Friday, August 9, 2013

August 9, 2013 - Never stop living!

Never stop living!

Work and cycling continue to consume time, as it does every summer :)  I'm still bummed with about $500 still left to pay off on the spring surgeries.  Weird as it is, I'm "comforting" myself that last spring, there were 3 surgeries, this spring 2 least I'm going in the right direction, right?!

But life absolutely goes on!!  And it goes on OUTSIDE, which is where I'm happiest.

Two weeks ago I completed the 1200k (756mile) Grand Randonnee in Alaska and actually had to worry about SUNBURN!  Alaska is beautiful, the weather was amazing and the people I got to ride with were spectacular!  My only downer from the event was the roads were so bad (bump, bump, bump, bump that never ended) that my body parts started failing so by the 2nd day, I actually wondered if my knees, back and achilles would hold together another 400 miles.  They did, with lots of highs and lows, but I was glad this event may be a "one and done" event, unlike others that I look forward to repeating.  Alaska is in an abnormal heat/dry front right now, which this Texas gal was grateful, though woefully unprepared for!  I started each day with as many layers on as possible, then stripped as the day went on.  I'd tucked my little 70spf travel bottle in at the last minute and thank goodness I did.  My arms didn't get saved, but my face and neck did!

Week before Alaska, Dan and I raced (and won) the mixed team 12hr race at the Tonkawa Ultra Race.  Again, heat played a huge factor in winning because other teams weren't as used to it.  I'm sneezing during the podium pic, but I really AM happy to be there!

Couple weeks before that was a really grand vacation including scuba diving in the Florida Keys.  Still have some of the Efudex scabs on my neck but finished the last of THIS round about a week before this photo.  On one of the boat photos, the scabs jump out at me like neon lights, but this one they're caught up in wrinkles :)

Fun part of the trip was diving lots of wrecks and actually making my first-ever You Tube video with the GoPro Dan got me for Christmas.  Over 100' deep, no extra light and the viewing is spectacular.  I've got a lot to learn, but below is a link to my first video diving the USS Vandenberg off Key West.

and cycling through the gorgeousness from Boston to Hyannis Port for the Best Buddies charity ride.

Great adventures in the last few weeks with more coming.  Point is, DON'T STOP LIVING.  I hope I find the picture someone took of me slathering the sunscreen on my face in Alaska because that's a choice I make in order to keep going.  I've been asked why I don't get indoor hobbies....because I'm going to die....and I do NOT want to die on the couch.  I'm going to go kicking, screaming and preferably laughing all the way.  Not giving up my hobbies helps keep me sane.  Skin Cancer....fact of everyday life and apparently for the rest of my life.

Keep Living!!


  1. Pam,
    You said a mouth full! We have to keep living, we cant be hermits! Keep putting on the sunscreen. Take an old visor and glue the shade brim it to your racing helmet. You make start a new trend!
    Love the photos! You are looking great. Keep fighting it!

  2. I just want to thank you for blogging about your experience. I found your blog while searching for more information about Efudex. I started treatment on my entire face yesterday. Your tips have helped me prepare more than my doctor or her nurse ever could. I was really nervous about using this drug, then I got the call that a biopsy done on my leg was cancer. Nothing like that to give me the motivation to do this. Best of luck to you!

    1. Hi Alison,
      Best of luck with your treatment! I wigged out BAD that first time because I had to wait several months before actually starting. Dr said my reaction would probably be very minimal too, so if yours said that, I'd encourage you to prepare for the worst and be pleasantly surprised. I had to go to work every day and if you do too, one thing I'd stress is that you're not alone. My office tried hard to just ignore it and of course I took it as ignoring me and not caring. Fact is, folks have no idea what to say, so depending on your relationship, please don't feel ostracized. For me, there was pretty much no reaction the first week and I think I even wore make-up to work the first 2 weeks? What I remember vividly is the ITCHING! My Dr said I could put aquaphor on, but I was so afraid it wound diminish the efficacy, so I didn't put anything on that last week except the Efudex. Hope your experience is mild and that you'll be as glad you did it as I am. I would absolutely do it again and in fact, I kinda self-treat now. I plan to do my neck this fall. No spots yet, but I treated a spot on my jawline this spring and it spread like wildfire down my neck, so I'll do it as preventative. Feel free to ask any questions and good luck with your leg too. Can you use Efudex on it too or is too far along? Good for you for putting your vanity aside for a few weeks and doing something so good for your health!

