Monday, March 7, 2011


One of the issues facing young cancer patients that is just starting to get a bit of attention is fertility. Cancer treatments are designed to kill cancer ... and whatever else needs to be killed in order to kill cancer. It's been my experience and my opinion via conversations with others that the field of oncology isn't especially interested in anything that isn't cancer. Unfortunately, that means a lot of side effects are blown off, including but not limited to fertility.

Before I began treatments for my lymphoma, I was told that one of the possible side effects of the chemo was early menopause: my periods would stop during treatment and they might or might not start again.

I only missed one period.

Since chemo, however, I have had a bunch of other odd hormonal side effects that are annoying and slightly disconcerting but probably not life-threatening. No one can tell me why they're happening or if they're a problem (oncologist, primary care doc, ob-gyn), so I've never really been sure if all of the plumbing is working properly or not.

We have confirmation that all systems are in order — I am pregnant!

I have seen two docs so far —one at a birthing center and one in a regular office — and neither was of the opinion that my cancer history is a problem. I suspect that it being in a different part of my body is a big deal, and being in remission for over three years probably helps, too.

So I'm officially on my next wacky body journey, but this time cultivating the growth instead of trying to get rid of it. We'll see how it goes!

Sunday, January 9, 2011

results continue to be good

I had another check-up with my oncologist yesterday.

At this point, I have bloodwork and a chest x-ray before each visit. As has been the norm, they were both fine.

He said that the first two years were when it was most likely to recur, and I'm way past that (it was three years in November). "Every day that you go without cancer makes it less likely that it will come back."

Another day down!

Five years is considered "cured." I'm more than half-way there!

He also commended me for being composed throughout treatment and thanked me for not calling him on a regular basis. (I'm pretty sure I never called at all...) Kinda makes me wonder what other folks are like.

Anyway, it was a short, easy visit, as they have turned out to be. And my checkups have been moved to every six months. Hooray!

Hopefully that means there won't be any new posts here until June...

Wednesday, October 6, 2010

Second Chance

I just scanned through my posts and can't believe I haven't posted here...

Back in June, I opened my own fitness center! For anyone who's been following all along (or long enough), you know that keeping my body moving is a priority. You know that I exercised whenever I could through treatment. You know that my oncologist attributed my good health to my relative ease of side effects through treatment. You know that since the active cancer experience ended, I've completed three triathlons.

You might not know that years ago, before cancer was part of my daily living, I was quite heavy. I changed how I ate, I started exercising, I lost weight, I felt (feel) great. Baby steps. No fad diet. No hours upon hours on a treadmill. Lifestyle changes. Pieces I could handle when I could handle them.

You might know that I am a teacher. I teach elementary band for a living, but really, in my essence, I am A Teacher. I can't imagine a career that had no teaching component in it, regardless of the content.

Put this all together, and you have Second Chance FitCenter. I converted a room in my house into a studio. I want to help people who want to make changes to their lives, whether it's because they want to lose weight, they want to reclaim their bodies during or after cancer, or they just want to be in better shape (to whatever that means to them). I'm not your go-to gal if you want to shave half an hour off your marathon time.

Sound interesting? Take a look at my website: You'll find my story, my services, my philosophy, testimonials from those who have been working out with me since April (I've been certified that long and took on a few "practice clients" before opening my doors to the public), links to reviews on Yelp and Merchant Circle, my contact info.

Check it out, pass it on.

Monday, September 27, 2010

I forgot!

I had an appointment last week and forgot to post an update here...

X-rays are clean, blood work looks good. Next appointment is in four months.

In the mean time, I will cross over the three-year mark (November). Doc said that after my next appointment, I'll graduate to every six months. Hooray!

He also asked if he could refer patients to my training business (YES!). He said he knows me, he knows I've been through it and would be great for people who are looking. I hope he sends some folks over...

So not much to say except that I'm still clean and healthy :-)

Tuesday, July 20, 2010

progress in the sun

Well, I'm finally seeing progress.

Sun sensitivity was a side effect of the chemo, and because my doc told me that melanoma is a common secondary cancer, I have been vigilant about taking precautions.

My first summer after chemo ('08), I would burn through sunscreen and clothes. It was a summer of staying in the house.

Last summer ('09), I'd burn through sunscreen or clothes, but if I wore both, I'd be OK.

This summer, I'm not burning, as long as I'm covered with one or the other! So last week, I went swimming in my backyard pool during the day for the first time in over three years! Glorious!

