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Letter
Sunday, 05 February 2012 07:35

This letter was received by Nick Lee of the Jodi Lee Foundation a few weeks ago, and he shared it with us over the weekend.  Please, please, get a kit from the chemist or order it online, and test yourself.  Bowel cancer is an insidious disease, with little symptoms until it is well advanced.  90 % of cases of bowel cancer can be cured.

"Dear Nick,

 

When I was offered a position to run for the Jodi Lee Foundation (JLF) in the New York City (NYC) Marathon, I could never have imagined I would be writing to you a letter such as this.

 

Early in April 2011 I was advised of an opportunity to run in the NYC Marathon for the JLF by my Auntie  (one of the 21 JLF runners). A day later I was formally offered a position by Nick Lee, where I immediately accepted and was very grateful and excited for the upcoming adventure. Little did I know at this stage what a profound impact this invitation and involvement with the JLF would have on my life.

 

From this date general preparations commenced such as training, travel arrangements and fundraising; and throughout the year the JLF maintained good communication on all these matters. Amongst the communications from the JLF was a request that as ambassadors for the foundation we would undertake a pharmacy available bowel screen test.

 

I was reluctant to conduct this test due to my age (at the time I was 28 years old) and my good health. Furthermore, I had not ever had any symptoms of bowel cancer and thought that doing the test would be unnecessary. However, commitment to the principles of the JLF and the underlying question of what if something was wrong prevailed and led me to complete the test in the middle of October.

 

The test results arrived on October 21st and read positive for showing blood in my stool. This came as a shock especially being only a couple of weeks until the race and overseas travel. I immediately contacted my Doctor (GP) and made an appointment prior to travel in an effort to calm my nerves.

 

My GP had reassured me that it was unlikely that anything was wrong but due to the positive result he had to refer me to a colorectal specialist where a surveillance colonoscopy would be likely. There was no immediate urgency for this to take place and so I made an appointment with the specialist in early December following the race and overseas travel.

 

Early in November I travelled to the United States of America and completed the NYC marathon in 4 hours 28 minutes and 41 seconds raising a total of $4,935 for the JLF. Sponsors included generous family, friends and work colleagues who were all more than happy to support such a great cause.

 

During my two week trip overseas my upcoming specialist appointment was far from my mind as I was enjoying the sights of NYC and Chicago with my girlfriend and having a great time. Running in the NYC marathon and being involved with the JLF was overall lots of fun and a great experience.

 

After returning to Australia on November 19th I met with a colorectal specialist in early December; who like my GP reassured me that it was unlikely anything was wrong. However, he explained the importance of undertaking a surveillance colonoscopy due to the positive result of the bowel screen test.

 

A colonoscopy procedure was conducted on December 22nd with the preparation routine and going under general anesthetic an unsettling experience.

 

For all concerned the results were expected to be all clear with no issues, this unfortunately was not the case.

 

To my shock, I was advised by the surgeon after the procedure that too many polyps had been found to be removed and counting had stopped at fifty, no cancer was identified, however eight polyps had been removed for biopsy and that it was likely that some of my lower bowel would have to be removed.

 

The following week I met with the surgeon to discuss the colonoscopy and the pathology results. The discussion was confronting and difficult to accept. In my lower bowel are up to 100 polyps of which some are common and some are a much less common polyp which are more likely to develop into bowel cancer in an accelerated manner. Amongst all the facts, research, pathology and discussion I was advised that the only course of action was to remove my lower bowel to prevent the highly likely chance of developing bowel cancer in the near future.

 

A second opinion was sought prior to new years eve where a conservative estimate was that I had a 50 to 100 percent chance of developing bowel cancer in my thirties and that due to the amount of polyps it was more likely to be closer to 100 percent. The advice was clear and the same as the surgeons, removal of the lower bowel was necessary to prevent bowel cancer.

 

I recently met again with the surgeon and on February13th I will have major surgery to remove my lower bowel. This operation will see me in St Andrews Hospital for approximately five days and recovering at home for at least one month.

I share my story with you Nick and the Jodi Lee Foundation as a way of saying thank you.

 

Thank you, for saving my life."

