About Me

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What started as a little experiment in blogging has evolved into my renewed love for writing the raw, gritty truth. Running has always had so many parallels to life's ups and downs. As a new cancer survivor/fighter, running and writing has continued to be there for me in my quest to always move forward, always try to be better than yesterday. Find me: http://www.curetoday.com/community/kate or on facebook: running, cancer, and everything in between or on twitter: runliftbreathe

Tuesday, March 6, 2018

The Calm after the Storm: Tips for you still in that storm

To my fellow Storm Troopers,

You will find the calm after the storm. I promise you that. Just remember this, make sure to let it in. And make sure that this is your prime focus. When you are done with your treatment, that doesn't mean you don't have healing left to do. I'm not talking about the physical stuff either. You will always have physical remnants of having had cancer and fought it hard.

I am talking about that pain and those scars that come emotionally. If you are anything like me, those are the wounds that hurt the most. I can limp my way physically through just about anything. but what goes on in my head...that's a whole other story.

These are my wishes for you as I continue to work on them for myself:

1.  You don't have to be an inspiration all the time. I know it helps; I'm the master of faking it until I make it. But it's okay to just NEED to be present with the true feelings you are going through...like anger, like fear (the worst kind when it comes to cancer)...and it's okay to some days, just not be okay. Your family, your friends, your tribe can be your inspiration on those days when you have no more to give. We have your back.

2. You need time to heal.  If you can, and this can be extremely difficult depending on your finances...but if you can, take a leave of absence from work. I did not do this. Instead I dragged my sorry ass to work 1 week after having an experimental inguinal lymphodectomy surgery. I could barely walk without a limp. I had drains hidden under my dress. And worse of all, I ended up with an infection. But, I continued to go to work in the hospitality industry with my painted, shiny face full of  mascara, lip gloss, and artificial hope. And I continued my job helping others find happiness and health while I died a little bit each day, continuing to just fake being okay.
Do you see my point here? I was like a robot, and all it did for me is just prolong all the emotional healing I would need later when my daughter was diagnosed with a chronic disease that led me to almost losing her. Even after that...after that ambulance ride, I still didn't learn. I should have taken the time. Time away to heal. Don't be the person who stayed for a job that eventually would toss you away in the same manner that you tossed your health away. You do you. It's that important.

3.  But you should find something that takes your mind away when you need it.  For me, that is running...and not any old running. When I head into my trails (they are mine in my mind, and I've even added my own paths to extend the run), I am alive. I am at my best. My head clears, I know what is right...I am me...broken, imperfect...but beautiful all the same. I find my calm after the storm. You can find yours. It doesn't have to be a physical activity...just something that lights your mind on fire. Gets those true positive juices flowing.

I will head into this summer, I am positive... with a really big "no evidence of disease" anniversary. There will be no party, no cake. I may or may not even share it with people depending on how I am feeling. But I will be there. I am positive this will happen, and I will relish that calm after the storm when I leave that hospital knowing it didn't break me.  And though it has not been the most graceful dance with the devil, I have danced and survived. You will too. You will dance again to your own calm dance after the storm.

Monday, February 5, 2018

Rise Up: 4 Life Lessons from a Cancer Survivor

A lot can change in a year, and wow, this past year has been something.

As a Stage 3 survivor, I will continue to rise and as I do, I find myself in disbelief when I relive all that I have gone through, survived, and have built myself back up from.  I recently went on one of my runs in the trails all by myself where I let my mind go...back in time. I actually connected all those moments that felt like my worst nightmare coming true....the grim diagnosis, various doctors/hospitals/surgeries, blood work and scans.  Me, not being able to walk down my driveway, having my daughters' see my tears each morning as I tried to put on a brave face....emptying those damn drains that were stitched in my leg as a reminder that this was serious business...and what literally felt like rock bottom, lying in my own vomit on the bathroom floor thinking maybe this is when I give up. I remember that moment feeling like I was in the middle of a fire, and it was going to eat me alive.

But it did not. I found a way to get up; I found a way to rise up.

One year later, I am physically back to doing the things I love...running and any activity gives me that physical release that makes me feel alive. I am back; the new version of me anyway.

I have more recently began to find my voice again and recognize that emotionally, I am getting stronger as well. I am less and less afraid of many things and because of that I find myself wanting to yell from the rooftops and tell everyone I know those simple reminders of a life well-lived.  Most importantly, I find I must speak up so I can be a living example for my girls...and so this one is for them.

