Tag Archives: Running

Gratitude and Hope and Gratitude.

I  feel grateful, inspired and at peace today as I sit to write.

Grateful that I started writing several months ago to share my story of healing with you, inspired by the runners that I watched push on at the Marine Corps Marathon today in DC and at peace with where my life is right now, in this moment.

Pride pulsed through me today as I watched the runners push past mile 16 and 17, then 19 and 20.  I felt pride for them, in the training they had done to get to that point, pride in their stamina to push through the next few tough miles and, selfishly, pride for myself that I’ve been okay with not running since April.


Linsey and I at the Marathon!

Running has brought me joy, pain, grief, exciemtment and answers to some of the most difficult decisions in my life.  It was a constant, a steady, a joy in my life.  Running was my meditation and my prayer time, my reflection and relaxation time – and I have been without it for almost 7 months and it is so healing to say – I am still okay.  I am here and healthy and happy and maybe even stronger without running (for right now).

I am recognizing  that sometimes things are taken away or paused in my life that help me transition my focus and attention (even if I really don’t want to) to other things.  Would I be as focused on my healing, on my relationship with God, on building a great relationship with Steve, on finding other great hobbies in my life (like writing), if I still had running to lean on?  Maybe, maybe not.  I do know in this situation that not having running has changed and shifted many behaviors, habits and focus.  Was I okay with that 7 months ago?  Nope.  Not at all.  Quite frankly, I was angry, resentful and mad that I could not run.  I wanted to run and kept trying even when it hurt me more than brought any joy.  Now, however, I’m grateful for the new friends, relationships, hobbies, ideas and time not running has brought into my life.


I heart runners!

The Lord gives and takes away.

I know I’ll run again and I’m confident I’ll run a race again in the future.  I’m sure when I’m on the starting line of that race I’ll be even more grateful for running and my body then I ever was at the start of the last 40ish races I’ve done in the past.  Maybe that’s one of the lessons I was to learn in all of this – to seek gratitude in all things.

It feels uncomfortable for me when things are taken away, but I can be grateful for the growth opportunities it inspires.

Today I am grateful for:

1. My family that loves me so much.

2. DC – this city that I love and enjoy living in.

3. National Community Church and the friends I’ve made there

4. My laptop that keeps me connected

5. Hope

In love and healing,



DC FUN! White house fall garden tour with Kim!


I love DC!


My Community of Healers

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I love connecting people and I love helping people heal.   I literally live my life finding and connecting patients and the health professionals they need every day.  Thanks to a few good conversations with friends, a networking event and getting more into the swing of tasks at my job this week, it occurred to me that it is time to share with you some of the information I love to gather – in hopes that it might just help you in healing too.

I have been so fortunate to have had so many wonderful professionals help me at different points of this journey of healing and I’m sure I’ll have many more in the future.  They certainly didn’t just help with the physical journey of healing post-Zelda, either.  I recognized after my first surgery that my need for healing was deeper than just physical.  The big task at hand was the spiritual and emotional progress that I wanted to make.

I recognized quickly that finding the right practitioners can be difficult and I believe strongly in an integrated approach to all healing.  Luckily, for me, due to my frustration at trying to find the right docs, my job now is to find integrated practitioners and bring them together to best serve patients.  Its crazy that I get paid to do this.  It is really a joy.  I feel fortunate to know a lot about the variety of integrative practitioners available and how to find a good one, so today I share with you those that I personally use and where to find good ones if you don’t live near me.

I hope its helpful!

In love and healing,



Acupuncture:  Kara S. (Be ready for a woman with a big heart, lots of love, intuition and an ability to know just what is going on with your body any time!) http://healingwithease.net

Guided Imagery:  Bob S.  (Healing your body, spirit and mind one image at a time.  What a magic this practice is!) http://www.theinwardeye.com

My church:  God is my ultimate Healer and this church leads me to Him again and again. http://theaterchurch.com

Coaching:  Handel Group started my journey.  Taught me how to tell the truth, dream big dreams and enjoy the entire journey.  http://www.handelgroup.com/coaching/hg-life-coaching

Health Coach: Ali S. will turn your relationship with food and your body on its head and make you wonder why you ever counted a calorie in your life.  https://alishapiro.com

Running Coach: John so eloquently taught me that listening to your body and surprisingly taking baby steps leads to results – big results.  http://www.fixyourrun.com

Good places to find practitioners in your area:

Functional Medicine

Integrative Medicine

I could go on and on and on.  If you need a specific integrated doc beyond these resources message me and I will be happy to help.