 

 
Training progresses
Sunday, 05 February 2012 07:18

Sunday 5th February

Training is progressing nicely for the Great Wall marathon - now just under 15 weeks away.  I am doing my 3 runs per week, but I am dreadfully slow.  Part of the reason for this is that I am doing a lot of leg work - squats, tabata interval sessions, lunges and hill runs, to prepare more properly for this event rather than for a standard, fairly flat, marathon.  I have to keep telling myself that it doesn't matter that I am slow, just that I keep going!  Todays run was from home to the top of Mt Lofty and back down again via the Long Ridge Track - 24 km that was all up, then all down and took over two and a half hours.  My back was quite sore in the last stages after so much downhill running and angling myself back a bit.  I'll post a link soon, once Charlie gives me back my Garmin connector for the computer!!

I have also been doing quite well with my cross training - Hot Yoga 2-3 times per week at a new studio that has opened up down the road (I love living here!!), YogaFusion.  Sue and Amy run awesome classes and the infrared heating panels are a good way to create the heat, compared to gas heating systems.  Their approach is also much more gentle than the Bikram yoga I tried a couple of years ago - 5 sessions there took me 6 months to adequately recover from.  6 sessions in now, and I am feeling good.  I have also done a little riding and hiking, as well as some swimming.  I even did a beach swim a few weeks ago - 700m or so at Normanville.  So scared of critters in the water, I was often in barely a meter of water, and whenever I found myself in deeper water I rapidly went closer to shore again so I was back at the 5 foot mark.  Such a big scaredy cat!  Last week I notched up 12 sessions in the week - a public holiday day off work helped those stats!  I can't manage that in a normal week.

I am working hard to try to lose some of the weight that piled on rapidly in December - post marathon and wedding rebound, and it takes so long to come back off again!!  2 kg down now, another 8 to go, ideally.  Such a tiresome process, but I am trying the slower and sustainable method this time, rather than the high protein focus of last year, which is not balanced enough for the long term, in my non-nutritionists opinion.  Especially when I am supporting the Jodi Lee Foundation and bowel cancer awareness!  I am trying to get a fundraising page organised, so I will post a link when that happens.

 

 

 

 

 
A new Year - New Goals
Sunday, 08 January 2012 22:54

Happy New Year!!

It feels like the new year has been going for a while already - I am now into my second week back at work, and my third week of training.  I had a very busy time getting back to nirmal after New York - Charlie and I were married only 3 weeks after getting home, which in turn was only 3 weeks before Christmas.  The whole 'Eat, Drink and Be Merry' mantra was taken a little far, and I am now ruing the kilos gained.  I did decide however, that I am the sort of person who needs extrinsic goals - I need to do it for more than just 'me', I need an strong external reason to get out there.  I enjoy running.  I felt great on my first few runs back at home after the marathon.  But it gets hard, especially with the warm weather, and juggling work and other peoples needs within the household, and the excuses pile up as fast as those kilos do and before you know it, it was 10 weeks since I had been to the gym and 2 weeks since I ran.

So, on Christmas day there was an opportunity to go to the gym before lunch.  So I did.  It made eating all that brandy butter easier, which did me no favours in the long run, but I did it.  I had that wonderful post exercise soreness going on for a few days.  And I went back to the gym - I went 3 times that first week, and ran three times.  And firmed up some goals. 

1. 7 Marathons on 7 continents.  I am not sure of the time frame yet, as both the cost and the time away are tricky, but the goal is there.  1 continent is done, another is booked, time to plan some others.

2. Great Wall Marathon, May 19th 2012.  Booked, flight paid for, happening.  And Beck is coming, too !!! (Big cheer here).  I have a training buddy, at least by remote (even though we live only 5 km from each other and work together.  But she has 3 kids, I have 3 kids part time - it gets tricky).  And the 18 week program starts next week, 16th January, so it is nice and imminent.

3. Antarctica Marathon March 2014.  The cool one!!  Deposit paid, awaiting confirmation.

4. Conference trip to Dubai October 2013.  Will find a local marathon there - maybe Africa.  The big ones - Kilimanjaro, Big Five, Two Oceans, Petra are all the wrong time of year for this one, but we will see how we go.  Instanbul marathon could be good timing, but that is Europe and Asia - doesn't really fit with the theme.

