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Saturday, November 19, 2011

TNT look back part II

The next year for me was a little more difficult.

I had somewhat overdone it on my first season of triathlon (really my first season of trying to get back into shape), and both of my knees were hurting pretty bad.  I ended up having surgery on both of them (at different times during the year) to have some rough tissue taken out of my knee space.  Originally the ortho told me that I would never be able to run again (of which I secretly jumped for excuse to not run), but after all was said and done he gave me the okay to get back at it.  And I did.

I decided that since I had had such a wonderful first experience with TNT that I would come back and do the same race, with the same coach, and even a few of the same teammates, but I would be a mentor.  Being a mentor meant that I would be the go to person for my group of teammates for fundraising advice.  I felt like I could accomplish this task fairly easily, as I didn't find fundraising to difficult the first year.  I also really wanted to have good contact with my mentee's especially the ones brand new to this experience (as I did not experience that with my mentor....not that I blame him, I really didn't need a lot of help). One of my friends from the first season was the other mentor, and I was excited that we were going to be able to help more people through this experience.

The season started...and I knew from the beginning that I would miss a few workouts because my parents were coming to visit and we were going to go on a 10 day Caribbean Cruise.  My parents arrived in Raleigh from Portland, Oregon and immediately I knew something wasn't okay with my Mom.  My Mom who always has energy, always super happy to see me, always ready to get off a plane and get going, was struggling a little.  The plane ride(s) were a little choppy and she was sore.  After we get settled it comes out that Mom had surgery to have an Ovarian Cyst taken out about a month before coming out.  (My parents have never been great about communicating what's happening with them, and my Mom is the worst....she doesn't want to burden anyone else).  She had been cleared to do this trip, but she was a little worried.  My Mom's pain threshold (back then at least) was high.  It took a lot to get her to see anyone about something, she almost never took any kind of pain relief medication, she was a "I'll tough it out, and it'll get better" kinda a gal.

Mom and Dad were just visiting here for a little bit before the cruise, so Jason (my husband) and I just went about our normal routine, with going to work and then coming home to hang out with my parents.  One time while we were at work my Mom and Dad went to the emergency room because the pain was so much my Mom couldn't stand it.  That's a big deal people, my parents, especially my Mom don't like to go the doctor (at all).  At the emergency room she was told she had a bladder infection.  Ummmm No.

My parents looked up doctors that they could see that would be in network (insurance, you gotta love it), and then called around to see who would be working (it was getting pretty close to Christmas, as in 12/23).  We (I got to come on this trip) went to see a doctor who is actually a sports medicine, but also does "normal" doctor stuff as well that would see my Mom.  She explained the pain, and her surgery.  The doc examined her, wasn't sure, but thought the pain might be related to the previous surgery and that travel may have aggravated it.  He gave her some pain meds and put her on some steroids to help hopefully subside the pain.  He told my Mom that if it wasn't getting better to come back to check if it was something else more serious.

Mom didn't want to miss this cruise.  Mom was in a lot of pain and the meds were not helping.  Mom didn't say anything to anyone (except maybe Dad).  We flew to Miami, and boarded the ship....took off for a great vacation.  Except Mom was drugged the whole time, and when she wasn't drugged she was in pain.  Mom doesn't remember most of that cruise.  We flew back to Raleigh, and the pain just getting worse.  We went back to the practice, to see a doctor, mostly so Mom could make it back home to Portland so she could see her doctor.  She was in so much pain that she really wasn't sleeping, no position she put herself in was comfortable.  The heating pad wasn't helping, nothing was helping.  When she saw the doctor he wanted to do some x-rays, but Mom just wanted pain meds to get back home.  He obliged, and Mom and Dad went home to Portland (with me too).

I was going to Portland to be there for my Grandmother's memorial service, she had passed away the year before and we were doing a remembrance dinner....which got cancelled due to weather.  It snowed like crazy, and my Great Uncle got very very very sick. And the whole trip was a mess.

Mom spoke to her doctor while she was in Raleigh, and her doctor decided that she needed to go see a PT as soon as she got back (and made the arrangements).  She didn't want her to have any x-rays because she said that insurance wouldn't cover it because she had already had them done for her surgery.  My Mom went to 1 PT appointment and left in more pain than when she went in.  So much pain she could barely walk.  I ended up coming back to Raleigh, leaving my parents to figure out what was happening.  Mom assured me she would be fine, and that she had a follow up appointment in the next few days with her surgeon.  On that follow up appointment she told the surgeon about all the pain, and he immediately sent her for an x-ray, the film showed 6 broken vertebrae, and he sent her to get an MRI, when that came back it showed another broken vertebrae and something that my Mom said looked like cottage cheese (CANCER).  They didn't know what type, or if it had metastasized from somewhere else, but it was the big C.

Mom was officially diagnosed with Multiple Myeloma in February 2007.  My pretty little world came crushing down.  My super strong Mom has cancer, a blood cancer at that.  Research showed me that survival rates looked grim, and treatment wasn't going to be happy.  Luckily I was connected.  Team in Training raisies money for the the Leukemia and Lymphoma Society (blood cancers).  I got lot's of information.  Lot's and lot's of information, better than internet information.  I felt buoyed by the research.  My teammates were AMAZING!  I continued to train, and be the best mentor I could be.  I had a new purpose, a better resolve, another reason to be doing all this.  My MOM!

I completed my second season of Team in Training doing the Azalea Festival Triathlon with the words 4 MY MOM written in sharpie down my leg.  My second team will never be forgotten, it's the team that got me through some really tough times.  I am still very good friends with many people from that team and get to hang out with them fairly often!


  1. I never knew your complete "story"! I am teary reading about your mom and your resolve and commitment. Love you girl!!

  2. Vashni - you are the amazing one!! Keep up the fight girl!! More of my story to come! Love you too!!