Sunday, August 25, 2013

Mountains vs. Molehills

I have been trying to do things that are adventurous that I haven't tried before. This weekend after talking to my friend Jamison we decided to go rock climbing!! I was scared and excited all at the same time, mainly because we were going bouldering which meant we were doing it without ropes.

We went to Central Rock Gym in Worcester. Basically right up the street from my house! I can't tell you how many times I have driven by this place and NEVER been inside.

We walk in and I of course had to fill out a waiver; you know in case I die. We had to rent shoes too, I started with my normal shoe size 11 and had to go up a half size. Jamison and I wore the same size shoe. That either says something about me or something about him. This is the what the rock walls look like from up where the cardio equipment is...

To the right of the giant wall in the middle is the smaller wall where you do the bouldering. All the climbing trails are labeled starting at V0 going up to V10. 0 being the easiest and 10 being the most difficult. I was only able to successfully complete a V0, I attempted V1, V2 but only got about 1/2 to 3/4 of the way up.

Here it the thing I understand that most of year strength comes from your legs. I wasn't really using upper body strength in the sense of pulling myself up or anything. What I was having a problem with was that you have to have a descent grip for the hand holds. I now understand just how much of a workout this is for your forearms! Imagine making a fist and then hold it like that for an hour. As soon as you make the fist you can feel your forearm tense up. While I was climbing my feet hurt slightly but that was more because the foot holds were awkwardly shaped and digging into my feet not due to over use of those muscles. My legs were completely fine. I guess all that biking & running has certainly paid off. By about halfway through the time we spent there my hands and arms were aching.

I watched others climbing all around me and let me tell you they were very impressive. There were several people who would be hanging by their hands, swing their feet to a tiny little foot hold, and then jump to another spot on the wall. I was in awe most of the time watching everyone. For most of them these walls were Molehills but for me they are mountains. I am determined to conquer these mountains!
I will definitely be trying this again and doing some workouts to help strengthen my forearms. It really was a great workout and it is so much fun when you finally get to the top!
Thanks Jamison for coming with me and not making me feel bad for not being able to do it as well as you! I appreciate the support! :)

Saturday, August 24, 2013

I'm Too Sexy For My Hair!

Today reminded me of a very unique and fantastic experience which ironically enough has to do with my hair. I have a fantastic salon; Scizzors in Shrewsbury MA. I have been going there for seven years. I originally found out about them because I worked for Worcester Foothills Theatre Co. and they took care of all the hair needs for our actors/actresses that were in our shows.

I will never forget my first experience going there. You walk in the door and you are greeted with smiles and this overwhelming feeling of warmth. They really are focused on pampering, they take your coat, offer you something to drink (which also includes beer or wine, not just water or coffee). Once you are all set someone comes and brings your over for your shampoo. I have to say that this is one of my favorite things about Scizzors. All the employees are willing to help everyone out. Often it is a different employee washing your hair than your regular stylist. This is great because you get to know more of the staff.

But my absolute favorite thing about the whole experience is their infamous scalp massage. I swear most people would go sooner than they have to just to get that done. As soon as they start you just melt. Then they shampoo/condition your hair and set you up at your station. I have had multiple stylists over the years but they have all been great. Always listened to what I wanted or helped guide me through my hair woes. I would definitely say they have made me a long time customer for good reason.

Aside from their normal customer treatment I also have a very unique story that Scizzors is a huge part of. I am currently a 3 year lymphoma survivor. I was first diagnosed in August 2010. One of the first things my oncologist explained to me was that I was going to lose my hair. This is what I looked like right before my diagnosis...

Notice that my hair was fairly long and STRAIGHT. After my diagnosis and deciding on my treatment options I had my first round of chemo. I decided there was no way I was going to be able to handle my hair falling out if I left it the way it was. I called and made an appointment with Rebecca; my stylist; to have it all cut off. That was exactly three years ago today, August 24th, 2010!

