Monday, 31 December 2012

2012 - The Year I Became a Runner

This time last year, as I got ready to start 2012, I was certain that this year would be wholly defined by my medical misadventures. I was sad. I was scared. I was frustrated and uncertain.

But as I stand here a year later, and reflect on the year that was, I prefer to think of 2012 as the year that I became a runner, not the year I toasted the ta-tas.

Running became my outlet. When times got tough - and they did - I ran. When I needed something to look forward to, it was a race. When need something to drive my recovery, it was running. When I needed to prove to myself that I was stronger and badder than anything my body could throw at me - I ran. Running has become an essential part of me and my go-to coping mechanism.


Running was never really just about running.
It was everything.


March 4th - Chilly Half Marathon
Time: 2:17:07
Recap: My 1st Half Marathon

June 2nd Met Con Blue - A 5km Adventure Race with the lovely Allie
Time: 1:13
Recap: Met Con Blue Recap

July 22 Warrior Dash - A 5km Adventure Race with the lovely Robyn and Jess
Time: 54:59 (*PR*)
Recap: Warrior Dash Recap

August 18th MidSummer's Night Run - 15km Run
Time: 1:34
Recap: My Midsummer's Night Run

September 23rd Run Ajax - Half Marathon
Time: 2:12:31 (*PR*)
Recap: A Half Marathon, An Olympian, and A Reality TV Show

September 30th CIBC Run for the Cure - 7 km
Time: 38:21
Recap: Boobie Tuesday - Race Recap

October 14th Scotiabank Toronto Waterfront Marathon - Marathon
Time: 5:20:25
Recap: Marathon Recap - The Good

Goodbye 2012. You have been unfortgetable!
Love Your Favourite Darwinian Fail,
Krysten 

Thursday, 27 December 2012

Lessons in Beauty and Boxing Day Shopping

 
As we all start talking New Year's Resolutions, diets, gym routines, and starting the year off right - its important to remember that all those changes should come from a place of  love and health, not deprivation and guilt. Let's be healthy in 2013 - inside and out. 

Scene from Boxing Day Shopping:
A Mother shopping with her beautiful 4 year old daughter.
The daughter is bright, bold, and spirited. She loves pink and adores her Mama. She exudes a zest for life that can’t be captured. She is exploring the world around her. She is curious. She is watching your every move and taking it all in.
Mom looks in the mirror and sighs. She sucks in her stomach as she turns. She skipped lunch, but still isn’t happy with what she sees. She looks longingly at the 6 pack stomach that graces the cover of magazine by the cash. Laments about her thighs, how her body has changed since she had children, and how much she had to eat over the holidays.
What she’ll remember:
That her body is a measure of her self-worth. And that her mind and spirit are secondary. That we exercise to achieve some unattainable standard, not to be strong and healthy. And that when her body betrays her she deserved to be punished and deprived because she is simply not enough as she is.
Remember she is always watching. Teach her to love herself.
Love Your Favourite Darwinian Fail,
Krysten

Monday, 24 December 2012

10 Crazy Darwinian Fail Christmas Facts


1.       Christmas will span 5 jolly, cheerful, family-filled, food-heavy days.
2.       My goal is to run 45 of my 50 km goal over those 5 festive days so my sneakers are coming with me.
3.       Bailey’s over ice is my favourite Christmas night-cap (and the ideal for post-run recovery).
4.       There are 3 Christmas specials I MUST watch every year to feel happy holly jolly – Muppet’s Christmas Carol, Rudolph, and Charlie Brown’s Christmas.
5.       We kick off the holiday season every year with a trip downtown to see Ross Petty's Christmas Pantomime. We will go out for dinner, laugh at a silly fractured fairy tales, gush over the little ones in their Christmas best, visit the Christmas tree at Eaton Center, and gear up for the Christmas Rush.
6.       We will celebrate Christmas in 3 different cities this year, all over 3 days.
7.       We will travel a total of 854.6 kilometers to get to all of these festive fetes.
8.       We will eat a grand total of 4 (yep you read that right – 4) Christmas dinners.
9.       The Gingerbread Cookies after dinner are actually my favourite part of the Christmas dinner. (I don't actually like the turkey dinner)
10.   Christmas is crazy. It’s a whirlwind. But it’s wonderful. It only happens once a year and it always reminds me what beautiful blessed life I lead.