1.  You have a voice, and your voice matters. I found this to be extremely important during my plan for treatment. Had I conformed, I would have gone with the surgery that was always the protocol of treatment.  If I had gone with this "protocol", I would also likely STILL be in some kind of physical therapy. Thank God I spoke up. I asked questions. I asked for better.  You should too- in every problem or conflict that you find yourself trying to solve. Ask questions, use your voice.

2.  You are worthy of love and respect. So am I.  Not because I am a cancer survivor but because I am me, what you see is what you get...a mix of reservation and wild...a genuine heart with a slightly sick sense of humor.  Throughout your life, remember that not only do you deserve love, regardless of what scars you may or may not have from life....you are worthy of respect as well.

3.  You are going to fall. In fact, you may fall or fail several times throughout your life. But, you will do this because you are trying. You are swinging away. You are trying to make things happen. Cancer felt like a fail to me, a major fall. It still pisses me off...the uncertainty of whether this beast...a Stage 3 Cancer will return. The reminder every 3 months when I trek down to the cancer center for my tests and scans so long as I am still on this earth remind me as well. And of course, those moments of weakness when I let my guard down and I cry. Remember this, all you have to do is get up.  It doesn't have to be perfect, it doesn't have to be pretty,  just keep getting up after each stumble or fall.

4.  Find your tribe.  If you don't know who your people are yet, you will quickly realize especially after you stumble or fall. These are the people who come over with ginger ale when they find out you are so sick post surgery that you can't hold a thing down. They will also look you in the eye when you say you are fine and ask you "really?"  They can be family or friends or if you are fortunate like I am, they are a mix of both.  They love me when I am at my best and love me even more when I am at my
worst. They accept me for the ups and downs that this cancer survivorship leaves me with...the highs of living life out loud...the lows of endless medical bills and worries of recurrence. They are there for it all. They are my people. You will find yours.

So cancer or not, we are all going to have some stumbles or all out face plants along the way in this little journey called life.  We have a choice; they can make us or break us.  And the fact is, in this so called life or journey, none of us are getting out of here alive...so we might as well make the best of it while we are here.  We can survive or we can use every opportunity we have to rise up.


Saturday, June 3, 2017

The 5 lessons Cancer has taught me

For every thing that Cancer took away from me....an entire spring and summer stolen, confidence in my longevity on this earth, and the battle wounds I am left with that some days have me feeling like a circus act...there are some crucial survival skills that cancer DID leave me with. 

Given the choice I would take it all back...I'm not going to pull that bull**** card that it was all meant to happen to prepare me for other things in my life. I won't apologize for calling that one like it is. Cancer kills...it almost killed me...Stage 3...it could still try to. So no...given the choice, I would put me head back in the sand if it meant I wouldn't be at these odds & my family wouldn't have these odds as well.

 This "journey" I would have done with out. But...for what it's worth...these are the 5 things  I have learned and perhaps others who have walked that tight rope might agree that they have learned as well:

1. We are tough b******. We may have started out as the most sympathetic and nurturing people out there...but we've hardened. It's hard not to. Many of us have dragged our sorry asses to work with drains hidden under our clothes. Some of us have been on medications & chemo that would make you feel like you had drank a bottle of gasoline and then lit yourself on fire with a match. We have nerves that no longer exist. Scars that would make you cry. My kids still comment when they catch me running across the hall to the shower. I don't have complete feeling in my left leg....so no, I don't have sympathy for the sniffles, the stress of what to wear, or anyone that complains about which inclusive resort to take their family to. In fact, I may be a little tough on my family. Maybe that makes me a b**** or maybe...that will make them tough b****** too and they'll be able to put the big girl pants on when life throws it's curve balls. 

2.  When you get our trust, DO NOT take that lightly. If we actually let our guard down and show you that we need your help, please take us seriously. Don't let us down. We've come to you to ask you to take this load off of us. This is our desperate plea even if we don't come off that way. We are asking for your help for a reason. We are drowning, and we don't know where else to turn. We've already lost all trust in what we knew...our bodies, perhaps our doctors, treatments...we need you, and we trust you so we expect you to do what other's could not. If you say you are going to do something, follow through. If you are taking something off our plate, make it happen, We need you.

