Cancer Survivor Climbs Kilimangaro or Grok goes back to Africa
Hello to anyone who might be out there,
I'm 48, not of the generation who routinely blog and tweet about the minutia of their lives. In fact this is the first time I have ever done anything like this. So bear with me.
Three and a half years ago, summer 07, I was diagnosed with breast cancer. All the MDs kept telling me, "Don't worry, we caught it early. There will only be a little scar." Two failed attempts to get it all out later using a lumpectomy procedure, it turned out that the kind of tumor I had was a particularly fast growing and invasive nasty bugger. The third operation was a full mastectomy. Then there was the reconstructive work. And then there was the chemo. I won't bore you with all the gory details. Suffice it to say that my torso looks like I've done battle with samurai swordsmen.
You have probably heard many sad cancer stories and that is not what this is supposed to be about. This is, for me, about the road back to health after something as physically and emotionally devastating as this.
All of the medically enforced inactivity of operation after operation took its toll in weight gain. I topped out at a size 16 and 210lbs. I'm 5'10" but that is still way too big. This is after a lifetime of having been in reasonably good shape, an avid surfer, hiker, kayaker, etc. Of course the weight gain had a psychological component to it too. It's the feeling of, "f*ck it, I've got cancer. I'm going to finish the pizza if I want to. Putting on a few pounds is the least of my problems." Also, they have really improved the chemo drugs so you don't actually do much puking, you just feel like you want to puke constantly and the only thing that will calm down the massive acidity of this poison in your stomach is straight carbs like plain mashed potatoes or wonder bread.
So that was rock bottom about a year and a half ago. Peach fuzz on my head. Glad to be alive but feeling like crap. Since then, my hair has grown back in and I'm feeling pretty good. I've had three years in a row of clean scans. (Yay! They finally got it all out!) I've managed to lose 30lbs so far, down to 180 and a size 12. I did this before I found the PB plan on just a general low carb diet and lots of walking with my dog.
Now I'm aiming for something higher than just pretty good. About 19,500 feet higher. Namely the summit of Mount Kilimangaro in Tanzania Africa. I have the trip all booked for August 2011.
In preparation for this climb, the first thing I need is about 30 less pounds of me to haul up the mountain. So, I'm aiming for 150lbs and a size 8.
I have been eating on the PB plan for about a week now and really loving it. I was already off grains and other starches, the only difference with going primal is being off dairy and soy. I think the soy was giving me some gas/bloating "issues" which are now gone and the dairy, while I'm not lactose intolerant, was giving me a mild but chronic case of stuffed up sinuses, not really bothersome except at night. I think I'm sleeping better without it.
The free form style of PB also works for me. I hate being told to eat exactly two ounces of avocado at exactly 5pm. I just don't do structure like that well.
The PB fitness plan really appeals to me with its focus on functional fitness. This week I have rediscovered the joy I used to feel in running sprints down the beach as a kid. Today I installed a pull up bar suspended from the trellis over my terrace. (I made it myself with Home Depot parts.) Since I booked the Kilimangaro trip, I have worked my way up from hikes of about 5 miles to hikes of about 10 miles. (My dog is loving all the extra "hunting trips", that's what he thinks they are.)
This is what inspired me to start writing and make my journey public. Given that I don't do structure well, it would be all too easy to let myself slide and not really follow through on my goals and let next August slip up on me without really making any changes. This is my way of being accountable to myself even if nobody ever reads this post.
I have gotten back to where I'm not disgusted to look at myself naked in the mirror, but, like I said, I am aiming not just for good enough but for awesome.
So, I guess people like to list their menu and exercise for the day:
B: 3 eggs with a whole 5oz box of spinach all stirred up with a bit of coconut oil
too busy for lunch
D: A swordfish steak sauteed in cajun seasoning with a side of what I call Primal Mash. That's a mix of steamed mashed cauliflower and parsnips seasoned with nutmeg and cinnamon and coconut oil.
Now it's 8:30 at night and I have no desire for a snack at all.
Exercise for the day was getting my pull up bar put up (up and down ladders, crawling out on the trellis work with power tools, hefting a ten foot length of 2x6 lumber etc.) I'm going to consider it my first Lift Heavy Things day.
Thanks to anyone who has read this much. Although I want this to be about the future and not the past, I have no problem talking about what I went through. If anyone has comments/questions or their own stories to share I would be honored and happy to answer.
some pics of then and now
The cue ball pic was spring 08. The red dress one was just a few weeks ago. The wolf cub is the reason I made it through sane. Also the world's greatest personal trainer.