    2. HI Alison, how's it going so far? You've been at it long enough to see some reaction I'm betting. Keep up the great work and pleasssssse ask any questions and DONT GIVE UP!!! :))

  3. Your blog makes perfect reading for me today. Thank you! I am scheduled to start effudex treatment on Monday, September 16, 2013. I took the first week off, definitely need to reconsider that based on your experiences and take week 3 or 4 or 5, oh dear. I am encouraged you found it worthwhile. I have had a few bcc's recently, liquid nitrogen no longer treatment of choice. I am 60, grew up in SC mostly doing what I could to let the sun work its magic. Like baby oil and, hmm, mecurocrome? methiolade? Mebigfool is more like what I should have been thinking. Based on your thoughts I am going to go in full throttle and hit my face and chest, maybe backs of hands. I may not be brave enough to take pictures throughout but am thinking a before and after for sure. As an aside, or perhaps as inspiration, my dermatologist said I could look 10 years younger when finished. I would appreciate your comments on that. I am an ICU nurse, am thinking I need to ask to be scheduled for office work so I don't frighten my patients. Or perhaps request only those sedated on ventilators who won't remember seeing me. I sleep with cpap, guessing that is going to be pretty much impossible for a few weeks. I am relieved I did not read about this till now. Seriously might have chickened out. Best to you and your struggles with the big C. Peggy

    PS Wonder how Alison is faring? Day 14 or so for her.

  4. Hi Peggy, so glad you're doing this for yourself! These first few days are just stressful mentally because YOU know you're doing something, but nothing's happening! If you're lucky, you're reaction will be mild, but regardless...a big reaction just means there were more pre-cancers and you're getting ahead of it. Good for you for thinking about face, neck and chest. In retrospect, I'm doing it in stages. Going to start my whole neck after a big work event end of October. Sleeping was really hard those last couple of weeks, so sleeping on my back was about all I could do, so why not jack up the chest too :) I'm 50 and also been a sun bunny my whole life, crisco, etc - WOW am I different now! I'm still outside constantly (which is why I couldn't respond - riding through the Oklahoma mountains). So here's my thoughts. I think you SHOULD take pix absolutely! You will be glad you did in a few months. For me, it felt a bit pro-active. I hate being a bystander and pix made me feel like I was doing something too and proving to myself this was very needed. I really hope you reconsider. Even every other day or every 4-5 days. There's just so much you can't remember later. And yes...I'm told I look younger than before :) Since my reaction was so severe, I basically lost the top layer of skin, which hurt like hell when it sloughed off (get steroid ointment before you finish the treatment!) but when skin came back, it DID look nicer! My big mistakes after was thinking even short times outside were ok...THEY ARE NOT! December morning for 2 hrs had me fire-engine red for over a day and me petrified!!! Pharmacist reassured me and recommended HC cream (I have 2.5%, which was great)

    Yeah, hard to tell about work. I went every day, but I did try hard to limit any public contact (and my job is very public, like yours, just different). If anything, it's more for your peace of mind too. You've got enough to deal with without adding to your stress. If you have an option, I'd take it. My worst time were weeks 3 & 4 (so the last week of 21day treatment and the first week after).

    I blogged to try and convince my 70yr old mother to do it because she continues to have extremely invasive MOHS surgeries each year. It backfired. She now flatly refuses. I really intended the whole thing as a triumph!! Look what you can overcome and still live your life!

    Bottom line, you won't see anything the first week and probably little the 2nd week. You will look younger after (especially if you have a severe reaction like mine) and you are doing something so proactively good for yourself!! I continue each spring and fall now and just pick an area. Pixxes my derm. off that I don't go see her every time, but quite frankly, I learned more during my experience than she will ever know, so I'm 100% confident treating myself (I'll spot treat throughout the year too). I still see her annually for the overall scan, but since my blog is recommended to all her patients now, I feel I'm my own best resource. Go for it Peggy, you'll be so glad in a couple of months and think about it....that's such a short span of time!! Heck, you're already 3 days down - YOU GO GIRL!!! Feel free to ask any questions as time goes on. I'm usually on the bike all weekend, so out of pocket Fri-Mon, but would love to keep pushing you to take those pix of your triumph!

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  6. Your posts have been awesome...

    I started 21 day treatment on Dec 11. 2016... currently documenting... so i'm in the thick of it!