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Dealing with cancer while trying to compete (IDPA&USPSA)

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Been dealing with stage IV colon cancer for over a year now. I still try to compete in IDPA and USPSA. Between multiple surgeries and multiple rounds of chemo, it seems my skills have been stagnant or worsening. Anyone else dealing with something like this? Anyone have any ideas or suggestions?

Things like neuropathy (the killing/numbing of nerves) in the fingers make it harder to safely, accurately, and fastly pull a trigger. Sunburn easily. Easily tired (sometimes I feel like a turd, because I am not johnny on the spot when it comes to pasting targets). Mental clarity is reduced (chemo brain).

While I do appreciate "support" (such as "keep fighting, you can do it"), I am not really looking for it here. I am more concerned about hearing from others in similar situations and any practical advice (not interested in hearing conspiracy theories about the oncological industrial complex and how I should be juice cleansing).

Anyways, appreciate it in advance. Keep shooting!

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Sorry, no advice but hope you enjoy ...

It seems, though, that YOU have a responsibility to your fellow

shooters to monitor your condition carefully, and NOT shoot if

you feel you cannot do so safely.

:bow:

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Sorry, no advice but hope you enjoy ...

It seems, though, that YOU have a responsibility to your fellow

shooters to monitor your condition carefully, and NOT shoot if

you feel you cannot do so safely.

:bow:

absolutely! I have bowed out of more matches than I would have liked in interest of maintaining safety. Medication, mental acuity, balance, awareness, etc. must be taken into account.

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I went through chemo back in 2008 and went through exactly the same things your describing. I only shot some flat footed steel matches and simple idpa matches when I was on chemo. I had all of the issues you mentioned for almost a year I couldnt feel my right leg. The chemo brain is strange the best way I could describe it is its like walking up to a door and not being able to walk through it even though its open.

I just went and treated it like a social event not a competition.

I was being told by the doctors that the issues I was having would pass but it was still very hard to see my skills dropping off. There was nothing I could do but just wait it out.

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I went through chemo back in 2008 and went through exactly the same things your describing. I only shot some flat footed steel matches and simple idpa matches when I was on chemo. I had all of the issues you mentioned for almost a year I couldnt feel my right leg. The chemo brain is strange the best way I could describe it is its like walking up to a door and not being able to walk through it even though its open.

I just went and treated it like a social event not a competition.

I was being told by the doctors that the issues I was having would pass but it was still very hard to see my skills dropping off. There was nothing I could do but just wait it out.

My nerves in my feet and fingers haven't really allowed my feeling to return... six months since the other drug, oxaliplatin, that caused it. Might be permanent. How long did it take for your leg to regain feeling? I here you about the chemobrain... sometimes it feels like I have been eating lead paint chips as a kid ('Tommy Boy' reference).

Yeh... I just go to the matches for fun and socialization these days... placement isn't even feasible.

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This is like deja vu... I finished chemo in November (I kept the port.. it's my avatar now - lol).. Sounds like we were on the same/close therapy (5FU and Oxaliplatin).. sorry to hear about you diag, hopefully your next scans will come out clear.

The friggin neuropathy is driving me nuts. It continued to get worse for about 3 months after I stopped. I see a little progress in my legs at times, but with exercise, it gets worse. My hands haven't gotten any better yet.

Between the surgery recovery and chemo downtime, I lost quite a bit of body strength

I've done a few things: (started end of December)

I started getting on the treadmill at least 4 days a week (I started at .25 mile at 1 mph :) ) and exercising, I keep track of it, because I'm so OCD.

Pushups and situps (I think with situps, when I started, I couldn't do 1 - up to 60 now)

Brought a grip exerciser (one of those old school types - just while watching TV)

Have a 3 pound weight, I'll just hold like a pistol - again, while watch TV

There's no question you can be safe. I've really had to learn better muscle memory, since I can't rely my hands/fingers to give me the feedback they used to. Dry fire will help. And when I shoot, I still often actually look at the pistol when first drawing, make sure my hands are actually where I think they are, and I have my index finger way outside the trigger guard.

Shot a Steel Challenge match in February - that was a good starting point. I had to go very slowly.

I primarily shoot 3 Gun. My biggest problem has been reloading the shotgun. I load weak hand, no feedback if the shell was in the gate correctly or not, and hard to know if I was pressing shells into the mag tube or not. I started practicing almost every night, not a lot, but would try to do 100 shells a day. I tilt the shotgun slightly and watch my hands make sure I'm in the right position.. takes a small extra amount of time, but the reloads go much smoother.

I shot IronMan the 1st weak of June. When I registered, I thought the neuropathy would be more subsided than it was.

