Crazy Weather

rain-57bb8fcf3df78c876339a4e2What a strange week of weather. Early in the week it was unseasonably warm and rainy. I can’t imagine how much snow we would have if the temperatures were a bit below zero. Yesterday was driving rain that threatened ice. Laura and I went out last night for dinner and a concert and thought the roads might not hold up until we got home. Luckily, we made it home when it was still raining. When we got up this morning there was a thick layer of ice on both the cars!

Renovations continue. I probably don’t have to say that as I think they will be never-ending. Laura has been working on the upstairs hallway. We are trying to get that completed before leaving for vacation in a week.

shutterstock_486440014.jpgI hit snooze one too many times this morning and missed swimming. Probably fortuitous as I would have never gotten the ice off the windshield in time to make it to the pool.

Training this week plodded along. I did some of all three triathlon disciplines. I also dusted off the old weight routine, but didn’t actually begin it. I did pick up some dumbbells for hoe use. Maybe this upcoming week.

Swim 4.9 kms, bike 79 kms, run 18.4 kms.

Total 102.3 kms

See you at the next finish line….

 

New Year

2d9724045-tz-biz-101114-turkey-1038a.nbcnews-ux-1024-900The New Year is here and I am trying to settle into a workout routine. The festivities over the holidays were a lot of fun, but they also included lots of food! Time to work some of that food off.

I made it to the pool all three times this past week. Swimming is beginning to feel more natural once again. It is amazing how missing a few sessions really affects your feel for the water. I am not sure my speed is where it needs to be, but I am building a good base.

10252-andy-potts-kona-swim-tips-700x394I struggled last week with a muscular issue in my right calf. It had a negative impact on my running. I could run, but not as long as I would have liked. I ran yesterday pain free for the first time in ten or eleven days. I hope it holds for my planned runs this upcoming  week.

My cycling was indoors (of course) on my trainer. I have been watching a series called Carnival Row while biking. It is nothing special, but it helps to pass the time. I enjoy outdoor biking so much more. It is a long way off.

We are headed off on a beach vacation in a couple of weeks. I am really looking forward to doing a HOT run and an open water swim or two. It will be a good opportunity to wind down and get some extra training miles in.

Last weeks Stats:

Swim 7.1 kms, bike 80.7 kms, run 17.5 kms

Total 104.6 kms

See you at the next finish line….

 

Plans for next race season

2019_loadingAnother year has passed, but this one was much more eventful. Due to my illness and treatments I never really had a chance to train and race like I enjoy. Yes, I swam, biked, and ran, here and there, but it was just to stay connected to the sport. The physical ability and motivation just wasn’t there. When I reflect on the year I am extremely lucky that I am even here to be able to set any goals at all. Each day is so precious, I know that now. I am stronger than I thought.

businessman-with-question-mark-pondering-problem-vector-16381349I thought long and hard about my future in the sport of triathlon. Was it still important to me? What kind of goals would keep me motivated? Would I have the support if I did decide to pick up my training again. After many deep conversations, some of them with myself, I decided to aim high once again.

I started by signing up for the 1/2 Ironman in Mont Tremblant once again. It is a late June race and that should keep the motivation up throughout the winter. I wanted to do a late season race as well. I looked at some other 1/2 options. There was a race in North Carolina that was appealing. There was also one in Georgia in the fall. I landed on neither of those, but rather I signed up for Ironman Arizona in November. So there you have it. I have a 1/2 Ironman in June and a full Ironman in November.

IRONMAN_Arizona_100x-8_large_largeThis will be harder than the first time around. You would think it should be easier, but I am that much older. I am also coming off treatments and if I am truthful I have never fully recovered. And finally, I have to lose weight all over again. It is a tall order, but there is no time like the present to blast through new barriers. Can I become an Ironman once again after a cancer diagnosis? Hopefully. If things stay positive on the health front.

Stay tuned for more regular updates.

See you at the finish line, again….

Summer Musings

Well it has been awhile since my last blog post. Life has been busy. This time my post will be about the positive things in my life. There are plenty of them (I will not mention the “C” word this time)!

