Tuesday, October 7, 2014

Marine Corps Half Marathon

I have a bad habit of running in races without being prepared for them. Like 2 years ago when I ran the Marine Corps Half Marathon after having surgery 2 months beforehand, and then starting radiation, so I hadn't been able to run except for the week before. This past weekend was one of those times. Fortunately, my lack of training wasn't due to surgery or anything like that, but I've had some issues with my IT band on my right side, and after running 5-6 miles, I had a bad pain from my right hip to my knee. I've rolled on the foam roller and stretched it, but the only way to know if it was better was to run long distance. My friends and I were running this race in memory of our friend who passed away earlier this year, so I felt like I really needed to do it if I was able to at all. So, I figured the worst that could happen is that I would have to walk a lot more than I wanted to, and I spent the week carbing up, and drinking lots of water, and went for it. It ended up being one of my better runs! One of my friends stayed with me for the first 6-7 miles, and that really helped, but she got a little faster and I got a little slower. Still, the miles seemed to fly by, and before I knew it I was done! My average pace was just under a 12 minute mile, which is slow but better than I expected. I think being very prepared as far as my diet and hydration really helped. 

Overall it was a great day with great weather and after the race we went to my friend's house for a cookout and to celebrate the life of Kevin Rayburn, who will always be missed by those who knew him. He was not one to let life pass him by, and was always up to something fun, whether working out, running distance runs or obstacle courses, camping, watching Nascar races, or just hanging out with friends. He always had a smile on his face and was an all around great guy, who loved his wife dearly and had a great group of family and friends. Remember that none of us are guaranteed tomorrow, so appreciate those you love today!

Clockwise from top left: My friend Paulette and I at the finish; 
a view of the river from mile 11.5; one of the tanks leaving the race site; 
finisher's medal; tanks and their police escorts - it slowed down my ride home, 
but was really cool!; the evil ramp at mile 11 - and I liked that guy's shirt, ours last year 
said something similar; our muddy shoes from the muddy finish line - I always sprint in to finish a race 
and couldn't this time - I was mad! :)

Back of the shirts Kevin's wife had custom made for us

Tuesday, September 30, 2014

Pumpkin Oatmeal Muffins

First of all, I know I need lessons on food photography - sorry! But I love these oatmeal muffins and wanted to share the recipe, especially since they are a great make-ahead snack, and can be frozen for later. I adapted my recipe from Sugar Free Mom (she has all kinds of variations, and is a way better food photographer :) ). The recipe is so easily adaptable depending on your personal tastes and what you have on hand. Here is the recipe that I go with most often:

2 1/2 c. oats
1/4 c. ground flax seed
2-4 packets of Stevia (or whatever sweetener you’d like to use)
¾ tsp cinnamon
¾ tsp nutmeg
½ tsp ground cloves
1 ½ tsp baking powder
½ tsp salt
1 c. canned pumpkin
1 c. milk (I use unsweetened vanilla almond milk, which has greatly improved my diet life!)
1 tsp vanilla extract
2 oz pumpkin seeds

Splenda Brown Sugar for sprinkling on top before baking (optional)

I mix together all dry ingredients (except pumpkin seeds), then add wet ingredients and stir together until blended, and then stir in pumpkin seeds.
Makes 12 regular size muffins, or 24 mini muffins. Bake at 350 for 25-30 minutes for regular muffins, 10-15 minutes for minis.
There are plenty of ways to make this recipe your own. You can substitute applesauce (unsweetened) or mashed banana for the pumpkin, use different nuts/seeds/dried fruit, change seasonings around – I used banana extract sometimes to make “banana nut muffins”. Chocolate chips and peanut butter are pretty awesome if you’re not watching your calories too closely!
Nutrition Information based on recipe above, per 1 regular or 2 mini muffins:

Calories 108
Fat 4.5 (.5 Saturated)
Carbs 14.2
Fiber 3.4
Sugar 1.3
Protein 4.7

Love these as an on the go sub for oatmeal! I eat them cold out of the fridge during the week, and freeze extras. This week I’ve been eating thawed muffins and they are still pretty good without re-heating.

Monday, September 29, 2014

Long Time, No "C"

So, obviously I've been MIA from this blog for a long time, but for good reason - I've had nothing to report! August marked my 2 year "cancerversary" and for the most part, I kind of forget about that part of my life. Still go to the doctor for my checkups, and still do my best to avoid the sun and wear sunscreen/hats/rash guards etc, and post the occasional melanoma awareness reminder on Facebook, but otherwise I'm just living my life and trying to be the healthiest me I can be - not just physically, but also mentally and especially spiritually. 

I have wanted to start a health and fitness type of blog, and actually did start one on Tumblr, but I actually liked the format of Blogspot better and decided it would be way easier to just change this blog a little. So I'll re-post the few things I wrote on Tumblr, and maybe I'll actually update this more often, since I have a lot more to say about health and fitness than cancer, although I am sure I still have plenty to say about that too! :)

Monday, December 30, 2013

Merry Christmas and a Happy and Healthy New Year!

I know it's been forever since I blogged, but I really have nothing melanoma related to talk about, which is great! I don't think I even blogged about my last scans/treatment, but it was pretty uneventful - also great. At the end of this week, I have my last round of treatment for the clinical trial, and I'm ready for that chapter of my life to be over with, and I hope I never visit the chemo area again!

