Tuesday, April 30, 2013

HAWMC Day 30: How'd it go?

Today's Day 30 WEGO Health's Health Activist Writer's Challenge task is to recap the whole challenge for the month.

I think this was a great way to keep me moving in the blog world and be more aware of what I am writing about.

My favorite topics were the ones that were probably the hardest to get going on. Yesterday's about what do I love about myself was one of them. I also really enjoyed writing a letter to lymphoma. I liked the wordless wednesdays with the exception of the fact that they almost needed the words to explain. I also thought it was a nice touch when we got to explore other people's blogs that were part of the challenge, leave them a comment and help spread awareness of their blog through our blogs.

I will admit that there were a few things I didn't like. I was ok with the first topic in regards to social media and such but the topic became very redundant. It seemed to come up a few other times but worded differently. I wasn't too into the whole aspiration topic either I find this to be a little to broad of a subject to cover in a blog post. I didn't really like the Acrostic Poem, I tried to have each letter represent how I felt about lymphoma but it was hard to find one word.

I have learned a lot though. We often get so caught up in what we perceive to be the main focus. It was great to be able to explore lots of different blogs and see what other people are writing about for their focus of health activism. I learned a lot about diabetes, hemophilia, other cancers, and depression.

To describe my WEGO health experience in one word I would have to say: Unique!

HAWMC Day 29: Kudos To Me!

Today's Day 29 task for WEGO Health's Health Activist Writer's Challenge is to talk about three things that I love about...myself!

This is very difficult I think I am not alone in the group of people that don't really know what they like never mind love about themselves. This took some time to come up with.

1.) Kindness: I will admit that my true nature takes a while to come out. I have a hard time being out going to people I don't really know so I am sure there are many people out there who probably think that I am (for lack of a better word) a bitch. But probably more due to my lack of interaction as apposed to just not being very nice. But once you get to know me I would basically do just about anything to help other people. Even if that is just to simply brighten their day. I take pride in just plain being kind and doing things for other people so that is one thing I love about myself.

2.) Stubbornness: This one probably takes people by surprise but I love that I am stubborn. But for good reason, it usually means that I don't give up on things. I know it can have it's negative side but I try to keep it positive. My own stubbornness is what keeps me moving forward with all my health adventures (eating healthy, exercising, pushing myself to try new things and try new races).

3.) Cook/Bake: I love that I love to cook & bake! And it helps that I am good at it. I like to find new recipes and  try them out or make my own adaptations to old recipes. This also happens to fall under my kindness cause I usually bake for other people. Often those who are a large part of my life. But It also helps me by giving them to people because then they are not around my house for me to eat!

Hopefully this will help others find what they like or love about themselves. This was quite the topic to write about.

Sunday, April 28, 2013

HAWMC Day 28: Followers

I feel that today's task is very redundant. We have discussed the topic of social media repeatedly as well as promote those that are our favorites. But given I have only done a select few I will share my top 10 follows on twitter for WEGO Health's Health Activist Writer's Challenge Day 28!


These are in no particular order but they are all ones you should check out and follow for yourself!

HAWMC Day 27: How to title my life?

Today's Day 27 task for WEGO Health's Health Activist Writer's Challenge is to think about 5 working book titles for my life.

I have to say that the first one that came to mind was a title that is already being used 'A Series of Unfortunate Events' but since that is already taken I will have to go back to the drawing board.

1.) Aforetime - Ironically enough a friend of mine has been sick and we started writing a word of the day on the board in her hospital room. Today's word is Aforetime which I find would be a very fitting title for a book. It means in earlier times, which let's face it if you are writing a biography it will always be about past experiences.

2.)Cancerology - Since pretty much any word including "ology" means to study something this would be very fitting to depict the lymphoma part of my life. It has honestly made me learn and study things that I never thought I would ever want to or need to. It would be a good way to share information as well as experiences.

3.)Skinny person stuck inside a fat persons body - This would be useful to talk about both my pre-cancer self as well as my post-cancer self. Not to mention all the things I wanted to do but that my body just wouldn't let me. It would be more of a comparison in lifestyle. But again would be a great way to share information and hopefully motivate and inspire others in similar situations.

4.)Is There Life After Cancer? - I think this would be a good way to share my life of recovery after lymphoma. There are so many aspects involved instead of having it's own chapter in a book it really does need it's own book. Through self realizations, services offered through many different organizations, friend and family support/influences. etc

I tried to think of one more but I can only think of four. As much as I would love to some day write one of these into a real book but I am a terrible writer if you all haven't figured that out from reading my blog!

HAWMC Day 26: Pain Free Pass

Today's Day 26 task for WEGO Healths Health Activist writer's Challenge is to imagine a day either past or present that could be pain/worry free.

It's funny because when ever I think about pain I think about physical pain. When I thought about today's task I thought well sure I wish I was not in pain when it related to my lymphoma but had I not been in pain there is an extremely real chance that I would not be here to write this. Being in pain is what got me diagnosed so as far as that goes I would not change that at all. But then they asked about being worry free which is an entirely different kind of pain.

I would say that worry is probably what I suffer from the most. Worry about returning cancer or even developing a secondary cancer. Worrying about my fertility and if/when I will have children. Worrying about making sure I stay healthy and keep physically active. The list I am sure could go on and each one very generalized could be broken into many different sub categories.

But if I had to choose one day to be entirely pain/worry free I would choose...well in all honesty I would choose more than a day. You see my FAVORITE time of any year is Christmas time. I love the atmosphere, the general kindness of humankind, spending time with my family and friends, etc. So I would have to say that I would choose that during 2010. I had just finished my treatment mid November and although the worst part was over there was a long road ahead of me that I was not prepared for. There was worry about pending tests to see if I was cancer free, constant frustration of fatigue and no strength, and missing out on events because of these things. It is odd because I imagine what that would have been like to be pain/worry and know how great it would have been to really get into the spirit. But then again all these past events are what made me who I am today so I also don't want to give them up.

As for the future there is one thing I would like to be able to do and be worry free. I would like to leave my lymphoma in the past and not have it haunt me in every other medical issue I have. I would like to be able to have a test done and have to bother my oncologist because something abnormal came up (which is normal for me). I imagine it would be much easier to get through any other medical issue I have if this was not always a factor.

I guess I didn't really do this task the exact way it was intended but that is about the best I can do with it at this point.

HAWMC Day 25: Learning from other health activists

Who I consider health activists may not consider themselves health activists or other people may not. I look at a health activist as someone who shares their own knowledge and experience to help promote healthy living. It might be in relation to a specific medical condition or exercise focused or just plain healthy living.

Here are few of my favorites!

Round Around Sara! She hasn't been posting much lately but she is a very good friend of mine and I basically owe my own health success to her. She was the driving force behind getting my butt moving! Through her sharing of her experiences and pushing me to try I was inspired and motivated to do it myself. I have learned so much from her and I continue to!

Healthy Melissa I met Melissa last summer, ironically enough because of round around Sara! Sara's post about the Chunky Dunk motivated Melissa to give it a shot last summer. Melissa is a great weath of knowledge and she shares it freely! She also have a Facebook page. I actually get more information from that because it comes up directly to my news feed. Fantastic recipe info, workouts, etc.

