Monday, February 27, 2006


Where are my "Happy Pills"?

interferon-wise, I am struggling. I have been having new and more intense symptoms. I wonder if it is toxicity from the increase in dosage or simply "toxicity" over time. Probably a combination of both.

Last week, post 1/2 Marathon, I experienced some high levels of fatigue, a killer headache and upper back pain which made sleeping difficult. Some Aleive helped resolved the back pain which slowly fade away as the week progressed along with the headache. This weekend I started feeling "full" and salad does not seem to be helping, if you catch my drift.

So this morning, the raging headache, back pain and upset stomach led me to believe that last night's shot was not well received. The scale definitely showed some "dehydration" and I have been having nausea and "vurps" all day long. Keeping up with the water doesn't seem to be helping the upset stomach but it did take an edge off the headache...

I'm no doctor but I suspect if my blood counts are still low this week that my days of 10 MIU doses are numbered. For that matter my days of Interferon might be numbered as well. The thought of lowering my dosage doesn't bother me too much. If my body can't handle this level - I have to accept that.

The thought of ending treatment all together makes me anxious. While I am ready to feel "normal" again ... I am a scared of the idea of "doing nothing" and not sure that I am ready for that moment yet.

I don't know that I would be any more ready for it in 13 weeks but at least I can "see it coming"... I am all about "following the plan" and maintaining an illusion of "control"...

Tomorrow's Weekly bloodwork should give me some clues as to what is going on...


Sunday, February 26, 2006

Dec 2005 Photo Essay - How to build a "Calvin-n-Hobbs" Snowman

(Authors Note: This is what we did on Christmas Eve Day.
All participants were over the age of 21. Who says kids have all the fun?
All photography by Jim except the one where Jim is sledding...)

STEP 1: Start Rolling ...

STEP 2: Realize How HEAVY snow is ...
STEP 3: Take a Break cause snow is heavy ...
STEP 4: Begin Fabrication ...
STEP 5: Discover alternate uses for Gatorate ...

STEP 6: Laugh histerically at how shocked your Mom
will be
when she comes home to this snowman in her yard
on Christmas Eve ...


STEP 7: Celebrate by playing in snow ...


Saturday, February 25, 2006

Visual Race Report - Myrtle Beach 1/2 Marathon

Our Hostess with the Mostest! Heather

Our Host and Hostess for the weekend! Rich & Heather

Rocky - The Snuggler

Oscar (Meyer Weiner Dog)

Hurley - The Enforcer

Marley - Looks can be decieving


The SHIRTS! Front - 13.1


The SHIRTS! Back !!

Race Morning - Ready to go! 13.1 (x 3)


GO! The front of the pack ...


United We Stand!

On the road with "I'm Knocked Up" & "I'm Broken"

Slow and Steady - Finishing the Race!

Another year, another medal! Cathy, wish you were here!!


Come Play with me!


Leave me alone kid!


Now I'm up - Let's PLAY!


Myrtle Beach Metric Century on Sunday (Jim is in red and yellow)


Strong Finish after a COLD ride (35 degrees - BRR!)


Finisher's Medal!!


A Happy Couple - Chilled!!


Couch Potato Olympics - Jim post-ride with Cat Warmers...


Oscar - a tired puppy!


Mommy & Baby GT (in Utero) on the Beach!!

Jim and I had a wonderful weekend! We are looking forward to 2007 and a "Return to the RUN"!! Love you Heather, Rich and the GT ZOO!

Knee Update

My Knee - A Healthy Knee

So the good news is that there are no tears or rips in my knee. The only thing Dr. Bruno could find wrong was a slight case of Chondromalacia AKA "Runner's Knee" which may not be responding to the ice and ibuprofin because of my weekly doses of Interferon.

So I am going to start 3 weeks of Physical Therapy to see if we can strengthen the muscles around the knee, solve some of the "Runner's Knee" and get the swelling to stop happening. After 3 weeks of PT, Dr. Bruno says "We'll see were we are at!"

In terms of activity, he asked me to wait until I saw the Physical Therapist so that she/he could determine how much activity I should be doing. In the mean time as long as I wasn't having pain I could swim or bike - NO RUNNING for now.

Thursday, February 23, 2006

Stubborn and Happy - Myrtle Beach 1/2 Marathon

The year of the Phoenix has begun!!