It wasn't until I got there that I told them why I was cutting off my hair. They were 100% supportive about the whole thing. Rebecca even said, "Well even though it's going to fall out I'm going to make you look great until it does." She helped with another huge thing I wanted to do which was donate my hair to locks of love. I figured if it is getting cut off and going to fall out anyway it should go towards a worthy cause. They took care of it all and she was right I left there looking amazing even though it was a huge difference!

I was going through treatment for some time after that and once I stopped it took a very long time (in my world anyway) to even get a little bit of hair back.

This was about 2 months after my last treatment.

It was close to a year before I was back at Scizzors. I was unsure of what to do with my hair at this point. It was real short, fuzzy, wavy, just plain odd. I actually emailed them to find out if they would be willing to do a consult with me just because I had no idea what to do with this new hair of mine but it was still too short to really cut. I was welcomed with open arms. John who is the owner of salon emailed me back and offered for me to come in before they opened or after they closed if I wanted privacy. He explained that they helped other people who had been through chemo so they knew what to expect. I actually went in to see them the very same day. He explained that my hair was two textures and that the soft baby like hair would have to be cut off. Then it would start to grow more and be easier to manage.

That was the beginning of my new hair journey. John and everyone else at Scizzors has been with me every step of the way since. That was 2 years ago and today I am finally at a place where I am ok; maybe even happy with the way my hair is now. It is just about to the length it was before treatment only now it is really CURLY!!! The curl has grown on me, for at least a year and half I hated that it was curly and hoped it would return to the way it was.

John has always been nothing but supportive, informative, and encouraging reminding every time I have come in, "look it's gotten longer!" And "I know you don't even have to say it we're just trimming it." My favorite thing was that John told me the back of your hair grows faster than the top so he always made sure I didn’t develop a mullet. That would have been bad all around! He also knows to blow dry my hair straight, and a great job he does every time including my last visit to Scizzors.

There will be a time soon where I will be ok with or need to do something different to my hair and you better believe it will all be done at Scizzors! I couldn't recommend them any higher than I already do. Take my word for it you will love everything about it! There is good reason they have been in business for 29 years!

But that brings me to the most exciting announcement. My friend Sara and I have joined Team In Training through the Leukemia and Lymphoma Society. We will be running the Tufts 10K on Columbus Day but we also need to raise money to do so. John and Scizzors has offered to work with us by having a fundraising event! We are planning it for sometime in September but the idea will a glamor night! Come to the salon, get your hair done, make up done, have some food & drink, partake in some fantastic raffles and help us raise money to hopefully get one step closer to curing blood cancer!! 

As an added bonus if we reach our goal that night I am going to shave my head and donate all my hair yet again! But this time it is my choice to loose all me hair!! So be sure to stay tuned for all the details on when and how to get tickets. In the mean time feel free to share this blog post or my Team In Training page.

Monday, August 12, 2013

FD2 should get your shakira hips on! Day 8

I just recently came back from FD2 so this is what sticks in my mind the most and I thought what better way to continue the goodwill then thank all of you!

DAK you are first because you are the first person I met in the airport. You immediately welcomed me and made me feel comfortable. You even watched my bags for me so I could get something to eat. All week you nothing but encouraging and positive about everything we were doing! I love that even after you have continued to go out and find adventure, rock climbing, safety boating, etc. That is fantastic! Thank you for being you and for supporting me!

CoPilot I knew from the moment we stepped foot into that market it was going to be a fun week with you because you were trouble (but in a good way). You have this phenomenal desire to do everything to the fullest you can. Even when you were frustrated and considered not even wanting to be on the river you let us guide you and you have a great time! I am thankful that I now I have you as friend. You keep me motivated everyday! I will someday do a race with you so keep it up!

Dotcom I have to say after reading everything you write I have to seriously reconsider my blog haha. You are a very talented writer! But you are also another competitive person. I could not believe when you said you were there with a broken collard bone and were still so excited to go kayaking. I probably wouldn't have even made it on the plane never mind down a river. Even when you were the raft you made it your bitch! You have a great sense of humor and were always telling all of us what a great job we were doing. Thank you for sharing with us and making my FD2 experience that much better. Oh and I really am sorry about the penis!