Merry Christmas All!
Love Your Favourite Darwinian Fail,
Krysten

Sunday, 23 December 2012

A Humbled and Grateful Thank You

I am sitting in front of my computer screen trying to figure out how to put into words how I feel about the events of the last few days.

On Thursday afternoon I got an email from the National Post asking for interview and informing me that I been chosen as 2012's Most Inspiring Runner. Not more than 24 hours later my blog was listed among the nominees for a #Runchat award. There are some amazing people nominated so to be included in this list was a dream come true. ( You can vote for all your favs on the Runchat website until Dec. 26th)

To say that I am surprised is an understatement. When I started this grand adventure last year, I had secretly hoped and wished and dreamed that my musings would reach just one person. Just one person who was struggling, who felt lost, or who maybe had to face a medical misadventure of their own. I never in a million years expected the kind of reception and support I have received from this amazing community. And today I feel incredibly humbled and grateful for this journey and all of the places you have taken me.

Thank you.

Thank you for your kindness. Thank you for all of your support this year. And above all thank you for sticking by me and believing in me even when I struggled to believe in myself.

This year would never have been possible without you.

Love a very grateful Darwinian Fail,
Krysten

Friday, 21 December 2012

All I want for Christmas...

..is world-wide universal health care!


Okay so generally I shy away from blogging about anything political, but this particular issue is one that comes up a lot in conversations, private message, tweets, and emails. I have also been giving this particular series a good deal of thought...so here goes...


Everyone wants to know how much my surgery and reconstruction will cost (even inquiring Canadian minds want to know). And my answer for all those who are curious is...drumroll please...while the surgery itself is likely very expensive it will cost me NOTHING! Except my boobs of course. And maybe the $5 not covered in my drug plan for the prescription painkillers I went home with. But from a monetary standpoint it will not be a personal financial blow.
I live is Canada and the glorious land of universal health care which means despite being a Darwinian Fail all my medical misadventures have been covered. And don't think that I don't thank that giant red maple leaf every chance I get! Because I regularly kiss this frozen Canadian soil for giving me my health and my life. Despite being from the neighbouring country to the North, we Canadians have been bombarded with coverage of America's ongoing medicare debate. And obviously as a Darwinian Fail who thanks her lucky stars for universal health care - these debates get me fired up. I genuinely struggle to understand why so many citizens would oppose it.

Cyborg Hearts are Pricey
The system in the United States seems very complicated to me, because of the conditions and loopholes involved in medical coverage. So I recognize that I know very little. And I understand that this is a complex problem. There is a lot of criticism and concern surrounding the implementation of a universal system, but despite all the "red tape" we some how make it work here and in many other countries. The point is not whether universal medicine is possible. It is! And exists as such for good reason. Because health care in Canada is public, its purpose is to maintain and develop the good health of Canadians. In the US, this doesn't necessarily seem to be the case. There seems to be a contradiction between the the well-being of people and the bottom line. Health care for health versus health care for profit.

But with all these questions regarding cost, and the with the increased publicity surrounding ObamaCare, I found myself wondering...really wondering...what I would cost?! Let's break it down shall we... (note: I got quotes from several different online resources and did my best to average the cost. I am also writing this as though I am one of the 52 million Americans who do not have health insurance).

1. Stress Test - $3800 each
This is a diagnostic method I used a lot. Its been 8 years since my original diagnosis, so this is a ballpark figure, but let's be conservative and say I had 6 of these. Remember I am not even diagnosed yet...
$22 800 
2. EKG - $1950 each
This is another diagnostic method I use all the time, and still use regularly to check in on how everything is going. I can pretty much guarantee I have had 2x this number, but let's just say during the last 8 years I have had 30.
$58 500
3. ICD (metronic) Device + Implantation Surgery 
$75 000 - $100 000 each
So if you have been following my story you know that I got my first ICD at 18 years old. That has since been replaced with an updated model 2 years ago. And in between those two implantation surgeries I had to have a lead (one of the sensing wires) replaced (average cost $12 000). These surgeries represent general maintenance along with a set of unforeseen circumstances. So if you lost track that is 4 surgeries in a 8 year time frame.These are the average stats I found for Metronic devices, which happens to be the type of device I have now. They say their devices alone average anywhere between $15 000-$50 000 depending on the model.
$287 000
4. Bilateral Mastectomy + Reconstruction
So this particular stat was hard to come by. Mostly because there was not a lot of information out there about the cost of doing this surgery as a preventative measure, which is obviously why I am choosing to take this step. "Angela" who had a bilateral mastectomy (no reconstruction) at Northwestern Hospital, Chicago after a positive cancer diagnosis sent me her information (*Thank you!*). The orignial bill sent to her was for $100 000 before insurance (thats all in - diagnosis, surgery, drugs, the full work up). After insurance "Angela" was still left a $40 000 bill for the things that were not covered and items that were considered "non-essential"...for her CANCER DIAGNOSIS! What?! Let's just contemplate those numbers for a minute please...yep...
$100 000 (bilateral mastectomy)
$50 000 (reconstruction)
___________________________
TOTAL: $518 300

