Life Update: April & May

So I am long overdue for an update and I apologize. For most of 2012 I was pretty bound to the Austin-area due to my illness and I’m apparently making up for ALL of that this year over the span of 3-4 months! I will try to update my blog more frequently.

I left off right around my birthday.

On April 23 I turned 26. I will never freak out about getting older again because I know how blessed I am to keep having these things called birthdays! Bring on the wrinkles (though not too many please!)

I celebrated 26 in style with my husband and then left for Las Vegas 2 days later for the OMG! Stupid Cancer Summit for young adult cancer survivors. I had a really amazing time and got to meet up with old friends as well as new. I LOVED visiting with a family friend who took me out for some amazing Vietnamese food and passed along plenty of hard-earned wisdom about racing. An old friend from my public relations program at LSU also went out of her way to come visit for a few minutes between conference sessions and it felt like we had seen each other yesterday. I feel so blessed that fate, magic and Facebook seem to bring people either into or back into my life regularly.

I also got the chance to hang out with my “cancer friends” KelseySam and Victoria, all of whom I had met through friends of friends and had mainly interacted with via the interwebz. Victoria discussed the term “survivor siblings” in her blog, and that’s exactly how it felt to me too… like we were all relatives meeting up at a family reunion after a long separation. Except instead of exchanging the names of grandparents to determine where you fall on the family tree… you exchange diagnoses. It might sound weird to other folks, but it actually was really cool hanging out with people who didn’t skip a beat when you start discussing your “war stories” and showing off your “battles scars.” There really weren’t any awkward silences (and believe me we got into some interesting territory in the ‘Nothing is Taboo’ session) or obligatory apologies or exclaims of “Oh… but you’re so young!” We were all young and we all had cancer and it was just a fact of life and treated as such.

The conference session topics widely ranged and I’ll try to discuss these topics more thoroughly in their own entries. Some topics available were: living with survivor’s guilt, long term effects of cancer treatment, care for the caregiver, healthy diet and life styles during/after cancer, sex and cancer, expressive writing, new developments in cancer therapies, and many more. One session I attended was the First Descents Adventure Race where my new friend/roommate for the weekend– Meredith– snapped this gem of me crab crawling for one of the challenges.

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Totally hot, right?

I was able to sight see a tad bit while in Vegas, taking in Beatles Love by Cirque Du Soleil, checking out the Bellagio fountain show and visiting the cheesy renowned Fremont Street area.

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A trip to Vegas isn’t complete until you take some photos with washed up Elvis impersonators.

All the cancer “hoorah! we’re still alive!” juju from the conference got into us and we randomly decided to zip line across a couple blocks of Fremont Street. As someone who developed a fear of heights and roller coasters as an adult, this was a big step for me. However,  it was a ton of fun, only lasted a few seconds and I had a blast!

 

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Sam & me preparing to zip line over Fremont Street.

Overall, I learned a lot, had some fun and saw just enough of Vegas to want to go back for more.

I returned to Texas and stayed pretty busy over the next few weeks. I went on a ghost tour of Austin for a late birthday celebration with friends and attended the Austin Color Run. It was my first official 5K race (though I had done a 10-miler a few weeks before) and I highly recommend it if one is coming to your area. The experience was even more amazing because my good friend from high school, Michelle, made the trek from Louisiana to Austin for the race to celebrate her graduation. She also brought her sister and we had a blast!

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Michelle, her sister Christina, me and Britni drenched in color at the Color Run on May 4.

The following Saturday, May 11, was really monumental for me. Somehow by fate, the longest run of the season with Team In Training happened to be the same day as my “cancerversary” — the anniversary of my cancer diagnosis. So early that morning, I got up bright eyed and bushy tailed at 5:30 a.m. and made the 20-mile trek to Austin from my northern suburb. With the support of my walking mentor, Casey, and walking coach, Anne, and various teammates, I finished the 14 miles– the most mileage I had ever done in one time before or since. It got a little shaky there at certain parts, but the support system I had in place thanks to Team In Training really helped get me through. When I reached the 13.1 mile half-marathon mark, Casey started playing the Olympic theme song. When that finished, she started playing the LSU pre-game and periodically kept playing it throughout that last mile (she knows well what will add pep to my step.) Despite the challenges (or because of them) I felt an incredible sense a peace throughout my walk and really felt so proud that I was able to accomplish such a feat less than a year out of treatment. It was all the more meaningful that it took place on my cancerversary. I recommend Team-In- Training to anyone, especially cancer survivors. So please find a chapter near you and get started!

The next few weeks were also eventful and included a visit to Louisiana for my friend, Kelli’s, wedding and my sister’s bridal shower. The wedding was amazing and included a last minute improvised fish hook dance that my friend Parker & I concocted for our bridal party introduction. The dance actually broke the time-space continuum as evidenced by this picture.

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Epic, right?

The next day we threw my sister a royal themed bridal “tea” and required everyone to wear hats because we are really demanding awesome like that. My hat was obviously the largest one there, a fact of which I am very proud.

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I take party themes very seriously.

That wraps up May. Please stay tuned for my next entry and I will discuss my first half-marathon, the Rock N’ Roll San Diego!