Buo I 100% agree that your nickname should be GAP because some how you always managed to make whatever you were wearing look like a total fashion runway ensemble! I wanted to thank you for bringing spirit to my week. There were so many times on the river that you had something nice and positive to say to me and it always seemed to be just at the right moment. That made all the difference. Of course thank you for sharing the Teepee with me too. That was a great night! It was so nice to get to know you and of course you listened to me as well. You are one awesome person so keep doing what you're doing!

Flip Flop you are anything but flip flop while on the river. You always seemed so calm cool and collected and ready for anything! Thank you so much for your crazy fun self! You made me feel like I was the best kayaker around! You are so positive and supportive of everything I did then and even now! I loved our time on graduation day and of course our short time in the teepee together. Sorry we kept you awake!! :) Thanks for being my friend and for making the whole experience that much funner!

Tiger thank you for sharing the song of you with me. One of my favorite parts of the trip was when you would break out in song. I just loved it! You also had this calm, zen about you while on the river. You just went with the flow and did you what could do. Seeing you do that reminded me to stay calm and be one with the river. Which also carried throughout other parts of my life since. I try very hard to channel my inner El Tiger! Thank you for sharing with me!

Bro Puppy it was so nice to have someone to share my triathlon knowledge with. Most people I meet think I am crazy for even trying to do a triathlon but you were interested in what I had already accomplished. Thank you sharing that with me and I hope you do fantastic in your triathlon

RoadRash it was so much having you in our van! I was and continue to be inspired by the way you face your fears. You were really afraid to swim and out of all us and our carnage you were the only one to stay out of the water. Yet you still faced your fear and came out on top! That inspired me so much! Thank you for all your words of wisdom, sharing stories about your family and of course your continued support! You rock!

Pasta I loved hearing all about semester at sea and what you do there. That really does sound like a fun job! Thank you for all the adventure you had on the river. No matter what was around the next bend you couldn't wait to find out. That kept me moving forward and wanting to experience it just as much as you did. Thanks for helping to make the week, fun and unexpected!

Bobo you really made the week that much better. It was so great to be able to experience all of that with you. You even got to do a complete roll in the duo with Patch, that was really cool to see I can only imagine what it must have been like to actually do it! Thank you for sharing a part of yourself with us at campfire. It was so refreshing to hear your supportive words no matter where we were on the river. Always being so encouraging to not only me but everyone else as well! Thank you!

I saved my roommates for last but you all are certainly not least. Journey, Bruce and BandCamp rooming with you was such a fun week! You all shared so much of yourselves with me and made me feel right at home even though I was the last one to join coming in so late. We definitely need to arrange a time to have some more slumber parties! Mama Mia you're invited just to keep us in line.

Journey you are so easy to talk to, and you always have an encouraging word. I know how frustrated you got on the river but you never once gave up, you always got back in the kayak and said I want to do it again. You inspire me so much! Thank you for letting me be part of it all and for being a great new friend. We will be hitting the river again together real soon!

Bruce you are one fantastic Canadian! I love that you show your pride! Thank you for being one of my buddies on the river and always being supportive. I will forever remember the late night stories and having so much fun sharing with you. I hope you know how great you are and I hope that we will remain friends for a long time!

BandCamp I don't even know where to begin. I would hope by this point you know how much you have impacted my life. You are one crazy lady and I love it! I will paddle the river or swim a rapid with you anytime. I always know that when you are involved it will be a fun time! Thank you so much for everything you have given me!

Patch, Pedro, Braveheart, Bomb, Mama Mia, Ruby, Dude and Raz I hope you all know how much you have impacted my life and driven me even more towards getting out there and living it up! If for some reason you don't I will be more than happy to let you all know again that's how much I love you all!

All of you are fantastic and have given me more than I could have ever imagined. Today is the final day of my quest. This day three years ago I was diagnosed and here I am today living a whole new life with such phenomenal people adding to it and shaping it along the way! Thank you all for everything, we are all now new forever friends!

