Return on investment

For those who have been following my ramblings over the past few months you know that once I returned to Providence I was committed to getting back to my regular old self as much as possible. At that time I had lost a significant amount of weight. My forced sedentary lifestyle also significantly reduced my muscle mass. To help myself along despite the fatigue (and a ton of vomiting) I forced myself back into the gym. I teamed up with Matt Weese, a master trainer at Boston Sports Clubs on the east side. He is a legitimate miracle worker. I know I have said this before but I am honestly in better shape now than I was BEFORE cancer.

Proof:

April 18, 2013: Still in chemotherapy

5 push-ups on my knees (Jac: please forgive me for referring to these as “girl push-ups”. Totally kidding)

July 2, 2013: Aftercare

30 standard push-ups

My intention here is not to show off (even though I feel totally badass since I could not even come close to doing this before). I’m about to get REAL cheesy but for me each pushup for me symbolizes progress despite adversity. My body started to fail so I built it back up little by little. The payoff has been incredible.

I am fortunate to have found a trainer that has taught me so much and empowered me to exceed what I thought were my limitations. Forever grateful.

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Do you suffer from male pattern baldness…

Hello wonderful readers/supporters/people who were trying to google “male pattern baldness” and accidentally found my blog…

It has been over a week since I have last written because my life has been in a bit of a whirlwind. As you know from my last post, my grandmother passed away. Last week was a difficult week for my family and myself but the funeral was small and beautiful. I wish we could have gotten together under more uplifting circumstances but I am still glad that I had an excuse to be together with my entire family. As always, my superhero big brother dropped everything and flew into RI so that we could drive together to CT. Thank goodness he did because as they say- when it rains, it pours. After picking him up at the airport and getting home at 1:30am the night before the funeral my body decided to say “Oh you’re tired and in mourning? Screw you Jess, here is every side effect of chemo about to hit you riiiiiight NOW.” I was literally awake from 1:30 am to 5am violently ill. I then slept from 5-5:45 am and at 6am we hit the road for CT. Adam, being the best big brother that ever existed, gassed up my car, bought me vitamin water and a granola bar, and drove us both to CT after flying all day the day before. (SIDE NOTE TO ADAM SULTAIRE: Feedback on my blog has shown me that you’re popular in the polls with women. They are loving you to the point of fan club status. If this blog gets popular enough we might be able to score a VH1 style reality dating show)

Anyway- I survived a long and emotional day, as did my wonderful family. We are one less in the physical world but stronger than ever.

Since the funeral I bounced right back into work and chemo. Here I am “happy as a clam” during one of many infusions. I look pretty alert- the benedryl must have not hit me yet:

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Aside from some serious fatigue, the last treatment was fairly tolerable and nothing in comparison to the infusion the week before. I was actually feeling well enough to head down to Bristol, RI to attend a benefit for my dear friends the Cavallaro’s. Jen has been one of my biggest supports as she had cancer not too long ago. I am constantly in awe of her spirit and strength. She is a perfect example of someone that just takes what life dishes out and keeps on trucking. During the last blizzard her house burnt down- completely devastating for her family. Instantly her community came together and rallied behind the Cavallaro’s. A beautiful benefit was put together at Linden Place this past Sunday by three rockstars: Eli, Danna and Pam (with the help and donations of countless others!). The feeling of love and community in that room was undeniable. As always it is heartwarming to see people coming together through hard times:

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Jen, Chip, and their family have been like family for so many people including myself. They deserve every bit of love and support that they have received in this difficult time. Per usual Jen has a great attitude and is taking this as an opportunity for growth and renewal. We should all take a page out of her book when it comes to having a the right attitude in the face of adversity. Jen, Chip, Davina, Hartley and Pippa…I think of you everyday.

I haven’t talked about my leg in while. I suppose that means that no news is good news. It has come quite a long way in 3 1/2 months and I have almost reached full motor function…ALMOST. I can do everything except for walk up and down stairs. I am somewhat able to pull my body weight up with my bad leg but it requires a bannister and a prayer. I should be able to walk up and down stairs regularly sooner rather than later. Hopefully I will be running 5k’s again in no time…which brings me to my next point- the gym!

Last night I met with my new trainer Matt at Boston Sports Clubs. I am getting really excited about working with him and regaining my strength back. What I really loved about our consultation was that he has taken every piece of my recent  medical history into consideration and will not put me on the gym floor until he has spoken with my doctors, previous PT’s and OT’s and has a chemo schedule/other pertinent information in his hands. He gave me a list of questions to bring to my doctor when I see her on Monday, including: “how should Jessica cover her ports/most recent incisions to prevent a Staph infection?” I prefer someone that is cautious over a trainer that just jumps into our partnership head first without getting all of the facts. I think Matt will be a great addition to “Team Sultaire”.

Prior to meeting with Matt, getting ready to go to the gym and physically walking in the door was a pretty anxiety provoking experience. In fact, I almost popped an Ativan before I went because my heart was racing and my hands were shaking. Was it because I haven’t worked out in a while? No. Was it because gyms intimidate me? Nope. Why you ask? My bald little head. You would think by now I would be over the hair issue. Actually, up until yesterday I thought I was at peace with it. Evidently I am not fully over it.

I got dressed for the gym and found a workout top that covered my ports and scars well (phew). I wrapped my head in a scarf and just stared in the mirror. After months of hiding under my wig, I was in a situation where it was impractical to wear it and I had to leave the house without hair. I go bald constantly around my house and even to friends houses. In fact, my close friends John and Brian shaved my head recently and I didn’t have an ounce of stress over it. There is something about going into public in a head scarf that took me back to that moment where I feared the stigmatization of “cancer patient”. When I walked into the gym I had one of those movie-esque fantasy moments where everyone in the gym looks up and glares at me like I’m dead girl walking. My reality is that no one in that gym probably gave the fact that I was wearing a head scarf a second thought. Even though I can seperate my projections from reality, it didn’t make it any easier to do that for the first time in an arena where there are 1.) strangers who may make assumptions about me and 2.) strangers that I will see time and time again.

I better get used to it because I’m signing up for personal training twice a week. After grappling with how stupid this anxiety was overnight I decided that (in true Jessica Sultaire fashion) I can move beyond the anxiety if I can take control of it. So here it goes world: my bald fuzzy head-

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I know that no one is REALLY looking at me and thinking that I look like dead girl walking  (I prefer to think that I’m  just living dangerously- sounds more badass). But anyway if I can expose my George Castanza head in a VERY public forum (granted a forum where I can’t see the people looking at me), I think I’ll be able to wear a scarf to the gym somewhat comfortably.

On a final note-

I had a great day at work. Met with several really amazing students. I’ll leave you with what one of my sophomores said to me today. It was heartwarming and reminded me why I love the work I do: “I know that you leaving to take care of your medical problems is wayyy more important than helping me map out my classes but I just want you to know that I’m really glad you’re back.”

🙂 Ever grateful.