3.  Weeding the garden. We will have to do this at some point even well after our initial diagnosis and treatment. We may be long into recovery and find, we have changed and we cannot have the weeds left in our garden. This Cancer thing is for the rest of our life...always waiting to pop so if you cannot understand our defects, our scars, our new way of living life post cancer, then...we have to pluck you out. I've had enough toxins in my body...no time for those who 1. don't get this and 2. are too self absorbed to empathize or just too weak to be able to handle "big girl" life.

4.  No. I did not know how to use these simple 2 little word until I was diagnosed. No is not meant to be a threat. It is not meant to hurt your feelings. But we have to practice the art of saying no when it is not conducive to our well being. No, I can't do that because I am back at the oncologist for the umpteenth time to see what that spot in the scan might mean. No, sorry...I am being poked and prodded tomorrow, I can't help you. I need to help myself. No, I just cannot because this is my time right now and that's not going to work for my well being and frankly, I deserve me time that doesn't involve a cancer wing, hospital, or scan center.... 

5.  Moving on....this is probably the hardest thing to learn because at least for me at an advanced stage of cancer, I have to keep going back every 90 days. But, I have finally learned how to move on...on the 1st day through the 89th day I am not thinking about Cancer anymore. Just like I am not thinking about the other things in my life that have tried to bring me down. I don't have time for that. I only have time for right now, and every right now that I receive is a blessing. So I continue to move on...and I continue to learn how this applies to every aspect in my life. This is not working for me...move on. This person is not who I thought she was...move on. This project/work is causing more stress and turmoil than it's worth...time to move on.   

.I am a changed person and that may be for good and for bad. But here's the thing, I am always moving forward trying to better than yesterday...trying to enjoy one more day that I have been given Cancer free. It has been a long arduous "journey"...one that if I could turn back time, I would not take back. But given that I have no other choice...I will keep keeping on & sorry, I might not be sorry if I offend you. 

Monday, May 22, 2017

A Mother's Sonnet to the month of May: Mother F***ing May I

The saying Mother May I evokes so many images: groomed yards with green grass and flowers starting to bloom, perfectly dressed children playing a friendly game of basketball with their siblings, and of course, Mother's Day. Spring is here, families are out taking leisurely walks around the block over the weekend.  There's time for all the yard work on Saturday morning. Children are helping their mom with the laundry, dishes and trash while mom puts her feet up after a long week at work. Maybe she is having a cocktail AND a conversation with her husband as they catch up together.

Remember that game Mother May? Mother may I take three steps.....and shove this May bullshit where the sun don't shine?

Seriously, does anyone's May resemble anything like what I described above? My kids are dressed in dirty, holey shorts that are probably too short because it went from snowing to 90 degrees in a week (welcome to New England) and who has time to go shopping with a 7th, 6th and 3rd grader?

You are also likely to hear at least two of my three girls fighting, screaming or crying at any given time.  On a good day, they start out playing basketball together which ultimately ends in someone chucking the ball at the other...and the fighting/screaming/crying begins.

Our weekends in May consist of Lacrosse practices and Lacrosse games....games usually scheduled in three opposite parts of the state. And being in New Hampshire, we just had an enormous amount of rain all spring which leads to cancelled LAX games and ultimately, make up games squeezed in with the regularly scheduled games.

I know you may say we did this to ourselves, that we are just doing too much and playing into the  other sporty parents out there. Actually much more simple than that. We are just trying to prevent our girls from being on Instagram all day, doing drugs, and/or becoming sluts...so this is part of our solution to be good parents, They stay busy and play sports year round.

And so with that because they play fall soccer which conveniently holds their tryouts in May on that weekend you already have 5 LAX games, 1 LAX practice, and two spring soccer games (not to be confused with the fall soccer tryouts as well)...the shitstorm starts to get out of hand.

Not to be forgotten are all the "fun" things our schools shove into May: the various school projects, state testing, field trips and school events that come up one right after another. Before I know it, my wallet is empty of every last buck from craft supplies for all the damn projects, I have a girl crying anxious over some problem in the state test she thinks she answered wrong which ultimately turns me into Crazy Mom and I begin to berate our fine educational system.  Listen, make it easy on all of us, make them write a paper, do a little SSR and call it a day....