IMG_3692.HEICThe summer has passed by quickly. I have moved into a new house in Harrowsmith, Ontario. It needs a lot of work. I always wanted to live in an older limestone house, but I envisioned something that was move in ready. This place was not! We have spent the summer engaging with contractors on the installation of doors, electrical work, exterior work, as well as septic system replacements. Yes, there is a ton of activity going on at the house. It has a nice feel to it and Laura and I are very happy with our choice. It will just be awhile before it has great street appeal.

Oh yeah, that house also seems to have a bit of a “spirit”. There have been several eerie things. Doors opening in and closing on their own, brooms standing up on their own, and fans turning on and off by themselves. These things happen to everyone right? I don’t go into the basement at night. That is the purpose of dogs. If they come out of the basement unscathed, I will consider it.

IMG_3879.HEICMy fitness has dropped off significantly. With all of the fun I have been through medically, it has been hard to keep up a good fitness routine. I am still running three times a week and recently started back swimming three times as week as well. It will be a number of months before I feel “good”, but the desire to get there is now back. That is the biggest hurdle. It was tough watching my friends do the Ironman race a few weeks back as I was supposed to be doing it as well. I think that is what gave me a kick in the butt.

IMG_3855.HEIC

We had a week of vacation recently. It was busy! We camped for a night, came home and showered, and then went to New York City! We certainly got our steps in! We walked to all of the main sights. We did a food tour in Chelsea. Many good treats were consumed! We were lucky and had nice weather. The heat wasn’t stifling and we had no rain. Of course, shopping was also high on the priority list! After getting back from New York City we drove to Toronto and did a Barista course. My attempts at latte art were not good. My latte was described by the instructor as a snowman in a snowstorm. I don’t think it was meant as a compliment!

UnknownAs you can tell, life has been anything but boring. Life is also very precious so enjoy it while you can. I hope you strive to be as happy as I am! You only get one shot at it.

See you at the finish line….

Brighter Future

no-more-chemo-women-s-hoodieIt has been some time since I posted a new blog entry. Life has not been boring. After a few rounds of chemo my test results were really positive. The doctor decided to skip a round of chemo as I had responded exceptionally well to the previous ones. It was to give my white blood cells a chance to regenerate. About a week ago I did another round of testing. It was the same routine with an MRI, PET, spinal tap, and blood work. The doctor called with the results last week and they were good. Well, better than good. There was no longer cancer cells in my spinal fluid and the forming tumour was almost non-existent. The PET was also clear. I am now on a three month monitor protocol. This means that if all goes well I can enjoy the summer without testing and chemo. It is the best news ever (understatement).

01_Feet_worst_weight_hacks_doctors_stop_following_500736880_nensuriaMy training has been pretty much non-existent for obvious reasons. I made the decision a few weeks back to cancel all of my scheduled races for the summer. It was not an easy decision, but doing long distance races is not something to take lightly and I know I am not physically ready. Now with the great news above I can start to get back to a regular exercise routine. I have to lose some of the weight I have gained throughout this ordeal. I may be the only person in history that gained weight while on chemo! Well, it was a possible side effect, but I think it was more related to my exercise decrease.

WhatsApp Image 2019-05-25 at 2.08.34 PMBrittany has moved into her new house! I spent a bit of time with her in Toronto yesterday unpacking and assembling bedroom sets. It is a really nice place! I think I have seen my future, and it is living in her basement apartment. I get the relative discount. Right? Brandon and Kayla are looking for a new place in Ottawa now. There may be more education in their future and they need to get settled into a new place first.

 

 

See you at the next finish line….

 

Vacation and Chemo Round Two

IMG_3196It was time for a vacation. Brandon, Kayla, Brittany, and I headed off to Barbados for the week. We took two separate flights, one from Montreal and one from Toronto. The drive to the airport was horrendous as the weather was nasty. Dad drove us and managed not to kill us before the vacation even began. After waiting an hour for the rental-car we were on our way to the villa.

 

IMG_3211The accommodations were great! We had a three bedroom until that overlooked the ocean. There was a private pool and fancy parking that required a gate code. I did the driving all week, on the wrong side of the road. Brandon or Brittany were in the passenger seat and thought I was a little close to the curb. I think I was overcompensating for not hitting the oncoming traffic on my side of the car. It is a weird sensation. All of the intersections were roundabouts. It took a bit of practice but by the end of the week I was a pro. I did however hit a few curbs with brightly yellow coloured rental car that screamed, “Stay away from this car at all times”.