5. I may try to find a South American one close to the Antarctic one, again because getting to South America twice within a few years is expensive, time consuming, and I really want to see a lot of the place eventually, but I am not sure how much now is the time.  Wish list would be the Inca Trail Marathon.

6. Berlin Marathon, sometime.  It is held on September 30th this year, but I don't think the timing of it will work for me with conferences in Brisbane in early September, my brother in laws wedding in Alice Springs the next week, and another conference in Sydney in late October.  It makes for too much time away from work, so I may be looking at 2014/ 2015 for that.  Yikes - that is a long way away.

7. An aussie one.  I think the Australian one will just fit in where I have a gap that needs filling, when I need to get going on a goal.

There we have it.  A new year, some goals (not so much resolutions), and we will see how we go.  I'm looking forward to the journey, even if the sore muscles leave a bit to be desired.

 
Week 37- the aftermath
Wednesday, 09 November 2011 13:04

Monday 7th November, marathon Monday.  I tried to sleep in, but woke at 7 anyway.  That did represent a solid 7 hours sleep, which is far away the best night so far.  We had a slow morning in the hotel and ventured out at about 10.30 to go to the Cenral Park to the finishers tent to get the medal engraved and buy some finishers merchandise.  We stopped by the Shake Shack first to get some local produce - a shake burger and a shaky road - so called frozen custard shake with nuts and fudge bits in it.  I think frozen custard means soft serve.  But it was amazing.  Very solid - no straws required here, and so so tasty.

But this was a rookie error.  After sitting and eating our burgers then walking with the 'shake' through the park a little, we found the tent.  And the line.  Back out the park for a block.  Seriously.  We joined the line anyway.  11.30 am.  Rakesh form the JLF group was immediately ahead of us, and we chatted to a new Yorker next to us who is 64 and did his first marathon after starting running around 10 years ago.  The 90 minutes in the line was not too bad, but as a tip for anyone doing it in the future - get there early as doors open at 7am.  I had my medal engraved, ordered a picture, then went to the merchandise tent. All the girls t shirts were gone, leaving only raincoats.  There were some hoodies led tin size L andXL only.  Los of hats.  Must remember that for next time, if I need more t shirts in mylife.

Then it was onto holiday mode.  We walked more through the park, very pretty and autumnal but no big patches of leaves on the ground to kick up :)  Then onto Fifth Ave, Madison Ave, Park Ave.  the upper east side.  So clichéd.  Rich women wearing full designers gear, eating lunch at fancy restaurants with their equally rich friends.  Plus some tourists.  I did spy a Reed Krakoff store, and had to see if the shoes I have been coveting all year were there.  They were.  I tried them on.  They fit, even though the biggest size was the 40 instead of 41.  They looked good.  And Charlie was an enabler again.  

We kept wandering, then saw a poster for Bell and Ross.  So we went and got Charlie his wedding present. He is very pleased.  We walked to the Rockefeller centre.  Amazing shops including I a Lego store - very very cool.  We were going to try to go to the top of the rock, but decided that at 5 pm and with a 7 pm dinner booking, we were best off just enjoying the shop and the plaza rather than lining up.  Good choice.  We looked at the Lego shop and watched some of the skaters on the surprisingly small rink (Cenral park was bigger this morning).  Then the subway home before freshening up for dinner at the restaurant attached to the French culinary school in SoHo.  A lovely meal, great flavours and yet another good dining experience in New York.

On the way home, we stopped at The Empire State Building for a look out the top.  The facilities they have there for a long line up is amazing.  you could reasonably expect to spend 2 or 3 hours waiting in line.  We didn't.  It was straight through all the way at 10pm.  And the view was awesome on a beautiful clear night. What a fantastic city.

Tuesday - Brooklyn day.  We caught the subway down to city hall, walked through the park and then onto Brooklyn bridge.  We walked across the bridge on our warmest day yet - no coats for us today- and enjoyed the view across to Brooklyn.  We walked around DUMBO, the industrial area coming good down under the manhattan bridge overpass (geddit??). We bought some fancy chocolate, found some lovely Italian leather boots, ate pizza at eh famous Grimaldi's on old Fulton st, where we only had to line up for 15 minutes only 20 mins after opening time (!). 