The weather was perfect. I had no knee swelling. We agreed that at the first sign of pain, we would stop. We wore crazy shirts that made many runners smile, laugh and comment and we had a great time together!

Oh and we finished too....

Heather Gannoe - 23 F - Myrtle Beach, SC - 3:38:52 - 16:59 pace

Holly Gannoe - 35 F - Alexandria, VA - 3:38:52 - 16:59 pace

Race Report and Pictures to follow....


(Knee status - slighly swollen but no pain - MRI results in hand and follow-up with Doc on Friday)

Wednesday, February 22, 2006

In Memory...

Life is just one damned thing after another.
- Elbert Hubbard

On Wednesday night, February 15th, Gladys Katherine Elizabeth Gannoe passed away. She was 94 and it was a blessing. Gladys other wise known by me as "Grandma G" was a strong, tough woman.

I lived with Grandma G. from the time I was 7 years old along with my parents and later my sisters. While we had a challenging relationship, I am happy to have plently of wonderful memories that I'd like to share.


• Would visit the local nursing homes every week and take her friends out for the day - She hated nursing homes...
• Had an apartment complete with a bedroom, bathroom, living room and porch on the back of the house
• Loved the Music of Englebert Humberdink
• Loved to watch "Love Boat" and Lawrence Welk
• Was the orginal "channel surfer" and used to drive me crazy by changing the channels during commercials ("BUT GRAM WE ARE GOING TO MISS THE SHOW!!")
• Always had Orange Marmelade on her toast that she soaked in bacon grease
• Ate Chocolate Chip cookies and Ice Cream in the middle of the night
• Would listen to hours of "Heidi & Friends" and "Nursery Rhymes" Albums while my little sisters danced around her living room
• Never left the house without putting on her face
• Smelled of Ben Gay, Oil of Olay and Emeraud perfume
• Let me raid her closets constantly when I was in high school and wanted cool "retro clothes"
• Had a magnificant costume jewelry collection
• Definately influenced my love of "art deco" style decorations and furniture

Things Gladys Always Said:

What's for Dinner? - "Quail on Toast"

Whenever we pulled into the driveway in her car - "Home Again, Home Again Jiggity Jig"

Rest in Peace Grandma G.

Thursday, February 16, 2006

Doctors and Teddy Bears

Would you call it a "good omen" or "sign" if you picked an Orthopedic Doctor who had the same name as your favorite Teddy Bear (BRUNO) from childhood?

Probably not but as it turns out in this case, I think I have struck a little sports medicine gold. This morning I had my appointment with Dr. John Bruno, Jr. of Orthopedic Medicine of Alexandria.

The office was full of cycling and running posters, several physical thereapist and Dr. Bruno. Dr. Bruno was fit, engaging and funny. LOVE THAT IN A DOC!

He asked my history, noted my Interferon Immunotherapy, bent my knee in many funny angles, took two quick x-rays and determined that he would prefer I get an MRI since he didn't see any obvious bone problems but suspected some damage to the tissues since my swelling keeps coming back consistantly with only a little pain.

Even when Dr. Bruno repremanded me, he was so friendly and engaging that I felt good. He mentioned that had I come to him when my knee first started hurting, He could probably have given me some rehab and ibuprophin and we could have solved it but waiting a month while still doing moderate activity might cost me a few extra weeks of healing and rehab.

We talked about this weekend and walking the Myrtle Beach 1/2 Marathon and he said "If you have a tear, your only going to make it worse but it is just some strain, another weekend of exercise isn't going to do much as long as you pay attention to the pain and stop if it starts to hurt.."

"Maybe you can walk a mile or two and be happy with that?"

Hmmm ... same thing that Coach Debi said but with a few different words.

Don't worry Folks, I heard THEM, I am listening!!

So tomorrow bright and early (630AM) I will be getting my MRI of my knee and then Jim and I will be heading south to Myrtle Beach to spend the weekend with my sister Heather, Rich and Baby-in-Utero.

Lessons Learned:
1.) See a DR as soon as your knee hurts!
2.) Listen to Coach Debi when she says "Take a break, No race!"

Well that is all there is for now. I am looking forward to the weekend in Myrtle Beach even if I am not racing. I promise lots of pictures upon my return!

