Boobs, If You Love Them, Check Them!

Friends, I’m traveling to Jacksonville, Florida this evening on a mission…

Two years ago this weekend, I came together with some childhood friends to participate in a half marathon among other things. It was a great opportunity to catch up with one another and we had plenty of time to do that because we walked every last step of that 13.1 miles together.

This was a great event right there on the streets along beautiful Jacksonville Beach. The weekend was created in 2008 by a three-time breast cancer survivor, Donna. It has become the wildly popular and successful annual Donna Marathon Weekend to FINISH breast cancer.

Back in 2016, I’ll be honest, I wasn’t really there to support breast cancer, I was there to share a good time with friends…

As we worked our way along the course, there was a party on every corner! There were lots of posters with boobie humor, and many spectators came dressed for the occasion…like this boob-loving ape!

It was easy for someone like me who was not personally touched by breast cancer to miss the point; I simply viewed the finish line as a fun accomplishment…

But for some reason, my attitude changed. As I looked through the photos from that weekend, they spoke to me…especially the one with the ape. It suddenly occurred to me, I was LONG overdue for a mammogram. And I’m sure glad it did, because as soon as I returned from Jacksonville, I scheduled an appointment.

When one mammogram became another, then an ultrasound, and a biopsy, I slowly began to gain a wider understanding of what that weekend was all about. I was really lucky, though, Friends, my biopsy came back benign. But because the tumor was precancerous, my team wanted that thing out…and that’s when it started getting very real for me. A lumpectomy was my next hurdle.

I’d been working with a health coach prior to (and during) all of this, and I was in a really good place. Rather than fearing the worst throughout the process, I kept my thoughts in check. I kept reassuring myself, and everyone worried for me, that this was nothing until it was something. And at that point, it was still nothing.

Again, Friends, I was very lucky. Blessed, rather. My post-op pathology also came back clean. AMEN!

You’d better believe I made my annual appointment the very moment I could for the following year, where something else turned up, but was much less than last year.

This was all fresh on my mind as I decided to do Donna’s half again this year, as I registered for the event months back, and as I packed this morning. So much so, I called radiology to schedule my appointment for this year before I left for the airport. I’m not due to go back until May, but you’d better believe I will be there and every year from now on!

I look forward to this weekend. I’ve learned my lesson and I know this half will be less about the laughs and ALL about the gratitude!

 

February Focus…Show Yourself Some Love

Happy February, Friends! It’s a new month, one which places a pretty heavy emphasis on LOVE! It can be so easy to love others far more than we love ourselves.

Well, I’m ready for a new focus; how about you? I chose to work on something I haven’t always been very good at…self-love! Or, in other words, self-care.

In the years leading up to my weight loss, I didn’t often put much thought or effort into my own preventative health or wellbeing, and a direct result was misery.

Fast forward to today…I am so stinking happy these days! Know why? I feel fantastic because I take great care of my body. It feels incredible to be healthy! How’s that for transformation?

Friends, let’s spend February examining what our bodies need. What check-ups or exams are you due (or overdue) for? Let’s take the next 28 days to get things scheduled and happening! Of course, while we’re at it, if you are responsible for loved ones, get them up-to-date too!

Have you gotten your flu shot yet this year? Yes, it’s late in the season, but if you have not done this yet, what are you waiting for? The flu is a SCARY BEAST this year and getting vaccinated not only protects you, but many others as well!

I’ll admit, I’ve been the biggest procrastinator when it comes to my vision appointments, but I came to a simple no-brainer this year when my eyes gave me some issues…eyes are a gift! And just like anything else, without proper care, I could lose that gift…in, well, the blink of an eye! I got myself there this week so I can mark that off my list too!

I don’t have a fun picture to share regarding teeth, but when’s the last time you’ve seen your dentist? Teeth are another one of those gifts, and I don’t know about you, but I want to be able to chew my food for the rest of my life! That’s why I get in for a visit every six months. That, and my biannual visits with my dental hygienist are some of the best therapy sessions of the year! See you in July, Wendy!