 

IMG_3305We ate very well. Each night we tried a different restaurant. There was an area of town called the St. Lawrence Gap that was known for its eateries. We went there three or four times and never had a bad meal. It overlooked the water and provided some spectacular views. On Friday night we went to the Oisten’’s fish fry. It was a very busy spot. Tables were lined up on the beach and we had a good, but not great, meal. It was more about the ambiance. We took pictures of most of our meals as that seems to be the thing to do.

 

IMG_3291We spent some time at the wildlife reserve. The monkeys were the highlight for all of us. They are so cute and have such character. It was easy to spend a couple hours just sitting feet away from them as they jumped and played in the trees. Brandon had an opportunity to hold one of them on his chest. It was a baby and he fell right asleep. When it was time to leave the little guy clung with his claws on Brandon’s t-shirt. He would have fit in the carry-on.

 

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I did a number of training runs throughout the week. It was hot in the morning, afternoon, and evening. I picked the morning. The streets were busy and not well suited to running. I did what I could and enjoyed the times Brittany was able to join me. I really feel the lack of energy due to the treatment. That is disappointing but to be expected.

 

 

 

IMG_3390So, we are all heading back to reality now. I received test results when I was away. After my first round of chemo the tumour is beginning to break up and shrink/disappear. My cancer cell count in my spinal fluid has dropped dramatically as well. However, my white blood cell count is still critically low. I was happy not to get too sick when I was away and was able to enjoy the time with the kids. The medical news was very positive as it means my body is responding well to the chemo. Fingers crossed for continued success. I don’t want to get too optimistic at this point. It is an emotional roller-coaster ride. I start round two this upcoming Thursday.

 

See you at the finish line…..

 

Round One

It seems with my last blog entry that I confused a few readers. My vacation plans do not occur until the last week in March, after my first round of treatments. I was attempting to avoid treatment until after my planned vacation, but things don’t always go as planned. I guess even published authors have room to improve their writing!

picsmeme-worry-quotes-09The days prior to starting treatment were worse than the actual treatment itself. At least mentally. I worried about everything. I was anxious about everything. Would I lose my hair right away (don’t laugh)? How sick would I get? How long would I be sick? Would I be as sick during my recovery phase as I am during the treatment? Could I cope on my own? The sleepless nights seemed endless. I think my biggest struggle has been watching those around me cope with the diagnosis. Both of the kids have been so strong at times, but not unlike me in my private moments I know this is killing them as well. I feel a sense of guilt for putting them through this. They didn’t sign up for this, but I guess neither did I.

An-Artery-with-White-Blood-Cells-In-focusIt was a rocky start to treatment. My white blood cell count continued to drop prior to the treatment. This was a big concern to my oncologist as you need white cells to fight for you. If I hadn’t had enough of them it wouldn’t have been prudent to start chemo as it would have put me at huge risk. As it was my count was so low that if I would have caught the flu or a bad cold I would have had trouble fighting it off. I noticed every sneeze and cough around me. It was time to become a germa-phob. I tried not to touch door handles and used Purell like I owned stock in the company. The good news was that the count remained bad, but not bad enough that I couldn’t start treatment.

maxresdefaultIt went better than I expected. I was constantly waiting for some nasty side effect to happen, but I think I was very fortunate. I was very tired and lethargic. By mid-afternoon I was ready to lay down. My energy level continued to decline throughout the five days of treatments. Now that it’s over I go through another round of testing to see what effect it has had. My mental state was also all over the map. I think that has been the hardest part so far, managing my emotions and fear. I am so fortunate to have had support through all of this even though I am not an easy person to support. A particular smile from one friend that makes my worries go away. A morning hug from another that lets me know I am not alone. Late night texts from another that ground me in reality. I have had so many offers of help from all of you. Thank you.

I mentioned my kids above. I can’t wait to spend some time with them on vacation. We have a group text thread that is filled with words of encouragement and love from them every day.  If anything good can come of this it is that we have become closer as a result of my journey. They amaze me.

planning-vacationToday is the first day of the twenty-three day recovery cycle. I was warned that round two will feel twice as bad as round one. The drug will build up in my body and have a cumulative effect. For now I am just going to focus on planning for my vacation at the end of the month. I need something positive to think about before the next round.

 

See you at the finish line, on the beach…..

