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  1. #1
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    Thought I'd journal

    So I posted this in Female Bodybuilding:

    "So I have been lifting light weights (10lbs, sometimes doubled up) for a long time. It was mainly to keep my shoulders and back strong following my first upper back pain (at 17 y/o), which was so intense I had to lay on the floor to get relief before being able to talk acetaminophen. I was, at that point, a 34F bra size. I was around 112lb then.

    I knew I would one day get breast reduction but I wanted to wait till after having kids. Goal was to breastfeed then do the surgery.

    FF many years later and I finally go to get a consultation and it turns out I have breast cancer. No lump yet, it was minuscule, low grade, low stage. In the interim, I had been lifting still and had lost a bunch of post baby weight. I was in the best shape of my life. Or so I thought. I was thinking of getting into bodybuilding but hadn't researched the ins and outs of this sport yet.

    Upon research, and some terrible advice from a BC survivor (I have no family history and I also got genetic testing but I was scared), I opted for bilateral mastectomy with reconstruction. Chose one of the the top 5 reconstructive surgeons in our city. 7 surgeries (50+ hrs) later and I ended that relationship because I couldn't do it anymore.

    Okay so my point is this: I want to get to the goal that I set myself 5 years ago. I want to step onto a BB stage and be a role model for my daughter, other women who have, and continue to, battled this insidious disease. And I want to do it for me.

    I am in good shape. I've been doing a program I set myself, for the past 3 months. This has increased my weight load and intensity substantially. I bought bars, plates, kettlebells, bands with up to 100lbs of resistance. I use my Bowflex and a pullup frame where I can also do a few dips.

    I want to try OCB. I have increased my caloric intake (I haven't been a big eater in a long time) and try to balance macros. I do upper/lower days followed by a rest day. On workout days, I do several hours.

    My limitations: I had extensive pectoral muscle damage, due to all the surgeries. I struggle to do pullups (assisted). Pushups, which I had no issues with prior to my first surgery, I still do but I struggle with them. It's an odd sensation due to having had the entire pockets rebuilt so many times (bearing in mind I had huge breasts before, it wasn't a simple removal of breast tissue surgery).

    So I have set this goal and I tend to believe I will attain it. Stepping up there, in a competition setting, is all. I don't need to win. Being there will be a win for me.

    Any advice?"


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    So, I have been lifting heavier for 4 months. I use metal dumbbells (@15lbs and @27lb) with which I use Gripz. I also use neoprene dumbbells. I've been using 20lb neoprenes for some of my curls and rows and the grip is huge for the size of my hands.

    I think the forearm pain I'm getting is due to the huge size of the grip on the 20 lb neoprene dumbbells. It also means my hands are hurting from trying to hold onto them.

    I'm considering getting wrost straps with hooks. I have no issue with holding onto the two barbells I have or with the handles on the up to 100lb bands. It seems the damage is being done by the huge girth of the 20lb neoprene dumbbells.

    Spent last night attached to a TENS (on forearms) and using a roller too. I take turmeric w/bioperine. Can't take lain meds.
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  2. #2
    Red NerdyLady's Avatar
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    My hands have callouses and I'm not a huge fan of them so I file them down only to have them tears up the next time I do upper body. It is a silly annoyance being that I CHOOSE to workout the way I do.

    What does actually bug me more is my hands hurt as do my forearms. I have average sized hands but, let's be honest here, heavier dumbbells (neoprene ones) are made for male (bigger) hands and, since I use Gripz on my metal dumbbells, it's hard to hold the heavier weighted ones.

    Thinking of maybe getting straps. Not sure about the ease of use but I guess I will find out.

    I don't use Gripz on either barbell mainly because the bulk of my upper body workouts are done with dumbbells or with bands.
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  3. #3
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    I ache. I have been aching for months. Wondering whether I should get over myself and let a masseuse see my Frankensteinesque body (not sure how it would work with all the stuff I had done and laying on a massage table since I've never had a massage) or whether I should just buy one of those drill like machines and go to town on my arms, back and shoulders.

    Biggest fears, when in remission, is new pain and metastasis. But I'm not in pain, I just ache. All the time.

    I do take a rest day, every 3rd day now, and have been for the past three months. Maybe I'm pushing too hard with my obvious limitations but I so desperately want to be able to reach my goal.
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  4. #4
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    It's that time again

    Usually, this time of year I start to get a little anxious. I think the past four years have taught me a lot about myself. I already knew I was emotionally strong, after my father was killed and my mother turned into a psycho bitch. But the journey that started for me, in November 2015, changed my perspective on life.

    Everybody knows that life is a one shot deal. You know it yet you push it aside and try not to really dwell on it. You assume you'll be there for all of your kids' milestones. You take it for granted that you will see them graduate, find a partner, have a first crush, first heartbreak. You assume you'll witness their joys and their disasters, watch them drive a car, become whatever they will become.

    I thought that my time was unlimited, realistically knowing it really wasn't.

