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

Thursday, April 12, 2018

Post Ski Season Blues

It's mid-April, and I find myself hitting my post ski depression. I am going through all the ski bags,  pulling out smashed granola bars, rotten carrots and old hand warmers...doing laundry and then, hanging out all the zip ups, coats, vests, race suits and neckies.  Then, it is time for the final emptying of the Thule box and loading up the garage with what feels like 100 pairs of skis and poles. It's a shit ton of work but definitely satisfying to not have to look at the ski bags scattered all over the house. I am so done.

Race season is officially over for us, and I have already spent April so far freezing my butt off at various LAX and soccer games. Many a cold mornings on a field I have caught myself thinking, geez, today would be a good ski day.  On a day where it's a whopping 40 degrees and our behinds are stuck to metal bleachers, I think, well, on the mountain it would be mashed potatoes by noon anyway so we're really not missing anything.

I'll also make jokes that thank god it is over because I don't think I could handle all the jetting around, packing up and unpacking and 8 hour days at a mountain in the cold. I also will say it is so time for it to be over because towards the end of the season, my ski pants start to get a little snug from all those adult apres moments you don't get on a lax or soccer field but you relish in those long cold ski/race days.

The irony is that I am not a die hard skier by any means. I pretty much married into what my husband calls "his passion". I never was a winter girl; I use to spend the miserable 6 months of New England winter counting down to the days it would be "doable" to freeze your butt off at the beach in a bikini.

But then, when we had children, Jamey started teaching the girls how to ski once they were old enough to walk, and they immediately took to it and shared their father's love. Combine that with many days put in night skiing with their grandfather...a passion was born. And so, with much begging and pleading by our two older girls, we joined a race club and so began the winter rat race.

What I discovered once my girls started racing, is that there is so much more to it than the sport itself. It lends itself to have some pretty special and unique qualities.  Don't get me wrong...it is hard work, and I mean hard work...as an athlete, as a parent supporting the athlete, and it is a lot of blood, sweat, tears and $$$...but this crazy sport that is unlike no other for too many ways to list (for this post) and some I cannot explain, it is special, and it creates memories and experiences unlike any other. And so the dreaded April is upon us, and it is over...my April post ski season depression sets in.

I miss the excitement of loading up the car and going away every single weekend. I miss the discipline and the organization it takes to get all those meals ready. I miss seeing the same faces back and forth from the parking lot to the mountain and back...even if I don't know them all well, I know them...we are in it together as we drag another set of freshly tuned skis back to the lockers. I miss the knots in my stomach as we watch all our racers come down on race day because they are ALL our kids, and we all get so nervous and excited watching them fail and fly.  I miss the hot Irish coffees at the top, and the cold, hard ciders at the bottom at the end of a long day. I miss seeing my ski parent friends, and I know my girls miss their winter best friends. 

It will be a long spring but once the summer heat sets in, it will sweeten the sadness and longing I have for those cold, blustery days at the mountain I feel now. And before we know it,  September will hit,  and we will be pulling out the equipment to see who has grown, who needs what, and we will be counting down the days to opening day. And then, when those first leaves start to fall, I will breathe a sigh of relief that yes, winter is coming.....

Friday, March 23, 2018

On the outside looking in

I see you with your sad eyes. I don't know if she's still "sick" or in "remission"...which for those of us who've had cancer know that remission is just a word that makes other people feel better. We know it means no evidence of disease. It doesn't mean we are cured.

We walk around some of us fumbling more than others. I was one of those emotional wrecks...wearing my emotions on my sleeve...writing about it and sharing about it. Yelling out to the world, yes, I have had Stage 3 Cancer, and here I am. I hated the thought of people whispering and wondering so I was not aloof. I beat them to the crappy cancer punch line. I'm not sure which one you are...tripping and stumbling or walking the straight and narrow.

I see you with your furrow...that wrinkle that never goes away when your life consists of doctors appointments and chemo....and weeping in the dark when you think everyone is asleep. I use to think I was the only one awake in the middle of the night. I still don't sleep but that is because I have other battles to fight. Funny how life can be ironic...or is it...giving more grief to some and only joy to others? Is it because we can handle it? Or is it because they cannot?

I stopped writing about cancer because I was starting to feel content with my head in the sand for 89 days until my next blood work and pet scans. I still feel content not thinking, writing or talking about it. I have a daughter with a chronic disease...the kind of disease that is 24 hours a day for the rest of her life...unless they find a cure. It is the kind of disease that nobody understands until they have it....just like mine was.  It's the kind of disease where the medicine that keeps her alive is the same medicine that could kill her...and I always have to have my game on. A person can only do so many honest truths in one day...so this is the one I choose. But still.....

I see you wanting to hide among the crowds of all those shiny, happy people. I, too, spent many days doing the same. But now, I am getting better at faking it until I make it because I have a daughter who needs me to be here, and to be one of those shiny, happy people too. I never was the girl who lit up the room. I find some overly shiny, happy people fricking annoying and fake as hell. But I do like to laugh loudly and inappropriately, & I am drawn to people with substance and sad eyes...so maybe in my own way when I laugh too loud or make some sarcastic offensive joke...I too appear to be shiny and happy in my own distorted way.

I use to count the ages of my children now to when and if it came back... like a mathematical equation I would plug in "if"...if this f***ing disease came back for me again with a vengeance to take me out....what would be the age that they could best heal their hearts....how much time could I buy...would they forget me...

I see you and I know you have some of those thoughts...about buying time and keeping your children safe. You feel alone in a sea of people. You sometimes dream of cutting off those annoying ponytails because she will probably not live to grow one again. I see you, and I feel guilty because today I am one of those girls. Today I am N. E. D.,  and I am playing the role of survivor very well. Just know that I see you, and I wish I could tell you it's going to be all right. But I know that might not be true....so I say nothing. I just look you in the eyes and smile...saying nothing because sometimes in a sea of words there really is nothing good to say...except I see you.

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....