The Lean Green Bean I found her blog be accident one day. And I have loved it ever since! She has a little bit of everything in relation to healthy living, recipes, exercises, contests/challenges, social interactions, but of course my favorite thing is Foodie Penpals (be sure to go to her blog and check it out)! I love that she had a twitter account and uses it to promote her blog because that gives my little reminders to go and check it out when I see her post about a new post, or a new exercise routine, etc.

Those are my top 3 for now. I hope I was able to introduce some people to some new social media outlets of writer's I consider to be health activists! Enjoy!

HAWMC: Day 24 - Health on Pinterest

Today's Day 24 task of WEGO Health's Health Activist Writer's Challenge is to create a pinterest board that focused on health.

It is actually supposed to be a picture of the board however I figure it is just as easy to put the link to my board. It is not only about lymphoma but also about other things I use to keep myself on the healthy track.

Health and Wellness

Saturday, April 27, 2013

HAWMC Day 23: Technology

I am slightly behind but it has been a long couple of weeks. I have a little time to catch up so here goes...

Today's Day 23 task for WEGO Health's Health Activist Writer's Challenge is to talk about technology. How do I use it? How does it fit into my life? How does it help deal with lymphoma? and How would my life change if there were more or less social media involved?

This is actually something I have been thinking a lot about recently. There is always a pros and cons list to everything. Which makes it difficult to decide if technology is a good thing or a bad thing.

How do I use technology and social media?

Well I use it to get information. Information all kinds, I might need some ideas of projects to do in my classroom or looking for a new restaurant to try. In relation to lymphoma I used it during treatment to gain information about the different drugs, and after to connect with others through forums/chats. For my general health I use technology to keep track of my activities through facebook and daily mile. I also use it to be connected to others as a mean of support for both them and myself. As for my daily life I will fully admit I am a technology addict! I can't tell you how many times a day I check my email or how times I am on facebook or twitter. There are some days where I think about disconnecting myself but I some how am never able to do it.

How does technology and social media fit into my life?

All too easily I must admit. I have noticed that I have very little patients for things. Our world is so fast paced that we all seem to be conditioned to that instant gratification. I know for myself I communicate largely through email and waiting for a response is often the most annoying part of my day. But then again I also know people may not have the kind of access to their email as I do. This is something I am actively trying to work on, delaying my instant gratification for sure!

How does technology help deal with lymphoma?

I find it funny that this topic comes up this week because this has been one hell of week. I had just been complaining about how frustrating it is for my past lymphoma to constantly be coming back to haunt me. I know that sounds like something that should be expected but for some reason it was not for me. It seems every time I have to see a doctor (specifically if it happens to be a specialist) for something entirely unrelated to cancer/lymphoma it some how always seems to come back around to it anyway. But as far as technology is concerned it is usually very helpful in this aspect because rather than waiting a significant amount of time to get results or be able to consult my oncologist I am able to do that a lot faster. I recently had an MRI of my hip done for some pain I had been having. I wasn't able to get an appointment until three weeks after the MRI. Luckily I was able to not only get a copy of the MRI and radiology report but the doctor also emailed me his interpretations. Which then of course lead to me having to consult my oncologist based on some abnormality they found (which is not an abnormality for me). When come to dealing directly with lymphoma technology and social media are extremely helpful because they not only give me realitivly quick access to my doctors and medical record/test results but it also gives me access to people. I can communicate updates with friends and family a lot easier through facebook/twitter/email. I can reach more people by using my blog and then of course there are all the ways to get support through forums, websites as well as the hospital. Technology really does put the world at your finger tips.

How would my life changes if there were more or less social media involved?

Hhhmmm this is a hard one to answer. There are times were the current status of social media often makes me feel overwhelmed. Like I can't keep up with everything I would like to accomplish through social media in addition to everyday life. But I think less social media would take some time to get used to but in the end wouldn't necessarily be an overly bad thing. At first it would be like going though withdrawal but we would all adjust. I am sure I would fill the time I use currently on social media with other things which may or may not be good choices. Either way it would be an adjustment.

Tuesday, April 23, 2013

HAWMC Day 22: Day to Day Inspiration!

Today's task for Day 22 of WEGO Health's Health Activist Writer's Challenge is to write about the day to day ordinary things that inspire you.

There are so many things on a day to day basis that inspire me. Because I am heavily involved in large cancer community people that I come into contact inspire mostly more than they will ever know. Tonight is prime example, I went down to current LIVESTRONG at the YMCA session to see how the class was doing, sharing some info with them about other existing programs out there that they may be interested and just generally see how I could help them. While there I was speaking to someone who is still currently going through treatment and is far to hard on himself for not being able to do what he thinks he should be able to do. We had a very long conversation about life obligations as well as his goals. He was inspiring to me because although he is in the midst of fighting for his life that isn't his focus he still wants to live his life! That was extremely motivating and inspiring to me to make sure I keep doing what I am doing so that I can help others achieve their goals!

There are so many other little things too that inspire me...
- Whenever I see someone doing any kind of exercise; running, walking, biking, etc. they inspire me because I know what it takes to put those things into motion.
-People that stand up for what they believe in. Even if it happens to be something that I don't necessarily agree with. Standing behind what you believe takes a lot of work.
-Waking up to the birds chirping letting me know a new has begun, it's like a clean slate waiting for what I want to put on it.
-The children in my class. Just seeing how much progress they have made and how much their brains absorb.

One thing recently that has been extremely inspiring is the overall human generosity in Boston. I have lived just outside of Boston my entire life but the ties I have to that city are strong. More memories then I have time to share here. So the recent attack was really personal. However to see so many people running to the aide of other despite their own safety with even the slightest hope of helping/saving them is astounding. Seeing not only the people in Boston/New England rallying around and supporting the city but support across the world is inspiring. Knowing how much support all these bombing survivors will have is inspiring. The survivors themselves are inspiring, telling their stories in addition to providing comfort and support each other.

There are so many small things in the world that are inspiring you just have to know where to look and be willing to accept them. I have also learned that you have to be willing to offer inspiration as well it's like one big complete circle.

So my advice is to live in the moment and take the inspiration where you can get!

Sunday, April 21, 2013

HAWMC Day 21 - Adversity

Today's task for Day 21 of WEGO Health Activist Writer's Challenge was to decided if the saying "The flower that blooms in adversity is the rarest and most beautiful of all." is true or false and when do I bloom best.

I think that the flower that blooms in adversity is the rarest and most beautiful of all is absolutely true! Unfortunately it seems that when you are faced with misfortune or distress that is when the best usually comes out in people.

If you think about everything that just happened this past week in Boston that is a prime example of what happens in adversity. All the people that ran in to help those hurt, all the law enforcement agents putting their lives on the line to keep so many people safe. The way everyone is supporting Boston and all those hurt or that lost their lives. My point is that the events were beyond horrific but it brought out the best, most caring side of humanity. It is just sad that it usually takes adversity to get to that point.

For me personally my cancer was my adversity. It changed my life forever. It made me realize there are so many things in life that just aren't worth worrying about or being involved in. Life is way to short to sweat the small stuff! I am a much happier and helpful person now and I love it.

