Sunday, March 13, 2011

A Short Detour

Well... Here we are; still enjoying the glow of the 2011 Brocken-Challenge, yet some time and an interesting turn of events have occurred which can be best described as a short detour on this my running journey.

Just after completing the Brocken-Challenge, on 14 February to be exact, I found out that I have colon cancer. You might imagine the myriad of emotions and thoughts that came with this news. "What? This can't be possible! I just completed an 80K winter ultramarathon and am at the top of my game conditionally and emotionally." I was looking forward to a series of races and training events each month of 2011 with the UTMB as the capstone. Aside from the fact that colon cancer is a life changing event. Damn...

I was in the hospital for a cancer staging work up and colon resection surgery from 18 - 28 February. If interested give me shout and I'll tell you the details of this experience. Up front the doctors and medical staff were fantastic. That said, we had beautiful weather the entire time I was in the hospital and I felt like I was in jail. Not able to run and with an uncertain future. After driving the staff crazy I finally got out on 28 February to return home to continue convalescing, to learn more about this illness and to find out when/if I can start running again. (More on this a bit later.)

My higher has smiled on me... Following surgery and cancer staging I learned that I have a T2N0M0 cancer rating. The tumor and its adjacent tissue have been removed; there is no cancer activity in lymphatic nodes; and the cancer has not spread to any of my other significant organs. With this status the Tumor Board has determined that I do not require chemotherapy at this point. Instead, I've been turned back over to my Gastrointestinal Doctor for post colon resection care and monitoring. Statistically, I am looking at a 90% full recovery up to five years. If we can get beyond the five year mark I stand a darn good chance of being completely healed of this cancer.

So where does this leave me...? I'm still working on the holistic part of that question, but from a running perspective... I am still shooting for the UTMB in 2011. My surgeon told me that tumors like the one I had don't like athletes; they don't like runners and they don't like endurance runners. All good news because I don't intend on creating a decent relationship between myself and any further tumors. Time to piss them off!

I have canceled my races in March and April in order to heal and then train. The next big event is in mid-May and the Grand Raid! I've been spending the last week walking. I transitioned to Nordic Walking yesterday and put in a seven kilometer course yesterday and a mixed jogging/walking 10KM today. Things are looking up!

It's funny... There is a wealth of information on colon cancer and other cancers and the medical approach to each on the web. I have been unable to find any information on colon resection surgery and cancer care and running. If anyone knows of any (e.g., web, books, studies) give me a holler. Time to put the word out.

A word to the wise... Colon cancer is completely avoidable! If you're over forty, or have colon cancer in your family see your doctor and get checked out.

So there we have it... Me and this short detour. Let's see where it takes us...