That is a staggering number! And what is even more awe-inspiring is what this number doesn't reflect.

  • This number does not include my countless doctor's appointments. When I was in my early diagnosis stage with my heart condition I was visiting my cardiologist every week as we tried to iron out a treatment plan. 
  • This number does not reflect the 6 different types of drugs I took to try to treat my Long QT syndrome, and the top-notch allergy specialists I visited to try to figure out why my body would not tolerate them. 
  • This number does not reflect all the other types of tests and methods used to diagnose my condition.
  • This number does not reflect the 2 types of very expensive genetic screening I have done. 
  • This number does not reflect my maintenance appointments at the pacemaker clinic every 3-6 months for the last 8 years. 

That staggering number does not reflect a lot of things.

And despite my best attempts at leading a balanced healthy life I still suffer setbacks and complications. My heart condition specifically is something that I will have to treat and monitor for the rest of my life. There will be more appointments, more surgeries, and more questions as I age, and my life changes. The impact that Long QT syndrome has had on my life is still overwhelming. But despite all of this and my many misadventures, I have never had to question if I could afford to be healthy. I have always been given the most effective treatments and opportunities.

It is pretty obvious at this point that I sort of drew the short end of the stick genetically. My heart condition, how I have had to treat it, the BRCA 1 gene - none of this could have been predicted or prevented. I know that my circumstance sounds rare, because here I am tackling all this before the age of 30. But don't be fooled. Don't think that these struggle only belong to Krysten, or Lindsey, or James. It so easy to say this is someone else's story. It is someone else's struggle. It is someone else's problem. But the truth is Heart Disease is the #1 killer in America. And according to CDC's 2007 stats 27 million American's are diagnosed with heart disease annually. Not to mention that there will be 178 thousand new cases of cancer diagnosed this year in Canada. And Breast Cancer is the most prevelant type of cancer among women of all ethnicities. The reality is that my situation is not that uncommon. My battle is a battle that is fought every single day by millions of people. What is unfair is that some people are not given access to proper resources, nor do they have the opportunity to stand up and fight back without having to question how they will pay for it later.

I know that this post is unlikely to change the world over night. But hopefully this long winded rant made you think or even just gave you a moment's pause. So that's my Christmas wish this year - here's hoping!

HAPPY HOLIDAYS!!
Love your Favourite Darwinian Fail,
Krysten

Thursday, 20 December 2012

Tell me about your 2012

So last week my adorable virtual run coach Miss Zippy post a running survey asking us to share our running adventures from this past year. I love this idea and simply couldn't resist joining in the fun!


Best Race Experience:
Hmmm this year was pretty huge for me in terms of racing, but not every experience was rainbows and lollypops. So I think I would have to pick The Midsummer's Night Run back in August. This was my first distance race back after surgery, it had great spirit, it was for Sick Kids Hospital, I ran it in my goal time, and I felt strong.

Best Run:
Was probably my 10km Run from last Wednesday. I got my mojo back. I ran fast and strong. And I finished feeling happy and free. It was just perfect!

Best New Piece of Gear:
I have been loving all my new Oiselle gear. But my favourite piece would have to be my Start Line Tee because it's comfortable and reminds me of the progress that I have made this year.

Best Piece of Running Advice I Recieved:
Run YOUR race. It not about competing with other people, running is all about competing with yourself.