Hope you all have a great weekend! Keep Living STRONG!

Tuesday, February 14, 2006


It seems that I forgot that doubling Interferon dosage meant an increase in side effects and fatigue for a few shot cycles. The last few days have seen some increase in headaches and stomach aches and some odd fatigue. I am able to work through the headaches and stomach aches by reminding myself they are "side effects and I am fine" but the fatigue really get's to me. Emotionally managing fatigue takes some serious effort.

Yesterday's workout called for a 30 minute swim. Nothing taxing, just laps. I did 20 minutes and that was the end of the workout. My form had fallen apart and there wasn't anything left. I covered 800 yards and I was happy that I got in the pool at all. How tired was I? I called Jim and asked him to pick me up at the metro station because I was too exhausted to walk the 5 blocks back to the house.

My sleep these past few days has been restless but the good news is that eventually my brain will just shut everything down and I will sleep long and hard!! Our bodies are so smart like that!


My RIGHT Knee: I have an appointment to see an Orthapedist (Dr. #7) on Thursday morning. I'm hoping he can give me an official diagnosis and get me started on some RECOVERY.

Coach Debi was gentle but no-nonsense in her email on Monday when she strongly recommended that I NOT do the Myrtle Beach 1/2 Marathon this weekend until I get my knee problems resolved.

SMART COACH: "It is not worth doing any long term damage to the joint."


Don't worry - reason won out over ego - I'd hate it more if I was down and out for even longer because I was stubborn and really did some long term damage.

So I called my sister Heather and told her that we are still coming down for the long weekend BUT I will not be able to run the race. She completely understood - My sister is cool like that. (They both are!) We talked about walking some of the event if the Doc doesn't think it will cause any more damage but that will have to be a case of "wait and see".

So that is all the news that is fit to BLOG in my neck of the woods. EASY spin on the workout calendar tonight.



Monday, February 13, 2006


Today it has been a year since I first got that phone call saying "You have Melanoma."

I'm still here. I am one of the lucky ones and I am so very thankful for that.

Today, tomorrow and every day after that, I am a survivor.

There is a fellow triathlete named Ken who was just recently diagnosed with Hodgkins Lymphoma. His fight has just begun and he is planning to fight hard - training for a 1/2 Ironman in May, despite his diagnosis. Why don't you stop in and let him know your out here in cyber space, sending him good vibes.


Sunday, February 12, 2006

SNOW Interruption

This is the current view out my front door :

As you can see, we got a little snow last night ...

The plan for today was a Swim Clinic with Nancy but the community college pool where it was being held in Columbia, MD closed for today. Therefore our Clinic has been canceled/postponed. I hope it turns out to the latter (POSTPONED) because I was really looking forward to the clinic in a "my swimming needs help" kind of way.

Yesterday's 75 minute run/walk didn't happen. My knee swelling is back with a vengeance along with some creepy "snap, crackle and pops". Did somebody put some Rice Krispies in my knee? Perhaps if I stick my knee in a pile of snow today, the swelling will go down? It is worth a try!

So I will spend my day as a leisure "snow bunny" - Since Jim is at work today (poor guy!), I am on my own and my only plans are:

1) Ice my knee
2)Work on my taxes
3) Shovel the driveway
4) Get outdoors and find some beautiful "snow" shots with the new camera.
5) Oggle the Olympic Speed Skaters (Man are some of these men HOT!)

I guess you could say that the snow shoveling will be my upper body strength training for today. It's certainly better than nothing at all.

wherever you are, I hope you are safe and warm and enjoying your weekend! Live STRONG!

Friday, February 10, 2006

Pump It Up...

My visit with Dr. Butler was a good one! I am heading back up in to the land of 10 MIU of Interferon, 3x a week from 5MIU. I am considering it an "Interferon Bootcamp, Part II" of sorts. While it is likely that my symptoms will be a little stronger - I'm emotionally pumped up to finish my treatment on a high note.


Jim wondered if perhaps I was feeling some "guilt" for not suffering during treatment as much as other people I have met in my situation. I thought that was a pretty good observation and one that I had silently considered myself. I don't think it is guilt that is motivating me as much as a strong desire to do whatever I can to continue to live "melanoma-free".

