The ‘C’ Word

I guess I’m good at distractions! As you know there are a whole bunch of reasons I’m training for the Ottawa Marathon May 29th as explained in Unfinished Business. Well, I haven’t really explained quite ALL of my reasons just yet. Let me explain.

The day I returned to Canada after climbing Mt Baker in Washington State, I not only found out I should not run distance again due to a series of injuries, but, I also found out I had 2 forms of skin cancer. I had a basal cell tumor on my temple and squamous cell tumors on my chest. Both forms would require different treatments over many months. Okay, hmmm, so that’s not exactly the best day ever. That day kind of sucked actually and I could find myself going down a road of thoughts that weren’t really in my character. I truly believe to my core that we are what we think and what we think makes us who we are. Controlling our thoughts and therefore our reactions is key to our happiness. We all have a choice how we react and that is managed by our thoughts. Anyway, without going all philosophical on you, my thoughts weren’t pretty for a few minutes.

IMAG4590While still in the doctors office, I began pondering what I had on my plate over the next few months and realized I had not planned a thing beyond the mountain climb. That just would not do! I had to get right back on the horse and come up with a plan; a distraction plan. I decided to sign up for the Scotia Half Marathon and add a twist; I would raise money for Alzheimers and wear a costume to help with awareness for the cause. This would help keep my mind and body healthy in many ways with the alternate hope of potentially finding a way to prove the medical practicioners in my life ‘inaccurate’ cause nothing is impossible right? My focus was now raising money for others and sticking with a training plan. On October 18th, I ran the Toronto Scotia Half Marathon and had one of my best race experiences ever raising $2160 and awareness for Alzheimers. Training endorphins are good for the soul – so is helping others!

During training for Scotia, I was already coming up with a plan to train for the Ottawa Marathon in May. I signed up for special injury prevention strength training sessions with our local Omega Health and Fitness and came up with a race training plan by committing to a brand new program in the Beaches; Adaptive Running Academy.

As part of my journey over the last 5 years, I’ve become increasingly more active on social media via Twitter, InstagramFacebook and began this blog last July. Attention garnered from these vehicles has resulted in me becoming an Ambassador for Viva Magazine, Canada’s #1 women’s natural health magazine. In January they requested input from their Ambassadors for a special issue they were doing on cancer and I couldn’t help but think – everything really does happen for a reason. Not having shared my cancer diagnosis yet, I hadn’t quite kept up with my approach of being an ‘Open Book’, this was my opportunity to come clean while, hopefully, continuing to help others. Here it is! This article recently went live in Viva Magazine – Here’s the link > “Balancing Life Cancer Free”.

Let me back track a bit now that I’ve finally come clean. In January, along with beginning my official marathon training, I began a chemo cream therapy on my chest for the squamous cancer cells. The idea is the cream only affects cancer cells and as you continue the treatment it irritates and burns the cancer cells away. It’s annoying at best, moderately painful at worst and disturbingly ugly. I was thankful for winter and turtle necks! The result was the appearance of more cancer cells than anticipated and another approach will be considered once healed in April.

2016 Skin Cancer

In February, I was blessed to get into a special treatment called MOHS at Women’s College hospital. This process allows a layer of tumour at a time to be removed and examined while not having you discharged and waiting weeks or months for results. You wait in a room with other patients undergoing the procedure and go back into the surgery room until the final layer shows no cancer cells under the microscope. In a day, you are cured! I left this treatment with 5 stitches in my temple and completely free of basal cell cancer. Certainly saves many trips back to the hospital. The reality is there is a 50% chance it will return in another area within the next 5 years so monitoring is critical but having one cancer gone was very freeing and joyful.

2016 Feb Hospital 2016 Feb Skin Cancer MOHS

This is a happy story! I feel completely amazing, strong, healthy and positive. My training is going well and I’ve just come off completing 4 Half Marathons over the last 4 weeks; 2 of them in races and 2 as training runs. As my marathon goal approaches in 11 weeks I am doing my best to set aside any negative thoughts of a potential injury and just focusing and adjusting week to week while keeping my nutrition in order.

2016 Training Run3 2016 March Chilly Half 2016 Feb Run to Beer 2016 Feb Peterborough Half 2016 Jan Training Run 2016 Run Home 2016 Training Run2 2015 Fall Run

It’s quite ironic to me that in January I was approached about a new career opportunity with Canada’s biggest and best Bank. After meeting about the role and finding out I would be responsible for coming up with a strategy to source amazing successful, professional women for leadership roles, how could I say “No”?! I accepted the role and started 3 weeks ago. My positive ball of life changes just keeps rolling forward.

So, looks like my distraction plans have worked wonders! I am excited to accelerate my training over the next 2 months and get to that start line injury free and, God willing, cancer free. Watch out for me May 29th Ottawa! I am sure to smile my way through the whole darn race … I hope 🙂


12 thoughts on “The ‘C’ Word

  1. Lauren Carlisle

    Hey Karen,

    Read you blog and learned of your recent triumph with Cancer. Good for you! So happy to hear of your continued positive outlook.

    Hope to catch up soon, hugs, Lauren

    Sent from my iPad



  2. Pam Kozak

    Love your attitude and fortitude, Karen! Happy to hear you’re feeling great and you’re tackling the ‘c’ work head on. I had a basal cell tumor removed from my temple/forehead in 2005 and other than using sunscreen religiously and not sunbathing like I did back in the day as a lifeguard, my skin seems to be staying healthy. Love following your blog and Facebook posts. You are a real inspiration.


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