As far as when do I blossom I would have to say when I can use my experience with my cancer adversity to help others that are facing a similar situation. It brings me so much joy knowing I can help others hopefully get through their journey and end up with a similar outlook when theirs is all over too.

I try to remember what I felt when facing lymphoma so that I am that helpful, happy, compassionate person that I so badly want to make sure I am.

Saturday, April 20, 2013

Stonyfield Earth Day 5k Race Report!

This was the second year I am doing this 5k. It is one of my favorites! I love that they do it in conjunction with the Earth Day fair that stonyfield puts on. What better thing than to go run and then walk around and get a bunch of free stuff!

We got there early and headed to registration to get our bibs and t-shirts. I was lucky enough to be number 166, it was based on when you registered. Then we went to get t-shirts. I was thrilled to see that this year they were life is good shirts. I had forgotten about that and those shirts are amazing.

Once everything else had been done bathroom, putting on compression pants, sneakers, etc. We decided to check out the vendors at the fair that were already setup (the fair didn't start until 10am).

I got a breakfast sandwich from a local farm that had organic eggs. It was delicious! We picked up some Hint Water which was nice to have before a race. We generally just walked around and looked to see what was there. I went over to the start line about 10 minutes before the race started.

We ended up waiting for a little while because there was such a large turn out that there were many people registering this morning.

Then they started the opening ceremony. They gave a very nice tribute to all those hurt or killed in the marathon bombings as well as the unfortunate events of Thursday/Friday. We gave a moment of silence and then the national anthem was sung! It was actually eerily quiet, I thought for sure people would sing along but they didn't. 
We all paid our respects with the flag at half mast.

Then they made the announcement that when you hear the cow moo to start the race but not to start until you hear it. For a minute or more we were al very confused because there was no moo. Then it happened and we took off. I crossed the timing mat and started my run.

It was the same course as last year so I knew where to go. However I had forgotten about all the hills. I will say that I successfully completed my first mile at 12:07 which was fantastic considering my hip was bothering since the early morning. The great thing about this course is that although there were lots of hills they were pretty evenly spread out. So you would have a hill or incline but not for that long and then it would be down hill. That repeated quite a bit so it was nice because you worked hard on the hill and got a little recovery period.

The last hill is the largest. I remember last year I walked up the entire hill. This year I was not going to do that! I made myself to run/walk intervals of 30 seconds, that way I was still working but it was easier.

I made it up the hill and turned onto the Stonyfield street. With the last tenth of a mile to go I took off and told myself I was going to run the rest. And I did just that!
I crossed the finish line waving my Boston marathon jacket like a flag and of course was sporting my runner unite to remember bib too! 
This race went really well for me. It was windy and there were hills but I was able to finish with a time of 39:44! I was so happy to be under 40 minutes and when I looked at my time from last year (48:38) I realized just how much I have improved.

After the race was over I got enjoy some much needed yummy food and walk around the fair. There were lots of people but we had fun!

Yes that is a giant dinosaur! There was so much to look at and there were lots of things for kids to do too. 

Just some of the loot we got includes jam from The Stonewall Kitchen, Kind bars, Hot dogs, Natural candies, Hint water and of course yogurt! They were also giving away tickets to a Fisher Cats game on Tuesday but since we don't live anywhere near there we didn't get an tickets. 

Even though the day started not so great cold, rainy and with my friend Sara not being able to run with me. It ended with the sun coming out, having a great race time, enjoying the fair oh yea and on the way home we stopped at my absolute favorite place to eat in New Hampshire, Mr. Mac's! I got Chicken Cordon Bleu mac and cheese!! If you have never been there I highly recommend it but I warn you that no other mac and cheese will ever be as good again.

Today was a fantastic day!

HAWMC Day 20: Burnout

Today's task for WEGO Health's Health Activist Writer's Challenge for Day 20 is to talk about what is feels like to be burnt out and if you can identify any triggers.

This one took me a while to be able to answer. I had to think about it a lot. Although my cancer journey was intense it was also pretty slow. I find that most times burnout happens when things are fast paced and very time consuming. My treatment was not like that, I had no where to be but where ever they told me to be. I had lots of time even though it wasn't fun times. So even though I was so sick I never got burnt out during that time.

I do remember a time shortly after I completed my treatment. My oncologist had warned me that it would take me some time to get back to feeling normal he even quoted 6 months, which I thought was a long stretch. I finished treatment mid November and was back to work the first week in December.

I had a rough time. I got cold after cold, repeated respiratory infections, sinus infections, couldn't breath, couldn't sleep from all the coughing. I was constantly at doctors appointments and trying to find away to make me feel better. I was even seen by an allergist and pulmonologist. I was on antibiotics and various inhalers.

There was one day were I just couldn't take it any longer. I was burnt out by the whole process. I was constantly going here and there and taking meds and not getting any better. Or if I did it was short lived. I remember this day vividly I literally broke down and just cried! I was sick of being sick. I had been so sick for so long and when I finally finished my treatment everything was supposed to be fine so why was I still sick. Luckily I had my husband who did no more than just be there for me and let me cry.

So I would have to say that my way of getting through it is having a way to release. Mine in this instance happen to be crying but it isn't always that way. Sometime my minor release can be doing something for myself, going on vacation or now spending some time at the gym.

I will tell you that I successfully got through all my illnesses and as it turns out my oncologist was right it took me 6 months to really "recover" and be able to breath appropriately. Guess I should listen a little better!

HAWMC Day 19: Vintage Photo

Today's task for WEGO Health's Health Activist Writer's Challenge Day 19 was to find a vintage photo and write a caption about it in regards to my lymphoma. So here goes...

This was taken the last week of July in 2010. My husband, friends and I all decided that we wanted to change up our normal night to hang out. So we decided to have a formal night. Ironically enough this was only a few days before my entire life changed with a large tumor. This was an amazing night, we took pictures as if it were prom night each as "couple" and then group shots. We did a nice formal one and then did a fun one. Of course the fun one was the one I picked. Despite the fact that during this time I was in constant pain, this is night that I haven't forgotten. Only two weeks later I was diagnosed, started treatment and was on my journey. But this was a night filled with fun!

Wednesday, April 17, 2013

Boston Marathon

I have debated with myself about blogging about my experience with the Boston Marathon. But since I had planned on doing it before I decided I was still going to write.

Despite the fact that until recent years I was never an athletic person therefore never really had any specific connections to the marathon it was strangely enough all too familiar to me. Since I was young my mother actually volunteered as a ham radio operator for them. She still has her jacket from the 100th marathon that we will always keep. I never got to go with her because she was always "working" it but I lived through her and listened to everything she would tell when she got home.

In recent years I have myself gotten into races. Although I am more into triathlons and have always said I had no desire to run a marathon since I don't enjoy running all that much and am not even close to being fast the marathon I think holds a special spot in any New Englander's heart. My friend and I actually started talking about volunteering for the race last year. We were lucky enough to get in and we got to be where it all started in Hopkinton MA. It was a fantastic experience, we got to see thousands of athletes of all shapes and sizes. It was nice to be able to talk to some of them as well. I made a point to talk to one runner who was running for The Leukemia and Lymphoma Societies Team In Training and letting her know how much I appreciated her running. I unfortunately made her start crying which was not what I wanted to do right before she ran 26.2 miles but I think it was a good kind of cry and hopefully helped get her through those 26.2 miles. It was just an amazing vibe, feeling and experience.

