Friday, July 30, 2010


One year ago today I was diagnosed with Stage 1B2 cervical cancer. It's been an interesting journey and one that changed my life, for the better, surprisingly. Throughout this experience I've felt a range of emotions and feelings - fear, anger, hope, gratitude, frustration -and have spent a lot of time thinking about my life, what I want and who I want to be.

These thoughts weave through my mind daily. And, although I don't talk about it much, the fear of recurrence weighs heavily on my mind. In talking with other cancer survivors I'm learning that this will lessen as time goes by.

Recently, I've learned that recovering from cancer treatment takes a long time! I've had a few conversations with some cancer survivors who were competitive athletes and they said it takes years. I had to be patient during treatment (surgery, chemotherapy and radiation) but I wasn't prepared to be patient after treatment! However, I have been struggling this summer with my fitness so I'm going to listen to the advice and focus on recovery, not racing. Having said that, I still have a few races that I'm going to be doing but for fun. After all, I love mountain biking so why stop?

This weekend is the Wausau 24 -- a 24 hour mountain bike relay race that I'm doing with 3 friends. I will be a fun weekend and a very fitting way for me to celebrate my first year as a cancer survivor.

Happy riding!

Monday, June 21, 2010

Not checking it off my bucket list

I was hoping I would be able to write and tell you that I finished but not today. I finished 2 laps - a total of 66 miles which took me 8 and a half hours. Am I content with that? Not really. Did I try my hardest? Yes. Did it hurt? Yes? Did I have fun? Yes!

The race was perfect in many ways - great singletrack, perfect weather, no mechanicals, and no injuries or wipeouts. The first lap was the funnest I've had on my bike in a long time. I felt like I was on a roller coaster much of the time. The 2nd lap was really hard and took all of my will to finish. Funny how so much could change from one lap to the other. After that lap I was pretty much done with endurance racing. Now I feel differently.

Today the"could haves, should haves" are going through my head. However, the reality is I just didn't have enough fitness built back up yet and that instead it was test of wills to just get through what I did. So, I'm chalking it up as a good training ride for all the other fun races ahead of me.

Happy trails!

Friday, June 18, 2010

A long and winding road

.......and what a winding road it has been. I started this crazy love of endurance racing with my first attempt of the Lumberjack in 2006. Little did I know how that decision would change my life. Then I was going through periods of melancholy, struggling to find my way, trying figure out what kind of life I want to live and growing into person I want to be. Today, I feel like I've come full circle. That first Lumberjack led me down a path to figuring it out, and surviving cancer affirmed it. Now I am leading the life I want and have become the person I want to be. All this beginning and ending with the Lumberjack. I never planned on doing the Lumberjack until a month ago so I find it my thoughts today quite serendipitous.

Tomorrow is the Lumberjack. I have two goals - have fun and finish!

I'll post up how it went but please send me good your good karma, thoughts, and prayers tomorrow.

Friday, May 21, 2010

The Lumberjack

This race has been on my bucket list for several years. I attempted it in 2006 but had 3 time-consuming mechanicals and didn't make the cutoff. It was my first attempt at an endurance mountain bike race (other than team 24 hour events). It was an experience and I'm very glad for it. Sure I was disappointed that I didn't finish the race but knew that I did what I could. And, I rode 60+ miles which was by far the most I've ever ridden on single-track. It was this race that fueled my interest in endurance races and since then that's been my focus. And, for the record, I finally hit the magic 100 mile target during a 12-hour race two years later.

Last summer, before I found out I had cancer, I had thought about trying the Lumberjack again in 2010. It's something I kept thinking about but in the end decided not to because I was so unsure of how I would recover from chemotherapy and radiation. I instead decided to focus on getting healthy while still doing some endurance races.

Having said all that, I am now doing the Lumberjack. It's a complete last minute decision but I'm really excited about it. Registration has been closed for some time but a friend, who was registered, is injured and can't do the race. I'm bummed for him, but excited for me.

I think it's totally insane that I'm doing the race with only a month out but what the heck, it will be fun and I will be doing something I love. Will it be hard? YES but cancer was harder.