 

The six letter “C” word that is changing my life

belljarIs this all a dream? I feel like I’m walking around inside a glass bubble, where I can see other people and even, with some difficulty, talk to them, but I am inhabiting a completely separate reality from them. The old adage that you shouldn’t judge someone until you walk a mile in their shoes is relevant. Of course, I wouldn’t want anyone to walk in this particular old and worn pair of shoes.

Recent blood tests are heading in the wrong direction so waiting to start treatment seems like a bad idea. I have been balancing the decision as to when to start treatment with a vacation I have booked with the kids. You may think, WTF, the vacation can wait, but priorities change when you are wearing the old and worn shoes. It is all a moot point now as the decision is made. Treatment will begin March 7th.

IMG_5489The particular chemotherapy I will be getting is done on a 28-day cycle. I get it for 5 days and then I get 23 days to recover. Then I repeat the process over and over again. There is a long list of side effects that each occur in a certain percentage of the patients taking the drug. Only time will tell which ones I have to battle. Saying I am scared would be an understatement. I am lucky to have lots of offers of support at this point. I will ask for it when I need it. Seven more days chemo free.

Looking forward to the week of vacation.

I still swim, bike, and run.

I still plan on seeing you at the finish line….

 

Not the best start to 2019

IMG_3067.JPGThis year was supposed to be a more positive year. New year, new goals, new hope. I have never been one for resolutions, but I did see it as a chance for step forward. A little before Christmas I did an MRI and they found something. That led to an appointment at the local cancer center. The MRI showed one tumor and heavy shading on another part of my brain. They recommended a spinal tap and a PET scan. The spinal tap was used to pull fluid from me to test and see if cancer cells were present in the fluid. The theory is that brain cancer is usually the secondary location. It travels from elsewhere to the brain via the spinal fluid. Well that test was positive for cancer cells. I was referred to Sunnybrook in Toronto. They did another full round of testing, including a PET scan that searched for the primary source. The PET scan came back negative. That was not expected by the oncologists so I was unique. So I have cancer, but it is not presenting like the typical patient. I still can’t believe I am saying those words. I have brain cancer.

My vision gets blurry on and off. I pass out here and there. It has been wonderful (sarcasm). The headaches are unbearable at times. The list of drugs in my cabinet increases.

I have been strong before in my life. I lost a bunch of weight and did an Ironman. Of course, that is what this blog was all about in the beginning. I even did some book writing that people liked, lol. Maybe now the blog will have a new focus, who knows. I should be wanting to fight. I should look at it like just another challenge, but this feels different. It feels insurmountable. Life has left me without the energy to fight right now. I feel defeated.

I am still training for a summer Ironman. Maybe I have my head in the sand and that won’t be in the cards. The docs have presented me with options and I am pondering them now. I am on a regular regimen of testing now to monitor the changes in the size of the tumor, cancer cell count in my spinal fluid, etc. All of this which is just delaying the inevitable chemo treatments. I put more value on quality of life rather than quantity of life so chemo may not be in the cards for me.

As people have heard the news they all say the same thing, “What can I do?” Honestly if I could ask for one thing it would be that this disease not be the topic of all of our conversations. I want to just be Mike, not Mike with cancer. I haven’t changed even if there is something growing in my brain. It is hard to constantly have to answer the “How are you feeling?” or “Do you have any more news?” questions constantly. Maybe that is just a phase I am going through, I don’t know. I do know however, that 2019 is not looking as bright as I had hoped.

See you at the finish line…..

(Funny how that statement I have closed my blog with for years now has a different meaning)

The Number 132

1200px-Reichsstraße_132_numberWhat’s in a number? I travelled 132 kms during my training this week. I don’t have a lot to talk about today. Yes, I am struggling for words. I did some research on the number 132. Did you know that in binary, if you assign your digits from your thumb to your pinky 1, 2, 4, 8 and 16 on one hand and then 32, 64, 128, 256 and 512 on the other hand then the number 132 would be displayed using both middle fingers exclusively. So if someone labels you 132, it’s a subtle message that they don’t really like you.

If you take the sum of all 2-digit numbers you can make from 132, you get 132: . 132 is the smallest number with this property, which is shared by 264, 396 and 35964.

It was a leap year on the Julian calendar.

Goodbye my friends……..