Tuesday, May 6, 2008

Stop and Smell the Roses

I apologize for the delay in updating my blog. I am trying to keep it current each week so you know what is going on with me. This is going to be a long story to bring you all up to date!

It amazes me how quickly life can change. One minute I was preparing for the 2008 season and the next I was in so much pain I couldn't walk or sleep. I never imagined I would have cancer. I exercise, I eat well and I have only a small family history of cancer. But here I am celebrating my 32nd birthday after having a spindle cell sarcoma (A nerve tumor with cancer) removed from my pelvic area. Most nerve tumors are benign. In fact only three percent have cancer. Three percent!

Over the past few weeks I have been up and down with my emotions. I went to UCSF a week and a half ago to get my prosthetic (IFO) walking boot. I have to admit I was pretty excited because tying up my foot with an ace bandage was getting a little old. Before I left the hospital they took a mold of my leg and foot to make it a custom fit. I put it on and walked around a bit to test it out. It was amazing! It helped throw my foot forward so I could walk correctly.

After that meeting we had to hurry across town to get to my other appointment with Dr. Nakakura. I was going to see him for a quick check-up on my recovery process. We were also going to find out if I needed radiation. I had all sorts of questions about when I could start swimming, biking and lifting weights! Don't get me wrong I wasn't planning on jumping into Xterra training, I just wanted to know if I could splash around in the water and hop on a training bike or Tandem to spin the legs a little. I also wanted to make sure I didn't overdo trying to lift anything heavy when I try to do things on my own around the house! I also got to tell Dr. Nakakura that I was up to a mile and a half of walking with my cane. He was pretty amazed over my progress and glad to see "the real Jamie" and not the Jamie in excruciating pain. I was told I needed to slow down and take things easy. I must remember that my body is still recovering from all the trauma and surgery! I was told healing the first time is most important because it is the strongest. The last thing I want is to set myself back any further then I already am. I got a clear understanding of things and realized I really need to listen to my body. Then the radiation doctor came in to talk about my options. Basically there wasn't any. The consensus was that there wasn't enough information on my type of cancer tumor. He also explained they couldn't remove a margin around my tumor. In most cases doctors remove the tumor with a bunch of extra tissue or muscle around the tumor. If they did that for me they would have taken part of my intestine, rectum and uterus. I think you get the picture!

I didn't hear much of what the radiation doc said because I was to busy crying the entire time. The only thing I could think about was having children. Getting radiation in the area where the tumor was removed meant hitting my left ovary and possibly the right. I won't even go into the other side effects. The poor radiation doctor felt like he was the bad doctor who came in and crushed everything good. He made me laugh and I explained it wasn't him, I knew radiation was something I had to do to make sure the cancer doesn't spread.

While we drove home that afternoon, all of our minds were trying to figure out our next move. I mostly cried, my Dad was calculating the cost in gas and tolls, and Courtney was figuring out how we could harvest my eggs in three weeks. Both of them felt so bad for me and everything I already endured. Then my Dad turned and said "Do you know that it will cost $240 in tolls to go back and forth for radiation?" I laughed! My Dad was the one who wanted to make sure I had the best doctors and he was the one that was going to be driving me back and forth 5 days a week for 30 days.

Time has not been on my side this year but God has. I prayed that night about what to do over the future of my eggs. On Friday, Courtney came home early. I asked him if he had any news on harvesting my eggs. He looked at me and said he didn't think we had enough time. I turned around crying, "I'm going to have dogs for the rest of my life, I'm going to be the Dog Lady." As I said it I knew it was funny but I was too busy crying. Courtney laughed and picked up the phone book to start calling around. He picked one place in Davis and called them. They agreed to meet with us on a Saturday which they don't usually do.

We learned about the effects of radiation and that it was probably a good idea I try to harvest some eggs. He felt 3 weeks was possible but if I could get 4, it would be easier on me since my ovaries would expand to giant balloons. It was no problem to set back my radiation to late May, early June. Once again God answered my prayer! What a relief!

In the midst of all of this, Courtney and I decided to go to Wildflower to support Cannondale. I wanted to make myself available to talk with anyone and everyone! We arrived Friday night and parked next to the other Cannondale motor home right on the lake. It was a beautiful view and the best place to accommodate my walking needs. It put us right near the ginormous transition area. We ate pasta with Bill Rudell and the guys from Incycle Bike shop. Then we turned in for the night.

Saturday came early, very early. Between the music and the race announcer I don't know how anyone could sleep. I eventually rolled out of bed to eat breakfast and watch the waves of Long course athletes followed by the Mountain bike sprint athletes. My Cannondale sponsor was doing the sprint tri! How cool is that!