The Chaos Ensued! Day 7

This one is for my FD1 people!! 

We had a very interesting week but we got through the chaos on and off the water as a team! There is so much to thank you for it is hard to know where to begin. I guess I will start with my cabin...

Gridou (Ingrid) you are one amazing person. You were constantly making me laugh and made me feel right at home. You always had words of wisdom and encouragement both on the water and of course back at the cabin in our hot tub! You inspire me so much with all your backpacking adventures and your love for life! Thank you for being one of my cabin mates and for making that week on that was AMAZING!

Rizzizle (Ria) you may have been a little late but I am so glad you got there. You always had something good to say about me and everyone else even when you were feeling not so confident about yourself. I love that your nickname is Rizzizle because you definitely have lots of pizzazz and sparkle. Thank you for everything that week and thank you for you continued support all the way from Florida!

Crispy (Steve) I absolutely can't thank you enough for taking the time to teach us some greek dancing. Aside from being on the river that was one of the best moments of the week! You like all of us had your rough moment on the water but you always made sure to say something positive to me and I heard it several other people as well. Thank you so much for sharing so much of yourself and all your encouragement!

Runt (Mike) I have to say I was very surprised when you gave me the star kayak award for surfing in the river. Mainly because I am someone who had never really been athletic and certainly was never "recognized" for anything like that. It really made me feel like I could successfully kayak and then branched out to so many more things since then! Thank you for giving me that and for thinking that I deserved it. It was great to have you as a cabinmate and thank you for sharing with all of us as well!

Now Cabin 2...part me wished I experienced your cabin as well haha.

Sukey (Jamie) your smile is fantastic! You were another one that was so supportive and you still continue to be all the way from Wisconsin! I saw your drive on the river to never stop and that helped me find my drive. You shared so much with all of us but you also made sure we all knew that we were getting it done on the river too. you constantly were giving me words of encouragement especially before a rapid. Thank you for giving it your all so that I gave it my all too!

Cat (Dianne) the main thing I need to say thank you for is your lack of filter. I am one of those people who appreciates people telling it exactly how it is in their head. You always were encouraging me and saying such positive things, you even gave me and some other a massage which was fantastic! You; like Sukey; had a drive while on the river to keep moving forward. I love that! And a huge thank you for helping me with info about your time in Montana it was everything you said it would and then some!

Kevlar (Kevin) I have to tell you that every time I hear the Dropkick Murphy's Boston I think of you! It was fantastic to have those moments of just pure fun. I know you had some issues with your hand and foot but you never let that stop you and you were always willing to help out even with those things. It was so nice to hear words of encouragement from you! Thank you for that! I saw you went on your FD2 trip recently how was it?

Pigskin (Megan) I know you weren't feeling well for most of our trip but for the first few days you were so into it all. Sharing a lot about yourself with all of us and encouraging us through all the games. I loved your competitive side during our kayaking games, you were fantastic! While you were missing we really felt it and were constantly thinking of you. I know as a group we were so excited when you got to join us for graduation day! Thank you for your exuberant personality and for helping us all!

SPF (Kristen) you are amazing person. You dislocated your knee and aside from being in pain you didn't let it stop you. If Spoonberg, Pleezah, Big Toe and Sunday didn't say no you would have been in a kayak. From your raft you were always telling us what was coming up or that we did a good a job getting through that rapid. You made me want to work harder because you never threw in the towel. You embraced the raft even turned that into your boat! Thank you for that! I also have to say thank you for sharing your Montana experience with me and for always giving your support through Facebook even now!

There is also a special thanks that goes out to Spoonberg, Pleezah, Freight Train, Mia Rut, Sunday, Big Toe and Brad. But you all know exactly why I would say thank you to you and if you don't I would be more than happy to tell you again!

