Is your health going off the rails and you don’t even know it?

It’s weird what you don’t know until you need to know.  I considered myself pretty healthy and active prior to my diagnosis. I’m dealing with it. (side note that used to be the name of my very first blog) How am I dealing with it? They (the docs) have me on “targeted drugs”. It’s primarily a chemo pill that I take everyday at home. Plus a reflux drug and an alphabet of vitamins. Yes there are side effects; like stomach upset, vomiting, muscle pain, skin changes, memory issues and feeling generally tired.

It’s not the chemo everyone knows. So I tend to get treated as fragile by my family (as they saw me at my worst) unresponsive in the hospital. Then others who haven’t seen me for months think “hey she looks fine”. The scars are mostly hidden and the turmoil is on the inside. I’m not fragile but I’m not ok. That’s easier to write than to say out loud.

Learning to live with a cancer diagnosis has been difficult and very stressful. But you guessed that. The change in my cognitive/physical abilities has caused significant distress. I become overwhelmed, at times, with multiple tasks, distractions. Just leaving the house for a social occasion leads to stress. I’m used to hiding that though. The muscle soreness and hip pain really blows as you may have heard I like to walk. My long walk plans for the fall will be different than before and are maybe contingent on what the doc says. 

But hey I don’t think that will stop me. I’ve beat death! Oh right I haven’t told  you about that. I did. Not ready to talk about that yet though. Not totally sure why I am sharing all this, I’m not usually this “sharing”. But hey the game has changed, for me anyway. 

Luckily I’ve found groups for information/support like LRG (Life Raft Group) and Gist International. My good friend sent me a book called Chris Beats Cancer, with great healthy living information. These sources have given me a plethora of information I was unaware of. 

For now I’m dealing with the hard changes. The muscle soreness and hip pain hopefully will go away since it makes walking long distances difficult. But it’s also hard not to worry about cancer coming back. 

That reminds me, symptoms of cancer are not always obvious. I did not see this coming and it blew my life up. If you are not feeling well go see your doctor. Check your health insurance, run all the tests, eat something healthy, reduce your stress…. because this sucks.

Life changing path

AKA bumps in the road

In December of 2020 I was diagnosed with Gist cancer. And just like that everything changed. It has tested my lifestyle, relationships, and patience. It’s a big deal that I am trying to pretend is not a big deal.

Wait, what is GIST you ask? A GIST (pronounced “jist”) is an uncommon type of cancer that starts in the digestive tract. Gist is rare and it’s not clear what causes it. 

How the heck did that happen or How did I find out about it?

Well now basically it went like this….I was tired, like super tired and I had a loss of appetite, that’s it. It was like a really bad cold, without the cold parts. I laid around for over a week barely getting out of bed. Turns out some people with GISTs feel tired because they’ve lost blood from the tumor. Being that this was the era of Covid I went to the hospital for a test. The ridiculous part of that was that I drove myself (15 miles) even though I could barely walk to the car. Hindsight being 20/20 that was not smart, especially since I promptly passed out in the parking lot as soon as I arrived. But on the upside it was the hospital parking lot. I can’t say enough good things about Tahoe Forest Hospital. They quickly determined it was not Covid but I was losing blood and needed blood and a host of tests!

Since no one knew what was going on I had an upper endoscopy AND a colonoscopy. Samples were taken from the abnormal area for a biopsy.

Waiting for the results wasn’t as bad as hearing the results. I’ll never forget sitting on my bed when the doctor called, all I heard was cancer……blah, blah, blah. 

It turned out to be a resectable tumor (one that could be removed safely with surgery)…it was recommended I do it soon…so I had surgery January 11, 2020. 

Woah, that was huh? I know right. Pretty much most of December, January and half of February was a blur. Jason was a sweetheart, dropped everything and drove my whiney butt across the country to Michigan; immediately following the

diagnosis.  I had to be near my family and Karmanos Cancer Center got me in lickitty split. Things went sideways in my 2nd surgery. I can’t really get into that right now, but I was in the hospital for a month, that sucked. Full disclosure: I don’t remember most of it. Actually I don’t remember much at all from the end of December to February. Seriously nothing and yes it is way weird.