When the time came around again this year we all wanted to sign up to volunteer again. Our group leader decided to sign us up for a water stop which at first we weren't so sure about because we had such a good time at the start last year but we started our day early ready to help.

It ended up being another great experience!
Photo Courtsey of Run Around Sara
We got there and were split up into two groups for each side of the street at mile 7. Our group was the second hydration stop so we were a little further down the street. We setup tables, carried Gatorade and water jugs, laid out cups and filled them. We had 10+ tables with 3-4 layers of cups. That part was fun filling them and basically building a house of cups. It was hard because you had to make sure all the layers were stable but we did it. Our group actually ended up at two tables right next to each other so our day started with a little healthy competition of who could complete their four layers first. But trust me it was all in good fun. 

Then we played the waiting game for when the athletes would get to us.

Finally we saw the lead cars and the Male wheelchair racers, followed by Female Wheelchair racers. That was very exciting I had never seen this part of the marathon live. I was so inspired watching these amazing athletes doing what they do.
Then came the Elite runners. We were all excited to see runners because most wheelchair racers don't stop for water they carry hydration packs. However we quickly realized that the Elite runners don't stop either, they have their trainers strategically placed for just the right time and amount of hydration. So although it was fun to watch them and of course cheer them on we weren't feeling useful yet.
Photo Courtsey of Run Around Sara

While we were waiting we were being entertained by Charlie who is a Veteran and also a fellow marathon runner. He has done the seven continents marathons which is so inspiring to me. He told us a lot about running and put doing a marathon in another light for me. Basically made it not such an out there event but something that anyone could do. It was interesting being able to talk to him.

Then the masses of runners came...
The sight alone was astounding! There were runners as far as the eye could see! They came right by and put us to work. It was really non-stop until about 12:15 and started to slow down. During all this were even got to see the Hoyt's racing which was something I was so excited to see.
Then started the clean up. Shovels, gloves, trash bags, walking up and down the street was what it took but we all worked together got the street all cleaned up, table broken down, empty jugs given back to poland springs, it almost looked as though we were never there when we were there.

As we walked back towards the car we were all talking about how much fun we had and how we were looking forward to next year.

On our way home we stopped at a friend's house to visit and while we were there we heard about the bombings. Needless to say like most people not only in New England but pretty much all over the country we were in denial and glued to the TV for hours on end. There are no words to descirbe what went through my mind. responding to texts, calls, tweets, Facebook to people checking where I was, if I was ok, etc. Something no one ever wants to do or have the need for people to do.

I feel as though the current population is so desensitized by television and the media that although we all knew what had happened the emotions really didn't set in. There were so many people setting up tributes to all those hurt and killed either by a physical event or a virtual one. I saw one that was virtual where people just got out and ran that day where ever they were in honor and support. I actually had to drive into Boston the next day for a meeting at Mass General Cancer Center so I decided that I was going to do my run from MGH to Boston Common and back.

Just driving into the city alone is when the emotional part really started to set in for me. All the flags at half mast, signs with lit candle, etc. As I turned onto Grove Street you could see the news trucks lining Cambridge Street and the news cameras and reporters stationed outside the hospital entrance. Aside from all that what really caught my eye were the armed military all around the hospital.

I got ready to run and headed out. When I started for the most part everything looked business as usual. I got to the end if Charles Street to the entrance of The Common, this is what I was greeted with...
There had to be about 30-40 police officers on motorcycles lined in the common. That was the final thing that set the emotions in motion. I have to admit I was confused I wasn't sure if I should be scared because they were there or if they were there to set people more at ease. But I continued, as I got to the other side of the common there was another line of police officers on motorcycles. As I was completing my first lap I came upon a sectioned off part of the common where the military had set up a camp type area.

Swat Truck

This site was something that stopped me in my tracks. I finally moved beyond the denial and realized someone or some group actually did this not only one of my favorite places but to all the people that love this place just as much if not more than I do. I was able to turn that into motivation to run another lap and complete my tribute run.

I have done a lot of thinking about it today as more information has come out regarding injuries etc. My heart breaks for everyone of those hurt, who have lost someone, who's life will forever be changed. I heard someone saying she was upset by the negativity going on through social media about having messed with the wrong city. I for one don't look at that as negative I look at it for exactly what it is the truth. Boston is the founding city to overcome and rise above and we have the history books to prove it! To me the saying you messed with the wrong city is that this will not break us, we will unite, rise and overcome.

I started out saying I volunteered because I have always said I had no desire to run a marathon. I have to say that I have decided that I have now made it my desire to not only run a marathon but make sure it is the Boston Marathon! Someone asked me why and I said just to show everyone that we can and we will! It might take me a few years to get to that point but I will get there and I will run that infamous marathon route! Until then and even after you best believe I will be there volunteering and supporting every single person runners, organizers, spectators alike. Be Strong!

Wordle: Boston

HAWMC Day 17: Word Cloud

Today's task for Day 17 for WEGO Health's Health Activist Writer's Challenge is to create a word cloud in relation to your condition.

It was fun once I got the final product but was difficult to use wordle.net because of the JAVA aspect of it but I did none the less so here it is...
Wordle: lymphoma

HAWMC Day 16: Misinformation

Today's task for Day 16 of WEGO Health's Health Activists Writers challenge is to tell you three things that are true about me, my condition or my health activism. and then tell one lie and see who can figure out which one is which...this should be interesting so here goes!

1.) Non-Hodgkins Lymphoma is curable

2.) Non-Hodgkins Lymphoma can be prevented by taking vitamin C

3.) Exercise plays a key role in getting through both treatment and recovery

4.) It is important to spread the word about donating blood as many cancer patients end up needing transfusions.

Now it's your turn to see if you can figure out which one is the lie and which ones are true...GO!

Monday, April 15, 2013

HAWMC Day 15: Sharing

Today's Day 15 task from WEGO Health's Health Activist Writer's Challenge is to Comment! Pick someone else’s blog post and write a comment to them. Write that comment as your post for today and link back to them to let them know you were inspired.

At first I wasn't sure what to pick because something I think of might not have been health activits but then again I also think it is more based on your own interpretation of what that means. I decided I wanted to pick something new to me so I started looking at some of my fellow HAWMC bloggers. I have to tell you I was quite impressed with many of them, but one in particular stuck out. That would be Ann Marie at Stupid Dumb Breast Cancer! I read a lot of her posts so it was hard for me to choose just one. I think the one thing about it is exactly what she says in the her post about why she became a blogger to keep people informed but that she wasn't going to censor herself which I love! It is so nice to see someone blogging that just post whatever they want, however they want! She is fantastically sassy and feisty!! You rock Ann Marie!

Be sure to check out her post Wow I am a "blogger" she in great!

Saturday, April 13, 2013

HAWMC Day 13: Acrostic Poem

Today's task for WEGO Health's Day 13 Health Activist Writer's Challenge is Write a health acrostic for your condition.




