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

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

Happy Halloween!

Santa and the Cereal Killer
Santa and the Cereal Killer

My original plan this Halloween was to be Moana, but alas, I was too late to the game and everything that was left online was only shipping in December, or more money than I wanted to spend on a costume. I really need to work on this procrastination thing.

I was trying to figure out if I could make a Moana costume (nope, not that talented), do Rosie the Riveter (it should be easy to find a red bandana, right?), or pull out one of two Halloween costumes I have: PBR fairy (though now it’s just fairy since I lost all the PBR things) or sexy Santa. That’s right, sexy Santa, the one costume I bought in college.

Since chemo helped me lose some weight this year, and I currently weigh less than I did in college (binge drinking and drunk eating really aren’t great for the body…), I thought, why  not turn lemons into lemonade and pull out my college costume?!? I paid good money for this costume, and pretty sure this is the last year “sexy anything” will be any part of my costume, so why not? I knew I couldn’t go full-force college costume though, so I tamed it down with flats, black tights, and a black sweater. A conservative sexy-Santa if you will.

We had a great Saturday night with friends. I started off riding in the Witches Brigade around town, then we went to a Halloween party, and ended up at the sketchy dive bar in town that everybody loves for dancing and bad-life choices. Tonight, we’re going to a friend’s house to pass out candy and I’ll be a yoga instructor, because we’re heading straight there after yoga, I’m lazy, and pretty sure my Santa costume is not kid-friendly.

When life gives you chemo, you pull out your sexy college costume. And make lemonade with lots of vodka.

Hope you have a Happy Halloween!

XOXO,

Gossett Girl

PMS-ing Without the Period

A couple of days ago I could feel myself starting to get cranky. I was disinterested in everything and getting annoyed at the smallest things. I was hungry and craving sugar. The next day, I snapped at Dan like I haven’t in almost a year, and got inexplicably angry about something dumb that isn’t worth mentioning (ok, it was because our Tablo was freezing during the American Ninja Warrior finale).

I haven’t had my period or PMS in almost a year, though there was a point last month where it felt like I might be PMS-ing.  It’s strange to get the symptoms, but not have any hard evidence that it’s that time of the month. Maybe I am just turning into a cranky old woman? Though the bloating and sugar craving makes me think otherwise.

I’m happy to know that pre-menopause hasn’t kicked in yet due to chemo, but it is a little strange to know that I’ll never have a period again. On a positive note, no more awkward moments of buying tampons and pads at the store?

XOXO,

Gossett Girl

Fork to Farm

Remember in my last post when I said it was way too smoky to workout? Well, apparently the weather gods were listening and now there is snow on the mountains a couple miles away and the temperature has been in the 40s. It’s so cold. What happened to fall???

After a couple days of rain and freezing cold, we got a quick reprieve on Sunday just in time for a 40-mile bike ride called Form to Farm. We rode around the Bitterroot Valley to four different farms where we got to tour each one (including farms where we get our CSA and milk from) and get snacks. It was a great ride, but exhausting. 40 miles is harder than one thinks. I thought I’d be ok with breaks in between, but man, were my legs tired. Luckily, one of my friends have ibuprofen and that helped me get through the last 15 miles.

The doctors told me working out wouldn’t be the same as before, and while I believed them, it’s still frustrating to live out. I can now run a mile without stopping, but it’s at an 11-minute pace. I can do a yoga class without going into child’s pose, but my body shakes while holding poses (ok, I’m pretty sure it did that before as well). We started doing spin class and I feel like I’m lagging behind everyone when we’re sprinting or trying to “climb that mountain.” At least I’m getting out there though, right? #smallvictories

I should actually be out for a run right now because the sun is out, there is blue sky mixed with clouds, and it’s 52-degrees. Instead I did some housework, prepped dinner, and am trying to keep this blog alive. I also think that I’m pms-ing right now, or supposed to be on my period because man, do I have that period feeling of lead-legs and exhaustion.

Here are some photos from Sunday’s ride. Mostly Dan eating food.

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Dan enjoying frittata at stop SweetRoot Farm (where we get our CSA box).
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Dan enjoying some local bread, passing on the ratatouille.
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Piglets!
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The cow our future milk will come from at Lifeline Farm.
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Last glimpse of summer.
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Local cheese and honey. But seriously, that cheese (from Tucker Farm and Lifeline).

XOXO,

Gossett Girl

Radiation Treatment: Check!

You can mark radiation as completed! On my list of “Things I never imagined I would have to do”, radiation and chemotherapy have both been checked off. This week I completed two rounds of brachytherapy.

Brachytherapy, for those of you lucky enough to not be in the know, is a type of radiation in which a plastic tube called a dilator is inserted vaginally and the radiation comes from a source, and specifically targets a certain area, in my case, the apex of the vagina. The dilator looks like a church altar candle, and is closed on the end that is inserted, but has an opening on the other side that the source is fed into through a wire. You awkwardly lay on a gurney while they insert the dilator and make sure that the angle is correct, and hold it in place with an intense looking metal device. The device reminded me of the Black Widow scene in the Avengers when she’s being sterilized, guess it’s a good thing that doesn’t effect me anymore! They then take a CAT scan to ensure everything looks good, then moved me to a room that the source is held in.

