Wednesday, March 28, 2012

The Marathon is Less Than 3 Weeks Away...So Why I Am I Doing This?

Here it is less than 3 weeks before the big run, The Boston Marathon.  The last time I ran that challenging course was back in 1992.  This year I am fortunate to be running as a member  of the MMRF Power Team.  The Multiple Myeloma Research Foundation is an organization very near and dear to my heart, as I am a Multiple Myeloma Survior.

I have been blessed to be a stay at home mother with two sets of twins.  Back in 2010, at the age of 39, ( my children were 9 and 7 ) I made the commitment to get into the best shape of my life and participate in my first triathlon.  Training was going very well.   I had a few setbacks however.  I developed what looked like a cyst on my chest.  I saw my doctor and she removed the cyst in her office.  She sent a sample to the lab and it came back benign.  However the area on my chest where the cyst was located, was still tender.  One day in the gym, I was working out with a friend tossing a medicine ball back and forth.  Unfortunately, one toss resulted in a direct hit on my chest where the cyst was removed.  It just about knocked the wind out of me.  The pain was excruciating.  I later went to to the Emergency Room for an X-Ray.  No break was confirmed.  It looked as though I just badly bruised my sternum.

I learned to deal with the pain of my sternum healing and did physical therapy while  continuing my training.  I  completed my first triathlon in May.   My next race was a triathlon in July.

Life came to a complete halt in June 2010. My cyst on my chest grew back and I had it removed by a plastic surgeon in May.  I received a call a week later, with the unexpected news.  It was a malignant tumor.  Before I knew it I found myself receiving my first bone marrow biopsy.  It was confirmed by my oncologist that I had Multiple Myeloma.

It seemed as though along the the shock of receiving news that I had an incurable cancer, I began to experience excruciating pain in my ribs and sternum.  It was confirmed that I had indeed broken my sternum with the medicine ball incident.  Apparently my x-ray was misread.  Also I had a few broken ribs.  The disease was weakening my bones.  I began my chemotherapy regimen in July 2010.

I went from  being in the best shape of my life, to being a cancer patient supported 24 hours a day on morphine.  My body appeared to be weakening by the day, along with my spirit and hope.   My children saw me go from "super woman" to a tired, weak, depressed soul.

Our lives quickly become consumed with doctor visits, pills and chemotherapy.  By late August, I felt relief from the bone pain and began to gain some of my energy back. I started back running and in September I ran the MMRF Race for Research 5K in Boston.   In November 2010, I went in for my life saving Stem Cell Transplant where I received an autologous stem cell transplant. The recovery was slow.  But in March I found myself ready to regaining my strength and building back the muscle and endurance I had lost.  I started with lifting light weights.  But returned quickly to my first love, running.  Not only did I start to regain my strength but also started to rebuild my broken spirit.

In October 2011, less than 11 months after my stem cell transplant, I completed the Bay State Marathon.  The race was an incredible challenge.  I battled fatigue and severe dehydration the last 5 miles.  Once I crossed the finish line I was quickly carried to the medical tent where I received some much needed fluids.

I have trained all winter (fortunately outside thanks to Mother Nature) for the Boston  currently in a complete remission. Today, there is no myeloma detected.  However, I am still on a maintenance regimen consisting of Revlimid and Dexamethasone, to improve the quality of my life and prolong the recurrence of the disease.   Although my legs have endured the long miles logged, my endurance has been my biggest challenge.  The side  effects of fatigue from the medicine I am on have taken it's 'toll.  What might just be a cold for someone becomes a month long struggle for me.  As soon as I start to feel strong and energetic, it seems like I hit a wall plagued with illness and or fatigue.  This is life as a Multiple Myeloma Patient.

It has been a struggle to keep my spirits high especially during these last few crucial weeks before the marathon.  I have learned that I need to re-evaluate and set realistic goals for myself,  even if that means taking days off from my training. Even today, I was planning on running a good 7-10 miles; however, I am still struggling with feeling run down with a nagging cough from over a month ago.  So, I took the day off.   Completing the course in less than 4 hours will probably not be feasible.  However being blessed to be running each and every 26.2 miles of that challenging course with my MMRF Power Team Shirt , albeit it however long takes me to finish,  is reward enough for me. I am proud to be running and raising money to support the MMRF and their goal to cure Multiple Myeloma, a disease that has taken the lives of so many.  It has challenged me in more ways than I ever thought possible.  It has changed the priorities in my life completely.  Although the future may be unknown, today I am strong in mind, body and spirit.  Running has renewed that broken spirit.  I run today because I can.

If you would like to support me in my efforts running this year's Boston Marathon in LESS than 3 WEEKS (Yikes) with the MMRF Power Team, please click on the link below: