Sunday, July 19, 2009

Conquering the terrain!

Here are a few pics of the mountain pass trail I hiked on Wednesday with cancer survivor friends. Looking back at the photos I am really amazed that I accomplished this. It is definitely a remarkable gift from God that I prayed for and thanked the entire hike and there after. Let's hope there are many more hikes like this to come! What a dream!

Location - Snow Lake in Snoqualmie Pass

9 years and going strong! - July 16th

Our 9th wedding anniversary at my favorite restaurant the "Desert Fire" in Redmond, WA The roses and lilies bouquet he surprised me with when we met at the restaurant - LOVELY combination! I LOVE flowers and was flattered!

Photo of us at the 4th of July fireworks in Kirkland,WA

Monday, July 13, 2009

Little behind as I am making the most of it! ;o)

picture of me at Bridal Veil Falls on a TSNW weekly hike to Lake Serene in the Cascade Mountains - This was my most challenging hike and a trail rated most difficult. It was lots of rocks, roots, and zillions of tiny narrow stairs. For me, it is very mentally exhausting trying to focus and keep my eyes straight with every 90 degree turn on the stairs and to keep from falling over on the narrow trail. I made it to the falls and part way up. It was taking me too long and I knew it would be even longer to make my way down. So my friend Jane and I stopped part way up the mountain to wait for the others to continue on to the lake and return. I was kind of bummed as the the scenery at the lake with snow still clinging to the surrounding peaks is incredibly amazing. Here is a link I found with pics of the lake:
Flicker photos

pic of me at Annette Lake out near Snoqualmie Pass in the Cascades - This is a long and high altitude hike I have dreamed of doing for years! With all the work I have been doing to improve my balance, it is a hike that I can finally handle - always with hiking poles. I was absolutely stoked and the scenery of the peaks at the rock slide crossings is absolutely breathtaking! This is probably one of my favorite hikes now.

Photos of Wallace Falls June 3rd - 1st TSNW hike

Most difficult hike at Lake Serene - June 10th

pic of me with other TSNW cancer survivors on one of our easier hikes on Tiger Mountain called "Dwight's Way". No. we did not meet Dwight! LOL ;-) I am the second one from the right in a blue shirt. Yeah, I very rarely wear makeup when I hike. Feels good to just go natural and let the fresh air penentrate my naked skin.

June has been a very busy month and July has proved to be the same. For now I cannot access my photos so you will just have to wait.

Since the start of June I have been really taking advantage of the summer, the improvements I have made in balance, and fulfilling dreams of activities I have wanted to pursue again.

I am definitely on the par of "disabled" when it comes to hiking and diving, but not matter how difficult and challenging, my passions still drive me and I am not ready to let the tumors keep them from me forever.

Back in the early 2000s when I first learned of the women cancer survivor organization Team Survivor North West - TSNW, I have dreamed of participating in their hiking group. However, work and then later graduate school preventing me from having the luxury of time to partake in it. Often it would pain me on nice days when the mountains were clear and I was stuck in a classroom or out on the job.

After graduate school, I had planned to start training to become a climber and backpacker. As fate would have it, when I finally had the time, the tumors had something else in store for me. The exact day of my final graduate presentation to peers and faculty, actually shortly before leaving to give the presentation, I got the news that I had a massive growth of ond of the tumors on my auditory nerve which also affects balance.

Now I did have a couple months before my treatment (May and June as we traveled out of the country in April and then down to Oregon to see family) to "live it up" so to speak, but needless to say our minds were very preoccupied with what was to come next and what treatment to choose. We even went as far as to have THAT conversation which are my last wishes - to be cremated and incorporated into an artificial reef.

So I can't say I was having a really fantastic time getting in as much hiking and diving as possible. LOL As a matter of fact, in preparation for my most likely total deafness, the free time we had together was spent taking a sign language class together so we would be able to communicate.

So anyway, found out I still qualified for radiosurger - Phew!, so I thought. I was geared up to hike and dive again after the treatment was out of the way thinking I was getting off easy and maybe would be sick for a month. WRONG!

I remember I did manage to get in about 4 hikes on a trail which was once one of the easiest for me before I lost the balance - of all the hikes I have done this season, that same trail is now one of the most challenging. For 2 or 3 of the hikes back in late 2004, I continued to vomit up the mountain as the radiosurgery left me dizzy and nauseated. Finally, by March 2005 my balance hit the bottom of the barrel and it was doable no more. My vision was spinning all over the place and I could barely maintain orientation. I did not quite yet understand the experience and therefore had not become adjusted to it yet.

More than 4 years have passed and I have worked my hiney off determined to get as much of myself back that was so suddenly robbed from me. If you want something bad enough, youi will find a way to pursue it, attain it, or achieve it. Hiking and diving are a big part of my soul and my "living years". I just had to scratch, claw, bleed, sweat, etc. to take it back.

So this is what has kept me from rattling on as usual. When I am not taking care of normal responsibilities, I am busy training to be able to maintain my health and live the physical quality of life I desire. When opportunity arises, you better believe I grab the chance.

My attitude this time is definitely quite changed. Both the time leading up to my treatment in 2004 and the summer prior to my brain surgery in 2007 were ENTIRELY agonizing! It was just awful and stressful as well as mentally and physically exhausting. I wasted so much time fretting and worrying when I could have been out enjoying life as we never know how long it is going to last!

So this year I said "enough!". I was not going to give up my summer nor let the situation rob me again! There is absolutely no production in it what so ever and it devours the precious time I have. The extent of my control is to keep healthy, strong, and prepared. After that, it is totally out of my hands. So I have decided to make the most of what I have.

To date since June, I have completed 12 altitude hikes, 3 dives out of 5 (visibility was zero on 2 dives), and then a practice dive in the neighbor pool today to try out gear for upcoming dive trip to warm water. When not occupying myself with these activities, I have been keeping up with running once or twice a week, walking the dogs, water aerobics once a week, weight training 2-3 days a week (always making sure to get the full workouts in), and finally a little snorkel practice in the pool by doing laps.

Ok, gotta go! Harley's night off and we have plans - Thai and a movie. Have a wonderful week and don't stress out so much! Make the most of whatever your situation is and take time to notice and enjoy the little things! I know I do! ;-)