And let’s not forget annual physicals. Are you proactive about yearly exams? Or are you one that waits until you have symptoms to be seen? And if you are regularly seen, do you actually follow your doctor’s advice? To fully benefit from these exams, arrive with a list of questions/concerns. Be honest and open with your physician…tell him/her what’s going on. Don’t be embarrassed, be frank about anything you are dealing with.

In the past, I put off routine mammograms and that came back to bite me far worse than that machine ever could. Procrastination can lead down a scary path I’m not willing to hike again, believe me! Ladies, I can’t say this enough…if you are 40 or older and don’t already, get that mammogram appointment on your calendars!

If money is a factor holding you back from preventative care, look into community resources that are in place to help. Many areas have free or a sliding fee scale to help make health care affordable. So get in there for these important appointments…no excuses. YOU are WORTH IT!!!

These above are merely some basic, mindful ways to embrace health. Dive deeper if you find relief through therapy, health coaching, massage, acupuncture, reiki, chiropractic treatment, etc. And NEVER underestimate the benefits of proper nutrition and physical activity!

Yesterday, I took time to do something I’ve found paramount in the past for optimal performance. I visited Joan, my phycial therapist for a current foot/shoe assessment. Many places will do this consult FREE, just call and ask! A properly fitting/performing shoe can make a world of difference! How’s that for taking a step in the right direction?!?

Let’s spend some time this month thinking about what preventative ways we can care for ourselves. Make those appointments, Friends. Show yourselves the LOVE! It’s one more way we can all put our Best Foot Forward!

 

Here We Go Again AKA It’s Still Nothing

Last week I wrote about a little test I was hoping to pass…if you missed it, you can catch up here.

Considering the experience I had last year, I wasn’t too excited about waiting a week for the results of that 2D mammogram. I did everything I could to remain positive, to breathe away the worry, to keep myself from emotionally eating my bodyweight in hummus and pita chips. Still, it came as no surprise I flunked that exam and had to return this week for another…here we go again.

Friends, I knew the drill and I was working my way through the order of events last year in my mind…mammogram, second mammogram, ultrasound, biopsy, lumpectomy. How ironic what they found was on the other side this year…would I have matching sharkbite scars when all was said and done? Eventually I caught myself in this useless thought process and gently moved it aside as I returned for that 3D mammogram. If you notice the look in this second photo, that’s me telling myself to shut up already! I knew the results of this test determined the next step.

And dang it, I flunked that test too. As I was immediately ushered down the hall to ultrasound, I reminded my shaky legs that this was nothing until it’s something…so it’s still nothing!

During that ultrasound, the technician seemed to zero in on an area that began to hurt. I could tell there was something there and the longer she investigated that spot, the more concerned I became. When the radiologist arrived to examine her findings, I dreaded his words and my anxiety made it difficult to comprehend them. They’d been looking at 3 cysts that were not suspect. He saw nothing suspicious and barring any new concerns, I was off the hook for a year!

Which, in my head, translated to no biopsy, no lumpectomy AND NO CANCER! Big sigh of relief. HUGE. I could have kissed that guy!

So thankful it’s still nothing.

This experience turned out to be educational because I picked up an important nugget from which we can all benefit. The 3D mammogram technology can reveal breast cancer up to 3 years earlier than the 2D exam and that’s great news in terms of early detection and survival rates. So those of you avoiding mammograms should know there is really nothing to fear here, but fear itself. I will keep that in mind next year when I opt for the 3D right away and convince my shaky legs to chill.

Yet again, I guess the moral of my story boils down to this…

PSA…Don’t Delay!

If you’ve been following me, you know health is a major priority in my life. I’ve spent some time here the past few days…

Not for any reason other than preventive care. Yesterday I took care of my yearly girly-business check-up and this morning I returned in hopes of passing one more test!