I want to take this opportunity to challenge you to be the healthiest you that you can be in 2014. 'Tis the season of starting new diets and making resolutions to work out, and so many times we set ourselves up for failure - then when we fail, we give up completely. I know, because I'm an expert at this; just this weekend I did the "well, I'll re-start on Monday" thing even though Saturday morning I had decided that enough was enough. 

So, while you're making your health related New Year's Resolutions, think about what is actually feasible for you and your schedule, what you can actually live with long term when it comes to your diet, and what your plan will be WHEN you fail and need to re-group, because it's inevitable. Also think about why you want to make changes. Try to find reasons a little deeper than how you look in a bikini, like the way you feel, your overall health, etc. If you diet just to look good on the outside, and don't care about how it affects your inside, you won't succeed, at least not for long, and in the end, your health suffers - including your metabolism, which makes it even more difficult to lose the weight again. God gave you one body, and you may not think it's perfect, you may have not taken the best care of it, but if you have all your necessary limbs and organs, and they all work, you should thank Him for it every day, wrinkles, fat, gray hair and all (even if you don't have all working parts, if you woke up alive this morning, be thankful!). Realize that you can only be the best version of yourself, inside and out, and stop comparing yourself to others. 

So there's my feel good message for 2013 :) Have a safe, happy, and healthy New Year, and remember, just because it's winter doesn't mean you don't need sunscreen when you're outside!

Friday, November 1, 2013

Go Gators

It's Florida-Georgia Weekend! It's one of my favorites events of the year and I'm super excited to spend Saturday tailgating and watching football.....and maybe having a drink or 2..... :) Go Gators!

Next week I start a DietBet and start working on losing 10% of my body weight. It's exactly what I need to motivate me to lose the extra pounds I've been carrying around, and I love that DietBet promotes slow and steady weight loss. I have 5 months to lose 10%, then another month of maintaining that weight loss, which is pretty genius of them because maintaining can be just as difficult as losing. Check out the link (at the beginning of this paragraph) if you're interested in betting on yourself! I'm planning to use this blog as a kind of journal as I go along.

Have a great weekend!

Wednesday, October 30, 2013

Happy Immunoversary!

I swear I have good intentions when it comes to blogging - I have plenty to say, that's for sure, just not so much time to say it! Anyway, I realized that today is one year since I started immunotherapy and thought I should commemorate that. I only found out the day before or day of which arm of the clinical trial I was randomized into, and I was SO stressed out about it. I didn't want to be a guinea pig for some new medicine (although it helped that it was already approved for use in later staged melanoma patients), and I didn't want to get the old standard of care that would probably make me sick for a year and has a very low success rate. The 3 options were interferon (standard of care), and high or low dose ipilimumab (new drug being compared to interferon). I wanted the high dose because I figured "more = better", and was a little disappointed when I got the low dose. Well, once again I have been reminded that what I want isn't always best for me because a lot of people on the high dose (almost 3x the amount of the low dose) have had complications and had to quit the clinical trial. While I have had 7 of 8 doses and have had no side effects except a little fatigue right after I get a treatment, which I can totally deal with! I've got one more to go and could still have some side effects, but I've made it almost all the way through with little disruption to my life.

Feeling very thankful for this last year, and I'm constantly reminded that God blesses us through the storms in life :)

Friday, October 4, 2013

Whose Fault Is It?

I carry a certain amount of guilt about having melanoma. I assume smokers who get lung cancer feel like they caused it by smoking, and I wonder if I caused my melanoma by being less careful than I should have been in the sun, and using tanning beds. I see a lot of people in "mela-land" blaming their cancer on tanning. In my case, I have family history AND I tanned, so I honestly don't know which one caused it. There are people who have no known history, and no tanning history, so sometimes I think it's just plain bad luck. None of us will ever truly know what factor caused our cancer, or if it was a combination of genetics, environment, and/or luck. I relate melanoma and lung cancer because they both have major links to the choice to smoke or tan, but people with different cancers probably also wonder if they could have done anything to prevent it.

I read a post on Facebook this morning from Aim at Melanoma about a lawsuit between a woman with melanoma and the tanning salon(s) she went to. The jury ruled in favor of the tanning salon, and according to the few comments that were already posted, this made some people angry. It just reminded me that we live in a society of blame shifting. This woman tanned in tanning beds, allegedly after her dermatologist talked to her about the dangers of tanning, and continued tanning even after being diagnosed with melanoma, a day before her excision was planned, and again 3 days before her stitches were going to be removed. And then attempted to sue that tanning salon and several others. You can read the summary here if you want the entire story. Granted, the summary is written from the vantage point of the defendant's attorney, but it seems pretty clear to me that this woman ignored the risks of tanning, like so many of us have, but then wanted someone else to take responsibility. 

In my opinion, we have to take responsibility for ourselves and our actions - as hard as that can be. If someone is negligent and that causes us harm, then yes, they should be held responsible for their part. But I think most of us feel that it's unreasonable to sue cigarette companies over lung cancer, McDonald's over heart disease or coffee burns, or a brewery for a drunk driving accident, and this is no different. And I also think frivolous lawsuits like this one take away from the seriousness of the regulations needed in the tanning industry. A lot of states are working to pass laws to prohibit or restrict minors' use of tanning beds, and I think that's important, way more important than trying to play a blame game.

In related news, I have a half marathon this weekend, which was my choice, and I'm probably going to complain endlessly and maybe sue the race promoters because I'll definitely be in some pain afterwards ;)