Most Inspiration Runner:
This is so hard, because honestly there are so many people I look to for inspiration. Two of my favourites though, are probably Pavement Runner - who consistently racks up the miles and ran his first ultra, and NYC Running Mama (another one of my virtual run coaches) who runs faster at 9 months pregnant than I can on my best day.

Sum up 2012 in a few words:
Unforgetable

How was your year?!
Love your Favourite Darwinian Fail,
Krysten

Monday, 17 December 2012

#Motivation Monday - Message from Your Heart

It is no secret that me and my little ticker have a tumultuous relationship. I get frustrated with all of the special attention is requires, the ongoing medical misadventures, and all of the necessary maintenance. That being said, it is easy to focus the negatives, and ignore the way my heart takes care of me everyday (*even if it does need a robot assistance*). 


My ticker is there for me every step of the way. And defective or not, it has allowed me to start distance running, including running my first half and full marathon this year. The things I have acheived this year are things that I would have never thought possible when I received my inital diagnosis. And things my cardio team still gets excited to hear about. It is so easy to forget how hard it works for me day in and day out. And it is a lot stronger than I give it credit for.

This adorable song by Kina Grannis is just the extra kick and necessary reminder that I needed. I needed to hear this message from my heart. (**Listen to this as you read on. You will love it. I dare you not to smile**)


Don't break me. I bruise easily. The source of both your love and misery. I am steady beating endlessly.
This year I have asked a lot of my defective little ticker. And everytime it rised to the occasion. My heart has been a source of sadness, frustration, and pain for the last decade. But it has also allowed me to live this beautiful life than I am so so grateful for. It has been my constant companion, working hard, and beating endlessly.

I don't work for free. Please take care of me.
It easy to take your body for granted. To expect it to work hard, but forget to thank it for all it does for you each and every day. I started running and leading this lifestyle as a way to keep my heart happy and healthy. You always get back what you put in, so this is my promise to always to care of you.

This is a message from your heart. Your most devoted body part. Taking blood and making art. This is a message from your heart. Pounding away into the dark. You could thank me for a start. This is a message from your heart.
Your heart is always working for you. Beating, Pounding, Pumping. It is there for you in ways that you don't even notice. Mine might need a little robot assistance, but it is strong and steady. And it is always there for me. For all of that, and for this life that I have been blessed with - I am saying "Thank You" with all that I have.

So as this year draws to a close, I am making my HEART a priority. I want to keep my heart, healthy and happy during the holidays. So my goal is to add extra miles into my routine to thank my for heart for all that it does and keep it feeling strong during the holidays. I will be running 50km a week for the next 2 weeks as an Ode to Hearts (both robot and non). You can follow along my weekly progress on the Daily Mile or just check out that little widget on the side there for running updates (<-----). And you are welcome to join the fun.

2013 is all about feeling strong and being healthy! So don't forget to thank your heart this holiday season. Remember Strong is Sexy and Healthy is Fabulous!
Love your Favourite Darwinian Fail,
Krysten

Friday, 14 December 2012

#StrongisSexy Shout Out

It is Friday! How was everybody's week?

This week I got my Mojo back after being stuck in a very long recovery funk. I finally felt like I got back on track, got back to myself, and I am starting to feel Strong again. I have been lifting heavy at Crossfit (*psst heavy for me*), Running my booty off, and smiling from ear to ear.

This week's Strong is Sexy Shout Out has a bit of a Racing theme. It seems like everywhere I look people are PR-ing their holiday 5km and squeezing in a couple more distance races before the new year. I have been so impressed with everyone's progress that I just had to share.

Congratulations to Caitlyn who ran her first MARATHON!! As a gal who recently suffered through my first as well, I can tell you that this a serious feat of strength! Looking Strong and Sexy girl! Plus I freakin love your marathon outfit! Adorable!


Huge Shout Out to Courtney from Journey of a Dreamer for her 5km PR this past weekend. Almost 2 full minutes, is AMAZING!! Looking very Festive, Strong, and Sexy!! And Congrats on this week's huge 5.8 weight loss as well. You are rocking this week.


Our next Shout out goes to Kat from Sneakers and Fingerpaints! She rocked her 2nd Half Marathon Holiday Style. And she ran her 13.1 miles in 2:13:27!! You are one Strong and Sexy Elf! Nice work girl! And Happy Birthday too fellow December baby!!