HAWMC Day 12: Hindsight

Today's task for WEGO Health's Day 12 Health Activist Writer's Challenge was to think about if you could go back in time and talk to yourself on the day you were diagnosed what would say? Also what have learned about being a patient that has surprised you?

I seem to be starting off most of these the same way that I have a hard time when thinking about the topics. I guess that is a good sign that they are making me really think about my experience with cancer.

I have to say that as far as my "choice" in cancer center, medical team, out look on treatment, and general attitude I would not change a thing. Despite the fact that my chemotherapy regimen was incredibly intense and draining on my body I actually went through it quite well with very little side effects that couldn't be controlled and were really just more annoyances than anything. My medical team was and continues to be fantastic! So I guess the only thing that I would tell myself is to take advantage of the services out there. I found out much later that my cancer center has amazing programs like music and art therapy, various exercises, social workers, support groups, etc. I never took advantage of them and wish that I had. Also I would have loved to have been given the LIVESTRONG guidebook at the beginning of my treatment cause it would be useful for all the reasons I mentioned in my post from yesterday about their app. So I guess the one thing I would really tell myself is don't think you have to go it alone, get involved in your environment because I know it would have helped me and probably would have made some new friends too.

As for what have a learned about being a patient that surprised me is just how vulnerable I was and still am. Having this experience has made me unsure about my health. I think I know what's going on with me and then I find myself and then seem to always second guess myself. It is often find it frustrating just how much it effects me emotionally, it is still a roller coaster ride. I am hoping with time I will develop more confidence in myself and medical knowledge so that I second guess myself less. Luckily I have an amazing oncologist who always makes sure I feel good about what is going on and reassures that I do know what's going on and I am right!

HAWMC Day 11: Favorites

Today's task for WEGO Health's Health Activist Writer's Challenge was to talk about my favorite health apps and/or my favorite social network.

I had a hard time trying to figure out what my favorite health app is. I originally was thinking health as is being healthy (food, exercise, etc). But then I read in the challenge that it should be an app that helps with your condition or your interactions with your doctors. After some careful thought I decided that my favorite app that deals specifically with cancer is LIVESTRONG's app. It is fantastic!! It has a digital version of their guidebook which is instrumental during your cancer journey. It also allows you to keep a journal, keep a medications record, helps you with keeping track of your symptoms and has a tracker to help keep track of your appointments. It also gives you ways to get to their navigation services which offers so many different services I can't even begin to write about them all.

I had the misfortune of becoming acquianted with this app after I had already completed my treatment but I still use it none the less. It actually does help me communicate with my doctors because I have accurate records of my medications, how I have been feeling, etc. I highly recommend this app. The great thing too is that if you are an apple user it is available for not only the iphone but also the ipad and ipad mini!

Now to think about my favorite social network is difficult. I decided I would take this a different way. I have to say at the moment my favorite would be pinterest. I chose pinterest because it is the one place I can go that will give me ideas for just about anything not just health related. We focus so much on what we need to work on that pinterest caters to a part of my health that is often overlooked. It helps me just get lost in something fun! I can contribute to it as well take from it which is great! I would say I am definitely addicted to pinterest!

Wednesday, April 10, 2013

HAWMC Day 10: A picture that I LOVE!

Today's topic was to pick a picture of myself that I LOVE! I went through many pictures and had a hard time deciding. Although I still have that shallow side of me, these days I tend to find more meaning behind the picture than what is actually in the picture. I chose this one because it is a great representative of just how far I have come. This was me running to the finish line of my first ever Triathlon in September 2012. I survived cancer, I survived turning my life style into a healthier one and I survived my first triathlon. It is a nice reminder of just how strong I really am because I often think that we forget just what is really inside us. 

Hope this motivates some of you!

HAWMC Day 9: Patients Point Of View

I have thought a lot about this mainly because I had many people that I consider to be my caregivers. I have had the good fortune to be able to talk to them at length about what it was like to be on the other side of my illness. What they told me was to some extent quite shocking because I never saw most of it.

So for my advice to any caregiver not just someone dealing cancer but any major illness would include a number of things.

1.) I know that most people believe that only showing their strong side and being the "strong" one who will be the best. However I can't tell you how reassuring it was when I could share a cry with my family. Yes there is a time to be strong but it is also nice to see that this is affecting them as much as it is affecting me.

2.) Think about how you would want to be treated if it were you in the situation. I think this helps with not only your perception but also how you talk and act towards whomever you are caring for. I know from a cancer point of view there were some severe side effects that often I couldn't control and some of them affected my mood, actions, etc. So it helped when my family and friends were understanding about things like that.

3.) Offer support in the way that you are comfortable with. I had a variety of caregivers that each one was better at something than the other. A really good friend of mine happens to be someone who doesn't know a whole lot about the medical world so she was more helpful by just keeping me company, sharing stories, and even helping by bringing meals.

4.) One thing that really helped me was when people wouldn't treat me as though I was sick. There were sometimes when that wasn't an option but for the most part it was nice to be treated "normal". It gave me that small little moment to forget what was going on and often just have fun.

5.) The last thing I would recommend would be that as much as it is important to take care of the patient you must also take care of yourself. Most often dealing with any illness it is an emotional rollercoaster for the caregivers as well as the patients. There are many resources out there that offer help in these areas for caregivers. But this can also mean taking some time for yourself. Often I think as people we get so wrapped up in putting others before ourselves that sometimes it can back fire on us. Take a little you time, go to a movie, out to dinner with friends, get a manicure or massage. Have a little time to forget what you are currently going through and have a little fun.

I have to also mention that I consider my medical team as part of my caregivers as well. I am not really sure if there is anyway to give them advice because they are most often trying to be as professional and reassuring as they can. The only thing that I can say to them is that as a patient it is a very personal experience. It helped me to be able to get to know my doctors and such on a more personal level. So don't be too caught up in sticking to straight and narrow share a little about yourself with your patients.

Anyway those are just my thoughts hope they were helpful to some.

Monday, April 8, 2013

HAWMC Day 8 - It's a bird, It's a plane, no it's a...Bull?!

So todays topic is if my lymphoma was an animal what would it be? At first glance I had no idea what kind of animal it would be. Then I started to think about my day today.

I have been actively training for a triathlon and been running a lot more. The more running I do I start to get a pain inside my hip joint. Not something like the IT band this is entirely different. In an effort to make sure something wasn't drastically wrong with my hip I got a referral to see an orthopedic doctor. Well I went to see him today. I had done x-rays and he mentioned some things on there (not about my hip) that were concerning to him. I was sure I knew what they were but when someone in the medical field is concerned about something no matter how much you know you still get nervous. Especially with my medical history. As I understand it and have been confirmed by my oncologist what they are seeing is scarring from where the lymphoma used to be and not be concerned about it. Made me feel a lot better!!

So this leads me to what kind of animal my lymphoma is. After today's unsettling experience the first thing I thought of was the saying "Like a bull in a china shop." So I decided my lymphoma is a bull. and as it turns out I feel is very fitting. Bulls are large, agressive and sometimes not so easily controlled. If you think about a bull being in a china shop they leave their mark everywhere. Breaking things, trampling things, basically you definitely know they were there. I feel like that is exactly what lymphoma has done.

