Opening Wounds

I'm not sure why I'm sharing these pictures. Maybe it's because I've been thinking so much lately about my cousin going through his treatments, or maybe it's because I want people to really understand how much a little pill can change someones life, or maybe it's because I feel like I'm supposed to.  I'm not fully comfortable with sharing these pictures, but I hope that at least one person can relate to this condition, and find comfort in knowing that there is a light at the end of the tunnel.

While I was on the medication, I avoided the camera like nobody's business. I hated the way I looked (although I hid it well. People often commented on how well I was taking it all, but they didn't know the torment I was dealing with inside) and I didn't want any reminders of the "moon face." If I avoided mirrors, and didn't see pictures of myself, I could pretend that I was normal.

On a trip to Seattle with my friend Darrelyn, I decided that I wanted photographic evidence of the fun that we were having. I had been on the medication for close to a year, and was feeling more confident in who I was because I was "used" to it. Most of the pictures ended up being trashed or burned, but I kept a few around to remind myself of what I was.

One of the {truly many} positive things that came from me getting sick is the constant reminder to not be judgmental. I, for the first time, understood deeply that the way we look is hardly ever our own fault. Are someones scars from a past tragedy, or is someone rude and harsh because they've been hurt and can't deal with their emotions? When I find myself upset with someone, or not understanding why someone acts or looks the way they do, I pull out these pictures and remind myself that we sometimes are a product of something much bigger than ourselves and compassion (and prayer) quickly follow.

And just to prove that it wasn't the {horrible} short hair that was making my face look large:

Although I've been in remission for 3 years now, I don't think I've ever fully dealt with the changes that happened. Most days I feel normal, and just go about my daily tasks with no thought for the past, but recently I've been remembering a lot. I feel like God is working on something in me, and I'm hoping that it comes to fruition soon, because I'm ready to put it all behind me. I am opening myself up to some hurt, but I'm hoping that if there is someone out there who needs support for something they are going through, that I can somehow help.


Last Ditch Effort

 In the spring of 2003, I was diagnosed with a condition called Dermatomyositis.  I was an "odd" case (although, the condition itself is quite rare and they don't have many cases to pull from) and my treatment was extreme from the moment of diagnosis.  I was treated with intense rounds of steroids and pill form chemo (check out that warning!  scary stuff).  The condition in each patient is unique, but one thing all documented cases had in common was cancer.  Each patient either had intestinal, breast, or ovarian cancer.  I had to visit quite a few specialists for routine screenings, and during a colonoscopy they found cancerous polyps in my intestines.  Since I was already taking Methotrexate (chemo), they just upped my dosage to combat the cancer polyps (all 10 polyps were removed, but they wanted to make sure they wouldn't return).
In February 2007 I was deemed "in remission."  YAY!

All that said, I have never quite felt the same since "getting sick."  Before I was diagnosed I was quite the athlete. I played all kinds of sports, and lived on a farm so there was plenty of activity to keep me busy.  Once my muscles started to weaken (the progressed state of my condition is a severe decrease in muscle strength due to cancerous-like marbling in the muscles) it was actually painful to do prolonged activity.  I don't want to bore you with the details, but my life changed dramatically, and has never quite been the same.   
If you are interested in any "light" reading and wonder what prolonged use of medicinal steroids due to the body and psyche, just google Prednisone side effects.  NOT pretty stuff.

I've always felt like there was something off about my body.  I gained over 65lbs while on the steroids, and haven't been able to lose more than 15 of it.  Before getting sick I was bigger girl, but I always had an hourglass figure.  I never had to deal with having a belly before, but that's where I gained the most weight.  (the Prednisone causes what's referred to as "truncal gain")  Exercise (in the form of running like a hamster in a wheel) and diet (as suggested by several friends and blogs that I follow) has not been working like I'd hoped.

la sigh...

BUT, hope is on the horizon again!  I met with Hilary Horton Brown (Boise State University athletics dept nutritionist and personal trainer) about my needs.  She is a cancer survivor herself (YAY!!!!) and totally understands the side effects my body has experienced. She is intrigued by my medical history and is making it her personal goal to get me back to a healthy state while righting the wrongs that are prevalent in my current body.  Woo hoo!

I am so excited/relieved to have help!  I have been floating along for 4 years trying to figure out a system that works, and obviously haven't been successful.  I look forward to updating this blog/journal with positive changes in both my body and psyche soon!


It's Not Fair

I'm not going to pretend that I'm so strong that I can accept life's up and downs with a smile on my face and go about my happy way.

Do I still live my life for God even though I can't understand why He would allow pain and suffering?
Does it come easily?