My simple surgery got complicated. The tumor was sizable and to get it all they had to slice me open and take part of my tummy too. So I’m all better now. Ok not really. I have a host of issues, physical and mental.

This is not a path I saw me going down, basically I’m bushwhacking at this point.It’s been emotionally stressing (it can be when the rug is pulled from underneath you). While everything is up in the air I am scrambling to take care of my mind and body. Dealing with it…….changes.

Life is so delicious

Can’t say I went hungry while in Fiji. So much tasty goodness. A lot of the time at the resort was spent deciding what and where to eat next. There was an amazing Sheraton breakfast buffet, with a fresh juice bar complete with smoothies and protein drinks. Even made to order eggs. Good thing there was a gym and numerous beach activities.

Our first days in the interior jungle we lived on Backcountry meals and protein bars. Some people are not fans if rehydrated meals. I thought they were tasty, except for when they were crunchy. But that was usually due to me not adding adequate water and being impatient.

By the time the race was going, so was catering. The local catering crew had mad skills and worked long hours, but always greeted us with smiles. Seriously in a field they whipped out fresh pastries, cookies, breakfast, lunch and dinner! When it’s raining, your sliding in mud on limited sleep….a hot meal can be a game changer. 

Then there were the Wavaka villagers at Camp 2. The village ladies came over for tea. Little did I know ‘tea’ meant tea/coffee and 2 trays of fresh baked breads! There is just something unexplainable about sharing food with others, there is a coming together a sense of community. I will be forever grateful to those near and far that have shared their food and allowed me to become part of their world.

What finer things to do than travel and eat well? Even if you could only afford to do it rarely, the fact that you aspire to that, and are willing to spend money. I think that speaks well of people” Anthony Bourdain

In the know K2’s are skis

Post from my old blog (April 2011)

This whole living in the now, being present idea, I get. It’s not a hard concept to wrap your mind around. Putting it into practice however is whole other ball game.
Lets just take the internet. I am online, like constantly. Need info Google it, share my great day-facebook, new recipes, new books, new people…….yeah I’m still looking for the end of the net. Where was I going with this? Oh, yeah see it is so super easy for me to drift from the now moment. Even with it right here in front of me; I quickly can jump to somewhere else. A future event….look it up on the internet, a past event…the internet holds onto the memories I forget. Now the internet is not bad, well not mostly, but I need to learn to limit my time there.
The TV too. My guilty pleasures, reality television. Ok everyone needs an escape. But the news, ah, that is so frustrating. For instance last night before bed no less, they did a story about K2. A smokable form of potpourri, um the key word there is potpourri! Kid smoked this stuff and hmm…died, killed himself, whatever, parents blame K2! Hold the incense! Why, why, why is your kid smoking potpourri!??
Now the parents want it banned….you know for the safety of the kids. WTF. People you can’t legislate stupidity. My potpourri satchel is for refreshing my drawers not smoking. So frustrating. No wonder our government is  so messed up….they waste valuable time dealing with crap like this.  
Now excuse me while I return to the now moment. Where things are good and stupid do not reign.

Flashback photos from 2011….same girl…..different time

skiing Keystone, first burn/regional

Hallowine

So recently I’ve been rolling with someone who is rolling sober. (side note: his is being sober for a year) Right now this is a thing, I guess. Every time I turn around someone is sober, getting sober or sober curious (wait are those technically all the same?). I’ve always been a you do you kinda person, because I’m gonna be in my lane doing me.

In a show of solidarity and the fact I’ll try anything I tried out some NA(non alcoholic) beer. You’ve heard of this, of course, beer flavor no booze. I have to say it wasn’t bad, even though some of them forgot to add the beer flavor part. Drinking beer(s) and not even feeling buzzed is strange. It’s like when you only put 2 cheeses in the 3 cheese macaroni dish, it’s still good but something is missing.