While I had it it was large, aggressive and took a lot to get rid of it. Now that it's gone the damage that it had done to my body still tells you that it was once there. I couldn't think of a better analogy than that for my experience.

Maybe some day I can do a an extensive remodeling project and you will never even know it was there but I am thinking probably not.

Just for kicks I will call my bull, Edgar!

Sunday, April 7, 2013

Beyond The Rainbow 5K

Today was my third race in the Will Run For Beer Series, the Beyond The Rainbow 5k. The 5k was also simultaneously going on with the Great Bay Half Marathon which was interesting. I have been registered for this race for a little while and just recently found out that the 5k got it's name because it supports a program at Exeter Hospital called Beyond The Rainbow Fund. It helps support cancer patients and their faimlies while going through treatment with various things such as transportation, child care, etc. Not only was I thrilled that it is giving back to fellow cancer patients/survivors but one of my nurse practitioners just recently transfered to Exeter Hospital to work in their cancer center. It made me feel as though I was supporting her in a way as well!

So this morning I was hoping that it would be a little warmer than it was yesterday and hopefully less wind too.

As we were driving in I discovered that the parking was actually a good distance away from where the actual race was going to be. So we parked and took a shuttle to the start line. One thing I really liked is while waiting for the shuttle the race people had setup a table with tons of info on it that we really did need to know. It was awesome!

We then bored the bus and headed to the start, or so I thought! The shuttle bus pulled into a culdasac full of condos, stopped and opened the doors. There were several people on the bus that I heard comment how they thought we were picking someone up. Which is what I thought as well, it was a really odd place to be let out. As it turns out we were behind the high school we just needed to cut through a few places. As we were walking we came across the Community center which seemed really nice but my favorite thing was that they had a giant map of the United States painted in the parking lot.
After walking further we finally came to the high school, which again I thought was were the start was. I have to say I really like that all these races thus far in the series have had buildings for people to go into especially with this not being such a warm spring. We walked into the school, mom got in line for the bathroom I went in to get my bib number and t-shirt. I found it interesting that everyone got the same bib number but different t-shirts depending on if your were doing the 5k or the half marathon.

I came back out to find mom still waiting in line which was great because she pretty much held my spot. I have to be able to change cause I have found that I need to run in compression pants but there is no way I can put them on and then drive all that way while wearing them. So I changed and was all set to go. I honestly don't know what I would do if someone that wasn't running the race didn't come with me because they always end up holding my crap stuff, which in today's case happened to be my mother.

Now it was almost race time so I decided to start out towards the start line so that I wouldn't be in the same situation as last time where I get there just in time to start. I left mom so she could start to walk towards the finish which was in an entirely different spot. It was a good thing I started out "early" because the start was actually at the Elementary School down the street. This was the scene as I approached...
Made me nervous to see so many people, then I remembered it was both races together. I made my way towards the back of the pack and waited. Then there was the start gun and we were off. The first part of the race was fairly flat and a nice run or in my case half walk too. The volunteers were fantastic they made sure you knew where you were going and also gave you a nice compliment/motivation as you ran/walked by them. Everything was going great and then I turned the corner and there was the first hill. It ended up being the first of four hills, this was a hilly course. The ONLY thing that got me through was thinking and in some case saying out loud, "what goes up must eventually come down." Not being familiar with the course I just hoped the going down part came up shortly after starting the going up part. It was nice to get some extra speed going down the hills though.

My favorite part was when we got about halfway up the last hill and the volunteers standing at the top to direct us started yelling, "Come on you guys can do it, it's all down hill from here. The hard part is all over." Now hoping that you can trust them (cause sometimes you can't) it gives you that little extra push. I was thrilled to see they told the truth and it was all down hill. I took off and ran until I had crossed the finish line.
And for those of you who know me I always pick a mark of someone I want to finish before. This time I let them get too far ahead of me and he finished just a few seconds before me. I'll catch 'em next time! Although this was not a new PR for me I though I did fairly well with my finish time of 40:20 given the hills and sore hip from over doing the running this weekend.

I was thrilled to see that not only was my mom waiting for me at the finish but so was my cousin, her boyfriend and my aunt and uncle. They live in New Hampshire and decided to come down and cheer me on. It was great to see them. We stayed to watch the first few people finish the half marathon. the winner of the race and the mens finished in 1:12:26...beating the record he set last year. That is just amazing to me, I say congrats to my fellow 5ker's but also everyone who did the half marathon, you inspire me. Probably not enough to ever do a half marathon but still.

I heard rumors that there was an after race celebration which was being sponsored by Smuttynose Brewing Co. However I have no idea where it was cause it was not where we were. Oh well missing one isn't the end of the world.

This was a good race. I would definitely so this race again! Thank you to everyone involved in creating, directing and arranging everything. And special thanks to all the volunteers, you did a phenomenal job and were just all around pleasant and motivating, certainly can't do these races without you so keep up the good work!

Stayed tuned for the Stonyfield Earth Day 5K in a couple weeks!

Saturday, April 6, 2013

My Trials With Cycling

So I have been riding a bike since I was in kindergarten and I distinctly remember the whole process of learning to ride a bike. I was fine with the whole training wheel thing and was not going to have those long. I finally got to the point that they were removed and I was free. And then there was a the falling. I never really got hurt I just remember that I fell a bit but then got the hang of it.

I bring this up because I feel as though I am learning to ride a bike all over again. Only this time it is a lot more frustrating! I am not sure about the rest of you out there but I am new to the cycling thing as far as training. races, exercise thing. I recently got a new bike through a grant from the AKP Foundation which I couldn't be happier about. The bike itself is great, light weight, easy gear changes, hybrid tires, regular handle bars instead of road bike handle bars (which I love about it). However as part of the grant they also got my cycling shoes and clip pedals.

At the time I thought was great because I know that is what most people use while cycling for the reason I will be cycling for.

I got all this stuff in December which is not the ideal time in Massachusetts. But I started using the shoes during spin class so I would be used to them. Boy way that the biggest joke I ever told myself. I was used to having them on my feet however there is no other option of getting used to them then actual riding on the bike out on the open road so to speak.

Last weekend I went on my first bike ride with a friend on mine. Now mind you everyone I know that rides with clip in shoes had already warned me that I WILL fall as if there was no getting around it. Well I like many others live in my little world of denial where nothing like that ever happens to me.

0.02 miles into our trail ride guess what happened? If you guessed that I feel you are the lucky winner! Now this trail is also paved so needless to say I have the scrap/bump/bruise to prove I fell.
It actually looks much better in this picture than it actually was. So I had landed on the wrist/palm and then elbow because my feet were as you guessed still attached to the pedals. It was painful but it was however definitely because I am not used to the shoes and my brain is not trained to remember unless I am thinking about it. At the time I was thinking about the fact that my hydration pack was leaking so badly it was pouring water down my back. I of course did what any other child or person would got back and up and got on the bike. After I dealt with the hydration pack of course. We continued and I did well with thinking about unclipping and being ready for a stop. we came to the first of two major intersections that cross the trail we were on. I had unclipped my left foot and was actually standing on the ground with it. However in an effort to unclip my right foot aparently the motion was too great and you guessed it again I fell over. figured I had to even it out, one on each side. that wasn't as bad probably because I was some what closer to the ground.