Let me explain.
My mom and grandma are in Seattle right now staying with my cousin who has leukemia.  His wife is going out of town on work, and he needs someone to help watch the kids, and take him to his numerous doctors appointments.  My mom has called me a few times to talk about how difficult it is to watch him go through his medication and treatments.  She is reliving the brave face she had to hold together when watching me go through the same struggles.  I didn't have leukemia, but the treatment (steroids and chemo) for my condition is the same. Just hearing about the stages of weight gain, mood swings, insane hunger, and painful inflammation of muscles and joints was enough to bring back the tears that flowed for so long while going through it myself.  I am hurting for Joe and his family.  Not only is Joe in pain, but so are his wife and kids.  They don't know who he is, and can't understand or empathize with his frustration and mood swings.  I can {unfortunately} empathize all too well.  I am also hurting for my mother.  She can empathize all too well with his family.  How many hurtful things did I say to her, all too casually, while the rage from the steroids ripped through me?  Did I ever want to say those things? Of course not.  But I couldn't help it either.
I am beyond thankful to God that I am in remission, and I pray that I can stay that way, and live a long and happy, healthy life.  But I can't help but be angry that others have to go through the pain and suffering too.

My mom called again this morning to tell me that she found out a good family friend has cancer.  She started having vision problems a few weeks ago and went to a few doctors to found out what was going on.  No one could figure it out so she was sent for more tests in Salt Lake.  It turns out she has lesions of cancer in her brain, lungs and liver.  All in stage 4.  This means the cancer has both spread and progressed too far to have any kind of hope for a cure.  They are going to start rounds of chemo immediately in order to {hopefully} slow the growth down and give her more time.
My friend Janelle said it best when she wrote to me this morning, "All you can do is look at the sky and yell, 'Why?! What is this good for?'"
What purpose could there possibly be to strike down a human being with a slow, painful death sentence?!  I don't understand it, and I'm not going to pretend to be okay with it.  I'm going to continue to pray for a miracle.  I'm going to pray for strength for her and her family.  And I'm going to pray for some miracle of finding a prevention and a cure for cancer, because I honestly don't know if I can live my life constantly finding out people I love and care for are suffering and dying.


The Super Fabulous Weekend

I had a great 6 mile run with my team Saturday morning! It was so fun to meet everyone and finally feel like I was getting the "team in training experience."
Here is some of the team in post-6-mile-run-high

After our run I had a lovely day spent in the sunshine. I spent a few hours at my favorite coffee shop talking with a good friend, and then headed over to the pool where Jed, Danielle, and Joie were enjoying the water and rays. How cute is Joie's swim suit?!?

Jed and Danielle had plans with friends for the night, so I got to take Joie with me, and we had a great time! She spent the night at my apartment and we had lots of bonding time Sunday morning.

We had bath time...

Did some yoga...

Read some great books with breakfast...

And went on a road trip to Buhl.

Once she woke up, she needed her staple road trip food - "ish"

Joie is spending some time at Nana and Papa's this week, and I had to go to Twin for a photo shoot, so she rode down with me.  We had a great time, and I'm so thankful they live close and I'm able to spend this time with my niece.  She's such a wonderful little person, and I can't wait to see her grow into a beautiful woman.

I got my kisses good-bye, and left her in great hands.  


A Much Needed Vacation

Since I was unable to run the marathon in San Diego this past weekend (read why not here), I was faced with either staying home for my vacation time, or doing something else.  I'm not one to waste vacation pay, so I decided to head to Seattle!

I had a great time with my cousins, and enjoyed Seattle immensely... as per usual :)

The drive out there involved much rain, and many trees... heavenly.

It was a long trip in the car by myself for the first 5 hours, so I kept myself
entertained taking silly pictures with pretzels.

After five hours alone in a moving vehicle, I was excited to see my cousins
and have a chance to stretch my legs before the rest of the trip to Seattle.

Road trip food!

Our first night in Seattle we had fancy drinks at a downtown martini bar.

Ahh, Pike's Place Market.  ♥

And my beloved Alki Beach... ♥♥♥

At the market, Jill and I found a ridiculously large tub of Nutella

And I got to visit my Aunt and Uncle ♥

And see the most beautiful sunset ever.

All-in-all, a super fabulous mini-vacation!!

A Little Reminder

Now that I'm able to run, I must.

Taking almost 3 weeks off of running (to let my ankle heal) has made getting started again more difficult than I would have liked.  I am having to remind myself the reasons I am doing this.  The 5lbs I gained back is also motivating me to get off my couch and get back on the track!