Long story long, I like cheese and I want all the cheese. So I am not the NA target market. Seriously I toyed with the idea of some NA wine but I just couldn’t. Yeah nope. Well that’s not totally true. Been trying to get my hands on some of that cannabis infused wine (as I understand it they have to take out the alcohol to add the THC). Hmmm, ok.

Luckily my “cip” has a mind of his own and his sobriety has nothing to do with me, whew. So I’m off to get some candy and a box a wine for tonight’s festivities. Now…..what pairs well with snickers?

Have a safe and spooky Halloween!!

Eco Challenge – Fiji

After a challenge, trip, adventure or experience I get home and take a deep breath. Then I say to myself (sometimes out aloud) whew, I did it….and didn’t die! 

Although I step out of my comfort zone on the regular, it’s a monumental task for my inner me every-time. I’m not big on labels but I suppose you call me an extroverted introvert. I live for going places, trying new things and meeting people. But it is seriously exhausting mentally and emotionally. 

Usually the first thing I’ll do when I get somewhere is find an escape spot where I can go and reset. In Fiji it was down a little cliff then  across the river to a sand bar. A couple times I had to scramble to beat the rain. No I idea how I’d get back up if that cliff turned to mud. 

What can I say, it’s how I cope and keep from killing people (kidding..sorta).

Anyway, for those of you wondering I’m back in Tahoe! The welcome back was a wake up call.

from this to …………………………………to this

So I will be posting about Fiji soon….but first I have to find my coat!

Road Trip part 2

Second leg of my super road trip I rolled out of Michigan and blew through Indiana and Illinois. That’s about where I hit I-80. I-80 westbound would take me all the way to Tahoe. I’ve driven this stretch of road Michigan to Colorado so many times now I truly think I could do it with my eyes closed! I lived in Iowa for about 20 years. I always look forward to going back. A lot of growing up, for me, happened there and many friends were made. As always I didn’t get to see every one I would have liked to. But I got to see some old friends and their adorable little guy!

Driving through the windmills of western Iowa my mind linged on the days I biked those rolling hills. Ah, the fly over states. After living in the densely populated west coast I longed for the open space of the Midwest and the comfort of a small town.

Since I was rolling north through Colorado I just had to stop at New Belgium Brewery (Ft. Collins). Have you been there!! Next time you’re in the area stop for the tour. The tour guides (and beer) make it real fun. I lost my wallet hurrying to catch the tour, the people who found it were trying to contact me before I finished the tour! Thank goodness. New Belgium…..Good People….Great Beer.

After lunch and a chilly stroll around Ft Collins (man it was 79 degrees when I left Iowa) I was westbound again. By the time I hit Wyoming it was sleeting.

Nothing but good things to say about Wyoming. In 2006 I hunted a buffalo there. Considered moving to Chugwater when they were giving away land and hiking the Basin was a joy. Oh and they have wild horses, what a sight to see! I had planned on camping/hiking a few days in WY. However the cold rain and digital highway signs warned of a storm coming. So on I went.

Next stop Salt Lake City……wait hold up Park City, I see you…got to come back to this cute town to ski. Spent the next miles plotting a winter ski resort road trip. How fun would that be! A quick stop to stretch my legs and check out Temple Square.

With reports of fresh snow falling in Tahoe I pushed on from Salt Lake City. It was a good choice…….got back just in time to get in one last powder day!! Not a bad end to a road trip.

Road Trip part 1

Recently I did a 5000ish mile cross cross road trip. Nothing was really planned except getting home for Mothers Day to see my mom in Michigan. I left Tahoe and headed south. What, out of the way, nope. Had a quick stop and Mammoth to hit the slopes. Plus, I needed to stop in to San Diego re connect with some friends and grab some summer gear from my storage unit. It was great having brunch with my peeps, Coleen and Mike host a kickin waffle brunch in their sweet yard! Thanks Kassy for girl chat, a place to crash and providing much needed kitty time!