And finally sending some Strong and Sexy Warrior Love to my girl Robyn. She recently rocked her first O course - placing 14th overall female. And she just took the plunge to make racing a big part of 2013 and signed up to run the Warrior Dash with me in July. You are looking fierce!

So Proud of Everyone this week! And I hope you all have a Strong and Sexy Weekend!
I love hear what you are up to and all about your progress. So don't be shy about sharing your success and join the fun! Let me know what you did this week that Strong and Sexy!


Tweet Me - @Darwinianfail
Use the Hashtag #StrongisSexy
Message me on Facebook
Or email me ksibabishop@yahoo.com
Oh and I love Instagram so send me your strong and sexy pics @DarwinianFail too

Let's do this people!
          Because Strong is Sexy and being Healthy is Fabulous!
Love your Favourite Darwinian Fail,
Krysten

Thursday, 13 December 2012

Running Mojo and My 2013 Race Plans

It has taken 8 long months of recovery, but I went out for a 10km Run on Tuesday and found my Running Mojo again! I felt strong. I ran fast. And I felt like I could keep going. There were no back spasms part way through. My chest didn't ache. My core was strong. And I finally felt like myself again.
I came home sweaty, cold, flushed with excitement and smiling! I crush my 10km time. I ran 8:36 average mile, a pace have not seen since last January. And I buzzed around on a complete runner's high for the rest of day. I am BACK BABY!! FINALLY!!!

I know that all of my healing won't be complete until March, but we are getting there. Patience and Persistence really does pay off. And now that I am back it is time to plan, plan, plan! As we inch closer and closer to the holidays we also inch closer to another year and another race season! I have hinted that I have got some big things up for my sleeve for 2013, so here is the plan.

March 3 - Burlington Chilly Half Marathon
I am returning to scene of the crime. This is where my distance running journey all began, so I am excited to run this race a second time. As long as the weather cooperates (it is the middle of winter in Canada) I am going to push hard for a PR. I would love to run a 2 hour half. I run best in the cold weather, so I will be training hard to make this happen.

May 5 - Toronto Goodlife Marathon
Yep. It is happening. I am planning to run Marathon #2. I want that finish I longed for the first time around. So I am hoping with more healing time, a slightly different training approach, and a better understanding of what I am getting myself into that I can get that Marathon experience I dreamed of. 4:30 is likely too ambitious considering my previous Marathon attempt, so I am just gunning for a sub-5 finish this time around.

I am also secretly (*ha not so secretly*) hoping Pavement Runner is gonna come visit his Canadian buddies for a little Marathon fun and donut action during this one too!

June 15 - Met Con Blue Adventure Race
I am pretty sure Team Insane Pain is planning to make a repeat appearance for this years Met Con Blue Race. There is even some talk that we are gonna push it to the limit and go for the Full Metal Jacket 10km. EEP! The distance is not 100% decided yet, but I know I will definitely be going back for this one.

July 20 - Warrior Dash
Team Awesome is heading back to Barrie for this year's Warrior Dash. We are signed up, with a few new Team Members in tow. And I am going to run hills like crazy to prep for those crazy inclines.

October - Niagara Falls International Marathon
I am not sure if I have 2 marathons in me for 2013, but I am giving it some serious thought. I will definitely be running the Niagara Falls International Series though. Half or Full? Not sure yet. But at this ambitious optimistic point I am thinking Full Marathon #3. That being said, let's see how #2 goes first, shall we?!

So there you have it friends! 2013!
I am working hard to make this year my healthiest happiest year yet!
Let's Do This People.
Love Your Favourite Darwinian Fail,
Krysten

Wednesday, 12 December 2012

#WIAW - Soup Exchange Party

I am so lucky to have an amazing group of girlfriends in my life. These are friendships I have had for most of my life - some spanning over 20 year now, starting the very first day of kindergarten.


These girls probably know me better than I know myself, share my love of sass, sarcasm, and a dark sense of humor. They are some of my absolute favourite people. And they are people I wish I could see more, but growing up and real life means we are not all as conveniently located as we used to be. So any excuse to spend time with these girls is alright by me. I am always anxious for a visit, a chat, and laugh.