    After decades of upper back pain I decided I was done having kids and breastfeeding and needed to find the solution I'd had my eye on for 20 years. I went in for a breast reduction consultantation. I wore 36E/F bras (36H when I was pregnant). I am 5 feet tall and 103 lbs. It's not a good look and it hurts. I've lifted light weights since I was 17 or 18.

    Long story short: I had to get a mammogram. Hadn't had one in 4 years. They found cancer. Small amount. No lump even. It was calcification and it was ductal and invasive. Low grade. Excellent news if you're going to have breast cancer. Low grade, low stage (1). Estrogen and progesterone positive (ugh) but HER2- (good if you're hormone positive).

    Two choices. Opted for surgery with less chance of radiation and chemo (which they would discover at the time of the first surgery when they did the lymph node/s biopsy). After that 8 hour surgery, all I wanted to know was 'was it in my nodes'? They wouldn't tell me in the recovery room. So I was terrified. They wheeled me into my room and my husband and kids were there. "The nodes?" The nodes were clean. The relief washed over me like the first calm I had experienced since I was coldly told I had breast cancer (that doctor had absolutely no bedside manner) two and a half months earlier.

    7 surgeries and almost 4 years later I'm fast approaching the 4 year anniversary of my cancer diagnosis date.

    After cancer, you are closely monitored. You have tests every 3 months. You then graduate to every 6 months. After my last visit, I was told I've graduated to yearly. I see both an oncologist (I did not require chemo or radiation because I opted for bilateral mastectomy and my nodes were clear. Radiation has it's own risks so I was happy to avoid it) and a breast cancer doctor. After each round of tests/scans, you go through a few days of scanxiety until you get your latest all clear.

    It's a huge mind f**k. The first 8 months, post diagnosis and during the time of the first three surgeries, was mentally brutal. The first two years were physically brutal. Cancer is a magnificent indicator of who your friends/family are. A huge indication of what your life means to others.

    My daughter slept in the master bedroom with us. Her father worked through most of this so she would set her alarm for my meds, after each surgery. She would wash my long hair, she braided it right before each surgery. It became our thing and the hospital staff recognized us by that (and my hair was super long. And red). My beautiful daughter put on a swimsuit and showered me. She is my hero. She also attended my appointments.

    Every year we release a pink BC balloon. The second year there were two. Last year there were three. This all happened the week before Thanksgiving 2015. We didn't know what stage I was or what grade. Frankly, we knew nothing about cancer back then. So that Thanksgiving was awful. I didn't know whether it would be my last. Same at Christmas. I didn't have my HER2 results nor the MRI results.

    Four years. The five year mark is when they let you go. The funny thing is, though, that every time you have any pain, in your back or your bones, your mind wanders to that big ****ting C word. But it's not just you, it's your doctors. You mention your collar bone still hurts, your ribs have hurt for years. Let's rule out metastasis. UGH! So far, I'm knocking on wood that I'm one of the 65% who gets lucky.

    So, for now, I can hope to be there to see my third child graduate, my daughter has finally met a young man she likes enough to date and my kids are healthy. My cancer was NOT genetic.

    But, as my tag line says, I am one of the 1 in 8 women who will get breast cancer in her lifetime. Lucky me, eh. Lucky me.

    On topic: working out was the one thing that made me feel like the real me. But I have had to adjust to the fact that I will never be the me I was before. But my goal is set to walk on a stage and show that there is hope after cancer and mutilating surgeries. The fact that I'm also a longterm weight loss success story is icing in the cake.
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  5. #5
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    I finally found something to help with the forearm pain. It's nowhere near 100% reliefe but it doesn't hurt to kove my arms.

    I have a TENS machine that I've had for several years. Generally I use it on my upper back and shoulders. My husband has one (he's had meniscus repair on both knees and is still able to play competitive tennis and also runs) and I recently bought one for my daughter for her PMS cramps because she was always borrowing mine.

    I was using it in my forearms and, frankly, the setting I usually use just tightens and releases the muscle. That wasn't really helping. Since it has several settings, I decided to check them out. Found one that is constant pulses. The relief is a 50% pain reduction. I'm actually excited to get to upper body day later today. This is also a big improvement on buying a handheld percussion machine because that still requires having someone else use it on me. This way I can just use it for 30 mins when I get ready to go to sleep.

    Now I think I need to buy straps because my hands aren't really big enough to hold the largest neoprene dumbbells I use for some of my sets. I have a feeling that's part of the reason for the forearm pain anyway.
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  6. #6
    Red NerdyLady's Avatar
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    Four years ago today I was told I had breast cancer. I'm still here. F*ck you, cancer.

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  7. #7
    I post too much. SuperChieftain's Avatar
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    SuperChieftain is offline
    Originally Posted by NerdyLady View Post
    Four years ago today I was told I had breast cancer. I'm still here. F*ck you, cancer.

    Glad you beat it, I know people who have lost loved ones due to it.
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  8. #8
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    Originally Posted by SuperChieftain View Post
    Glad you beat it, I know people who have lost loved ones due to it.
    So do I and I've watched that endgame go down. It's not something I look forward to experiencing myself. So I work hard at keeping unfat and building my muscle mass. Thank you.
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