After San Diego, fully loaded, Q (my suv’s name) and I headed out across the desert towards Las Vegas. I car camped most of the way, I had the back sleeping pad set up. I really like camping on BLM spots, if not I slip into a truck stop or quietly slide into a hotel parking lot. The route through Utah and Colorado is a really beautiful drive. Massive red stone formations in the Valley of Fire and Moab! I really need a specific trip to Utah and stop stealing moments on my way else where. Found Vail pass closed for safety concerns so I slept in Avon. If I had been a week earlier I could have got some skiing in but most of the areas were already closed for the season.

There rest of the way to Michigan was a dark blur. I got news outside of Denver that my uncle had passed so getting home meant driving through the night. I’ll miss my uncle Frank he was quite the character loud and could always lift the mood when family got too serious. He never questioned my crazy life, just sent me side money through Western Union! Old school. Frank dude you will be missed…..see ya on the other side!

Winter Season Wrap Up

To be honest it wasn’t all blue bird powder days. Some days were truly tough, but I made through those days partly due to my co workers. They drove me crazy, made me laugh and taught me many things.

I officially made it through my winter season as a lift operator at Squaw Valley/Alpine Meadows! It was an epic season indeed. With record snowfall,
over 500 inches of total snowfall this season. There were times I truly believed it would never stop snowing. So much back aching shoveling but also some of the best ski conditions I have ever experienced.

There is so much that goes into running the resort. Everyone doing their part; lifties, ski patrol, mountain host, groomers, maintenance just to name a few. Some how we pulled it off day after day, in the best and toughest conditions. So much goes into making the mountain safe and ready to shred.


Thank you Alpine Meadows 2018-2019 crew for reminding not to take life to seriously, that I’m better than I think, and take a breath enjoy the view everything is going to be alright. Now I gotta see about some new sticks before my next adventure……….

“Skiing is expensive, but it’s cheaper than therapy”.

Baby it’s cold outside

So I made it a week at the new gig. What gig? Well, I’m a lift operator (aka liftie) at Alpine Meadows. Its something I’ve wanted to do for many years and finally got around to.

20181207_122435
Magic Carpet duty

You can ski?
Yes. I’ve been skiing since the 4th grade, at Mt. Holly in Michigan. Over the years I’ve learned and enjoyed skiing with friends in Minnesota, Colorado and California. I even gave snowboarding a try, once. Working at a ski resort is a wonderful opportunity to learn and get better.
Isn’t it cold?
Yes and sorta. It’s been snowing (Yeah) and the temps when I get to work can be in in the 20’s, but you hardly notice it when you start setting up for the day. Plus I got a sweet North Face winter uniform that is pretty toasty. Later in the week the sun actually came out and it was warm enough take off layers. Plus an breath taking sun dog hung over the mountain.

What do you do all day?
I’m up early and after a quick locker room stop, on the mountain by 7:30 am. We have to set up fences, signs and be ready for guest by 9 am. It’s a lot of trudging through the snow carrying stuff (aka my morning workout). One day I worked the magic carpet (a moving surface lift that transports skiers and snowboarders on the ground as they are moved uphill). Watching the kids and adults go from fearful to confident under the watchful eye of parents or instructors was so exciting! The rest of the day I get to feel snow on my face, gaze at the sun on the snow capped peaks and engage with people who’ve come out to enjoy the snow, not a bad gig.

What’s the living situation?
Thanks to employee housing I live conveniently close to the mountain, with 5 roommates from Florida, Georgia, Washington and California. We have a nice place with a view of Lake Tahoe. Tahoe City has the small town feel and slower pace of life that I enjoy. Alpine Meadows (where I work) is the laid back side of Squaw with great trails.
All in all it’s been a interestingly fun week. I’ve done some skiing but mostly I’ve been focusing on learning all the things first. Like I’ve never worn a helmet but not only is it required but like everybody wears on here. Each lift has a different set up to learn, things to be aware of and safety procedures. It’s a fun learning process with co workers that very helpful in showing my the ropes.