Then we wandered through Brooklyn heights, a lovely residential neighborhood. Lots of row houses, gorgeous stuff.  We loosely followed the walks in the guide cards I had, and the map I had in my moleskin book, and we headed south looking for 'Steves Key Lime Pies' down on Van dyke.  It was a longer walk than I thought.  It took us into Red Hook, past the housing projects, along streets with more green stuff growing in the cracks on the pavement than wee have seen anywhere other than central park.  After hours of walking, wew got there.  Steve's pies.  W bought one.  It was good.  Was it worth it? Dunno, but the story is good.

We then caught a bus back to downtown Brooklyn, then founds subway to gt us up to Williamsburg, where some of the hipsters live and play.  Hehehehe.  Such a cliché.  But there they were in all their vintage clothes finery. along with bars, cafes and vintage clothing stores.  No new clothing stores.   Aftere a wander he, the a drink in a Vietnamese restaurant - Charlie bought a beer and a bottle of San pelligrino, given a free shot of vodka aas it was happy hour all for $9.

Subway home and time for feet up.  Another day of over 24km of walking.  then we walked to look for dinner.  Charlie said lululemon was very nearby on Broadway, and I checked the address -1928 broadway.  We are at 2228, so surely not far?  Turns out, it was 15 blocks.  And they were still open at 9 pm.  So I got the tops I was after.  We bought dinner from a supermarket, and ate on the bed in front of 'wall st', which I then fell asleep watching.  Again.

Wednesday - Our last full day.  Top of the Rock first up (no waiting as we were there by 9.00 am) for glorious views on a slightly misty / hazy morning, looking over the park in glorious 'fall' colour, and downtown with the Empire State Building in the foreground.  Charlie got some lovely photos.  Then onto Grand Central Terminal to marvel at the space, check out the whispering wall - it really works!!, and then around to the New York Public Library.  We actually had to hunt around for the books!  It was amazing to actually realise that this was an 'old school' library - google in hardback.  We have gotten so used to typing in a question and getting a reasonable answer instantly  that the idea of trawling through a card catalogue and working out which sort of books you want to order down from the stores is amazing.

We then kept wandering south.  I  left Charlie at an Irish pub while I did some shopping at Macy's - the largest store in the world.  It was huge.  I found some makeup, and some Calvin KleinJeans - $31 (ha!), and searched high and low for a dress I saw in the window of Macy's in Brooklyn, but I couldn't find it.  A bit like a needle in a haystack, really.  I even tried calling Macy's in Brooklyn, but nobody could be bothered trying to find out.

We then walked down, down, down Broadway, all the way to the Bull in the financial district.  It was fascinating to see all the different districts - the diamond district, NoHo, SoHo, Village, FiDi.  The Bull was surrounded by fencing so no one can get close, which means Charlie was his usual skillful photographer self in getting a shot with no one in it.  Then back to the hotel to freshen up before dinner at Gastroarte on 69th st - amazing food, amazing service.  We started with entrees that I can't remember (oops), and mains that were very tasty.  I know Charlies had black rice (thanks to the squid ink) with calamari and I had lamb cheeks - but the plating was gorgeous.  Dessert was the "Jackson Pollack" - a white chocolat emousse with salted caramel drizzled around and a square of white chololate that was 'painted' in a very Pollack style.  Charlie took pics.  It was a lovely way to finish off the trip, with a celbratory meal, and the value continued to be excellent - $150 incl tax and tips, which made it double any of our other meals, but so cheap compared to what we would pay here (and we over tipped a little).

Thursday - Our final morning.  We walked through the park, around the southern edge of the Lake, and up a little on the other side to see the Guggenhein, then down 5th Ave to the Met, where we marvelled at the Egyptian artefacts and the armoury.  An early lunch stop, then we continued down 5th Ave to FAO Schwartz to dance on the giant piano just like in 'Big' (and I wished I had more luggage space so I could buy some toys - so much cool stuff!!), and then to Tiffanys to try to see what the fuss was about.  I can only assume it has lost some of its cache over time.

