Weekend Review – STOKR

You guys, I made it out a live. I completed a century ride on Saturday! I couldn’t have asked for a more beautiful day or better group of friends (well, it would have been better if Dan were there) to keep me going.

We left Friday afternoon for Libby, MT which is in the northwest part of the state in the Cabinet mountain range. The ride is called STOKR and stands for Scenic Tour of the Kootenai River (they really like their biking acronyms in Montana). It’s a beautiful area with lots of trees and mountains. My friend rented an AirBnB right on the river so we spent a lot of time on the back patio watching the river rush by.

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This is how you get ready for a 100-mile bike ride.

We woke up early Saturday to start riding at 7am. It was 17 miles until the breakfast stop. The first 17 miles were amazing and gorgeous. We rode along the Kootenai River and there was a blanket of fog over the mountains that dissipated as we went along. If you’ve never enjoyed a sunrise in Montana, you’re missing out. The blue skies here are nothing like I’ve seen before and Libby did not disappoint.

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Peaceful sunrise.

The breakfast stop consisted of bread and bagels with peanut butter or cream cheese, some fruit, and cookies. Because eating cookies at 8am is acceptable when one is riding 100 miles.

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We got a little off track…

It was 27 miles to the next stop, the longest stretch. During that time, we encountered a flat tire that cost us 20 minutes, got lost by going on a walking trail instead of staying on the road, and had to climb a super steep hill for four miles straight. We did stop by Yaak Falls where there was a clothes drop off (the weather went from 34 degrees to 70), water, and candy.

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Yaak Falls

I was so happy when we pulled into the second food stop, which was a table filled with carbs. There was potato salad, multiple types of pasta salad, Asian noodles, and of course, cookies. It was probably the best stop of the ride.

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All the carbs in the world.

I left a little before the group to get through the next 17 miles thinking they’d catch up to me, but it didn’t happen until half a mile before the next stop. It was actually pretty nice biking alone, I didn’t feel the need to ride fast to catch up to anyone and could go at my own leisurely speed. I did miss the social aspect of biking though.

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Where Sasquatch turns into the Hulk???

The third stop was soup and sandwiches (and cookies). The sandwich was ok (pretty sure it was from Subway), but their soup options looked pretty good and I went with the salmon chowder. It was a smart choice and I wanted more, but the fear of having too much cream-based soup on a hot afternoon with a 12-mile hill climb ahead stopped me.

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Definitely could have hung out here the entire day.

One of my friends decided to take off early to start the ascent and I followed shortly after. I ended up passing her on mile two and continued climbing. The first four miles were steep, but the ride evened out and I felt confident I could get through the next eight miles (it got steep again at mile six). Around mile 70 my Apple watch decided it was time to shut down, so I debated stopping mid-hill climb and saving my workout (I’ve learned if your watch shuts down it doesn’t save your workout, though I could be wrong because it ended up saving my second ride), or waiting until I got to a flat spot to stop the watch. My pride won out and I stopped mid-hill to save my workout and start a new one that would go until my watch died. I continued up the hill and hoped that it would flatten out soon, but apparently I was going to have to keep climbing until the top.

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Bourbon fuels bike rides.

I kept biking around the same six people, and we cheered each other on as we passed each other. Actually, they would cheer me on as I passed them when they took a break to stretch, and then they would cheer me on again when they passed me after their break. There were fun signs at the last mile that helped me keep going, but I have never been happier to see an aid station when I hit the top (I take what I said back about the carb stop, this was definitely the best one). There were people cheering, a warm fire (it got colder as went over the pass), and the best cookies I’ve ever eaten (and not just because I was exhausted, they were the butterscotch type cookies that also have nuts, one of my favorites). I relaxed and waited for my friends to finish their climb. When they all arrived we enjoyed a swig of bourbon from the flask I’d been carrying around, rested, and then sailed downhill (up to 29 mph!) to the infamous pie stop.

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Not that tasty, but makes for a pretty picture.

