Posts Tagged ‘Cancer survivor’

CF_open2014I am still determined. Wow, I have been so busy training and living life that I have not posted for quite a while. So much has happened that has been positive in the last several months. By now I do not even feel like I am in remission from brain cancer. The only things I notice is that my incision hurts every once in a while, I have a scar, my hair is shorter on the front of the left side of my head, and my occasional severe migraine. Thankfully, I think my planter fasciitis that I have been dealing with since last fall has calmed down in my R foot so that I can start running and being active. I started a new job last week as a nurse at one of the best retirement living communities around. Recently I discovered a miracle juice called XanGo that helps fight cancer and reduces inflammation. It’s effects are currently being studied by Mayo Clinic. I hope it works to calm down my migraines and incisional pains from my brain cancer treatment. I already feel better with only a few days on the juice. You can contact me for more information and to order this amazing juice.

I have started working with a personal trainer and dietician to get my weight down and work on my diet. This is the biggest challenge for me. I know what I need to eat and avoid but actually doing it has been a challenge. My diet is slowly improving although I have yet to lose any weight.

MP_determination-runner

After several months off from CrossFit, I decided to sign up for this year’s CrossFit Open. I am excited because they will have scaled options this year. After not posting a score for the last workout of the 2014 Open. This year, I want to post scores for all workouts. The scaling options should help. I had originally signed up to compete as a member of a new CrossFit gym in town but just changed my plans to compete with my former gym. This open will be exciting because they are making it big with an event called “Friday Night Lights.” Stay tuned for new and exciting posts.

 

Advertisements

 

Grey is Important Too

Grey is Important Too

According to the Central Brain Tumor Registry  of the United States.

An estimated 14,930 deaths will be attributed to primary malignant brain and central nervous system tumors in the United States in 2013.

Five–year relative survival rates following diagnosis of a primary malignant brain and CNS (including lymphoma, leukemia, tumors of the pituitary and pineal glands,  and olfactory tumors of the nasal cavity) by age of diagnosis (1995-2010 data):

Age 0-19 years: 73.0% Age 55-64 years: 17.4%
Age 20-44 years: 58.1% Age 65-74 years: 10.2%
Age 45-54 years: 31.8% Age 75 or older: 5.8%

The following is the 5 year survival rates and expected mortality for breast cancer from the American Cancer Society

Total 40,000 deaths expected from breast cancer in 2014.

Stage

5-year Relative
Survival Rate

0

100%

I

100%

II

93%

III

72%

IV

22%

 

National Cancer Institute reports a 5 year survival of 33.4% for brain cancer versus a 89.2% survival for breast cancer between the years 2004-2010. Brain cancer is responsible for 2.4%  while breast cancer is responsible for 6.8% of all cancer deaths.

 

From the American Brain Tumor Association website:

Brain tumors are the:
second leading cause of cancer-related deaths in children (males and females) under age 20 (leukemia is the first).
second leading cause of cancer-related deaths in males ages 20-39 (leukemia is the first).
fifth leading cause of cancer-related deaths in females ages 20-39.

 

See the American Brain Tumor Association  website for more information on brain tumors and brain cancer.

Give the brain a thought.

Give the brain a thought.

Yes, pink is important too but without a brain, breasts are useless!

Most importantly!

BT_they all matter

Ok, I realize this happened about two months ago but here is my story and race recap:

USA Triathlon National Age Group Sprint Championships

I am thankful just to be able to tri

After the Finish

After the Finish

August 9-10, 2014

The whole weekend was great despite waiting in line for race packet pickup and to check my bike into transition. I was also upset to learn that I would not be getting the official race jacket at the race and the hat in my bag has the USAT logo upside down. I have yet to receive my jacket in the mail several weeks after the event. The elite super sprint triathlon was great was also a highlight of the weekend. That event is one I would like to do in the near future.

Upside down USAT logo

Upside down USAT logo

Super-sprint

Super-sprint

This was it. It was time to start and finish race that I decided to make my goal race of 2014. This was decided when I crossed the finish line in the 2013 National Age Group Sprint Championships. It was then, when I made the attempt to finish the triathlon less than three months after having brain surgery, after 6 weeks of oral chemotherapy and only 10 days after finishing 33 radiation treatments for anaplastic astrocytoma in the left frontal lobe of my brain. Now a year later I was still alive and ready to race again. Like last year prior to my diagnosis, I expected to be competitive by finishing in the top 25 in my age group.