We walked back to the hotel, collected our bags, lugged them a couple of blocks to the 81st St subway stop, then sat on the train all the way to the airport.  Pretty hassle free.  No lounge access for us in NY as Qantas don't own a lounge there and British Airways declined to accept our passes, so we enjoyed the good service at one of the bars in the airport.  He charged for 4 beers rather than 6, and the soda water was continuously refilled.  The nachos were good, too.  It was our only example of a big american plate of food.

Airports are unfun.  Aeroplanes are unfun.  6 hours to LA, 30 mins in the lounge before the 'boarding' light lights up and we go to the gate.  60 mins before they start boarding.  16 hour flight.  In economy.  Everytime I swear, never again.  1 door to let 600 passengers off the A380 - the biggest commercial aircraft in use.  So 45 mins before we get off.  Run through the airport to customs and baggage pickup.  But one of my bags got shredded along the way and took ages to come out, all wrapped in tape.  So we missed the connecting flight.  And waited another hour in line to speak to a Qantas staffer about getting on another flight.  The next 3 flights were sold out.  But they could get us on the 4.30 flight.  So we sit in the lounge, drink, eat and use the wifi.  And have a shower.  Note to all - drying oneself with paper towels is tricky.  And you can't do your back.  Then get on our plane for the last bit home again.  Then home,  sweet home. An airport pick up by mum (first sighting of her in over 3 months), then home.  Some washing, and bed.  The trip is over.

 

But there are some memories to share.  Here are a few:

This blog is from a fast runner in the US.  I didn't have to walk near naked into Times Square, but what he says about New Yorkers was very much my experience.

Couple on the Run are a melbourne couple who run and have made it their lives - lucky Sue and Andrew.  They are also lovely people.  I spoke to them at the expo, and sat behind them on the bus on the way to the start line, and they are very generous with their knowledge and experience.  There are a couple oflinks here.  The first one - top 10 signs from the run, and the second is a tribute to the bands along the way.

This is a 9 minute video, if you have the stamina for that!  Come on - I ran for almost 4 hours!!

And this is a cool comic sketch of the run - I never did see this guy.

This is a go pro video - a bit disjointed, and you can't get as good a sense of the crowd from this, but it still pretty cool.  A 5 minute clip.

and these are all the photos from the official photographers and some videos.  The organsiation is amazing, and if you look at the 10km video, you can hear a woman yelling out to me 'Go Tory - woman in a tutu - yeah' just as I run under the marker.  Very cool.

 

 

 

 

 

 
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Health News

This weeks links

The Cancer Council came out this week and announced that there is no safe level of alcohol consumption, and that alcohol should be considered to be as carcinogenic as smoking and asbestos are.  As well as being highly associated with throat and mouth cancers, it is now found to correlate highly with breast and bowel cancers.  Perhaps it should not be so surprising that a substance that can so alter mood and ability, even at very mild levels should turn out to be in fact, not good for us.

This story, an editorial from the British Journal of Sports Medicine earlier this year has some amazing targets - it ties in with our look at sitting and health, and is about developing healthcare systems that support exercise - recognise it as being as vital a measure of our health as is blood sugar levels or blood pressure.  It recommends 150 minutes of physical activity per week for adults as a minimum.  30 mins on 5 days.  For children, it is 420 mins / week - 60 minutes every day.  How close are you?

This is another article on inactivity / obesity and health from Sports Medicine Australia, highlighting the link between an inactive childhood and a lifetime of battling depression.  It is food for thought (!) these days where there seems to be much paranoia about safety of children away from their parents watchful eyes, and therefore a tendency to want to keep them closely under watch instead of encouraging more activity and indeed risk taking behaviours.  The ability to judge situations for risk and to be able to take appropriate risks builds self esteem and resilience.  Not much to do with bowel cancer awareness, but close to my heart as well.

Another article on sitting

This one is in really simple terms - if you walk 30 mins (as recommended) and sleep 8 hours, most of us still have 15.5 hours per day not moving.  You cannot sit all day behind a screen, then drive your car and sit and watch tv with out it being bad for you.  A good read.