Milestones

Thirty five years ago this July was the last time I lined up for nationals and it was the 1985 edition in Hamilton. The 85 road course was brutal and with the first climb up Sydenham Hill, now know as Clara’s Climb, there were only ten of us left out of 60+ riders. I was the only Albertan to make the selection and it was probably one of the hardest races I competed in. BC and Quebec riders constantly attacked and I had to close most of the breaks down and after six laps I went solo and was eventually reeled in. I finished seventh. In two weeks I plan on taking the start line at the 2019 Canadian National Masters Championships in Victoria. Going to nationals is a milestone and symbolic for surviving cancer but I’m not expecting the same level of form I had as a junior.

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My race number from Hamilton Road Nationals 

Several years ago I planned to race the 2018 edition but I got derailed with cancer and had a different battle to contend with. When I was informed of my diagnosis I had three thoughts racing through my mind… losing my family, dying and a premature end to cycling! When the prognosis changed to the positive, one of the first thoughts that came to mind was will I race again and when can I start training! Three months, six months… a year? I wasn’t sure if I would  or if I had it in me to start over but I’ve been chipping away at training and managing about 8-10 hours a week since January and my legs are coming back. I’m not quite there in terms of race fitness and two weeks ago I got spat out the back in both races I started but I did my best with what I had in the tank. Being at the back of the pack isn’t something I’m use to but I clearly remember my first race back ten years ago and I was dead fucking last and I loved it because it meant every race will only get better. I’m glad I have it in my memory to know what it’s like to be coming from behind and the be honest just being on a bike and in a race is a victory. I have no illusions.

I know that I’m not where I need to be to race competitively but it will come with time and training. Travelling to Victoria is a bit premature in terms of training and race fitness, that and my body is still repairing itself from chemo but for me it’s symbolic and it’s a story with a happy ending.

Cancer destroys lives and I’m not unique in any way. One in two people will be given a cancer diagnosis in their life, based on recent statistics, but that doesn’t mean your life is over. Getting through cancer is a challenge, a fight and a journey and if you get past it there is an opportunity to show others that you can move on and go back to the things you love to do and be with those that you love.

If you are in Victoria come see me race! June 6-9. I’ll be the guy at the back of the pack or maybe taking a flier in the criterium which would be a classic Kendal move.

Keep on moving and thanks for checking in!
James

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Reset

I haven’t posted in over a year and at about this time in 2018 I was beginning my last chemo-therapy treatment. The past twelve months have had highs and lows and if I could sum it up in one word that word would be “reset.” Reset on all fronts along with a rebuild of the body, mind and spirit. People around me said cancer will change you but post cancer I longed to just get back to a normal and balanced life.

The treatment journey was quite a process and an exercise in patience. I made it through every round of chemo and it was pretty toxic with each cycle harder to tolerate than the previous. Besides having to take oral doses of chemo pills, over 1000, I did an intravenous round of oxaliplatin on the first day of each cycle.  Oxaliplatin is nasty. I did six rounds and this was post surgery and on top of doing chemo-radiation therapy before surgery. We did have to reduce the dosage on several cycles as we could see it was starting to damage the nerves in my fingers and toes but we made it and, theoretically, those treatments  destroyed any cancer cells left lingering in the body. I’ve been tested every three months since and all with positive results.

Looking back over the time that treatments started there is a bit of fog, there are lapses in memories but there is also a lot of joy. Cancer can make you go in different directions depending on the outcome or your disposition. We could settle into anger and ask why me or we can accept that this is just an outcome in life and, God willing, we have the resilience and strength to get through it along with the necessary support network and a team of professionals. When I say joy I’m referring to the ability to have a great reverence for life. The initial diagnosis was rather grave and I had a few days wondering about my affairs, my family and what’s next if there is a next.  Thankfully I was gifted with lots of “there will be a next…”

When treatments finished I learned pretty quickly how much damage chemo did. My body was trashed, my feet where in constant pain and I just didn’t have the strength I once had but that gave me a new challenge and I still had the desire to build fitness back and start living normally again.

Normal was not quite normal though. Post surgery left me with an ostomy and that was a challenge. A challenge at work, at home, sleeping, yoga to name a few but I didn’t let it hinder me. At first I was embarrassed to have an ostomy but over time it was just part of healing and thankfully it allowed my guts to have the time to rest and repair. I did a good job of hiding the ostomy and I even started doing some bike races which was a highlight for me even though I was last in every event! Thankfully the ostomy was temporary and this past winter I had it reversed and recovery was long and I’m still healing internally.

The journey, as I see it now, started two years ago and those past two years were some of the most difficult years in my life but I also see them as some of the best years. The support that rallied around me was beyond measure and my family, friends, business partner and colleagues were there at every level. I was given another chance and an opportunity to reset on many levels.

Keep on moving!

p.s. I’m back to training normally, working, tasting wine and living with a little more love than I did before.

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16 Days of Glory? It’s so much more….

via 16 Days of Glory? It’s so much more….

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Milestones

Today was quite joyous for me as a parent. Alison took her first big step towards gaining independence today and road her bike to school. Riding to school in our community is quite normal but we have been slow to let go; partly from fear of the unknown and typical parental nanny fears. In another light it was magical to be present for a pivotal moment in our daughters journey.

Thanks for checking in.

JK

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End game

This past Thursday I had my last chemo treatment and in my mind I’m hoping that this is the end of cancer treatments but in reality there is no end game. Cancer doesn’t get cured when you have it but we can hope for remission after treatments and then over time we learn to move on but cancer will always be there lurking. We have to do what we can to stay positive and being positive is not always possible and yesterday was a reminder for me to not get trapped or wallow in pity or self doubt but we are human and after nine months of moving forward with all my positive energy I went in the other direction. Self doubt, fatigue and the “I just want to get through this” derailed me and paralyzed my thoughts but throughout the day I found myself coming around and getting back on track. We are human and we are wired to survive but sometimes we just need to take a moment to reflect on what it is that is moving us forward.

Thanks for checking in.

#livewithpurpose

James

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Pure joy

I absolutely love this photo. Alison spent the week in Disneyland and every picture was nothing but total happiness.

Thumbs up!

Thanks for checking in!

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Supplements 🤔

When I met with my oncologist last Summer I was told to bring a list of all the supplements that I take and what was interesting to find out was that basically you cannot take any supplements when you’re going through chemotherapy and radiation as they can negate the positive outcomes of the adjuvant treatment. The main concern is with vitamin C, antioxidants and anything related to mushrooms that could affect the liver. Being concerned that I would not get enough nutrients my oncologist said “just eat normal food and balance the diet.” At the time that was a bit of a shock to me considering that I was used to consuming the stupid amounts of nutritional supplements for cycling and training in general.

During that first round of treatments back in September I went vegan and I drank a lot of homemade carrot juice. Each week my blood got tested and over the course of those treatments some of my immune markers improved after initially tanking in week two but on balance I was eating a very good diet and when you’re getting your blood tested weekly you’re able to see that as well. After a few months I had to agree with the comment about eating whole foods. My friend Noelle also made a very good case for plant based foods during treatments and she was right.

Anyway, after almost 6 months of not taking any supplements I have come to the conclusion that the supplement industry is a bit of a scam and we waste a lot of money on it. Going forward I could see using a basic drink mix like scratch labs but for everything else I’ll make it myself. I think a lot of athletes, especially endurance athletes, put a lot of crap in their body and too much sugar, too many supplements and over the long course eventually this will affect you in a negative way in my opinion.

Thanks for reading and keep on moving!🏋🏻‍♀️🚴‍♂️💪🤛

James

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