more than just another bike blog

Sunday, December 03, 2006

thyca-babble

Two years ago tomorrow I found out I had thyca. It was a Saturday afternoon and I'd just finished racing cross at Coyote Point. Someone had left me a voicemail on my cell during the race. When I checked it, I found a message from my doc. No, she didn't leave a message with the result of my biopsy, but she did leave a message that I should call her on her cell phone immediately. Docs don't give out their cell phone numbers to just anyone, so I knew she meant business. I sat in my car in the parking lot of Coyote Point while she gave me the news. I was numb. I didn't want to go home alone, and I didn't know where to go or who to talk to. So I sat on the curb overlooking the bay at Coyote Point, watching the next race and told Dylan Snodgrass what I had just found out. I'm sure he thought I was crazy.

That weekend was the series finale of the Bay Area Super Prestige Series, with back-to-back races planned at Coyote Point. I almost didn't race on Sunday. My heart was someplace else. I had no energy. I felt like the walking dead. But I didn't know what else to do. Racing was my life. All my friends are racers. I needed to do something "normal" to affirm that I was still alive. And for all I knew it might be my last race.

I went through the traditional grieving process for the next week -- denial, fear, anger, you get it. I just didn't want to address it. I didn't call my doc back to schedule surgery, I didn't do any online research, I didn't talk about it. I just ignored it, thinking maybe it was a mistake or maybe it would go away. A week and change later I finally called my doc and scheduled surgery. And then I was relieved to finally know what had been making me sick for the past several years. And then I spent the next two and a half weeks renovating my condo -- new floors, paint, crown moulding, much of which I did myself. I was a whirling dervish of activity -- work, paint, work, paint, ride a little, work, paint, no sleep. I finished painting the morning of my surgery. I still don't know if I was trying to prove to myself that I would live (and thus deserved a sexy condo to nest in) or if I thought I was going to die (and just wanted to check this off my to-do list).

Thyca was scary. I didn't know what to expect. I didn't know the prognosis. I was worried I wouldn't be able to turn my head because of nerve damage from surgery. How could I ride a bike if I couldn't turn my head? And how could I coach if I couldn't ride?

My recovery from surgery went well and I was back on the bike in sixteen days. I was out mentoring Early Birds during January and riding a lot. But then I went super-hypo-thyroid and spent all of February and most of March off the bike. In February, I learned I needed surgery for another tumor, this one in my parotid gland. I decided to wait until after Sea Otter in April to schedule that surgery (probably a mistake to wait so long).

I started feeling better in April and had an awesome two weeks of riding before going under the knife a second time in less than four months. My recovery from this surgery was complicated by a terrible infection and it took more than a month before I got back on the bike again with the exception of a one-day clinic I coached. I probably should have cancelled the clinic, but I thought if I did I was telling myself that my coaching career was over. I had already postponed two clinics that spring because I was too sick to coach. I couldn't postpone one more.

I got back on the bike for good on May 22nd, almost five months after my first surgery. Here's an excerpt from my training journal entry that day:

May 22nd, 2005: Stepped on the scale this morning for the first time in a long time -- 184.5. Fuck! I joined the club ride for the ride to Woodside. It was a struggle to make it to Woodside (only 15 miles). I should've turned around at SCT, but carried on. I'm beat!



I turned 40 on July 29th, 2005. I decided to say goodbye to a crappy decade by riding my bike around New York where I grew up and lived in my 20s and early 30s. Less than two months after getting back on the bike, I rode 1,000 miles in three weeks with 80-pounds of loaded touring bike under me. Someday I'll finish my journal about that trip. To say the least, it was cathartic.

*******************************

This morning I rode my Rivendell with Julie on the back over to Coyote Point. I've been so, so busy that Julie isn't getting as much quality time as I'd like to give her. So, we ran on the bay trail for a while, headed over to the race to register, and chatted with some friends.

Julie always gets lots of attention when she's riding on the bike (and she loves the attention almost as much as she loves riding). A young woman ran over to us and wanted to pet Julie. She explained that her parents in Pennsylvania have a cavalier and she misses him. I noticed that she had the tell-tale scar of thyca so I asked her about it. She hadn't had her entire thyroid gland removed but she was now being treated for lymphatic cancer and just finished chemo. It was an eerie coincidence that she was drawn to me at the same location that I found out I had thyca.

*******************************

Two years later and I'm back. I won't say I'm better than ever, but I'm working on it. It's been a long and bumpy road with lots of twists and turns along the way. My performance still isn't what I'd expect it to be. I still struggle with mental issues related to the drama/trauma of the past five years or so. But I get on my bike everyday thankful that I can ride and that I'm healthy. Yup, corny, but true.



This is the masters women's series podium from today's race. I've been on the series podium for the past two years. I think I like this photo a lot more. I can almost see myself again.


ps -- my new "look" is courtesy of my dear friend, the lovely and talented Teresa Callen of Image Arts. Give her a ring if you need a day of beauty!

24 Comments:

At 12/03/2006 10:23 PM, Blogger PAB said...

that's a great photo. likin the new look.

uh, why is Linda holding a pot scrubber??

-

XBun just told me some of this story right before i read it.
I guess this WAS a pretty big day for you.

Thanks for sharing it.

 
At 12/04/2006 5:50 AM, Blogger Flandria said...

Yay! you look good!

 
At 12/04/2006 7:15 AM, Blogger X Bunny said...

if i can't reach somebody on a friday with some serious test results, i don't even leave a message cuz i know they'll think the worst, i just wait until monday

--

awesome job and awesome photo

--

sorry i fell down in front of you.