Recently, I’ve come to revere the mammogram; this test is of utmost importance to me. Why? Because I put one off for an extra year, and when I got around to the next one, there were issues. I told myself it was nothing until it was something, to keep my nerves in check. Biopsy results came back benign. Nothing.

But when my medical team called back to schedule surgery for removal of the tumor in question, it no longer felt like nothing.  In fact, as a bit of a flight response from the whole situation, I literally ran away. Twice!

 

Avoidance didn’t accomplish anything but prolonged worry. Sometimes you just learn the hard way I guess. It was time to take care of business.

So I did, but you should know I beat myself up over missing that annual mammogram. However, I’m also damn thankful I went in when I did because that precancerous tumor, left undiscovered, could have told a much different story.

Lesson learned.

So, Friends, I am here to tell you…don’t delay! Just as in my case, it could be the difference between nothing and SOMETHING!

Here’s what the American Cancer Society recommends as screening guidelines:

  • Women ages 40 to 44 should have the choice to start annual breast cancer screening with mammograms (x-rays of the breast) if they wish to do so.
  • Women age 45 to 54 should get mammograms every year.
  • Women 55 and older should switch to mammograms every 2 years, or can continue yearly screening.
  • All women should be familiar with the known benefits, limitations, and potential harms linked to breast cancer screening. They also should know how their breasts normally look and feel and report any breast changes to a health care provider right away.

Those of you who’ve been scared off by what others have said of the discomfort associated with mammograms should know, this is not your mom’s mammogram. Technology has improved to allow the test to be performed under less pressure. Amen to that!

If you’ve had mammograms in the past but have let them lapse, it’s time to make that appointment! Prevention is great medicine and a wonderful way to put our Best Foot Forward!

Self-Avoider or Advocator? That’s the Question!

Fellow FIT BFFs, I have a confession to make. I have a ridiculous tendency to ignore my basic needs; do any of you relate?

Here’s an example…I’ve been struggling with knee issues for 8 months. After cortisone and physical therapy didn’t solve my issues, rather than pursue further care, I settled by overlooking the pain, limitations and frustrations. Day after day, I allowed this to continue by not making its resolution a priority. Although it was keeping me from activities I’ve desperately missed (RUNNING), I simply ignored it. Now how ridiculous is that?!?

If this was my husband or either of my kids, I’d be on it! Why do I still struggle with this idea? Why did I put me off for so long? After messaging a friend over the weekend, I realized it was time to address this. Of course he was right. What the heck was I afraid of? Yeah…I won’t even go there haha!

So yesterday I called Sports Med and made myself an appointment. But it isn’t for another few weeks. I needed relief now…more relief than icing can provide. I looked at my shoes and realized I’d been putting myself off in that department too. There was nothing left to do but get to the running store!

It’s been quite a while since I’ve had my gait analyzed, and was kind of surprised to find I needed an entirely different type of shoe. Mallory, the shoe guru at TerraLoco had me try a couple options and I knew the instant I put these Hokas on that I’d found the ones!

My cat completely agreed with my choice the minute I got them home…oh, Spanky!

I could hardly wait to get to the gym this morning to get my new kicks on the track. And do you know what? Although my older shoes still, theoretically, had many more miles to go, my new ones felt a hundred times more supportive!

I guess I took a step in the right direction, who doesn’t want dynamic stability? Ha!

I’m actually looking forward to that Sports Med appointment because with today’s diminished pain, I’m already happier…think of what no pain will do for me!

While I was at this self-advocacy thing, I decided to give my comfort zone another square kick in the behind. Following last year’s multiple episodes of mammogram/biopsy/surgery drama, I realized it was time for me to make my annual date with the boob-smasher…yikes!

Although this was the very last thing I wanted to do, I picked up the phone and scheduled that too. Why give it any more energy or power than it deserves…time to just get er done!

Friends, can you relate? Are you a self-avoider or advocator? Is there something important you need to deal with that you’ve been putting off? It’s time to treat yourself at least as well as your loved ones. And if I can do it, so can you. It’s just one more way we can all put our Best Foot Forward!