Susan G. Komen Race for the Cure, Susan G. Komen Breast Cancer 3 Day walk, Boston Marathon (supporting DFMC), the BAA Half Marathon presented by DFCI, or the Jimmy Fund Walk. All of these components or events show awareness of the disease.

Now I ask you, how do you show awareness for this disease?

Second DFMC Group Run

Today I ran 6.2 miles (10K) at the group run starting at the Boston Sports Club in Waltham. I ran with my Boston Marathon running partner who ran my first marathon with me from Hopkinton to Boston. I ran a total of 21.8 miles this week if I include the two 7.8 miles runs on the arc trainer. This week I will be putting more miles in on the arc trainer and nothing on the weekend since I will be in NYC. I will be going to the group run on the 24th in Wayland at the Longfellow club afterwards is the Patient Partner Meet Your Match party. Can’t wait to meet my new patient partner.


Thankful Thursday

Today I am doing a special edition blog post called Thankful Thursday. The weather is cold outside today and the temperature is 1 degree. Today I went to the gym at 537 this morning to get my miles in before the hilly run on Saturday. I put in 7.8 miles on the arc trainer today to equal 15.6 miles for the week already including Tuesday’s run. On Saturday l plan on doing low mileage since it is a hard hilly course to train on and the group run starts at the Boston Sports Club in Waltham.

During my runs and daily I have been thinking about my family and friends who are battling cancer. They are battling breast cancer, throat cancer, lung cancer, skin cancer, and prostate cancer. Currently, most if not all of them are undergoing radiation or chemotherapy and I hope and pray everyday that they will get healthy and be in remission soon.

The reason for this special blog post is to list things I am thankful for in no particular order.

1. Family and friends – I am thankful for their unconditional love and support during the good and bad times.

2. Legs and feet – I am thankful for them to give me the ability to run and train for the Boston Marathon and help me get places I need to go daily.

3. Health – Everyday I am thankful that I am healthy. Even though I do battle foot and leg soreness once and a while it does not get me down.

4. Platelet donation – I am thankful for the ability to donate platelets at DFCI for patients who are battling cancer since I know that people struggle with giving blood and I am thankful that I am able to do this task.

5. Donors – I am thankful for their donations and support to my fundraising campaign and they help me persevere when it is cold outside or when the training runs are tough I think of them to get me through.

6. Food and drink – I am thankful for the ability to put food and drinks on the table at every meal to provide me with the energy I need to tackle everyday.

7. Bed – I am thankful for a bed to sleep on each and every night to get the energy I need to function everyday.

8. Clothing (coat, hats, mittens) – I am thankful for these items to help me battle the cold weather. I think of people in poverty who do not have access to these items on a cold day like today. Donate your unused on gently worn costs to Antons Cleaners to help people in need keep warm during the cold season.

9. Heat – I am thankful for heat to keep me warm everyday and night whether it be at work or home.

10 – Home – I am thankful for a welcoming place to live and a loving husband and dog to come home to each and everyday.

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Prepping for the hills/How do the cold temperatures affect cancer patients?

Today I went to the gym and did an hour and a half on the arc trainer. This would mean I did 7.8 miles. I am putting more miles on during the week this week instead of at the group run on Saturday because this weekend’s group run is at the Boston Sports Club in Waltham and the course is very hilly so the less amount of mileage I can do on Saturday the better off I will be. I plan on doing 15.6 miles on the arc trainer before Saturday’s group run leaving me with at least doing 3 miles on Saturday.

Today’s question is related to weather. How do the cold temperatures affect cancer patients?

This Thursday, the temperature outside will be 0 degrees people with cancer are often at higher risk for illnesses caused by cold temperatures, such as hypothermia and frostbite.

Hypothermia develops when the body can’t produce enough heat to keep itself warm. Unfortunately, some medications and medical conditions caused by cancer or cancer treatment can interfere with the body’s ability to adjust its temperature. Dehydration, a common side effect of cancer treatment, and having a low amount of body fat may also make a person more prone to developing hypothermia when exposed to cold temperatures.

Extremely cold temperatures, can also cause unprotected skin and the underlying tissue to freeze in a matter of minutes, causing frostbite. The skin will become firm, pale, waxy, and numb. Frostbite most often occurs in the fingers, toes, nose, and ears. People being treated for cancer who have developed peripheral neuropathy (a nerve disorder) are at even greater risk because this side effect causes them to be less sensitive to temperature extremes.

So what can you do to stay as healthy as possible during this blast of arctic cold and throughout the winter?

Stay inside as much as possible when temperatures are near or below freezing (32°F, 0°C) or when cool temperatures are accompanied by high winds or rain. If you do go outside, dress in layers and wear gloves or mittens; a scarf that covers your head, neck, and face; and a hat. A hat is especially important if you have experienced hair loss.

If hot flashes, fever, vomiting, or other side effects have made you sweat, change wet clothes and bed sheets often to stay warm and dry.

Drink lots of fluids to keep your body hydrated. Consuming at least nine cups of water each day for women and 12.5 cups for men.