 
At 12/04/2006 7:16 AM, Blogger X Bunny said...

maybe it's cuz linda 'cleaned up'?!

 
At 12/04/2006 9:18 AM, Blogger velogirl said...

Everyone fell down in front of me. I don't know what I was thinking that I'd clean that section with the big group. You fell to my left, Linda fell in front of me, and then Jeni U. almost landed right on me to my right. I thought I was being so tactical by giving myself a little space to ride it but in retrospect I just should've dismounted and run it while you were all dominoing in the duff...

What do you mean by the Linda comment?

Funny, I was right behind her at the start thinking it would be a great position and then she couldn't clip in. It just wasn't her day, but she'd been sick all week as had John.

 
At 12/04/2006 9:23 AM, Blogger marscat said...

fabu!

isn't nice looking back from a better place.

 
At 12/04/2006 10:34 AM, Blogger Courtenay said...

you look great lorri!
i remember talking to you at the race 2 years ago. that was when you so easily hopped the curb that they sandbagged yesterday (i still didn't try to ride it), and i was so impressed by your skills. still am. you're amazing!

 
At 12/04/2006 12:17 PM, Blogger X Bunny said...

i just meant she is on the top podium position and trying to dorkily connect that to pab's pot scrubber comment

i wasn't the first to go down on that hill and thought the same as you....i can get around that person over on the right even if they go down....

 
At 12/04/2006 12:38 PM, Blogger velogirl said...

XB -- doh! Sorry I didn't get your joke.

BTW, it was a cookie designed to look like the BASP logo.

Yeah, someday I'll get smart and just commit to running the sections that I know are going to bottle neck in the first lap. Hindsight is 20-20.

 
At 12/04/2006 2:03 PM, Blogger Ippoc Amic said...

thanks for your post...you look great on the podium...I like your attitude about health, illness, fitness, lack of fitness, and bike racing...

 
At 12/04/2006 3:39 PM, Blogger Miss Mary said...

its nice to now someone who is such an inspiration to women.

here's to you lori!

-mm

 
At 12/04/2006 3:47 PM, Blogger Brent Chapman said...

yah that thyroid crap can throw you through the ringer. I didn't have cancer, but I was once a skinny fit guy. Then I got really skinny and had to take some nuclear pills. Now i take synthroid and feel like sleeping in an gobbling up everything in site..

OOoOH and Xbunny, maybe I can get you to give me prescriptions for a newer t3/t4 med that my doctor is afraid to move me to.

 
At 12/04/2006 3:50 PM, Blogger funkdaddy said...

Hey there hottie...lookin' good!

Lorri, being somewhat new to the Velo-girl I knew nothing of this whole thang - so glad you shared it and gladder still that you are doing well these days.

See ya in W-ville for end of season (for me at least) fun!

Best of luck!

 
At 12/04/2006 3:52 PM, Blogger lauren said...

the hair looks fabulous! so does the bod!

 
At 12/04/2006 4:51 PM, Blogger Nome Agusta said...

I had to do a double take on the photo. That's a good thing.

FYI: I am sort of thinking this is just another bike blog.
That's a good thing too.

 
At 12/04/2006 6:25 PM, Blogger velogirl said...

Brent, did you have Graves? I have a client on the combined T3/T4 -- loves it. I take both (separately) every day. Nice thing is we can change my cytomel on a daily basis if my levels are off and the result is instant -- like a cup of coffee.

 
At 12/04/2006 6:57 PM, Blogger bbElf (a.k.a. panda) said...

Glad to have you around (and for the record, the "skinny" photo in that other post is the Lorri I know and recognize). You know you gave me some seriously fabulous encouragement and advice in my first-ever crit? I was so thrilled about being in a community with women who wanted their competitors to succeed as much as themselves that an otherwise very mediocre day ended up being the start of something I now can't live without.

I think you affect an awful lot more than you know.

 
At 12/05/2006 10:42 AM, Blogger bbElf (a.k.a. panda) said...

Land Park 2004.

 
At 12/05/2006 10:43 AM, Blogger bbElf (a.k.a. panda) said...

Meant to add: Julie was a brand-new puppy...

 
At 12/05/2006 10:59 AM, Blogger velogirl said...

Ah ha! You know Land Park was my very first crit? I remember riding around with Julie in my skinsuit (not during the race, oh course).

 
At 12/05/2006 10:59 AM, Blogger velogirl said...

Panda, were you racing for Cal then? I do remember you.

 
At 12/05/2006 12:11 PM, Blogger bbElf (a.k.a. panda) said...

I was racing for Cal then (mostly in the wind and except for the last lap which I thought was the second-to-last). My first crit ever. Loved it.

 
At 12/05/2006 12:12 PM, Blogger bbElf (a.k.a. panda) said...

And now that I think about it I do remember you saying it was your first crit, too, but you had me fooled the whole time...

 
At 12/05/2006 12:17 PM, Blogger velogirl said...

I'd been coaching the team for about a year and a half at that point so I had a good idea of what to do (and good skills). That was one of the best crit finishes I've had -- so sad. I didn't sprint but was in a good position at the end. I think I need to go back and do Land Park again, but I don't like the new course.

I remember you sitting out in the wind in the gutter on the right side of the pack and trying to get you to move into the pack. That was you, wasn't it, Elis? Small world.

 

Post a Comment

<< Home