2013 FINISHED

2013 FINISHED

My training had been going well even during my monthly cycles of oral chemotherapy which ended in January. I had joined the Cyclone Triathlon Team last fall and tried to attend at least 1 swim session and 1 cycling session. In April, the day of the Minnesota State Masters short Course Swim Meet I caught a virus which plagued me for most of the spring and early summer. This virus caused an exacerbation of my asthma and chronic cough that made it difficult to train. Like last year I still expected to race hard and do the best I could.

Finish line

Finish line

Race morning began at 4:15 when I woke up had my coffee and oatmeal. Then I prepared my electrolyte race beverage Next I donned my Cyclones Triathlon Team kit and TriRochester long sleeve shirt and pants. It was a cool morning so it was a good choice. I had already applied my race numbers the night before to save an extra race morning step. It was time to head to the race site which was about a 17 minute drive from my hotel.

Once I arrived in the transition everything went smoothly. I unpacked my race bag and sent up my transition for the big race. The fancy bikes and equipment other athletes had around me was intimidating. I left the transition with my wetsuit on and my cap and goggles in hand for the swim start. This year was nice as I would not have to wait around 1 hour prior to getting into the water as I was in the second heat and was able to warm up for longer in the water prior to the start of the race. As I climbed down the ladder into the cool Lake Michigan waters, I was comforted and confident that my swim training with the Cyclones Tri Team would get me to the end of the swim fast.

Swim done

Swim done

The horn sounded and I was positioned in the back of the pack. I waited about 5 seconds before I started swimming to avoid splashing water and the mess of the pack. I stayed close to my strategy of swimming towards the buoys and staying on the inside but yet swim around them. About half way through the swim, I aspirated some water and started coughing. It took about 30 seconds of me swimming above water breaststroke to catch my breath enough to continue swimming. After finally starting to swim again, I swam strong and fast to the swim exit. Up the metal ramp I went grabbing the hands of volunteers that were assisting us. Swim 750 meters in 15:50.

 

 

 

 

 

 

Holding my own on the bike

Holding my own on the bike

To the transition I ran, I actually ran out of the swim to the transition area. In the transition area I quickly changed into my bike shoes and helmet and sprinted out. As I began to ride my bike I focused on pacing to not start out too fast. People began to pass me but I held my own. The worse pass I got was a man who passed me and began going slow. Everyone was passing me and I could not pass this man. I could not even pass him at the turnaround. Once I got past the turnaround I passed him never to be seen again. Overall, I was not happy with my bike time, but I had spent little time training for the bike so I had no excuse for a slow time. Bike 12.5 miles in 44:18.

 

 

 

 

 

 

Finsihing

Finishing

I rushed into the transition and headed out to the run. Using an interval timer from Jeff Galloway to set these intervals, I planned to run/walk with a ratio of 4 minutes running to 1 minute walking. The run actually went by fast. I had people cheering me the whole way and even while passing me they said, “good job, keep going.” I replied “good job” in response. I just stuck to my plan and the fact that people passed me did not concern me. The finish line came up quickly and I sprinted to the finish and ran across the line again hearing Karen Smyers call my name, “here is Dawn Johnson from Rochester, MN.” I finished the 5K in a total run time of 34:36 and a total for the triathlon of 1:40:45. Overall, I finished 71/81 in my age-group.