Ok, that was probably a mistake, I didn't figure how much my feet would hurt after a day shooting there, and with resets.. it almost killed me.

I had a great time still, and I know I was safe the whole time. Finished just below the mid line, not very good compared to previous finishes, but I felt I placed higher than I could have hoped for.

[Added]

I just want to say how much the entire squad ROs helped me out - Thank you!

[/]

I didn't meet him, but I was told there was someone competing with their port in - I can't even imagine doing that - I was way too wiped out - by the 6th treatment or so.. I was like a zombie.

I'll still try to be competitive, just lowering my expectations for awhile

Good luck with your follow-up checkups..

Dave

Edited by D.Hayden

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FWIW I've seen you shoot a few times. I'm not sure for certain but I think you would do better if you were more patient and got a good sight picture on every shot. You easily hit your targets when I can see you are getting a sight picture for each shot. I can't add anything wrt the effects of the cancer treatments and how to get better with the side effects- but at the end of the day it's still shooting- albeit the treatment is making things more challenging for you.

I know you aren't looking for this comment- but kick ass on the cancer shit! God bless you and I expect to see you around getting better. ;)

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FWIW I've seen you shoot a few times. I'm not sure for certain but I think you would do better if you were more patient and got a good sight picture on every shot. You easily hit your targets when I can see you are getting a sight picture for each shot. I can't add anything wrt the effects of the cancer treatments and how to get better with the side effects- but at the end of the day it's still shooting- albeit the treatment is making things more challenging for you.

I know you aren't looking for this comment- but kick ass on the cancer shit! God bless you and I expect to see you around getting better. ;)

You are absolutely right... these days it is slow and accurate or fast and maybe. I used to be able to do the fast and accurate thing a bit better. Maybe I can shoot for getting the least amount of points down instead of the lower times :)

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This is like deja vu... I finished chemo in November (I kept the port.. it's my avatar now - lol).. Sounds like we were on the same/close therapy (5FU and Oxaliplatin).. sorry to hear about you diag, hopefully your next scans will come out clear.

The friggin neuropathy is driving me nuts. It continued to get worse for about 3 months after I stopped. I see a little progress in my legs at times, but with exercise, it gets worse. My hands haven't gotten any better yet.

Between the surgery recovery and chemo downtime, I lost quite a bit of body strength

I've done a few things: (started end of December)

I started getting on the treadmill at least 4 days a week (I started at .25 mile at 1 mph :) ) and exercising, I keep track of it, because I'm so OCD.

Pushups and situps (I think with situps, when I started, I couldn't do 1 - up to 60 now)

Brought a grip exerciser (one of those old school types - just while watching TV)

Have a 3 pound weight, I'll just hold like a pistol - again, while watch TV

There's no question you can be safe. I've really had to learn better muscle memory, since I can't rely my hands/fingers to give me the feedback they used to. Dry fire will help. And when I shoot, I still often actually look at the pistol when first drawing, make sure my hands are actually where I think they are, and I have my index finger way outside the trigger guard.

Shot a Steel Challenge match in February - that was a good starting point. I had to go very slowly.

I primarily shoot 3 Gun. My biggest problem has been reloading the shotgun. I load weak hand, no feedback if the shell was in the gate correctly or not, and hard to know if I was pressing shells into the mag tube or not. I started practicing almost every night, not a lot, but would try to do 100 shells a day. I tilt the shotgun slightly and watch my hands make sure I'm in the right position.. takes a small extra amount of time, but the reloads go much smoother.

I shot IronMan the 1st weak of June. When I registered, I thought the neuropathy would be more subsided than it was.

Ok, that was probably a mistake, I didn't figure how much my feet would hurt after a day shooting there, and with resets.. it almost killed me.

I had a great time still, and I know I was safe the whole time. Finished just below the mid line, not very good compared to previous finishes, but I felt I placed higher than I could have hoped for.

[Added]

I just want to say how much the entire squad ROs helped me out - Thank you!

[/]

I didn't meet him, but I was told there was someone competing with their port in - I can't even imagine doing that - I was way too wiped out - by the 6th treatment or so.. I was like a zombie.

I'll still try to be competitive, just lowering my expectations for awhile

Good luck with your follow-up checkups..

Dave

I did the oxaliplatin for 6 months and a different one during HIPEC... now on irrenotecin (spelling?). I have a double port... I think I will frame it on my wall if I no longer need it.

I hear you on the loss of strength. I got stupid motivated last night and went for a run with a headlamp... first run in over 13 months. I managed 2.4 admittedly slow miles. Felt good... although my joints are killing me today. I will have to heal up about a month more before I can safely do any pushups or situps. I have had many recommendations for the training regimen in the book "Convict Conditioning", which I now have... it is basically a book on personal rehab exercises.