I have to admit, I was a little disappointed by the pie stop. My blueberry pie was meh, but my friend’s rhubarb was pretty tasty and I was sad I picked the wrong pie. We didn’t hang out for very long because we were eager to get the ride over with. The last leg of the ride was pretty flat, but I was hoping for more downhill so I wouldn’t have to work so much! I stayed with the group this time, but ended up getting ahead because again, I was eager to get the ride over with! We finally sailed into town and ended up at our AirBnB, but we were only at 97 miles! There was no way I wasn’t going to finish a century ride. We went to the race hotel to pick up clothes we had dropped off earlier, and took a scenic tour through town to get those last three miles in. I was exhausted, but it was worth it.

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The view biking into town.

It’s hard to believe that nine months ago I was finishing up chemo and couldn’t muster enough energy to get off the couch. My hematologist said that it could take awhile before I got back to my old energy and strength levels. I would like to think that I’m rocking this whole post-chemo/radiation thing.

Now that I’m finished training for STOKR I was planning on turning my attention to my half-marathon Memorial Day weekend in Calgary, but I have run into complications of being a female and spending too much time biking and on the saddle. Hopefully things will clear up soon and I’ll be able to start running again. If not, well… This may be the worst half-marathon I’ve ever run. Oh well. At least Calgary will have great food and shopping!

Have a great rest of your week!

XOXO,

Gossett Girl

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Weekend Review + Update

Pike Place Market

I realize it’s almost the weekend and I’m just now doing last weekend’s review. It’s been a busy week including getting back at midnight on Monday, and almost going to the ER last night for horrible stomach pains (I’ll touch on this later in the post).

Dan and I flew to Seattle Thursday night for my scan on Friday. This scan was CT only, so I had to hang out and drink contrast for an hour before the scan. It also took two nurses and three tries to get an IV in. My veins are over being poked and close up and start rolling as soon as a needle gets close. Luckily, they were able to draw my labs at the same time so I didn’t have to get poked for a fourth time that day.

After my scan, we went to another appointment, then headed to University Village (probably my favorite place on Earth) for a quick bite and drink at Eureka! and some shopping. We then headed downtown to meet up with the friends we were staying with, and Dan’s two sisters (who flew in from the Bay Area) for dinner at Serious Pie.

Saturday morning we woke up to a beautiful Seattle spring morning. JK, it was pouring buckets and my friend debated doing yard work as we drank coffee by the window. After Dan got up, we headed downtown to meet up with his family (the rest flew in from the Bay Area) at Serious Biscuit (his family loves Tom Douglas). We did a little shopping downtown then had a snack of oysters at Blueacre before dinner at Steelhead Diner in the market (which was a little disappointing).

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Oysters, never disappointing.

Dan’s family left after breakfast of Top Pot donuts on Sunday, then we hung out with friends for the rest of the day, we also had Thai food at one of my college hangouts. Dan flew home that night.

Monday morning I had my appointment with Dr. Goff. Scans were negative and my physical exam was clean! Six more months of being cancer-free! I wasn’t that concerned, but I have been having some issues lately that made me wonder if something was going on. This is going to get a little TMI here, but one of those issues was going to the bathroom.

After the tumor removal and hysterectomy, some of my organs were moved around and going to the bathroom (both) were uncomfortable. Things started to go back to normal, but then chemo and radiation caused some constipation issues. I thought things were ok, but lately I’ve been having horrible stomach pains, really sharp and out of nowhere. I attributed it to gas pains and thought it would pass, especially since I had experienced this before in my mid-20s. The stomach pain showed up again on Tuesday but it went away after a short time. Yesterday though, the pains started around 3pm, and they never went away. They got worse as the night went on and I ended up calling Dr. Goff’s office. Her resident on-call put me on a regimen of Miralax/Docusate/Senna, but when I tried to eat a little pb&j to take Tylenol and Ibuprofen, I threw it up. I was on the ground curled up and wailing in pain, and Dan wanted me to go to the ER. We headed down there, but I started to feel better, so after sitting in the parking lot we decided to go back home (I will not go into a diatribe about how messed up this country is that people don’t want to go to the ER because of cost). We got back home and I tried to take another bite of sandwich and drink more Miralax and I threw up again. This time, instead of laying back down, I sat up leaning against pillows. Dan said my face was turning slightly blue, but I was so exhausted I didn’t want to try and get back in the car. I covered myself in blankets and fell asleep sitting up.