For the rest of the day we wandered around the pit area cheering on racers as they ran down the finish shoot. Most of my time was spent in the FCA (Fellowship of Christian athletes) endurance tent. Right next to it was the John Wayne Cancer Foundation. I kept joking how I should be sitting in between the tents. It was then that I realized I wasn't just a pro athlete Powered By God, I was a PRO CHALLANGED ATHLETE POWERD BY GOD and CANCER SURVIVOR! I'm still the same person, I just added a few hats to wear. Wouldn't it be great if I could overcome my handicap and still compete as a pro? I believe in miracles. They happen everyday all around the world. One may happen to give me feeling back in my left foot but I'm not going to sit around and wait for it. Life is too short. As I began to realize this it made me remember both my mantras. "Look at the trail ahead not the obstacle" and "With God's Strength, For God's Glory." As I sat there I began to smile. I was looking at my situation all wrong. Part of me was still a little angry I wasn't racing this season but now I was able to let go. I am going to come back stronger then ever, but first I have to heal!!

It was getting late so we headed back to camp. I already walk slow so stopping along the way and talking made it even longer. Courtney kept nudging me along. When we finally got there all sorts of people yelled "SURPRISE!" All day long Courtney was inviting old friends and new to our camp for a surprise birthday party! This birthday was very important to me because of everything that has happened. At one point I wasn't sure I was going to make it! And here I was standing around lots of people with great big smiles on their face. It was a Kodak moment and a blessing from God! Courtney played a big role with the help of Bill and Jim Felt! We had hot dogs, homemade mac 'n cheese and salad. Pastor Dan brought 2 cakes and lots of ice cream. One cake said "Happy Birthday" and the other "Jamie, Powered By God!" Pastor Dan rocks! I just want to THANK everyone again for coming and making that a birthday to remember! I get to celebrate again this weekend. Whoopee!

After the party we wandered over to the Avia campsite. Avia was the title sponsor of Wildflower. Chris McCormick was there. He won the men's race that day. He and his wife along with their kids came over to talk with me. He had all sorts of questions about how I was doing! It was really nice of him to take the time to chat. I can't believe I forgot to get a signed poster of him for my wall of fame. Hopefully next time!

Sunday morning came quickly! My birthday! I made it to 32! Sarah Reinertsen, a challenged athlete who has always inspired me, called it my double sweet sixteen. We headed to a church service that morning in the expo area. It was a great message about loving God and others! After the service we headed to Jim and Diane Felt's trailer for breakfast and a movie. The rest of the day we wandered around. I was lucky enough to run into a couple of challenged athletes. One was from my area, the other, Andy was from San Francisco. Andy had a lot of tips for when I get back on the bike since he was also a mountain biker and Xterra athlete. It was getting late so we packed up camp and headed home.

The drive home was long but it gave me time to reflect on everything that happened. I have a unique opportunity to be a bigger role model and I hope an inspiration. I still have a tough road ahead but I know I will get through it. Look how far I already have!

I wanted to ask all of you to please check out www.jwcf.org. It is a great foundation to help fight other cancers. I almost forgot to mention a new company called action wipes. They had a booth at Wildflower. These wipes are awesome. They make you feel fresh when you can't get to a shower and you don't feel sticky after using them. You can also reuse the wipe. It can be thrown in the washing machine and then sprayed with the Sports spray, then it is just like new. Don't take my word for it, check it out yourself at www.actionwipes.com.

One more thing. . . Remember when I mentioned it would cost $240 in tolls to get to SF for my radiation treatments? Well a really cool person and great friend handed me a card at my birthday with a FasTtrac electronic device so we can breeze through without stopping to pay! I am so grateful and blessed. God's work!

Please pray the doctors are able to get some eggs to freeze before I start radiation. And please pray radiation goes well. Last but not least please pray I get the feeling back in my left foot and that I am able to use it!

I apologize for the lengthy blog. I will keep it updated more often so I won't have so much to write at once!!

Thank you so much for your prayers and continued support through this difficult time. Your emails have been awesome and keep me going strong!

Powered By God,


SimplyStu said...

Thank you so much for the update. My thoughts and prayers are with you!

BUMP said...

Hang in there. We're all praying for you.

Birmingham Urban Mountain Pedalers.

Michael Boone said...

You are an inspiration - great attitude. I am praying for you!

Suzy Kindel said...

Jamie, I am so glad you know Sarah! She will be a great motivator for you. She is a close friend of an ex-neighbor of mine (not on Saipan but in Laguna Beach). Keep up the great "work".

Lewie Tenorio said...

Jamie, you are an inspiration. My family and I are praying for you. Thanks for sharing God's Power, keep it going!

greyhound said...

I wish I had put two and two together and clued into the fact that you were at Wildflower when I was there. I guess electronic best wishes will have to do.