At this point, as far as we can tell (we being me and my Drs) .. all evidence of Melanoma was removed from my body and I have "no evidence of disease". Dr. Butler did mention again yesterday, that Melanoma is completely unpredictable and it could come back tomorrow, 30 years from now or never. I told him I was shooting for "Never" and he said, "So am I, Holly."

I went to SPIN class last night and did about 40 minutes before my knee began to gently speak to me. I heard her gentle cries and immediately got off the bike and went in to gentle stretching mode. Healing .. Slowly but healing.

Providing we don't get completely SNOWED IN, I am heading to Columbia, MD on Sunday with Nancy to take a Swim Clinic. I can't beleive I am going to let someobdy watch me flounder through the pool and ask them to tell me how bad I am doing!! I guess that is how desperate I am to get better!


Thursday, February 09, 2006

Girlfriends RULE!!

Last night not only did I get to spend a great time at dinner with my friend Liz and her new baby Joseph but I also talked two other wonderful friends that I have known at least 1/2 my life on the phone.

There is very little in this world that is more comforting than talking to the people who know you best and love you just the way you are ... It is very renewing. Just like being with family.

Just catching up with my friends made the week a little lighter!

I have my monthly Oncology visit with Dr. Butler today. I'm not expecting much except a port flush (sound kinky doesn't it? - Sadly it is not) and the usual "I'm looking for sick people - You don't look sick... How is it going Marathon Woman?"

As usual, I have my small list for Dr. Butler. He doesn't mind lists!! Top on the list is recommendations for a new dermatologist who does Mole Mapping and/or specializes in Melanoma.

Later I will be heading to SPIN class - Did I mention that my knee was *NOT* swollen this morning when I woke up? WOOHOO!!Even so, I will be taking it EASY in class. No climbing or jumping - Just SPINNING.

Hope everybody has a great day! Live STRONG!

Wednesday, February 08, 2006


I hate going to SPIN class and then "doing my own thing" while the instructor and everybody else around me is sweetly suffering but it beats not going to SPIN class at all. I always enjoy the tunes and seeing everybody put in their maximum effort. I'm happy to be able to work out at all.

I'll feel no guilt for babying my knee because there is no other way to recover than to "recover". Now my knee and I are compromising with *No pain but still swelling after activity* and I am going to the Doctor so that I will have an official diagnosis. I am guessing that he will say "bursitis" and "Stop Exercising" but I am no Doctor so we'll have to wait and see.

Tonight I am going to spend some time catching up with some wonderful friends on the phone. Unfortunately I missed some great messages - Thanks Alot SPRINT! - Looks like it is time for a new cell phone!

Wednesday is almost over - Mid Week and Living STRONG!

Monday, February 06, 2006

Crankiness Subsides - Productivity Ensues

Nothing like a few workouts and a VERY PRODUCTIVE weekend to help you get through some significant crankiness.

Thursday night I ended up wandering the localBorders bookstore to alleviate my crankiness instead of going to the gym. My knee was still a little too swollen for my liking. The bookstore was wonderful - I could wander bookstores for hours and buy nothing and still come away content and relaxed.

I guess I am "odd" like that!

Friday the weather here was STUNNING! Mid 60s and not a cloud in sight. I made it a point to go to the gym and did 30 minutes on the CrossTrainer with the hopes that my knee would warm up and allow me to enjoy the weather later in the weekend. It felt good to sweat!!

Saturday was a rainy day so Jim and I put all our focus on the house and we got SO MUCH DONE! There are fewer boxes in the basement, I have a place to put my photo albums & we have a guest bedroom again! These are HUGE accomplishments and bring us closer to "adopting kittens".

We have a deal that we will adopt "2 kittens/cats" once the house is more settled. At this point, we are looking at Spring adoptions. I know you are not suppose to name animals before you have them ... but we are leaning towards "Wallace & Grommit". (But I don't think our cats will like Cheese as much as the original Wallace & Grommit do....)

Sunday the weather cooled considerably but it was still in the mid 40s. Warm enough for a short run to test out the knee. I took it VERY EASY and did 1:1 Run/Walk intervals at a VERY SLOW (15 minute miles) pace. My knee didn't cause any pain at all ... but there is still some swelling happening. I guess that means there is a little more healing for my knee to do.

All in all it was a wonderful weekend and a good way to wrap up a "not-so-wonderful" week.

