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Marathons … The Post-Cancer Body

CURE Magazine published my essay:  Marathons: Coming to terms with a post-cancer Reality.  You can read the published article  here. CURE is a magazine most cancer patients come across at some point during their treatment ... They print a physical magazine quarterly and copies are widely available at cancer centers and doctor's offices ... And patients and their loved ones spend a lot of time in waiting rooms reading magazines.  Subscriptions are free by signing up online at their website.  And they have extensive content online at and social media.  I'm excited this article was published by CURE because they have such a strong audience of cancer patients, caregivers and families.  I hope it will help others avoid my mistakes. The text of the article printed in CURE is below: ---------------------------- Marathons "I'm signing up for a half marathon this spring. Who's with me?" My heart sank as I read this on my young friend's Facebook page ... a friend still in the early stages of breast cancer treatment with months of surgeries, chemotherapy and radiation ahead of her. I recognized this trap. Before breast cancer, I was an amateur athlete ... never the fastest or the strongest but I found joy in testing my physical strength and endurance. I biked across the US and India and completed triathlons and runs. After being diagnosed with cancer in 2011 and enduring a year of surgeries, chemotherapy and radiation, I had set an ambitious goal for the one-year anniversary of the end of my treatment: to bike 10,000 miles over three months in Asia and spectacularly thumb my nose at the cancer that had stopped me cold and left my body broken. And why not? The media and the Internet promote glorious stories of cancer patients completing near-impossible physical feats. And I took this message to heart. I was a survivor.

I’d like some Bad-Ass Arms, please

UPDATED January 31 We won second place with Rosie the Riveter - We Can Do It. I'm excited for a fun design with a motivating message ... And I get two free sleeves. Thanks everyone for voting. They changed the design a bit ... You can see the final here.   -------------------------------------------------------------------------- Getting past cancer treatment usually means learning to live with a handful of side-effects treatment leaves in its wake.  For me, the hardest side-effect to live with is lymphedema.  And I'm sick of the ugly medical-grade garments necessary to control the condition to do what I love - particularly biking. So I partnered with designer extraordinaire Maggie Flynn (who also designed this website) and pro-photographer Mary Lou Harris to create three designs of lymphedema arm sleeves that will be fun and inspiring to wear biking, exercising, in a meeting or on any occasion where something strong and sassy is much more appropriate and something boring and medically necessary. We entered a design contest for a company called LympheDIVAs to design compression sleeves, and the voting for the top three winning sleeves happens between now and November 29: Please Vote Here:    LympheDIVA Arm Sleeve Design Contest Survey                   Wouldn't it be  fun to go out and about in Wonder Woman Arms?  Or sport a Rosie The Riveter We Can Do It arm when biking to raise money for a cause or running a race?  Or don Beautiful Cascade Mountain Arms for that lovely ride in the country side with the Cascade mountains framing the horizon to the East?  I think so.  And if we win this contest, LympheDIVA's will manufacture the designs, and I - and other women - will get to wear something fun and empowering. So ... please go to that survey and vote to give us some great Bad-Ass arm choices that represent the spirit of getting on with life -

Unexpected Gifts – Biking French Mountain, Cape Breton

"Did you see the moose?"No!  We met a dozen people who saw the moose, but all we saw was a bunny.  A cute bunny.  But a bunny is not as cool as a moose.We are hiking the Skyline trail just north of Cheticamp on Cape Breton on the Cabot Trail.  It's the day off before our big riding days into the Highlands of Cape Breton National Park.  Andre - the local bike shop owner of VeloMax Cycles, has time on his hands with the end of tourist season.  He has agreed to drive us up to the top of French Mountain to this trail and come pick us up a few hours later.The drive to the trailhead also happens to be the first big climb of the Cabot trail in the Highlands.  This is useful, because the reactions of people when we tell them we plan to bike this route ranges from incredulity to sheer amazement.  Reconnaissance seems prudent.  Plus this area is known for its gorgeous hiking and we want a taste of the trails.The Cabot Trail is a famous road that loops the very tip of Cape Breton, Nova Scotia.  This peninsula is known for stunning mountains plunging into oceans scenery, magazine-cover wildlife including moose and whales, and the cultural depth of the French, Acadian and Scottish heritage that is still very prevalent and preserved here and reflected in the music and food and daily living.Cyclists know this route as challenging and infinitely rewarding with three big climbs that are steep - up to 15% grade - and weather that can be unpredictable.  We have broken the climbing into three days - a manageable distance for some steep climbs that should still give plenty of time to enjoy the park while not killing ourselves and coming in exhausted.Yesterday we biked

Climbing Mountains

“Impossible!”I’ve told the two gentleman next to me at dinner about my plans to go to Brisighella and then from there to cross the Apennines on the old Roman road.  I’m seated next to two businessmen travelling to Ravenna for work, one from Florence and one from Genoa who both have good English.Mr. Florence sits back, and with a dramatic hand gesture says, “That’s impossible!”  Mr. Genoa says, “How do you know she doesn’t bike 300 Kilometers a day and that it’s not possible for her. “  He turns to me and says, “You send him a picture from the top.”I explain that there is a train that runs parallel to the route so if I need to catch the train I have a backup.  But as much as I appreciate Mr. Genoa sticking up for me, it’s Mr. Florence’s “Impossible!” that has just implanted itself in my head.I’d been looking for a good route back towards Rome over the Apennines.  I’d found other potential routes, but none I felt comfortable attempting.  I wanted a bail-out plan in case something went wrong – with the bike or with my stamina or with my leg strength as I hauled a fully-loaded touring bike through the mountains.  Or if I felt I might be at risk for a lymphedema flare-up and needed to stop.  I’d met a couple of Americans in Comacchio the day before who were taking a self-guided bike tour.  We swapped travel info – I told them about the Cinque Terra trails being closed and the offline GPS navigation apps.  They showed me this route over the mountains between Faenza and Florence.  The climb seemed doable but long – only getting steep near the pass, and there was a train that followed the route offering several opportunities to bail

Pushing Boundaries

Obligatory Leaning Tower of Pisa Cheesy PhotoSo much for easing into the riding.The first two days here in Lucca I've been out riding with friends for between 20 and 30 miles. Today ended up being a 65 mile day.  I was planning to be doing between 30 and 40 miles a day this week ... but I'm riding with a group of friends and it's so easy to say, "Yes.  Let's ride to the beach."  We started out from Lucca this morning and road to Pisa to see the duomo and the leaning tower of Pisa.  It was packed with tourists ... the best part was the bike ride there - beautiful and just so gratifying to ride in to a place where others are more limited by parking or train schedules to come and go.When we were done, we went back and decided to detour to the beach just south of Viareggio, which ended up more the doubling the mileage of the day. Beautiful riding, and a beautiful day.  Castles and ruins of watchtowers on hilltops.  Wildflower-lined one-lane roads - buttercups and red poppies and Queen Anne's lace.  Earth colored homes.  Broad fields of bright yellow blooming mustard.  Yellow iris blooming along riverbanks. View from a hilltop castle in Nozzano on a rainy day rideBut a familiar problem for me ... I have a hard time not pushing too hard physically if the reward is good enough.One post-cancer challenge I have is lymphedema.   Part of my breast cancer treatment included removing the lymph nodes under my arm.  This has a long-term risk associated with this surgery of edema, or swelling, of the trunk and arm because the nodes that drain the lymph fluid (which is part of your immune system) have been removed.I have lymphedema in my trunk.  It