This most recent visit though we decided to put our cooking skills to the test and have a soup exchange along with our regular gab-fest. Each person made enough soup to divide into freeze-able portions for everyone else and then we would all exchange our recipes with each other.

The beauty is you only make one recipe but you leave with - in this case - 4 others. They make a perfect ready-made meal to come home to and warm up with on a cold winters night, with lots of variety.

It was the perfect afternoon. The soup was delicious. And the company even better!

What do you think? Will you try a soup exchange this winter?

Love your Favourite Darwinian Fail,
Krysten

Monday, 10 December 2012

Musical #Motivation Monday - Catch My Breath

During all of our moving madness at the beginning of this month I had to take a break from packing boxes to squeeze in some regular robot heart maintenance. My heart is happy and my pacemaker is ticking right along.
But no doctor’s appointment of mine would be complete without a little misadventure. Some red flags were raised about where my little robot ticker has decided to settle after my latest surgery. I have mentioned that I have had some bruising and swelling post-op (link). And there is also a suspicious wire protruding from my left side now.

While this wire obviously ups my cyborg cool factor credibility, it is also something we have to keep an eye on. If that area becomes inflamed or irritated then it is possible that may break through the skin. EEP! And besides another surgery, there is no other way fix this little flub. So…since I am not willing to head down road again just yet, we are just gonna cross our fingers and hope for the best.
So while I silently plead with Penelope (*yes, that’s her name*) to stay put in there. I am also struggling to stay present. I found my thoughts drifting toward panic stricken territory. Questioning when this next medical misadventure will grace us with its presence and losing myself in a sea of worry.
This week as I try to quiet my mind, focus on this moment of health (no matter how brief or how long), and get motivated I decided that a musical pop mantra is definitely required. Enter pop diva Kelly Clarkson and her new single “Catch My Breath” because that is exactly what I need to do.  Just Breathe.

Catch my breath, won’t let them get me down.
It’s all so simple now.

Addicted to the love I found
Heavy heart, now it’s a weightless cloud
Making time for the ones that count
I’ll spend the rest of my time
Laughing hard with the windows down
Leaving footprints all over town
Keeping faith kinda comes around
I’ll spend the rest of my life

Catching my breath, letting it go turning my cheek for the sake of the show
Now that you know, this is my life, I won’t be told what’s supposed to be right

This week I am going to Breathe Deep, Stay Present, and Embrace this Moment for all that it is.
Let’s all tackle this week with gusto and leave the worrying for another day.
Love your Favourite Darwinian Fail,
Krysten

Friday, 7 December 2012

#StrongisSexy Shout Out

So this week's #StrongisSexy Shout Out is slightly unorthodox and comes to you all in the form of a guest post from an online friend - Cameron.

You all have spent the last year listening to my musings about my many medical misadventures. You have experienced my ups and downs. And listened to my struggles as I navigated doctors appointments, recovery, and life.


But what you don't often get to see (mostly because he is very shy and hates when I try to take pictures of him on my iphone) is how much my husband has supported me this past year and how all of this has affected him as well. I know how hard it must have been to stand by and support someone you love so deeply, but never let them see the way you are hurting too. His strength has carried me through the darkest days of my life. And it is also how I know I married one of the strongest most incredible men going. And for that I feel a gratitude I could never express. He has been my rock, my biggest supporter, my best friend, and the love of my life.

Cancer, Heart Disease, and all kinds of Medical Misadventures affects the whole family. So today's Strong is Sexy Shout Out goes out to all those Strong Family Supporters out there, because we could never get through all of this alone.

Without further adieu here is Cameron to share his experience as Supporter in his own words. Thank you again for sharing!! 
_________________________________________


How My Family Survived Cancer

I never expected to become my wife’s caregiver three months after she gave birth to our first and only child, Lily. I hope that this article will shed some light on what it is like to be a caregiver to a loved one with cancer.

Three months after my wife gave birth to Lily, she was diagnosed with mesothelioma. As she cried, I wondered how we would get through this time in our lives. I was overwhelmed and about to break down when the doctor began talking about the many medical decisions we had to make, and I knew that this was just the beginning. That didn’t change the fact that I was angry and overcome with emotion. I spent a great deal of my time at first conversing with people using only profane language. I knew it was wrong and I had to be strong for Heather. I finally got myself together and did my best to be the source of positive energy and optimism that Heather needed.

