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Monday, September 19, 2016

Making lemonade out of lemons

Happy Monday friends.  I hope you had a good weekend. Mine was filled with my kids and grandkids.  I love Sundays because that usually means I've cooked a pot of posole, soup or some other meal and the kids come over for a visit. It's great when all my little grands get together. They're TERRIBLE when they're all together. For example, last weekend, they picked all the lemons and oranges that were budding on my trees in the backyard.  SMH... What do you do? I layed down the law for starters.

This weekend, we had water balloon fights and our shenanigans involved buckets of ice water. It is still pretty warm in Sacramento. It was a good time for sure.  Having stage 4 cancer, you worry about stuff like "will they remember me fondly."  I hate taking pictures but I've embraced it since it's a way to say "HEY, I WAS HERE." 

In wanting "normalness" and "routine, I decided to return to work part-time. I knew immediately that I wanted to wear a wig each day instead of wearing a scarf as below. 
Naturally, I was apprehensive about returning since I no longer have hair, eybrows or eyelashes... But thanks to makeup, there's something I can do about that... I hope by saying this it doesn't make me vain but I have always had great hair and perfect eyebrows....  Nothing like losing some of your attributes to humble you.  I've had to dig deep and let go some of that...

He I am a few weeks ago when I still had some eyebrows.... Posting this here is liking standing naked in a crowded room.  Cancer is a bitch and you just have to fight back...

Here I am last week getting my weekly chemo treatment.  Truthfully, it's not been so bad. The worse part of chemo is the nurses trying to get a vein for the IV.

On Selecting a Wig

I was sure that when I went back to work, that I wanted to wear a wig. It think the awkard thing about wearing scarves and hats is that people tend to stare and the last thing I want is a pitty party or having cancer be the only topic we talk about, so I was off to find a wig that didn't make me look more ridiculous.

After several visits, I bought this Remy Lace Wig with real hair. Gosh, when I put it on, I was amazed at how authentic it looked. I have not had long in in maybe 6 years.

Here I am my first day back at work.  What do you think? For starters, I'm super happy and second, I like wearing the wig pulled back. It looks more natural.

I am also getting better at dong my eyebrows and hiding the fact that I have no eyelashes.

I tell you I'm making lemonade out of lemons....

Tuesday, July 19, 2016

Where do I start?   How about I share the last year. I trained for a Triathalon where I learned to swim. Can you believe that? I wasn't good enough for open water so I did a duathalon. I trained for my first half marathon and on my longest run 11.5 miles hurt my knee.  I was so close to achieving my goals. Despite these set backs, I am still very proud of myself. I worked hard. Often getting up at 5:30 to run and then go to my cross-training class.

Then last November, I got pnemonia. I couldn't bounce back and so after several visits to the doctor and many tests, I am sad to write my cancer is back. Stage 4 and I will be on chemotherapy indefinitely. Oh and did I mention I got the diagnosis one week after purchasing a home?  It's been a shitty few months. I am 53 years old and have so much more to accomplish. Life can change in a bloody instant.  Cancer gets you when you're at the top of you game. My oncologist ignored my repeated questions regarding chest wall pain. She would say "oh it's just nerve pain". It never occurred to ask what causes chest wall pain. When I googled it, I read "advance stages of breast cancer. Again, I did everything I was suppose too. Maybe I trusted my doctor more than I should of. Luckily, I got a great new doctor at a different hospital.

I am holding up and relying on my faith. The hardest for me is not being able to work out as usual. Hiking is is a joke. I did moderate hike of 3.5 miles and it sucked. I am doing all that I can to enjoy every moment. I just want to be as active as I can as I truly love the outdoors.

I hope to blog since this is where. I come when I need to "write it out"

Instead of asking why me.... I am  just going to play the hand that I am dealt. Wear it like a crown and pray that I can travel this road with grace and dignity.

Your well wishes and prayers are welcomed.

Well, I need to rest. I hope to take a walk tomorrow by the river.


Tuesday, October 20, 2015

Andouille Sausage with Peppers

Hi friend, I wanted to share a recent find I came across at Walmart.  It's Smoked Andouille sausage with  Spanish paprika, black pepper and garlic.   This sausage is made with lean chicken and is 140 calories per sausage.  I usually start my Sundays with food prep for the week and this was perfect for my lunches.  I sliced peppers, onions and browned them in a little coconut oil, then when the peppers and onions were soft, I added the sliced sausage and cooked a little while longer.

This dish would be perfect topped on a bed of scrambled eggs or paired with quinoa or brown rice.

The next time I make this dish, I will plan my sides a little better.  Yesterday, I ended up eating my entire batch during lunch and dinner.  I easily consumed 600 calories.  At least I thoroughly enjoyed my lunch and dinner and ate it in two meals. Instead of face planting in one sitting.  Eating smaller portions is tough when you're a volume eater lol.