I woke up this morning feeling much better. I had a small stomach pain, but it went away quickly and wasn’t as strong as last night. I took more Miralax/Docusate/Senna, and was able to have two movements today. While I no longer have the gas pains, I am having cramps from all the softeners. My body is really loving me right now. Apparently this is something I need to keep an eye on for the rest of my life. Chemo can mess with your gut flora and radiation has effected my bowels. I know now to not let this linger. If something isn’t normal, I’m going to start taking softeners right away and not let it almost send me to the ER again.

And on that note, I’ll leave you with these beautiful macarons from Ba Bar.

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Macarons are the best, especially when they’re complimentary!

XOXO,

Gossett Girl

One Year

One year ago today, I received a call from my doctor asking if Dan and I could come into the office ASAP. One year ago today we sat in her office and I blatantly asked if I had cancer because she was describing things, but not using the word. One year ago today our world turned upside down.

This past year has seemed to crawl by. It seems like ages ago Dan and I were traveling to Seattle and Houston to decide my treatment plan. Chemo and radiation seem like a distant memory from years past, not something I just went through six months ago.

Today though, I am spending the day biking around Montevideo with Dan and spending time with his mom and stepdad. I thought by this point we would have a six-month old taking over our life, but instead it’s just me and Dan. Life may not be where I thought it would at 33, but I’m taking what I have and trying to make the most of it.

I feel better and am getting stronger. I recently ran 5.5 miles at a 9:18 pace, then ran three miles under a 9 minute pace the next day. I’ve started doing spin, yoga, hot yoga, and rock climbing.

Dan and I have booked a trip to Europe over Christmas and will have that to look forward to once we’re back from South America. While Dan and I have traveled a lot this past year, minus a work trip to Boston, everything has been for health reasons. We haven’t seen his siblings in over a year since his youngest sister got married last September. We’re hoping to meet up with them, his dad, and stepmom in Seattle in April, and we’ll be doing a week in Hawaii to celebrate his stepmom’s birthday.

We’re trying very hard to make up for all that was lost last year. While I know nothing will take away the pain that we have gone through, trying to enjoy what we do have helps to ease some of it. Here’s looking to future adventures.

XOXO,

Gossett Girl

Monday Giggles

My sorority and now cancer-sister sent me this last week. It made me giggle uncontrollably in front of friends at a wine bar and they wanted me to share what was so funny. They didn’t get it. Neither did my best friend. It must be a cancer thing.

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As a huge Potter-head/nerd I loved this more than anything. Gryffindor forever!

XOXO,

Gossett Girl

Serena Williams

A few years ago, I had the TV running in the background when my normal programming was interrupted by the French Open women’s final. I found myself getting sucked in watching Serena Williams rally to win the French Open while fighting the flu, and I’m pretty sure throwing up in a towel.

That got me hooked on tennis and Andy Murray (sorry Dan). I started following multiple tennis players on Instagram and wanted to learn how to play. I won a tennis lesson at an auction over a year ago, but when I finally got around to scheduling my lesson, everything went downhill with my cancer diagnosis and I didn’t get to take my lesson until October this past year. While I would love to continue taking tennis lessons, time and money are always fleeting. Maybe when I retire?

But back to the main subject: Serena Williams. Serena Williams is an amazing woman. She is so strong, talented, and BFF with Beyonce. She was also due to give birth a week after me.

It was painful to see all the media outlets talking about her pregnancy while I was dealing with the loss of our baby and the upcoming loss of my uterus. The wound was ripped open again with the birth announcement of her daughter a week after our due date and finishing chemo instead. She’s back in the news now on the cover of Vogue with her baby and talking about the horrific ordeal she went through after the birth.

While I’m glad the topic of birth complications have been brought back into the conversation, it’s still a little painful to see her as a joyful mother and her smiling daughter. It also makes me think of of my two friends who gave birth to their daughters a month after our due date. I still haven’t spoken to either of them. Short emails and cards were all I could manage. Random thoughts of them and their perfect families pop up into my head, and while I’m extremely happy for them, it makes me sad for the life we don’t have. Jealous even.

Am I a bad person for thinking this? Probably. Why can’t I just be happy for other people? I mean, I get why I can’t be 100% happy, but I would like to be. I want to let last year and all the emotions go. It’s hard to see any family with their kids. I find myself still nodding and smiling when someone brings up someone else’s kid, or quickly scrolling through Instagram when friend’s post their children. I’m hopeful that one of these days that will be Dan and I. And if not, then I hope the pain and sadness go away and we can be 100% content for those who have what we could not.