Sunday, May 2, 2010

Off to the races!

Today I completed my first race of the season and was it ever fun. For my mountain biking friends who haven't done the WORS Iola Bump and Jump, I highly recommend it. It's a great early season race - short, fast, flowy singletrack with some good climbs and just a fun atmosphere/vibe. People are happy to be racing their bikes again and seeing each other after a winter hiatus. It was like old home week for many. And, it was a bluebird day, perfect for a ride in the woods.

I was unsure about how I would do and set some pretty simple goals for myself - have fun, finish, and no "could haves, should haves." I'm feeling stronger but didn't know what to expect with the first race of the year, especially the first race after cancer treatment last summer/fall. I exceeded my expectations and am very happy how it all went. First and foremost - I had a FUN!

I always hate the start but as I lined up I tried to focus on the good things I've learned from yoga - breath, focus, pay attention to what you need to be doing and not the other stuff around you. Also good lessons for life. I was nervous at first but then I kept reminding myself that I've done much harder/scarier things and not to worry.

The first lap was fun and fast. I even got into a pack on the single track and it was awesome to be actually chasing some ladies. The second lap was slower, no wagon train but I did trade places with several women. The third lap was slower yet but I rode all the long climbs (had to walk 2 short ones) and worked hard to keep my pace going and finishing strong. In the end - I gave it all I could, finished and had fun!

As I get stronger my thoughts of cancer push deeper into my memory (yeah!). However, this Tuesday, I have my second 3-month checkup with my oncologist (which I will have every 3 months for the next 2 years) so it's at the forefront of my mind these days. And, she said that I most likely will have to have another CT scan after this appointment. That should be confirmed on Tuesday. I'm nervous and anxious for Tuesday to be over and hope I hear the words "everything looks great." Please send good karma my way Tuesday!

Sunday, April 11, 2010

Spring has sprung!

Today is an amazingly beautiful spring day. Birds are chirping, woodpeckers are pecking and I'm able to sit on my patio typing this blog. And to make things even better, work has been amazingly cooperative. Usually this time of year, I'm stuck in the stuffy halls of the MN State Capitol but for various reasons, things are at a major lull. I just hope when it does get busy, things happen quickly and legislators go home, sooner rather than later.

Over the Easter holiday, Kevin and I went out to Fruita, CO for a few days of mountain biking. The first day was a complete bust because of rain but we were able to ride Friday, Saturday and Sunday. The best day was Friday by far - we did a 5 hour ride on CO singletrack without covering the same trail twice. It was fun, rocky singletrack with great views of the Colorado River.

The best part of the last two weeks is that I'm finally feeling like my fitness is back. I was able to do the 5 hour ride with no problem and I'm feeling stronger and faster. Today, I went for a mtb ride at Lebanon Hills and did by normal sequence of loops in the same time before cancer.

So, I'm really excited about training and focusing on racing this year. It seems that I have some good karma -- work is cooperating, my fitness level is greatly improved since finishing cancer treatment and my motivation level is very high. I can't wait!

Friday, March 26, 2010

What health care reform means to me

Late summer and early fall was a complete blur to me because I was in the midst of a cancer diagnosis and cancer treatment. As a result, I was not at all engaged in the health care fight in Congress. I should have been but to be honest, I was recovering from a radical hysterectomy, in a fog of depression, and exhausted and nauseous from chemotherapy and radiation.

However, it's been four and a half months since my last treatment. I had my first 3 month checkup and the doctors have given me a good prognosis. I finally feel like I'm back to myself and living a happy and full life. And now, I've been paying attention to the debate and am very happy the Democrats in Congress fought for this. It affects me personally but I also have a different lens to view the world with and passage of this bill, as Joe Biden so aptly stated, is a big F@!? deal! To see how it impacts me directly, read this article.

To me this video expresses a lot of what I've seen lately from the other side - a lot of anger and opposition without any real solutions. And, I don't consider allowing people to shop for health insurance from other states a real solution.