My resolution for all of this is to quit May. I am done.  I'm all for starting Memorial Day Weekend right after April 30th. It is the one weekend many families have completely off from everything. And probably the only one the entire school year with no practices, no games, no community event, no school project...this is our free pass. We get more quality family time, stress free lazy days of yard work, and family bbq's,

In fact, we could do this all summer long. We could just put our feet up with a ice filled drink in our hand and enjoy our family...watch our kids play a round of PIG.....until that moment when enough is enough and someone whips the ball at someone's head...and we start counting the days until August when it all starts back up again....

Tuesday, March 21, 2017

Dear Diary: Thoughts from a Survivor

I wish I was still that girl who skipped along through life with her crazy curly hair bouncing around just missing trouble by the skin of her teeth. You know that girl...laughing loudly at the most ridiculous scenarios like people slipping on ice (trust me, as long as they are not hurt, it's funny...sadistic yes, but laugh out loud funny to see the windmill going during this long New England winter).

I miss the girl who was too self absorbed to know real sorrow other than from one of those cheesy Hallmark commercials or Lifetime movies. I want to be the girl who can seize every day with love, joy and laughter despite the sadness and challenges in the world. But, it's hard to put the big girl pants on lately.

My own state of cancer life for myself today is great. Until I meet my oncologist again (30 days and counting)...I am still no evidence of disease. But more recently, every where I turn, I am hit with a cancer survivor who is in relapse, who has passed away, or newly diagnosed. I am tired of this f***ing life stealer and dream crusher.

If I believed in signs or fate, I would think that I should be going back to school...medical school to find a cure for two diseases that are prevalent in my life right now...cancer and type 1 juvenile diabetes. Both can kill you. Both are controlled by the big pharmaceutical companies....and neither of them have a cure.

Alas, I am too old and too tired to go back to school so I find myself back at my laptop...writing...about the two diseases I am tired of writing about. I long for the days when I wrote about running and fitness and how to conquer the challenge of a race or a training run. I miss those light and fluffy days.

Today, I am so mad...there are far too many people I know right now who are battling cancer and may not win this fight.

 Today, I know far too many people who are still mourning the loss of their loved ones from this wretched disease that plucked them from happy days.

Today, I mourn for an 8 year old little girl with a malignant brain tumor who is undergoing treatment for more time. Today, I mourn for a mother who has a seven year old; the mother's cancer has come back and it appears that more treatment is not an option.

Today, I am tired of putting the big girl pants on, and I just want to cry.

I don't want to be the dark and twisty character I wish I could be the girl who wants to talk about the doldrums of motherhood or the latest red carpet news.  But I never was the girl who goes shopping and dreams of manicures and alone time at a spa. I dream of being able to do more...be big and bold, save the world....help the people who can cure this disease and are so close...help the people who are fighting this disease and don't know where to turn.

But I am just a girl with crazy curly hair who dreams of a world where everyone would fight for and care for and maybe hold the hand of someone who cancer has touched. I dream big and deep and maybe dark and twisty but someone has to.

Today, I am in mourning. Tomorrow, I will put together a plan to do something....something with all these big, bold, dark but heart felt dreams....

Monday, January 9, 2017

The Truth about Marathon Training: A sneak peak into the search for 26.2

     Training for a marathon is so much more than just the running.  Training for the Boston marathon is like coming to a cross road in your life where you question every path you have ever taken, and you wonder if you were ever headed in the right direction to begin with.

     My first marathon, I was still bright eyed and bushy-tailed. I didn't know any better, and I had high, if unrealistic expectations for myself come race day. As hard work, fate, or luck would have it, I had a near perfect 1st marathon after pretty flawless training. During training, though I had a nagging Achilles injury towards the end, it was summer, it was hot, I was "well oiled" so to speak before every run. I had plenty of time to stretch, foam roll, and then, ice after. The meat of my training was before my kids' school started up in the fall, before I started working a new full time job and before my life started moving at a sprint speed.

     I still clearly remember how amazing I felt when I toed up to start. I was hungry; I was here to not just finish the race, but to qualify for Boston. It was my day to take my victory lap. And even at mile 22, when things went from smooth and steady, to just finish this dam thing, I knew I would finish with no problem, and I knew I just might BQ (Boston Qualify).

     That 1st marathon was such a sweet journey for me. I had proven to everyone or at the very least myself that you don't have to look like a "marathon runner" to be one. Those of us with glutes and biceps and many hours in the weight room are capable of moving more than just iron.  And as unrealistic as it is to qualify for Boston at your very first marathon, it doesn't hurt to have the kind of attitude that says "why not, and why not me?" It is a memory that I will never ever forget; dreams can come true.