That's Not A Hill, It's A Mountain! Day 6

This is one amazing foundation! Always Keep Pedaling helps young adult cancer survivors by giving them grants to help follow their active lifestyle dreams. There are tons of organizations out there that offer grants but most of them are medical expenses, life expenses or school expenses. One of the biggest things about finding your new normal after cancer and having a healthy recovery is physical activity. AKP's is focusing on helping cancer survivors get what they need to always keep pedaling. Today's post goes out to thanking them! I named this post that's not a hill it's a mountain for many reason but the main being that we tend make more out of things than they really are often not even wanting to try them because of that. So you have to overcome your mountain and AKP helped me literally and figuratively!

Jon, you are an amazing, inspiring person! I was so excited to have met you a year ago at the young adult cancer survivor conference at Dana-Farber and learn about AKP. Then to have been given the opportunity to go on a bike weekend in Vermont was just as exciting. Although I will admit I was scared out of my mind to be on a bike for an entire weekend, I honestly didn't think I could do it. Then you greeted us at the house, welcomed us and gave us the run down of the weekend. I think you could sense my apprhension because you said to me that no matter what I can go at my own pace, there will always be an option to stop and get in the van, we were all there just to have fun but that you thought I could do it. I wanted to thank you for those words and helping to give me the courage and push I needed to have an amazing weekend! I learned A LOT about myself in that short amount of time but there are two things I will never forget about that weekend. First your definition of a "Hill" and second watching you take on those "hills". Your zest for life pushed me even more than I can say. Another huge thank you for helping me with the grant process and of course getting my fantastic new bike as that I can Always Keep Pedaling right along with you. Thank you from the bottom of my heart!

Els & Simon you were both a huge piece of that weekend as well. Both of you always making us feel just like we belonged. Els you never let any one of us fall behind alone you were always riding right there with us and offering help if we needed it. Simon our trusty photographer extraordinaire! You helped not only AKP document the weekend but all of us as well. You always checked on us as you drove by to setup the next shot or in the case that we needed something you immediately stopped and helped us. All this so close to your wedding day too. We were lucky to have such caring support people with us for the weekend! You both certainly helped me get past my fear and move into having a fantastic time!

Erin & Jeffrey, my car pool buddies. It was so nice to be able to have company on our drive up and get to know each other before we got there. You were and continue to be so supportive. Both of you sharing your knowledge of biking with me making me feel slightly less anxious! I am so glad to have been able to spend that time with you, thank you so much for helping me, supporting me and making it such a great weekend!

Alyssa you are just this amazing ball of energy! I hopefully have already told you just how thankful I am to have you as a friend and how grateful I am for all the support you give me, but if not I just did again. Keep doing what you're doing cause you are fantastic! :)

Juliana it was so great to have you there that weekend because were someone else who was more than willing to share your knowledge about biking and as an added bonus you are a teacher! You were so friendly and welcoming just making me feel very comfortable. You are great at cheering me on and giving that little extra push to go a little further. Even now you still are encouraging even if it is through Facebook. So thank you for it all!

Gina Marie you are another firey one! You have an amazing sense of humor which definitely helped me out! You are also extremely encouraging both on the road while we were all having our individual struggles or even now when you post things on Facebook. You are just this smiling face that make everything better. Thank you for all your spirit and help!

Lauren you are another great motivator. That weekend you helped by telling us we were doing a good job or sharing some techniques that worked for you. Now you continue to be motivating by everything you do and giving your words through Facebook as well. Thank you for that!

Alexandra you were so nice and had some many ways of helping me feel like I was succeeding even when I was walking up a hill. It made all the difference in the world because at those moments is when you aren't really feeling so great about yourself. Thank you for providing that little extra touch to get me through!

Last and certainly not least is Chris. You were absolutely amazing the whole weekend. Overly supportive of everyone, always offering help, sharing your knowledge, being at the right moment on the road when we needed you. You even made due when there was a bat flying around your room. I learned so much about myself and of course about bikes and what to look for in getting my own as well as how to take care of them. Thank you so much for giving me the ground work for being self sufficient in biking!

There is also a huge thank you to anyone working with AKP and supporting AKP because that experience was life changing and of course getting my bike made the possibilities of how much I should push myself even greater! Thank You, Thank You, Thank You!

3 More days until my three anniversary of being diagnosed! Stay tuned for more!