What is the source you ask? That’s a great question. I am not 100% sure, but I know it’s held in a radiation specific box, that’s not that big, and just hangs out in a room by itself. It goes through a wire that gets fed through the dilator. It’s not painful, but you definitely feel a weird thump during it. Well, it is painful, because there is a lot of pressure on a sensitive spot, but not any sort of burning sensation.

The first day, the whole process takes about 45 minutes with the angling, measuring, CAT scan, moving to another room, waiting for the program to give all the information needed for the treatment, and then treatment was three minutes. The second day, I went straight to the source room, had the measuring and angling, then had the treatment, so about 15 minutes all together. Not too bad.

It feels amazing to finally be finished. I have my follow up appointment in Seattle in October with a PET scan. I’m a little scared something will grow between now and then, but one cannot focus on that. I’m still trying to recover from chemo, my appetite is slowly coming back, but I’m still sensitive to certain foods and smells. I went to yoga on Tuesday which felt amazing, and tried to “run” a mile on Wednesday which was painful. Not sure how this half marathon in 3 weeks is going to go… Hopefully I can try another “run” this weekend. I use quotes, because honestly, it’s more a shuffle than an actual run.

It’s bittersweet celebrating this moment. We should be celebrating something else tomorrow instead. I’m trying to stay positive and not focus on my alternate reality, but it’s hard. It will continue to be hard. I’ve been dreading this weekend for months. I’m hoping if I surround myself with friends and keep myself busy, it will make it easier. I’m sure it won’t be though. I know the moment that silence hits or that I’m alone I’ll start crying. And that will be ok when that happens.

XOXO,

Gossett Girl

Chemo Day 6; Radiation Day 25

You guys. It’s official. I’m done with chemo and my daily drive to radiation! I would be celebrating more if chemo wasn’t having one last go at my stomach. I have two rounds of brachytherapy next week, and after that I’ll be completely finished with my treatment!

It’s been a very long six weeks filled with nausea and sleeping. Having our parents here really helped out with driving me every day and helping around the house. I haven’t had any energy to do anything. I can’t even muster up enough energy to feed the pets, but maybe part of that is hearing my mom feed the animals. I pretty much grew up without a pet, and seeing my parents with Fred makes me think we should have had an indoor dog. They spoil him like non-other. I cannot imagine what life will be like if we’re able to have our own child. She also coos over our persnickety kitty as well.

Our friends here have been amazing as well, dropping of dinner, driving me to Missoula. It’s been wonderful. I haven’t seen a lot of them in awhile, and I look forward to hanging out again. I’m hopeful that I can get through this weekend of sickness and then everything will be better. I am having some radiation side effects though, the kind that needs Immodium, not Docusate. Apparently that might stick around for awhile. I also need to wait a couple months and see if I go into pre-menopause thanks to the chemo. I guess I’m not completely out of the woods yet, but I am so happy I made it through chemo.

I hate chemo. I’m very lucky that I only had to be on Cisplatin, and not a combination of other drugs that could potentially send me to the ER, or cause my kidneys to not function properly making me miss a treatment. It was a rough six weeks, but it was only six weeks. I spoke to a few other patients during treatment, and they had all been going through this for a few years. Not everyone had weekly treatments like me, but theirs was ongoing, no real end in sight. I feel horrible for complaining when mine was short lived.

I asked my hematologist what would happen if the cancer came back and I had to go through this again.

“It won’t come back.”

My doctors are so certain that they got the cancer and I should be in the clear. I want to trust them, but it’s scary. What if a rogue cancer cell escaped and is ldormant until I have another hormone surge? I know I can’t think like that, but once you go through this, the idea lingers.

And with that, I’m spending one last couch-ridden weekend (from chemo at least, hopefully never from a hangover again…) stalking cruise forums to learn as much as I can about our upcoming cruise.

XOXO,

Gossett Girl

Chemo Day 5; Radiation Day 21

It’s the final week! Well ok, the final week of both chemo and radiation. Next week I’ll do two rounds of brachytherapy. I cannot wait to get my life back to normal, where I have a normal appetite and don’t spend the weekends sleeping.

It was great having my friend out this weekend, we watched some Harry Potter, marathoned House Hunters International, and Real Housewives. I slept more than I had hoped, and my appetite wasn’t great. I’ve been eating a lot of simple carbs and fruit.

My weight is still dropping a little, but nothing too drastic. I wouldn’t mind staying at this weight after treatment, but let’s be honest. As as soon as I get my normal appetite back, it’ll be fall and I’ll want to bake all the things and make delicious fall foods. I almost tried my wedding dress on last week, but I was too exhausted to try and take it out of the bag. Maybe this week?

Fingers crossed this week goes by quickly and my last round of chemo isn’t horrible!

XOXO,

Gossett Girl