     Fast forward to today, and you would think it would be all sunshine and rainbows training for Boston, my first date, the impossible "bucket list" dream for 20 years. Truthfully, it is really, freaking difficult and on so many levels. I think there should be a special medal for all the Boston finishers who hail from the New England area. Sorry Kara, Mel and Shauna...I am not impressed. All the people who train for this race knowing year after year, it could be a winter like the one we are having right now (winter of 2015). It is mentally challenging, physically excruciating.

     For myself, after a near miss hit by a car during one of my long runs after another 24 inches of snow dumping, I brought my training inside, and this includes my long runs. Because of my daily life sprint of getting up between 4-430am to get my long run in before work, I had to take it indoors to be safe and let myself into the club I manage and bang out my 20 milers every Friday.  Yes, 20 miles on a treadmill. Inspiring? No. Smooth and easy? Definitely not.

     I am sore, tired and starting to feel banged up and as of this week, with 4 weeks left, plagued with an overuse injury.  I have had to add in some cardio cross training in place of some of my runs because my Achilles is screaming for mercy. I also might even say I've lost that loving feeling. And I have even danced with the devil, thinking...maybe I should just quit...maybe, I am not the runner I think I am. A part of me, just wants to get to the starting line so I can put this thing to bed. The other side of me knows no matter what happens from this day forth, the training is in the bank, I am strong enough, tough enough, I can do this. And then, back comes the realist to chime in...

I am no longer naïve. I know how hard it is to get through training without being side lined from an injury and now, I've got the start of a nagging overuse injury. I know even if I make it to the start, how hard 26.2 miles is, and how hard the Boston course is. I worry that I am not ready. I wonder why the hell I even took this on with everything else I have on my plate.

    How did I get to this point?  Where can I find the extra motivation, determination and drive from?  And do I have enough left to keep me mentally strong?  Am I strong enough to overcome the physical difficulties?

    I can only hope I have enough mental toughness to finish the battle I started. For the next 4 weeks, I  will continue the highs and lows of marathon training, and only time will tell...that truth, whatever it may be...that I am searching for.

Friday, June 3, 2016

letting go

When you have gone through hell and back and end up on the other side, you finally get that moment to look back and see all that you've been through.  It is amazing when you realize you have been holding your breath for so long and then, as you start to hit those 1st milestones...like my recent first, the day I was diagnosed. You just cannot believe what you have survived.

With that first gasp of air, like you have been holding your breath the past 11 months, you realize you just might be a better person after all this cancer crap.

What I have realized is that  for a long time, a life time, I could never let go. I always had to be in control, make sh** happen even if it was not my place to do so. I worried, I fretted, I took everything  personally....work, friends, family...the weight of the world on my shoulders. There's only one place to go when you live life like that...rock bottom.

I have finally accepted that I do need to work on the art of letting go, and the past few weeks, reliving what last year was like....I think I finally am consciously aware of letting go.  This terrifying roller coaster ride has given me that...the permission to just let some things go.

Some days, I am still pissed....pissed that not everyone checks things off on their to-do list the way I would. That while I have some wonderful friends that have stood by my side...some I'm not even sure if we are friends still.  That this juggle called life with work and family is extremely difficult, and I cannot do it on my own. It truly does take a village, and I need more villagers in my corner to help with the insanity of 3 busy kids.  And I am pissed that it took a Stage 3 Cancer diagnosis, treatment and ongoing recovery to finally shake me furiously.  My eyes are wide open now.  I am not putting up with any more bull****.

But, today, 1 month away from 1 year later, I can look around at what I have left, and I realize for all Cancer stole from me, this gift...learning the art of letting go is a true blessing. It's okay to let things go that you cannot change ...sometimes they are people, sometimes circumstances. It is what it is. 

Some things are  no longer for me to worry about, because I am here. I am here...healthy, happy and waiting for the next set of scans and results to tell me I am one year cancer free.  I won't let anything or anyone get in the way of that.

"You shout it out, but I can't hear a word you say....I'm criticized but all your bullets ricochet, You shoot me down, but I get up"....Titanium by David Guetta

"Too blessed to be stressed."  another butt kicking cancer fighting lady I am honored to know