I like your suggestions on the grip strengthener and 3lb weight. I am going to start that ASAP. Sounds like you were hit with the neuropathy much worse than me... just my feet and fingertips I can't feel. Trigger time does help... I am good on accuracy if I really take my time, but I can't rush it like I used to. As far as shotgun reloads... forget about it... that shit is hard enough when I can feel my fingers. I am just going to have to take the extra seconds to get those shells stuffed in the tubes securely.

Thanks for the advice. Happy shooting!

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...Sounds like you were hit with the neuropathy much worse than me... just my feet and fingertips I can't feel...

I have it from my hip down on my left side, mid thigh down on my right.. and from the wrist down on the hands (mostly on the palm side),

One thing I learned.. everyone is different.. while I can't remember most of the 2nd half of last year, I know people who still have full 'chemo brain' 6 months after chemo. I think I still have a little, could be just in my head too.

I envy you that you can run.. I can do it on a treadmill, while I have the support there, but without that crutch, forgetaboutit

Good luck with the treatment... hopefully the end of that is coming up soon too.

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...Sounds like you were hit with the neuropathy much worse than me... just my feet and fingertips I can't feel...

I have it from my hip down on my left side, mid thigh down on my right.. and from the wrist down on the hands (mostly on the palm side),

One thing I learned.. everyone is different.. while I can't remember most of the 2nd half of last year, I know people who still have full 'chemo brain' 6 months after chemo. I think I still have a little, could be just in my head too.

Hope the feeling comes back... the doc told me my feeling MIGHT eventually come back or might be permanent. As far as chemo brain, it definitely comes and goes in waves... when it is hitting hard, it makes it a bitch to game a plan to attack a stage; ultimately making me "wing it"

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I'm just figuring it will

I was going to add.. take advantage of those times you can exercise.. every bit you can now, has to help in the long run

sorry about the chemo brain..

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I was diagnosed with soft tissue sarcoma and had my left kidney and a 9 pound tumor removed in January 2007. I was told at that time that I could never be cured. I will start chemo cycle 92 tomorrow. I have had and continue to have all the issues you are experiencing. My biggest concern is the neuropathy and am very careful drawing the gun. I think the exercise program to help get your stamina back is a good idea. I'm 55 years old and have shot the open division since I joined the USPSA in 1987 and am nowhere near as competitive as I used to be. That didn't stop me from shooting the Area 5 match last weekend. I would never consider shooting 14 stages in one day anymore so I shot the match in 2 half days. I pick and choose the matches more carefully now and usually squad with guys that watch out for me. Running is tough as I feel my legs are in quicksand most of the time but I do the best I can. I will not compete the next 2 weekends under any conditions as I will have 2 chemo sessions during this time and would be too tired to enjoy the match.

After 26 years I do this for pleasure and if I get to the point where I feel that I am unsafe competing I will hang it up.

Chemo brain is a real issue and as the day goes on I tend to loose some focus on stage planning and just concentrate on getting my hits.

Good luck on your journey.

Marty

A-7424

Edited by martyg00

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I was diagnosed with soft tissue sarcoma and had my left kidney and a 9 pound tumor removed in January 2007. I was told at that time that I could never be cured. I will start chemo cycle 92 tomorrow. I have had and continue to have all the issues you are experiencing. My biggest concern is the neuropathy and am very careful drawing the gun. I think the exercise program to help get your stamina back is a good idea. I'm 56 years old and have shot the open division since I joined the USPSA in 1987 and am nowhere near as competitive as I used to be. That didn't stop me from shooting the Area 5 match last weekend. I would never consider shooting 14 stages in one day anymore so I shot the match in 2 half days. I pick and choose the matches more carefully now and usually squad with guys that watch out for me. Running is tough as I feel my legs are in quicksand most of the time but I do the best I can. I will not compete the next 2 weekends under any conditions as I will have 2 chemo sessions during this time and would be too tired to enjoy the match.

After 26 years I do this for pleasure and if I get to the point where I feel that I am unsafe competing I will hang it up.

...

Holy shit Marty! Sounds like you have been through some shit. Glad to hear you decided to ignore and deny the statistics. I am the guy who just started open major division USPSA (having only shot production before) two matches ago... it is fricking ego-checking! Neuropathy is an evil f*#king thing... I worked closely with my oncologist to try to limit the oxal before it spread too far. Probably the only reason I only lost feeling in the feet and booger hooks. Awesome to hear you hit the area 5 match... I am signed up for the area 7... we will see how that turns out ;) I might start specially requesting to split up bigger match days if I can't handle it.