Nopales (cactus) and Eggs

Another "go to" dish is Nopales.  Have you heard of them?  If not, it's diced cactus and you can buy it already prepared in your Hispanic food section of your grocery store.  You just need to rinse it carefully before eating and it's best to pair it with something else because it has a tart flavor. I often buy this fresh and cook it myself by boiling garlic, onions, seranno peppers and cilantro along with the fresh cactus.  You boil it for about 10 minutes but you must rinse it carefully because it becomes slimmey.   It's not for everyone and I grew up eating  this dish in various forms.  I love mixing it with pico de gallo and placing it on a tostada with avocado.  Try it.  Don't be scared.

This time, I opened the jar, rinsed the cactus and then drained the excess water.  I took a pan and diced up onions, and garlic until tender, then added the cactus and cooked for about 10 minutes, stirring often.  Then I added my eggs and topped with hot sauce. I was out of fresh tomatoes, so next time I'll add that to the dish.  Here I ate it alone on a plate, but I often make a burrito using Brown Rice tortillas. Of course you must have hot sauce.  Just sayin....

I'm looking forward to experimenting more in the kitchen. I'm currently obsessed with Guy's Grocery Games.  I just love to see what the contestants do with odd items from the grocery store.  Pickled Pigs feet anyone?  No thank you.

Anyways, I hope your day is going well.  I'll catch you all later.


Monday, October 19, 2015

Happy Monday all. I hope you had a nice weekend.  Mine was low-key.  I really enjoyed the rain we had on Friday night.  My lawn certainly enjoyed it as well.

I’ve been laying low on the activity side as well. No workouts or running for the last 4 weeks. I’ve seen my regular doctor, an ortho and a physical therapist regarding my knee issue. Not sure if I ever explained but as a child, I had knee surgery that had me in a cast for a year.  It’s never really given me major issues but it would flare up time-from-time.  Apparently, I taxed my knee with all my running.  The Physical therapist said I had very little  muscle strength in my thigh due to my surgery and that I shouldn’t run at least for now.  It’s hard news to hear.  The PT has given me some leg exercises to do for the next few months and I will do them religiously… I also plan to go back to Kaia Fit and work out. I really miss it but I’m not going to lie… I’ve rather enjoyed sleeping in and not doing anything.  But I know that’s not good for me physically and certainly not emotionally.  No activity equals depression. At least for me… so today I’ll be heading back.

For now, I’m concentrating on eating less. EATING LESS. Very hard to do, RIGHT? I feel like I’m always hungry, even after a meal.  If I can just get my body USED TO WANTING less food, but obviously, it's a process. In the meantime… I keep telling self “food is just fuel. Not everything has to be a party in my mouth.”  Even though I love parties. lol. If you have any suggestions on how to eat less, I’d love to hear it. I know it’s a silly statement and there’s no one answer, but whatever you can lend to the conversation I would love to hear it.  For now, I'll food journal either on my fitness pal or even taking photos of what I eat... just to get perspective. Anyways, I hope you're doing well. 

Monday, October 5, 2015

working through the discouragement

Dear friends,

What a weekend.  Sunday was the Urban Cow Half marathon that I've been training for... it was a bitter sweet day.  The Sunday before I felt knee pain from an old knee injury that happened when I was a child.  I saw a doctor and was doing everything I could to heal.  It didn't happen.  Instead my daughter ran in my place. She and my friend did the Relay, each running 6.55 miles.

Here we are taking a pre-run picture. I'm trying to have a brave smile as I see all my awesome Kaia girls excited for their races.  Like our matching shirts?  While I was sad, I was also happy for my daughter and the others.

While my Kaia girls were racing, I joined our cheer squad at mile 1 and 11.

I absolutely love this sign!  And so did the runners who passed us by.
We rang our cow bells and cheered the runners as they came through.  I was so happy to see my daughter at mile 11.

She killed it and finished the second leg of the race in 1.23 minutes. My friend finished the 1st leg in 1.40 minutes.  I was proud of them.

Marathon runners had 4 hours to complete this race. By 11:45, we were still waiting for our last Kaia girl to reach mile 11.  I had been following her training and knew how determined she was to complete 13.1 miles.  She has lost a significant amount of weight and has battled knee pain as well.  I nearly began to cry as we saw her walking towards mile 11.  I saw the determination in her face. You could see the toll on her body and spirit as she walked towards us. Our cheer squad went to meet her and we walked alongside her as she neared the finish line. I couldn't walk all the way because of my knee but I shouted out: ERICA, I AM SO PROUD OF YOU! She turned and smiled.  Have you ever been so happy for another person? I never knew it was possible to be incredibly sad for yourself and happy for another.  I guess I'm learning to be a better person.

I know if I were able to run that race, I would have been 15 minutes or so in front of her.  I heard one girl say out loud: "YOUR RACE, YOUR PACE."  I was so grateful to be part of that cheer squad. I witnesses so much in those few hours. 


Afterwards, I met up with both my daughters, son-in-law and grandchildren and we all celebrated my daughter's victory with breakfast at IHOP. It was a wonderful morning.

Later that evening, I was on Facebook looking at everyone's awesome pictures. I think that's when I let myself cry.  I had worked so hard and I wanted that feeling of accomplishment.  I wanted my cowbell.  But I know everything happens for a reason. Maybe I would have beaten myself up over my time.  Who knows.

