Part 12 – A Look Back on my Cancer Journey – Hairless Hiking & First Bald 14er


(Adapted from journal notes 11 years ago in July, 2006)

Friday, July 7, 2006

I was able to hike the Manitou Incline halfway today. I wasn’t breaking any records, but I drew more than one curious look with my buzzed head under a baseball cap. The radiation damage to the inside of my body is taking longer to heal than the external burns, so I’m trying to be patient with those ongoing discomforts and limitations. I’m going to have some moles and skin tags removed next week and sent to the lab – mostly for peace of mind since my cancer was classified as a squamous skin cancer.

After examining my remaining benefits regarding medical leave and disability, it looks like I should be back to work on July 24th on a part time basis (20 hours). This will allow me to ease back into my work duties and still leave days open for all the upcoming appointments and tests that are scheduled. The medical bills keep showing up in the mailbox and it’s a real task just to stay on top of those charges through my Flex plan.

We enjoyed the 4th of July in Vail, and my nieces had interesting reactions to my bald head. Before I took my wig off, I explained how I lost my hair and that I was going to take my “new hair” off. They were rather fascinated but quickly turned it into a game. Alex (5) tried the wig on over her hair and we took pictures. Cassy (3) decided I would be her “baby” and had me lie down on the couch and covered me with blankets and pillows. Every once in awhile, she’d sneak over and rub my head. Too cute.


Friday July 14, 2006

Tim and I hiked our first mountain of the summer today! We crossed Mt. Evans off our list, hiking from Summit Lake to the top (less than 4 miles round trip). It was a gorgeous day, but I had a chemo-brain /senior moment at the trailhead and got confused looking at the map. We took off to the south instead of north where the real trail was. Duh! We clamored over rocks and tundra before I figured out my mistake. I was also struggling to catch my breath and maintain my balance on teetering rocks. This was not the easy walk I’d imagined. Tim was ever so patient and helped get us back on course on the ridge. Reminds of the Wizard of Oz character who bemoaned “If I only had a brain…” Might be time to get a GPS as my navigational skills are questionable.

Once at the top, we took pictures with a large, friendly marmot nearby, eying our trail mix. It felt great to stand on top and I didn’t have the usual sweaty hair to make me cold. Nice perk! A herd of mountain goats hanging around the summit entertained us on the way down and posed for multiple pictures. It was my first mountain climbed as a cancer survivor – it gave me hope.

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