Onward! Hope you all have a great MONDAY!

Thursday, February 02, 2006

Cranky Chick

I have to confess today I am sleepy and cranky. I think some of it is "post procedure" and most of it is "sick of interferon and thinking about melanoma" related.

I went to see my dermatologist yesterday for my regular 3-month appointment. I brought a list of things to ask about and I don't think she liked that much. When I asked about "Mole Mapping", her enthusiasm for telling me that she doesn't do that and that maybe I need to find another Dermatologist, was downright creepy! She recommended her mentor at the Washington Hospital Center and when I asked her if I would be able to get the Mole Mapping done and still retain her as my primary DERM Dr. her response was: "probably not"

Honestly you guys, I felt "unwanted" ...

Then we went through my full body check and down my list. In some cases, the things I was concerned about were benign and in other cases, I couldn't give her enough information so I am supposed to pay attention and get back to her.

I had her remove two moles. One from my lower back - It always gets in the way of my sports shorts and one that has recently appeared not far from my excision scar. My derm said it looked normal to her and was simply red from my bra. I argued that my bra doesn't come across that part of my body (it doesn't!) and my original mole started the same way. She agreed to take it off "since it would be a hassle with your bra anyways..."

So two moles means two biopsies but I don't expect any bad news...My gut tells me they will be negative.

On the other hand, I left this DERM appointment with a bad feeling about my Dr. This was the first time since I have started going to her that I made lists and her bedside manner wasn't as good as I hoped. I wonder why I didn't notice that before? Maybe it was because at other visits, i was a quiet, nice lady who didn't question anything.

I guess Cryosurgery brings out the "MS. CRANKY_PANTS" in me!!

I was recommended to this DERM by my Primary Doc after I complained about the complete "lack of follow-up" by the original DR who took off my first mole. His idea of follow-up was to send me to a surgeon, hand me a few photocopy articles on Melanoma and Interferon and send me on my way without looking at any other part of my body. As far as I am concerned, I found my Melanoma and got it diagnosed. All he did was initially remove it.

Oh man .. I am ranting... See I said I was kinda cranky today...Perhaps it is time to channel some of this crankyness into a long walk or an easy spin ....

Cranky & Living - STRONG!

Wednesday, February 01, 2006


I am going to be an AUNT!!! Heheheh.... "Crazy Aunt Holly ... who runs with Mommy, who bought me my first bike, who brings me back cool gifts from Italy and France..." My middle sister Heather is expecting and the due date is September 27th!! Looks like it is a good thing that I will be in southern VA for my 1/2 Ironman on the 24th so I can simply head south to Myrtle Beach post-race and visit a new "neice or nephew"!!!

Now you may remember that Heather and I are planning to run/walk the Myrtle Beach 1/2 Marathon in three weeks. Well it is still on the calander. Her OB Doc said, "Go Ahead, have fun - just keep it easy and fun!" So we are going to do the race!

I wonder if they will give Heather two medals - since technically it will be my "niece/nephew's" first 1/2 Marathon!! Start them early! In-Utero Athletes!!

Well I got through the Cryosurgery on Monday afternoon. But ladies, when the Doctor tells you that "It is no that bad, you will simply have a little cramping", I recommend you have them give you a scale of pain from 1-10. Because I considered a little bit of cramping to be a "Level 2" and what I experienced during and for about 14 hours "post-procedure" was most definately on the Level of an 8 or 9!!

For reference, this was cramping while on 800 mg of Motrin *before the procedure*.

So I spent the remainder of Monday with a heating pad on my lower belly, curled in the fetal position because that is what worked. Around 9PM I took *2* Darvocette left from surgery last May and enjoyed the "drug-enduced" sleep (with no dreams!!) I woke up still feeling drugged, and took the day off. By Noon, the cramping was over and I am fine now.

Good thing that Cryosurgery is 85-90% effective at solving "mild cervical displasia" because I will not be doing that procedure again, EVER!!

My knee is still having problems with swelling so I am making an appointment with my GP to have him take a look at it. I took Thursday and Friday OFF and did a short, easy walk of 3 miles on Saturday. Sunday it seemed the swelling had reduced significantly but as of Monday it was back along with some "clicking and popping" sounds when I move it. I will be in the pool alot this week!

LIfe is never dull! Keep Living STRONG!