 

 

 

 

 

 

When I finished I headed to the post-race lunch, cheered other triathletes to the finish, enjoyed the beautiful weather, and gave God thanks that I can still tri.

tri_quote MJ

5 K Medal

5 K Medal

 

2 Day Challenge Prize

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Last year on Memorial Day Weekend I was in the Neuro-ICU recovering from brain cancer surgery. 1 year later, I finished the Med-City Half-Marathon  in 2:52 and the 5-K, the 2 Day Challenge, to celebrate 1 year as a cancer survivor. I like to thank all those people who made this finish possible.
In the past couple of months I have been busy, so busy that I have not made time for posts on this blog. My original plans were to finish the Med-City Marathon but in April I decided to switch to the half-marathon. This was a good decision, because I finished strong, enjoyed the perfect day, and was able to walk after the race.  I wore brain tumor awareness shirts for both events and dressed in gray for both events for brain tumor awareness. My training included weekly long “runs” with the longest duration of training 3 hours and the longest distance of straight run/walk a 15K.
Of course, the respiratory bug that I had in April did not help my run training or the Minnesota Masters Swimming Short Course State Meet. I went to this meet the day after I became sick and basically showed up to the meet. I tried to swam as fast as

13.1 Medal

13.1 Medal

I was able even with less than 5 minutes of rest between some events. The only reason I walked home with medals was I was either the only swimmer or there were only 1-2 other swimmers that were better than me.
Now with my first triathlon of 2014 less than 1 week away, I feel fitter, faster, stronger, and lighter than I have in recent years. In the race next weekend, I am going to leave nothing left at the finish.
There is another event less than 1 week away, my 1 year MRI. Yes, I am a little nervous, but who wouldn’t be. I am praying everything turns out fine. The truth is after a long year, I finally got my energy back, working longer shifts at work, and getting work done in my yard. Last weekend I went to my second annual Cancer Survivors Day event. I have been blessed, to meet all the cancer survivors I have met in this past year and by all that I have learned in the past year that has changed my views of cancer and life.
Citius, Altius, Fortius
~dmj

MP_stay fighting

Survivorship and the CrossFit Games Open

This post talks about my experience in the first two weeks of the CrossFit Games Open, recent MRI results, training, the weather, and competition plans for 2014.

BT_cancer survivor

 

My MRI last Friday, March 7 confirmed that I continue in survivorship. The MRI appeared better than the last one and to celebrate I completed WOD 14.2 of the CrossFit Games Open with a score of 10 reps overhead squats at 65#. Double-under jump rope got me on the first WOD of the open, 14.1. Double-unders involve two rotations of the jump rope under your feet for each jump. I only got 7reps, but going into the workout I thought, will I get at least 1, will my Open be over in the first WOD? I gave up on double- unders last  Fall. Here is the link to my CrossFit Games Open Profile http://games.crossfit.com/athlete/68416

Almost to the top

Almost to the top

CF OPEN WOD 14.2

CF OPEN WOD 14.2

Maybe a pull-up?

Maybe a pull-up?

My training continues to improve despite the awful weather and road conditions. Yes, the cold weather and snow have made it difficult to get to the gym to get any training done. Yes it may look beautiful, but it is darn cold and I am not going to slip on the ice with only screws and plates holding a piece of my skull in place.

Nice Winter's Day Walk Cascade Creek 2014

Nice Winter’s Day Walk Cascade Creek 2014

In addition, I have decided on a tentative competition schedule for 2014. On March 1, I competed in the Minnesota Power Pull and got 1st place (well out of 2) in the Women’s Masters Division. My time, although not a post 30 y/o PR, was in the upper percentile of all female competitors even with little specific rowing training.

BT_powerpull

MN Powerpull 1st place medal

My next big competition is the Minnesota Local Weightlifting Club Championship on March 22. Even though I have been weightlifting about twice a week, I think I have hit a plateau and my weights have not increased for several months. Although despite not increasing weights, my form is improving with continued training. It does get upsetting when everyone else improves except you. Yes, they work hard to improve but I do too. I will take a hiatus from CrossFit at the end of March to train for endurance events like my marathon and triathlons. The only thing that is improving is my running. I am running faster and longer.  I cannot wait to get outside and go running along Cascade Creek on the bike trail just a few blocks from my house. This were I spent much of my time in the early 2000’s.

MP_eyeonprize

Other bits of life include finishing my soccer refereeing, working on my naturopathic degrees, trying to apply to PhD school, applying to other better jobs, coaching swimming, volunteering at the hospital, working at my nursing job, and getting my wellness business, Winning Wellness Solutions, on track.  Overall, I am keeping busy and keeping a positive outlook. I am going to just keep moving ahead and not look back.

~dmj