It was then that I got an in-box message from one of the ladies at Kaia. She's 63 years old and ran the relay. She wanted to know how things went for me at the race.  I told her about my knee but asked how did she do.  She averaged a 13 minute mile.  I recalled her first run and commented on how far she's come since that first run.  

Paula, do not give up.  Eventually it pays off but you have to work through the discouragement and keep going!! 

I needed those words at that very moment.  It's one thing to know this and it's another thing when a 30 year old person tells you this but these words have so much power when a 63 year old woman who just ran 6.55 miles in 13 minutes tells you this... It  meant everything to me.  Imagine being part of a community of woman who inspire and lift you up in so many ways.

Yes, I'm working through the discouragement.... and I'm not giving up.

Monday, September 28, 2015

Flu-like symptoms after running

Happy Monday friends. I hope you had a great weekend.  Mine was pretty busy as usual. Do you ever feel like you need a day just to rest from your weekends?Yea, that's me.  Burning the candle at both ends.  My body is feeling the effects of running, Kaia workouts and family commitments.

The eyes never lie. This girl is T.I.R.E.D....

Yesterday I did 8 miles. It took me 2.15 minutes.  I averaged 15 minute mile. This sucks... Yea, I know. at least I'm not on the couch.  Jogging more than an hour really takes it out of me.  I've been missing my Kaia workouts.  I just can't shake the sheets in the morning.  I'm listening to my body and thinking it's just too much for me.

Next week is the Urban Cow Half-Marathon and I'll be glad when it's over. I gotta tell you. Every time I jog over an hour, I have flu symptoms. Honestly, who gets a low grade fever after running?

Resting and Nutrition is so important when it comes to running and Function Fitness workouts.  This girl will be glad when Sunday comes and goes.

Me thinks this is my FIRST and LAST half-marathon...

Monday, September 21, 2015


Happy Monday all. Hope you had a great weekend.  Mine was busy. I spent Friday with my grandson volunteering at an Immigration Fair.  Many current and former law students joined attorneys to share the process and procedures of being a U.S. citizen and to assist people with the DACA (The dream Act). I know immigration is a controversial and complicated subject, and one that hits close to home.  I mean, I was born in Texas which is just a hop-skip-and-a-jump from the border, so there is that…. Okay, I’ll change the subject because it’s a heated topic around these parts.

I am entering week 8 of my Urban Cow Half Marathon training. On Sunday, we did a pre-race run of the course. You could either do 11 or 13 miles. I chose the 11 miles and it was longest run ever. It was incredible to see young and old doing this race. 

I got behind a 3.15 hour pacer. She was power walking the entire time.  I was reminded again to embrace the power walk. Especially when your power walk is faster than you running.

This was a test run so I started my morning with oats and pumpkin.  I grabbed a water, and I had two GUs in my running belt.  My running partner did not have breakfast and no food so I gave her my running GUs. It was the right thing to do. After mile 9, I was losing steam. I had no more water. I was careful to take small sips.  Luckily, there was a 2nd water station set up with Gatorade. I filled my bottle as I knew I needed the sugar and calories.  After mile 10, it really got HARD.  Two power walkers had passed me. My friend was was ahead of me the first 8 miles was now walking. Her ankle was hurting. I felt bad about leaving her behind but this was pre-race. I knew the Urban Cow volunteer riding his bike up and down the course would continue checking on her. He had passed me like 5. Does this make me a bad friend?  I struggled with going ahead. She said she would just walk so I powered through...

The last 20 minutes I the run was difficult.  I did a combo of jog/walk. Another woman came behind me as asked me if I had eaten? When I said no, she handed me a protein bar. I was so grateful. I started to eat straight away.  By the time I got to the Finish to check- out, my GPS had said I completed 11.78 miles with an average pace of 14.5 minutes.  2:53 minutes I had completed nearly 12 hours.  I was so happy to be done.  I wondered if I could have done another 2 miles.  That course is longer… Do I have the inner and physical strength to complete the half?  Well, if I could do 12, I better do the 13.1 because if I don’t do it, I’ll never forgive myself.  

I wailed for my friend.  A couple of the other walkers were worried about her too.  I started to walk back to look for her and then I saw her.  I was so relieved. As she wen to check-in, I walked to get my car and pick her up.  I figured with walking to look for my friend, and getting there car, I probably did the 13.1 miles and guess what? I DID IT!

It’s interesting what goes through your mind when you’re running and walking for nearly 3 hours.  I played no music… it was just me and my thoughts.  There are some parts of the course, I can’t even remember and others I totally remember.  The last stretch on the River Road was incredibly difficult. But I knew where I was… I recalled how 2.5 years ago, I walked that road after one of my chemo treatments. I felt so thankful to be on that road again.  It was like the good Lord reminding me… you are capable. You are strong… You are alive.  Thank you Diosito… 

I am always reminded that I may not be where I want to be but I am certainly not where I was… And if I find myself in a place where I don’t’ want to be again, I know I’ll be okay… I know with God’s grace, I’ll have the strength to persevere.