The past three months have been a whirlwind of travel for Mike and I…. from Oregon to Italy and then Hawaii, it is good to have my feet back on the ground…..
I started having pain in my hip right before we left for Europe in April. I didn’t really think about it too much, because…you know…. I hike and work out, so pain is often associated with one of those two things.
But the pain progressed and become more of a constant nuisance as our European trip came and went.
I was only home for 5 days to unpack, do laundry and repack to catch the next plane to Oahu, where our youngest and only daughter was getting ready to graduate with her BA from the University of Hawaii.
The pain was now affecting my ability to get up from a sitting position and it was at that point that my mind started to wander (wonder).
It’s a common thing for us, with a stage IV diagnosis….every ache and pain, anything out of the ordinary catches our attention and we wonder….. “is the cancer spreading?”
On the island, I was fatigued most of the time , just not myself and had two days of flu like symptoms; chills and a fever came and went. I then remembered that on my last lab report, my red blood cell count was a bit low…(anemic). And of course as all mind games go…..between the pain and fatigue and flu symptoms….. I was starting to have anxiety.
As soon as I got home to So. Cal, I called my oncologist’s office and they were able to get me in within two days. I went and got my labs done……then waited for the weekend to pass to see the doctor on Monday and get my tumor marker results.
I had registered for the Climb for Heroes on Mount Baldy way back at the beginning of the year. And it was happening over the weekend that I had just returned home and was not feeling my best. I had a choice to make : Do I stay home and play scenarios in my head of cancer progression all weekend? OR do I go despite the pain and feeling weak and tired, push myself and climb anyways?
Yes, climb anyways.
…..for the heroes (veterans) who have been severely injured and are recreating their lives, often through the loss of limbs. This amazing organization helps them rehabilitate through climbing mountains. In just a small way, I could relate to the mountains helping me overcome my own small disability of having stage IV cancer.
I hadn’t summited Mt. Baldy in over a year, so I knew that it was going to be challenge for me.
Over 1,000 hikers showed up for this climb. It was quite the experience to be amongst so many who LOVE our veterans and were to there to support them.
I met new people and ran into peeps I only knew from instagram handles and of course took some pics with friends I see regularly.
At the Devils back bone….the hikers began to traffic jam, and word had it that it was likely to be a 2-3 hour turn around from the summit. I decided at that time to head back down…. I knew waiting 2-3 hours at the summit would cool down my muscles too much and I was getting tired and my hip was starting to ache. #selfcare
Made it down the mountain in record time. At one point, I felt something crawling on my arm, and instead of swiping it off, I looked to see what it was……
I stopped and talked to it for a moment, thanking it for its “showing up.” It’s symbolism…living worries behind. It reminded me of being present for this day, and to take things one day at a time.
Today, I climbed for heroes. Tomorrow, I would face lab results.
Monday morning found me driving bright and early to my oncologists office .
After a quick conversation about my symptoms and which mountains I had climbed recently……she shook her head and laughed that I had done Baldy the day before, saying…”there is no stopping you is there?” To which I replied…“no, not really, only if you tell me the cancer is spreading. I might take a quick break to cry.”
Thankfully, my tumor markers remain normal.
We debated between a bone scan and a PET CT for my next step….but because I was already due for a PET 3 months ago (at which time I refused), we are going with the PET CT. So I am in the process of scheduling that and getting it done.
In the meantime, I am packing up my larger backpack and getting ready to overnight up in San Gorgornio next week with Barkley. It will be his first overnight with me.
Cancer can scare me, but it will never stop me.
With love and adventure,
PS: To find out more about the Heroes Project, please check out their website here.
PSS: I want to thank those who financially contributed to my Climb For Heroes. Melanie Neilson, Paula Montalbo, Kimberly Garavito and David Lockeretz from Nobody Hikes in LA. Thank you friends for supporting me and the heroes who make our freedom a reality.