Sucks to have to step down from a match... just had to this past saturday, and many more before it. However, health and safety is more important. Probably not a good idea to run ourselves into the ground anyways.

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Ive been in remission for 19 years,

only been shooting for 4, but I can relate to the chemo /surgery etc and doing other sports at the time,

I was warned not to get to much sun, not to be around lots of other people (colds etc) and get rest during treatments.

The best thing I did was do what I wanted and stay in the game / sports I could and keep my mind off the other issues at hand.

I can tell you I shoot ok today but when cold weather roles in my finger tips get numb and tingle ever since the chemo., Other shooters always raz me about having those hand warmers and jackets on At 45- 50 deg.

My advice is carry on , have fun, if we suck we suck, but I'd rather suck shooting with buddies, then hanging over my toilet. Or focusing on all the crap I have to go through in the coming weeks.

The one thing I took away from my life's speed bump, is its short, have some fun. (I think we are all mature enough to know about the safe part;-)

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I have Leukemia (B-Cell), stage 3, and been trying to shoot as often as possible. Did chemo last week, and shot Rio on Saturday. Tanked the match. Oh well.

At times shooting gets me out of the mental funk that seems to run around in my brain. It gives me the chance to exercise my body & mind. It also gives me the chance to see people that are not involved in my care or treatment.

I found over the past 7 months I've found out that I do move slower through a stage, my eyesight is a little poorer, my reactions are not as fast.

I've kept shooting as much as possible though. I too suffer from "Chemo Brain".

There are weeks that I really look forward to shooting at match, and wake up on match day just fried. No match today.

When I attend, I push myself to help out. Taping, setting steel, and running shooters. I know when to stop & sit. You also need to drink lots of fluids. Before, during, and after.

Dave, I like your avatar. Got a porta-cath myself. Best thing I did prior to starting chemo.

Edited by Ed K

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I also had a port, it was a God send over being stuck everyday in the arm, but man it was the first thing I wanted out! I kept it for a token and then my dog found it one day :roflol: lets say it would not make a pretty pic.

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Ive been in remission for 19 years,

only been shooting for 4, but I can relate to the chemo /surgery etc and doing other sports at the time,

I was warned not to get to much sun, not to be around lots of other people (colds etc) and get rest during treatments.

The best thing I did was do what I wanted and stay in the game / sports I could and keep my mind off the other issues at hand.

I can tell you I shoot ok today but when cold weather roles in my finger tips get numb and tingle ever since the chemo., Other shooters always raz me about having those hand warmers and jackets on At 45- 50 deg.

My advice is carry on , have fun, if we suck we suck, but I'd rather suck shooting with buddies, then hanging over my toilet. Or focusing on all the crap I have to go through in the coming weeks.

The one thing I took away from my life's speed bump, is its short, have some fun. (I think we are all mature enough to know about the safe part;-)

Well said. The docs all approach me thinking I need therapy and a shrink to deal with my mortality... I tell them that I have therapy in the form of trigger time :) Awesome to hear you beat it! Good shooting, brother

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I also had a port, it was a God send over being stuck everyday in the arm, but man it was the first thing I wanted out! I kept it for a token and then my dog found it one day :roflol: lets say it would not make a pretty pic.

nice. My dog always tried to lick my open wounds clean. :)

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I have Leukemia (B-Cell), stage 3, and been trying to shoot as often as possible. Did chemo last week, and shot Rio on Saturday. Tanked the match. Oh well.

At times shooting gets me out of the mental funk that seems to run around in my brain. It gives me the chance to exercise my body & mind. It also gives me the chance to see people that are not involved in my care or treatment.

I found over the past 7 months I've found out that I do move slower through a stage, my eyesight is a little poorer, my reactions are not as fast.

I've kept shooting as much as possible though. I too suffer from "Chemo Brain".

There are weeks that I really look forward to shooting at match, and wake up on match day just fried. No match today.

When I attend, I push myself to help out. Taping, setting steel, and running shooters. I know when to stop & sit. You also need to drink lots of fluids. Before, during, and after.

Dave, I like your avatar. Got a porta-cath myself. Best thing I did prior to starting chemo.

Stay in the fight brother. I agree that trigger time is the best therapy for me to deal with this cancer shit... it is a zen, a meditation. Regardless if I tank a match or not, I still have fun. Wouldnt suck to climb up the scoreboard though. As far as your eyesight, really focus on a good, dark pair of sunglasses... just as you are more likely to sunburn due to chemo, you are more likely to get sunblindness (temporary washout). Playing around with color contrast lenses might help. I found that I could no longer focus on my green front sight, so i switched the fiber optic to red and my sight picture is worlds sharper. I need to get on the hydration thing you mention... I have been slacking in that aspect

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