Luckily those were the only two falls I endured during my 10+ mile ride that day. However the recovery from the first fall was quite a few days, which although it was my arm interfered with my training because it hurt too much to swim.

So now we fast forward to today. I was feeling much better, not really any more pain, the bruises are starting to fade. I thought I can do my ride outside today. I rode from my house to the Y, about 1.5 miles. It turned out to freezing so I decided I would just ride home after the road race I was doing and hopefully ride later in the day when it was slightly warmer.

After the race I get ready and start out. I had to stop at the end of the parking lot for traffic and again my left foot was unclipped standing on the ground and yet some how my right got stuck, threw my balance off, and my bike tipped which also took me with it because my foot was attached. I managed to bend my ankle & knee in a way which I am sure is not good for them and of course braced the whole thing with my hand. But again I got up and got back on the bike and rode home.

So here I sit on the couch trying to get warm from the cold yet having to ice my hand.
The ice is wrapped in a towel, while I try to keep layers of blankets between my fingers to keep them warm.

Here is the thing when you would fall as a child yes you might of had the same outcome of scraps, bruises and bumps but they didn't seem to effect you the same as they do as an adult. It is frustrating because I know I need to ride more out on the road to really get used to using the shoes and training my brain to do it subconciously. But now I am starting to develop a fear of actually going for a ride because of the falling. I am really torn here. It is much easier to ride with the clip in shoes but with the higher current possibility of getting hurt. I am seriously considering going back to regular pedals but I am unsure.

I would love to hear from other cyclists on their thoughts and how you got through the transition to using the clip in shoes.

For today I am putting off my ride but will get back on the bike again!

HAWMC Day 6: Dear Lymphoma!

Dear Lymphoma,

Where do I even begin? For longer than I would have ever wanted you derailed my entire life. To some extent you still do but in a different way.

When you finally reared your ugly head I was terrified! Although there are sure fire ways to get rid of you nothing is ever 100%! You came in and setup shop right on my spine. Although then again maybe that was just the comfy spot that you found and decided you liked because I actually have no idea where you came from. I can however guess based on all the marks you left all over my body.  But there you sat on my spine being your happy little self and just started to spread. You put my through excruciating pain for months trying to take up even more room.

Then I got the news of just how much you wanted to stay and what it would take to get rid of you. Aside from the pain that was the worst part. I was going to loose not only the hair on my head but all of my hair...eyebrows, eyelashes and nose hair included. I was going to be sick, feel tired, have mouth sores, things were going to taste different if I was even going to be able to eat them, I was going to be tired, I was going to be more vulnerable to other infections/diseases. That wasn't even the worst part I was going to have to put my entire life as I knew it on hold to deal with you with the possibility of this lovely experience affecting my furture of having children.

I was 27 years old! recently married and although I may not have been the best at taking care of myself I certainly never expected to see you!

I did in fact loose all my hair, I was SO tired all the time but that didn't really matter because the treatment took away my ability to be around other people or do anything so I guess being tired made it easier to miss out on a lot of things. The one thing that had always made me feel better; food; didn't even have the comfort it normally did because all the medication to get rid of you changed the way things tasted. But I was lucky enough to have mild side effects of nausea and mouth sores which was a plus and I never did get any other infections or illnesses so that way I was able to keep my treatment right on track.

Oh yea and I forgot to mention my ABSOLUTE least favorite thing about you setting up shop on my spine the intrathecal chemotherapy. So I have this massive lymphoma tumor on my spine and now I have to get medication injected directly into my spine to make sure you don't spread your way into there...UGH!!

BUT despite all that I made it through and you my dear where forced out and completely gone by the time this was all done and you have not returned!

However there is some good that came from your impromptu visit I have started taking better care of myself, I have learned a lot more about myself too. That there are so many things that I can do that I thought I never could, that there are amazing people out there that are kind and nice and want nothing more than to help mankind (I happen to be one of those people as well), but certainly not last that I have to accept what happens, figure out a plan to change it for the better, work hard to accomplish that plan and then constantly move forward in life!

You were and will always be an unwelcome guest in my life. You came to be way too early but you taught a whole lot too. I just hope that we never meet again!


HAWMC Day 5: Aspiration

I find this topic inspiring for me think outside the box a tad. If i had unlimited resources really the sky would be the limit!

My goal would be to have a camp for children survivors that they could attend and regain a lot of things they may have lost through their cancer treatments. It would also include things like counseling, art/music therapy, animal therapy, mind body wellness, dealing with anxiety, etc.

I would then develop something more specific for young adults. I like the idea of young adult but I also feel as though the typical age range although some topics over lap like jobs, fertility, etc there are many that don't due to wide range of 18-40. I would love to develop a local program hopefully affiliated with area hospitals and wellness centers. It would be designed initial on an individual basis where the person can meet one on one with a team. A personal trainer, a social worker type, medical personnel, financial advisor, etc. From there they can decided what that person needs and develop an individual plan for them. As far as the social worker and fincial adviser they would be more to help get them into preexisting programs such as something through the fore mentioned hospitals or a lot of the financial assistance foundations/programs that are already in play. Once their individual plan is devised they would then enter into a group atmosphere I would think similar to that of the LIVESTRONG at the YMCA program. However it would much less formal, but still give them the option of being with other survivors, motivating each other as well as getting inspiration from them. I haven't worked out all the bugs but that is the general idea.

Then of course there is the adult age group of cancer survivors 40+. Which I think require an entirely different program. It could be similar to the young adult but I would like to be able to include services for their family/caregivers because often they are more involved then most realize. I also think that there are more other medical conditions going in addition to cancer with some people that would be this age group so they would need more than just cancer survivorship guidance but also help with managing this like arthritis, heart disease, etc.

My first year I would think that I would work on developing the program for young adults since I am a young adult and so that is what I am most comfortable with and then we can build from there. I think this idea would take many more years than 5 and lots of work by not only myself but many other people. Just thinking about it is extremely overwhelming and I applaud those people that have successfully started foundations and program similar to this nature as I can only imagine what it took to get that done.

Thursday, April 4, 2013

HAWMC Day 4: Care Page

When I was first diagnosed I wasn't really looking for too much information except the basics of general information on Diffuse Large B-Cell Lymphoma and the type of treatment I was undergoing. So for that I went to these places...

The American Cancer Society:

Massachusetts General Hospital Cancer Center:

The Leukemia & Lymphoma Society:

The Lymphoma Research Foundation:

Mass General served two purposes, first to help orient me with the cancer center as well as my medical team through their online profiles. Second was exploring the information they have on there about my lymphoma.

After my treatment I was looking more to connect with others like me and figure out the recovery/survivorship aspect of cancer. For that I turned to some other outlets.

The Lymphoma Forums:

Specifically to get their guidebooks to begin with and then to have as a resource for many other things throughout the cancer journey.

Stupid Cancer:

First Descents:

AKP Foundation:

Immerman Angels:

I would suggest across the board to definitely check out the website of whatever hospital or cancer center you are having your treatment because not only is there usually information about different types of cancer but also about different services that are offered in different capacities.