That's all the news from here :)

Monday, June 28, 2010

spreading the word: change

My path has been interesting — sometimes easy, sometimes difficult, but it is the only path I know.

It has brought me to a place where I have not only an ability but an obligation to reach out to people, to tell them my story, to let them know that they are not stuck, that change is possible.

This blog is a little piece of that, but I want to make it bigger.

If you have an audience who is looking to hear a great story from a personable speaker that will help them to take the first steps to making the positive changes that they want to make in their lives, look no further!

If you are in the Phoenix metro area, I will speak to your group for no charge. If you are out of the area, I do request that transportation and accommodations be provided.

Please contact me: heather at secondchancefit dot com. You can look at my website at the same URL for more information about me.

Saturday, May 29, 2010

still healthy ... and a hair cut

A few noteworthy things have happened in the past week.

First, I had my 4-month checkup yesterday and everything looks good. I continue to receive only chest x-rays (no PET or CT scans) and will stay on that course unless something suspicious pops up.

I also had my yearly blood chemistry done, and everything looks good there as well.

Last weekend, I decided to buzz my head again for the summer. Having been there before, it was much less intimidating to do.

#2 all the way around :)

I am enjoying its ease of care, but there were two things I hadn't thought about ahead of time.

First, the first shower that I took after getting it cut, I got out of the shower and looked in the mirror and was surprised not to see a big ugly scar with stitches in my throat. That's where my biopsy was done, and the first time my hair looked like this, there was indeed a big ugly scar with stitches there. I was surprised that that's what my brain was expecting to see. It hasn't popped up since.

I have gotten a lot of compliments on the cut, and I am always amazed at how many women tell me they wish they could wear their hair like that. Um, you can! Go to the salon and ask for #2 all the way around, then pay them :) "My head is a funny shape." So is mine! If I run my hand over my head, there are bumps and valleys all over, but even a cut this short doesn't show them :)

Second, I had the aforementioned oncologist appointment yesterday. In the waiting room, it's not a cute or hot or chic haircut, it's a "I have cancer" haircut. Very interesting how simply walking through that door completely changed perception of the cut.

Here's to continued health and hair freedom!

Thursday, April 22, 2010

the latest happenings

Well, I haven't had much to say lately, which is a good thing!! Life has been moving on. (Don't get the impression that this happens on its own — I've been making a lot of that life happen!)

I have become a certified personal trainer and am starting my own side business in my home. I also have started up a blog about change, healthy changes, etc.

My blog, Change Is Possible, is here.

My website for Second Chance FitCenter (a work in progress, but OK for now) is here. I will be ready for appointments beginning some time in June.

Become a fan of Second Chance FitCenter on Facebook!

Check them out! If you like them, pass them along. My best friend right now is word of mouth!

Sunday, February 21, 2010

the science behind chemo brain

This article explains chemo brain biologically. Very readable. Very interesting.

Monday, January 18, 2010

another clean scan :)

I had an appointment with the oncologist today, after a chest X-ray and blood work on Thursday. X-ray was clean, blood work looked good. My next appointment is in late May.

Today is two years since I finished radiation. So much has happened in those two years... It feels like much longer ago than that, but I've been a busy chica, and being busy certainly makes time pass more quickly.

This blog has become pretty not interesting, but I guess that's a good thing :)

In the last couple of weeks, I've had three more people comment that I have hair now. This is slightly annoying, since my hair started growing in before I even finished chemo, and that was over two years ago. Not a huge deal by any means, but come on now people. I've moved on. You can, too.

At school, they're participating in the Pennies for Patients drive, which supports people with blood cancers. I'm pretty sure this had nothing to do with me, that it's coincidence. But I told the counselor, who is organizing the whole thing, that if she wanted to let kids know that I had a blood cancer, so this might help people like me, she was welcome to, and that if anyone wanted to talk about it, I'm happy to answer questions. I had quite a few kids ask me questions, which was cool (some of them have been my students for long enough that they remember when I was out). I also had a few kids come in and put change in my box, which I thought was cool. They are competing with other homerooms, so change they give to me doesn't count towards their competition, which makes it that much sweeter for them to do.

I've given up the search for an answer or a cure for chemo boobs. I am dealing with my heart rate issue when I exercise in hopes that it will come down eventually. And I still wear sunscreen, though I don't know if I need to be as vigilant about it or not. No need to press my luck.

Otherwise, lots of good stuff going on professionally and blissfully little to report on the health front. I've been using my NetiPot almost every day when I get home from work, and I'm convinced that is the primary reason that I haven't been sick yet this season. There's still plenty of time, I know, but so far, so good...