My days at first were difficult. My to-do list was so long that I often wondered how I would ever get through it. Fortunately, I was offered so much help from our family and friends, and I quickly learned to accept it. I was able to prioritize my work, the travel arrangements I had to make, and I was able to care for Heather, Lily, and our house and pets. It wasn’t easy, but the help I received made it easier. I am so grateful to the people who helped us through this time.

The most difficult part, however, was the two months immediately following Heather’s surgery. We were in Boston for her surgery and Lily was in South Dakota with Heather’s parents. I had to work, and I knew that I couldn’t take care of Heather and Lily and work at the same time, so Heather’s parents took them in and gave them the incredible care that they needed. Heather was recovering from her invasive surgery and preparing for her next round of treatment for mesothelioma, so the care she received was invaluable. Unfortunately, due to the fact that I had to remain at home for work, I saw them only once during the whole two months we were there. I drove 11 hours through a terrible snowstorm one Friday night after work to see them. I had to leave Sunday to be home in time for work that Monday, which gave me only a few precious hours with them that weekend. It was a short trip, but I missed them so much that I didn’t mind driving so much for such a short time. 


It was so difficult being away from my wife and daughter during this time, but I don’t look back at it with regret. I look back on it with a feeling of gratefulness that we were even lucky enough to be able to and have to make a decision like this. I learned through all of this that nothing is possible without the help of our friends and family. Heather has been healthy for the past six years, and I hope that our story can help others who are also going through cancer to see that it isn’t hopeless and that difficult decisions are not only necessary, but can even be a source of comfort in a strange way.  These decisions, however difficult, give us some level of control over a situation that often seems completely out of our control.   

Wishing health and happiness this holiday season!
Thank you so much for sharing Cameron!
Love your Favourite Darwinian Fail,
Krysten

Thursday, 6 December 2012

Goodbye 27 - A Wild and Crazy Adventure

So I am of the opinion that 7 is not a lucky number for me.

27 meant Toasting the Tatas. And at 17 there was that whole heart condition/robot heart situation. So, needless to say the year of the 7 has not exactly been ideal thus far.

But what an adventure it's been.

27 started with a surgery date and a hair-brained scheme to squeeze in my first half marathon before I drifted off into a drug induced sleep.

I woke the next day without Boobies. But without Breast Cancer either. And not to mention a brand new shiny robot ticker to match my new nipple-less, silicon-filled tatas. Taking my bionic transformation to the next level.

Recovery was hard. It was painful. I was frustrated and impatient. And it took a lot longer than I anticipated.

Perhaps it was the pain meds talking (in fact I know it was) but I decided that what my recovery required was a couple adventure races, a 15 km Race, a second half marathon PR with an Olympian, and then add in my first full marathon for good measure.



I spent my recovery and the majority of my 27th year running, racing, and training, Christopher McDougall wrote in Born To Run that  
"when things look worst, we run the most." That "there's a trigger in the human psyche, a coded response that actives our first and greatest survival skills when we sense the raptors approaching".
Well this year they were coming for me, and I literally tried to run away. I was running away from genetics and all the things that are too scary for me to face or say out loud. Running was my sanctuary. It is where I truly found myself among the chaos.

And I also learned some things along the way...
  • Health really does trump beauty. Health wins every time. 
  • Real beauty is a woman who believes in herself and who knows she is capable of anything she puts her mind to. 
  • Beauty comes from strength and determination, a joyful heart and grateful spirit. Real beauty really does shine from within
  • Nothing is impossible. And I am capable of more than I ever knew.
  • That my scars are a badge of honor and I wear them proudly. They simply means that I am stronger that whatever tried to hurt me. They mean I WON and I am still here to fight another day.
  • That I am strong. That I am fierce. And that I will NEVER let genetics define me 
  • I finally stopped seeing a girl who wasn't enough and started to see a girl who was worth it
  • And I learned how much I LOVE this crazy silly life of mine - Darwinian Fails and all
This year has been filled with ups and down. Tears, blood, and sweat have all been shed.  Lessons were learned. Mistakes were made. A lot has happened. And while I won't be sad to say goodbye to 27, I know I wouldn't change a single thing about it.

27 its been REAL.
Love your Favourite Darwinian Fail
Krysten