Am I going to regret being this open about my feelings in the future? Maybe. But this blog was created so I could share my experience as a now 33-year-old woman dealing with cancer and cancer-caused infertility.

XOXO,

Gossett Girl

Three Month Check-up

I got back from a quick Seattle trip late last night (early this morning technically). I had my three month follow-up with Dr. Goff’s nurse practitioner. The exam was short, fast, and only slightly painful. The exam was good though, nothing out of sorts. It’s always nerve-wrecking going into these things. My next follow-up is in April, when I’ll do another scan.

Less than two years to go of every three month check-ups. I’m looking forward to that time! While I love visiting my friends in Seattle, it’d be nice to use that airplane ticket to go somewhere else… We haven’t visited family in almost a year. The only trip we went on last year (minus NYC which was planned before pregnancy and cancer) was to Boston, and that was tacking on to my work trip. We’re headed to South America next month and can’t wait for that trip to happen.

I went out for a friend’s birthday on Saturday, and after a few too many drinks, I broke down crying. I have been so stressed out over last year and lost my ability to cry things out. While I feel bad for crying to all my friends (and being a hot mess), I woke up Sunday with a weight off my shoulders. It was nice to get all that emotion out. Though, it would be nicer if I could cry like I used to instead of holding everything in. I used to be one of those people who cried at the smallest things like commercials. I’ve found myself to be more cynical after last year and having trouble with letting go of emotions (unless apparently there is wine involved).

I am hoping to return to my old self, even if it means going back to silly things like crying at Google and Maxwell House commercials. 2018 is already starting to look up, so I’m hopeful that the old Gina will return.

XOXO,

Gossett Girl

Hello 2018!

Happy New Year! As with everything I do, this message comes a little late. But at least it showed up, right? I hope you had a great Christmas and New Year. I had time off between the two holidays and had grand plans for reading, cooking, blogging, and binge-watching Big Little Lies, but instead I got sucked into reading the new Dan Brown novel, Origin, and then began re-reading the Robert Langdon series. Should I have read something a little more thought-provoking? Maybe. But it was a fun way to finish out the year — A little European, art history adventure.

Dan and I hosted Christmas dinner for friends who were staying in Montana which was a fun evening filled with good food (crab over-nighted from Seattle!) and lots of wine and bourbon. New Years Eve was spent in Spokane at our new favorite bar, Durkins. We sipped French 75s and champagne all night. I may have fallen asleep at our hotel before the fireworks went off.

2017 was a horrible year, but it also brought a lot of support and love. I’m hopeful for 2018. I am going to try and spend this year enjoying life and doing more things. I want to make up for things that didn’t happen last year: travel, cooking, baking, reading, outdoor adventures, and more.

We are headed to South America next month, and are planning on running the Calgary marathon/half marathon (and hopefully the Lululemon SeaWheeze half marathon in Vancouver). We’re hoping for another big trip around Christmas as well. And of course, my every 3-month follow-ups in Seattle start up again next week. We’ve talked to family about doing a weekend meet-up in Seattle for one of these trips.

My friend gave me a Great British Bake Off calendar for my birthday, and I plan on making the baked good on the calendar each month. Great for dusting off my baking pans, maybe not so great for my waistline, but definitely worth it! I have also started borrowing cookbooks from the library to try different recipes. I was barely in the kitchen last year, and this year I’m going to make up for it.

As for reading, I should challenge myself to read books with a purpose. I love a good dystopian novel, perhaps throwing in a book about finance or self-betterment wouldn’t hurt. I’m also hoping to spend more time reading instead of watching TV shows that I don’t even like.

And finally, I’m sure outdoor adventures will come. Our love of trying new things and living in Montana, I have no fear we’ll get out and do things.

Here’s to a great 2018!

XOXO,

Gossett Girl

Thirty-three

Ever since I was little, I had always thought 32 would be my year. My mom had me the year she turned 32, and in my mind, I always thought I would be 32 when I had my own child. Life has a way of letting you know you’re not in charge, and obviously that didn’t happen.

