Saturday, March 10, 2012

One Year... Four to Go... Part II

So… February 2011 I found out I have colon cancer; have the tumor removed and start recovering and training again in late March 2011 with an eye first on the Grand Raid Dentelles Ventoux, the Ultra Trail du Mont Blanc 2011 and looking long I’m concerned about surviving, quality of life now and how this all fits into what’s left of my life.

Several of my initial thoughts and pursuits were focused on advice on my health, this disease and if running negatively impacted my well being. I asked my doctors what they thought about diet and colon cancer. They both indicated that the jury was still out on the question if colon cancer was hereditary, genetic, environmental, dietary or a combination of each. I specifically asked if I should become a vegetarian and was told that there was no need to. Against their advice I have; more on that perhaps in a later post.

One of the post surgical issues I continue to struggle with is what I term gastrointestinal stress. There is a wealth of information available on the net regarding the post surgical results of laparoscopic colorectal surgery. Mine included cramping, very frequent bowel movements and an incredible amount of gas. Following my doctors advice I initially focused on a low fiber diet to give my GI track the opportunity to heal and digest food. About six weeks after surgery I shifted my diet to one initially very low in red meat while high in vegetables, fruits and fiber. I’m no doctor, but I suspect that the changes in my colon (removal of a portion thereof) and in my diet foster what I’ve termed as GI stress.

Much of the reading I’ve done and my doctors have indicated that this GI stress should have gone away as my body got used to the changes made by the surgery. A year later they have not. I say that, but… In the first six weeks following my surgery there was no rhyme or reason to my bowel or urinary movements. They occurred when and where they wanted to which was frequently and often in the middle of the night. Over the course of several months that has changed. I believe that my current high fiber, vegetarian diet, time and healing have allowed my body to settle. And, although I go more frequently than in the past and have much more gas (I mean a LOT of gas), my body has settled into a very manageable rhythm.

In April 2011 I participated in an annual periodic health assessment (PHA). During this assessment I talked with my doctor about my health issues. One of the really unanswered questions I had and have now really been forced to answer myself is the issue of exercise following colorectal surgery. While at this PHA I asked the doc about running and cancer and in an off hand way he indicated that it was certainly healthy. I pressed him and told him that I mean – running, “I run an average of 100KM a week, is there an issue with that?” He looked at me a bit confused and asked, “You’re running 100KM a week!?!” I said, “Sure, sometimes more.” He smiled and told me that I’d probably be OK. My worry at the time was that I was overdoing things. He indicated that although there was a slight risk of suffering a hernia I was not likely going to overdo things.

I have a confession to make… I have been so worried about a hernia that I’ve not done any core exercises since before my surgery. Last month (February 2012) I returned to doing sit ups and the long awaited recovery of my gut. I hate sit ups! That said, other than a bit of muscle soreness everything is going well.

With an eye on my health and how my body was reacting I spent March to mid-May focused on getting ready for the Grand Raid Dentelles Ventoux. I identified the Grand Raid as a means of testing my body again under long term stress. Going into it I made the commitment that I would use each aid station as a check point to see what and how my body was doing. To see how this worked out check out my May 2011 posts.

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