The best Christmas gift ever!!

Yikes, was this round hard. Nauseau hit fast and hard this time, something very new to me in the chemo-experience. Not being able to eat is a major problem for me, as I do love to eat!! I timed my chemo this time so that I would feel decent (Day 1 and 2) to take Drew to visit Santa (no Santa for Ty this year - germs are too risky with his age and my chemo) and be able to see him sing in his preschool program - both precious moments that I did not want to feel too sick to get to experience. It was a delicate balancing act to perfectly time chemo so that I could squeeze those crucial things in, but leave enough time on the other end so that I would feel good again in time to celebrate Christmas!

Despite honestly thinking that I might never make it back from "crappy Chemo-land" and ever be able to eat or drink anything (let alone Christmas brunch, cookies, mimosas, etc.) again, I finally rejoined the land of the living yesterday, and shortly after, received my most coveted Christmas gift - THERE WILL BE NO MORE CHEMO FOR ME!!!!!!!!!!!

Unfortunately, the reason chemo #6 will not be in the future for this lucky lady is that I have been experiencing some, ummmm, unpleasant GI issues which have my doctor concerned that the chemo is doing irreversible damage to my ummm, GI parts. So I do get to go see a GI doc next week, and possibly get to experience some unpleasant tests, but hey, I would do just about anything to not have to do round #6! My doctor apparently thinks that the difference between doing 5 and 6 rounds is not worth the risk of doing further damage, so 5 rounds it will be.

Needless to say, Brian and I are ecstatic. In fact, I'm not sure who is happier! We are giddy to have the major treatments behind us (I'll still get infusions of herceptin every three weeks for 7 months, but since this is not a "chemo" drug, the side effects are apparently minimal, my hair can begin to grow back, I can start doing more intense workouts again, etc.) and excited to move forward with the process of reconstruction! I never thought I'd long for fake boobs, but am so ready to feel whole and "normal" again, and if that involves having perky, albeit silicon breasts, then so be it! We're so ready to put this chapter behind us and get back to somewhat normal life again. Yes, there will still be doctor visits and surgeries to complete the reconstruction, but we can say goodbye to the really bad stuff and start looking forward to good times ahead! We are psyched to celebrate this day, and every day after it - life and health are true gifts, ones that we appreciate more than ever before.

We hope that you all will have a wonderful holiday filled with so much love and happiness, and thank you again for all your love, encouragement and support. We know we will still need it in the journey ahead, but are so happy to have weathered the worst of the storm.

Hug your loved ones and celebrate every day as the gift that it is...


Round five - bring it on!

Well here we are - hard to believe, but three weeks have already gone by and it's time again tomorrow for my friendly meeting with the chemo dragon. This time is different, though - I know now that I can and will make it through two more treatments, and then can stick a fork in this part of the "journey!"

Brian and I met with a radiation oncologist last week to determine if we will be doing radiation, and, after much research and thought, we have decided to decline radiation treatments. The benefits of doing radiation on someone like me, who underwent a double mastectomy to remove 98 - 99% of breast tissue, including a small tumor and only one positive lymph node are not conclusive, and Brian and I have decided that the risks of radiation are not worth the possible benefits. As we understand it, I have an approximately 10% chance of a local recurrence (meaning in the skin and remaining breast tissue - radiation does NOT impact systemic recurrence, meaning lung, liver, etc. metastisis) (OK I have no idea how to spell that and I will not justify taking time to look up how to spell such a nasty word) with no radiation, and a 5% chance with radiation. We are at peace with our decision, and ready for the "treatment" phase to be over and the "reconstruction" phase to begin!

We are looking forward to being done with Round 5, and it's associated week-long "side effects" just in time to celebrate Christmas with my parents, Brian's parents, Brian's sister and her husband and their 3-month old baby Elijah who we will be meeting for the first time, and my aunt and cousin. It will be so wonderful to have everyone together and to enjoy Ty's and Elijah's first Christmases. Despite this crazy journey that we have been on for the past few months, we feel truly lucky to have so many blessings in our life. We hope you all are enjoying the holidays; hug your family and friends and tell them how glad you are that they are in your life!

Warm holiday wishes and love,

Tri-ing to make it to the finish line!

I'm back, people! Back to working out, back to being happy Amy, back to enjoying life to the fullest again until I get knocked down again on Dec. 16 (AKA Round 5). And boy oh boy am I psyched to only have 2 more treatments!! For some reason, 3 treatments seemed like soooo many, but 2 seems pretty do-able. So I couldn't be happier to have one more down, and only 2 to go! We're making progress! Sorry this post is delayed - I have actually been "back" for more than a week now, but since I've got to cram all my holiday card sending, gift shopping, and holiday celebrating (yes, cancer girls can still celebrate - in fact, it's a MUST!) into the 2 week chunks between chemo sessions, blogging has had to wait a while.

So - maybe it's because I can finally see the light at the end of the tunnel, maybe it's because I've been talking to friends who are planning their 2010 tri seasons, maybe it's because I watched "The Biggest Loser - Where are they now" episode last week and was incredibly inspired by Season 1's Matt, who recently completed Ironman Kona, maybe it's because a friend told me about Nike's "Livestrong contest" where you submit your Livestrong story for a chance to watch a Livestrong triathlete compete, maybe it's because I couldn't race last year being pregnant with Ty, but whatever it is, I've got the tri bug bad!! I've been sorting out in my mind which tris to do this summer, from the Highlands Ranch Sprint tri (my first tri ever three seasons ago, and a fave of mine) to Loveland Lake to Lake or Boulder Peak Olympic distance, to even toying with the idea of doing a half Ironman next year!! The Rev3 series looks awesome, my good friend Sonja is doing Cedar Point, and so is Biggest Loser winner Tara Costa and Triathlon Pro/Livestrong team member Laurel Wassner, the first cancer survivor (Hodgkin's) ever to earn a USA Triathlon elite license. And it's in September, so I'd have plenty of time to train. It's a big dream, but you all know dreaming big is the only way to go! I'll be saving my Ironman dreams for a few years, but for now, Half Iron doesn't seem too insane, right? Of course, this is coming from a girl who can currently only run a few miles at a time - but one nevertheless that is still lifting, spinning, kickboxing, running, swimming, even doing P90X throughout chemo. So there might be hope... If not Rev3 this year, maybe Harvest Moon closer to home?

I am inspired by other female triathletes who have also battled cancer while pursuing their triathlon dreams. Nancy Reinisch, a Colorado triathlete, whose diagnosis and treatment were very similar to mine, who trained and competed throughout her "journey" in order to maintain her fitness and sanity (sound familiar?!), then wrote a book documenting her experiences. Karen Newman, a 47-year old elite triathlete, coach and mom of three, who raced - and placed in her age group! - during chemo, and allowed The Today Show to document her battle with breast cancer: Her message to those fighting cancer is "never lose hope, don't give up your dreams." And finally, Laurel Wassner, a triathlete for team Livestrong, who battled through cancer to become a pro triathlete and, in her words, "a better person, a better runner, someone who has gotten through 6 rounds of chemo, so can get through anything." I salute you all, ladies, you give me the confidence to know I can push on to the finish line, both in my journey with cancer and in triathlon. Your strength, courage and determination are an inspiration.

There's something about triathlon that has helped me, and these incredible women, push through this tough time, knowing that our dreams are waiting on the other side. I couldn't be more excited to push myself to new limits next year as a cancer survivor and give back to the sport that has pulled me through this crazy time. From racing alongside a good friend as she competes in her first even triathlon to shopping for a new road bike as a reward for making it through this epic journey to going distances I've never gone before, it will be a crazy adventure - and I can't wait!