Last year  we celebrated my birthday with an evening party, watched the Sounders win the MLS Cup, and I was pregnant and didn’t know it. This year we celebrated with brunch, and watched the Sounders lose the MLS Cup. We went XC skiing on my birthday again which is always a fun time.

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It was so cold I couldn’t do a real smile.

A year ago I thought we would possibly be celebrating as a little family. It was bittersweet to try and celebrate, but also wondering what could have been. I have definitely felt supported by all my friends this year, and that means a lot.

I’m hopeful for 33. I look forward to what it will bring. I already know we are going to South America and most likely Hawaii. We have a ton of Seattle trips planned, and it will be good to spend time with friends.

Goodbye 32, hello 33.

XOXO,

Gossett Girl

Giving Thanks

I hope you had a wonderful Thanksgiving! We celebrated with two Thanksgiving dinners (that included a turkducken and prime rib plus the regular turkey and sides). I’m thankful that we have found so many friends here, we get to do two Thanksgivings! My jeans on the other hand, not so thankful.

We started the day with our local Turkey Trot, and I’m happy to say that I was able to run the three a 9:51 pace (while slightly hungover). That’s the fastest I’ve gone in a really long time. I ran four miles yesterday at a 9:40 pace, slowly getting faster! I’m definitely feeling it today though. I’m thankful for my body starting to finally pick-up the pace.

I had my follow up appointments on Friday with my hematologist and radiologists and they said everything looked good. My blood tests came back with a normal white blood cell count, meaning my immune system should be back to normal. My hematologist did say that it would take 6-12 for my hair to start growing back normally, and that it will take at least six months for my body to get back to working out normally. I’m thankful for normal test results!

I’m thankful for friends who have gotten me through this year. From those here in Montana who house/pet-sat at a drop of the hat when I was hospitalized and took care of us during my treatment, to those in Seattle who drove me everywhere and let us stay with them whenever we need to. I’m also thankful to friends from afar who offer a shoulder to cry on and thoughtful gifts to cheer us up.

I’m thankful for family who support and love us, taking care of us through treatment, and through all the awful things we’ve been through this year.

And most importantly, I’m thankful for Dan, who is an amazing support and rock through this. He has always been great at taking care of me, from donut and cereal runs during the pregnancy, to donut and cereal runs during treatment. Without him, I’d probably still be in a ball refusing to get out of bed.

Dan and I are especially thankful for our Gestational Carrier. Hopefully she is able to help us on our journey to becoming parents. We’re still in the holding stages on this part, but we’re thankful that she offered to give us this great gift.

And with that, I hope you had a great Thanksgiving, and are looking forward to a great holiday season!

XOXO,

Gossett Girl

Cisplatin and Hair Loss

When I was told I needed to go through chemo, my oncologist told me it wouldn’t cause me to lose my hair. My hematologist echoed her statement, saying that my dosage of Cisplatin was so low I shouldn’t have many side effects (so wrong, so much nausea). While I was relieved, they did add there might be some thinning.

I already have pretty thin hair. My ponytails are tiny, and I have to keep my hair a certain length or else it’ll all fall out. I was dreading the thought of losing my hair.

During treatment I was more concerned with nausea than hair loss. When treatment ended and the nausea subsided, I thought I had gotten away without any other side effects. I waited for pre-menopause to hit and it didn’t. And then my hair started coming out.

I know hair falling out is natural, but I realized, my hair isn’t growing back. I am used to having all sorts of fine baby hair growing along my part, but I only have a few hairs there now. When I pull my hair back, so much more of my scalp is visible. I have to readjust what little hair I have to try and cover patches of scalp. I used to be able to wrap a hair tie around my ponytail three times, but now it’s four.

When I went to see my oncologist last month, she said that hair thinning and delayed growing could definitely be a side effect from the Cisplatin. She suggested adding more iron into my diet. I’m also trying to cut sugar out to keep my hair from falling out (something I’ve done in the past). I am debating buying Nioxin and seeing if that will help promote hair growth. I’ve also read a lot of forums where many people have had hair thinning due to Cisplatin, but their hair would come back about six months later. Thicker for some people! Fingers crossed I get so lucky. Truthfully though, I would just like my hair to start growing back. And to be able to run like I used to. Is this all too much to ask?

XOXO,

Gossett Girl