There is so much information out there so it is hard to tell where it go. So here is a little list to help get people in the right direction.

If you want to get in on this healthy activist challenge check it out. Even though it's already started you can still join in! http://info.wegohealth.com/hawmc

Wednesday, April 3, 2013


Day 3 is Wordless Wednesday: Picture that symbolizes your condition and experience.

This is how I was greeted before my diagnosis with doctors who didn't know what was wrong with me. Then once I was diagnosed I was greeted like this because no one ever knew what to do with me because I went through treatment so well. I was not what they expected. I would have posted an actual picture of my oncologist doing this cause he would throw his hands in the air and tell me he felt useless. I liked being boring!

See you for Day 4!

HAWMC Day 1 & 2

I recently discovered WEGO health thanks to Allie Moorse a fellow Young Adult Cancer Survivor and Blogger. I also discovered that they were doing a healthy post challenge for the month of April. I have been thinking that I am not really taking my blog to where I want it to be mainly probably because of time but whatever the excuse reason I thought this was a great way to try and get it to where I want it to be. If you would like to join in on the challenge be sure to check out WEGO Health.

So here is my post for Day 1 & 2:

Day 1: Getting Started

I write for many reasons but the biggest being that hopefully someone like me will read it and know that you can change your life for the better and make healthy choices. Aside from being a cancer survivor I am also someone who for most of my life was unhealthy in so many ways. I was inactive 90% of the time, I was morbidly obese and having aches, pains and conditions that people much older than me were experiencing. I write to share my journey to help other people and hopefully show them a way that might work for them to become healthier.

Having cancer got me started. Ironically enough I did not start this blog until after I had completed my treatment but that time was the hardest. The first road to recovery is why I started writing and sharing. Reaching out to others who were going through what I was going through. I have just kept it up ever since then.

Why The Health Activist Writer's Month Challenge? Well that is simple, why not? I try to stay health conscious and I want to share what I know and learn with others as well as learn from others in the process. I also want to get more into posting to my blog and I thought this was a great way. I decided to do it now instead of previous years because I only found about it yesterday so I am definitely a NEWBIE!

Day 2: Introduction

Oh where to begin on what my condition(s) are. Well first off I was diagnosed with Non-Hodgkins Diffuse Large B-Cell Lymphoma with a c-Myc Translocation when I was 27. I went through 5 months of INTENSE chemotherapy and then five days before christmas in 2010 I found out I was cancer free!! That was probably my biggest condition.

I also have mild asthma and what I am guessing are some kind of allergies or environmental irritants. Which sometimes interfere with my physical activity but I try to work my way around it.

5 things I would like to share:
1.) My chemotherapy was one of the most intense first line treatments out there and some how I flew through it with relatively small side effects. So I feel although this was a good thing for me, it puts me at a disadvantage of helping others because I was not the norm.

2.) I try to be active in my writing but also in the cancer community in general to raise awareness of the effects cancer and treatments can have on young adult survivors, their families/friends, etc.

3.) I want to reach a wider audience then just cancer survivors. I identify with many other people just for being over weight. When I started this I weighed over 300lbs now I have lost just about 90lbs without following a new fad diet but learning and making my own choices about how you can live forever not just in the moment.

4.) I find it hard because there is no way to tell exactly how I got lymphoma so there is no way for to say that what I am doing will keep it away. However I know that living a healthy lifestyle will only help not hurt.

5.) Trying to start exercising while having asthma proved to be it's own obstacle. Although mine is mild it has always been exacerbated by exercise so that was quite the trial and error. But with my own perseverance and persistence I found a asthma cocktail that works for me.

Here are a few blog posts that either I wrote or have helped me along the way:

First is what I call Sunday Funday, This it the time I take to plan and prepare my meals for the week.

Second is about my very first 5k and about the LIVESTRONG at the YMCA program

My third post to share is from my friend Allie's blog about Lymphoma Awareness day which can be very helpful to those diagnosed with, completeing treatment or living with lymphoma.

That's all for now until Day 3...which will be posted very shortly!

March Foodie Penpal Reveal!

The Lean Green Bean

It's that time again to reveal my foodie penpal package for March! It came from Marie all the way from Ohio state. I can't thank her enough for her thoughtfulness, she really listened to my likes and dislikes.

I opened the box and the first thing I saw was this...
The color immediately caught my eye because I have a new love of lime green with it being the lymphoma awareness ribbon color. Marie sent this to me because I had told her and she checked out my blog that I was a cancer survivor. This it from her school. They do a dance marathon every year called Buckeyethon to raise money for Nationwide's children's Hospital hematology/oncology department. I was thrilled to learn about such a great thing Ohio State does and of course all the goodies inside!!

The first thing that I pulled out was a yummy jar of peanut butter. peanut butter is one of my all time favorite foods so I was thrilled.
But this wasn't just any ordinary peanut butter, this one was packed full with even more portein than normal and it is all natural! And boy is it yummy. Marie also sent me the recipe for the traditional Buckeyes which I plan on using some of this peanut butter to make!

Next out of the bag were these little gems...
The thought behind these yummy Dessert Delights was that I told Marie I love baked goods but that I was trying to stay on the healthy side of things. These are great I did try them and then ended up giving them to my friend only because chewing gum aggravates my TMJ which I suppose I should tell people about but I always forget. either way they tasted great and I love the thought and idea behind them.

Then last but certainly not least was this...
It isn't just your normal run of the mill hot chocolate though. It is a nutritional supliment which according to Marie's note has added protein in it. I think this will be great to save as a recovery treat after one my road races or long training days! Marie if you read this could please send the brand name and maybe the nutritional information?

Thank you again Marie for this package. You really did an amazing job thinking about lots of different things about me. And also thanks to Lindsay over at The Lean Green Bean for creating this program and running it so well for all of us!

Now for the fun part how you all can get involved...

-Just head over to Lindsay's Blog and click on the link to sign up.
-On the 5th of the month, you will receive your penpal pairing via email. It will be your responsibility to contact your penpal and get their mailing address and any other information you might need like allergies or dietary restrictions.
-You will have until the 15th of the month to put your box of goodies in the mail. On the last day of the month, you will post about the goodies you received from your penpal!
-The boxes are to be filled with fun foodie things, local food items or even homemade treatsThe spending limit is $15The box must also include something written. This can be anything from a note explaining what’s in the box, to a fun recipe…use your imagination!
-You are responsible for figuring out the best way to ship your items depending on their size and how fragile they are. (Don’t forget about flat rate boxes!)
-Foodie Penpals is open to blog readers as well as bloggers. If you’re a reader and you get paired with a blogger, you can choose to write a short guest post for your penpal to post on their blog about what you received. If two readers are paired together, neither needs to worry about writing a post for that month.
- Foodie Penpals is open to US, Canadian residents & UK residents.   

Please note, Canadian Residents will be paired with other Canadians only. We’ve determined things might get too slow and backed up if we’re trying to send foods through customs across the border from US to Canada and vice versa. So, I’m going to keep two separate lists and match US w/ US and Canada w/ Canada! 

***If you’re in the UK, please contact Carol Anne from This Is Rock Salt at rocksalt@thisisrocksalt.com to get involved.