RFA through the years!

In anticipation of the 4th Annual Running for Answers Event in Philadelphia next week (which I am so excited for!), I am going to remember in today’s blog, some of the milestones of this beautiful race and journey for me.

This week I found a few photos and documents that made me smile at the journey this race has been and I was humbled by the reminders of the remarkable support I’ve recieved on this journey.

Below I am sharing with you an email I found from 2009 that asked my friends and family to support me in year 1 of “Running for Answers” (a half marathon I ran in Philadelphia) – and to check out the BLOG (uhem) I started!  I am also found the original stick figure my then 5 year old nephew, Ethen, drew and emailed to me from Oklahoma and finally some pictures of people that have offered incredible support over the years.

I am excited, humbled, grateful and…..ready to see everyone in Philly this weekend.

If you cannot join us in Philly this year, please consider giving to RFA:  http://www.firstgiving.com/fundraiser/serasnyder/runningforanswers

In love and healing,


Ryan and I preparing for PDR 2009.  I wouldn't have finished this without him (or finished it so gracefully without him)!

Ryan and I preparing for PDR 2009. I wouldn’t have finished this without him (or finished it so gracefully without him)!

Ready to Run! I was so excited!

Ready to Run! I was so excited!

2009 Plea to support my “running idea”

It’s been eight months since I heard the dreaded words, “the biopsy is back.,Sera, you have a desmoid tumor.”  I remember like yesterday throwing the phone across the room when I heard the dread words, tears streaming down my face, looking at my father hoping he would tell me it wasn’t true, but for once there was nothing he could say, nothing he could do to save me from the surgeons words or to keep me from going into the operating room.

It was November 2008 when this journey began.  At 26 years old I was in the best shape of my life.  I was preparing for my 3rd half marathon of 2008 when a precautionary doctor’s appointment (for what I thought was a strained muscle) turned my life into a nightmare.  I had no idea what the coming months held for me.  The MRI, my first appointment with the surgeon, telling my friends and family it’s all a blur to me.  I was lost, confused, angry, scared, and didn’t know where to turn.  Many of my friends and family felt the same way.  This rare, yet benign tumor that doctors were suggesting I had was hard to find any information about.  There weren’t many surgeons that knew how to treat it and there weren’t many options of trying to get rid of it.  After long days and sleepless nights of searching the internet, the library and local books stores, it was the Desmoid Tumor Research Foundation (DTRF) that became our lifeline of information.  They had access to everything available about this horrible tumor, which unfortunately isn’t a lot.  They were also a source of support for me by helping to connect me with others who were battling desmoid tumors. 

DTRF taught me the facts about the lump forming in my stomach:  Desoid tumors are rare, aggressive tumors that arise from connective tissue.  Without removal of the tumor and surround margins, they can grow into and even destroy adjacent normal tissues, vital structures, organs, even bones.  It is estimated that only 2-4 million people in the world are diagnosed with these tumors annually.  Currently, the cause of most desmoid tumors is unknown.  When feasible, the tumors are surgically removed, however, 25 – 40% of patients that undergo surgery can have a local recurrence.

I also learned quickly after visiting DTRF website that I was a “lucky one” in the desmoid community.  Because the tumor was in my abdominal wall it was a fairly easy area to operate (unlike your elbow, knee or neck) and because my surgeon was able to diagnose the tumor early on we knew to take margins (5 cm of my abdominal muscles) around the tumor so that my reoccurrence rate was lower.  Unfortunately, there are many demoid patients that either did not get clear margins taken or they have tumors in areas that are difficult to operate on.  Due to this they fight constant reoccurrence – going through repetitive surgeries, a variety of drugs, radiation or chemo – or they live daily with the tumor trying medications to keep it at bay because it cannot be surgically removed. 

Six weeks ago I survived my first clean catscan post-surgery (YAY!!) and I knew one thing when I walked out of the surgeons office – I never want to go through reoccurrence.  I never want to go through surgery or this awful recovery again.  I want all the answers I can get about desmoids to be sure I am as careful as I can be.  I want to help the children, woman and men that fight reoccurring tumors everyday – going through awful surgeries, taking horrible medications and enduring chemotherapy.  I need to support DTRF to get these answers.

Before my first surgery in December I vowed to myself that when I got through the surgery and recovery period I would run a race for DTRF and do what I could to help advance the research for desmoid tumors.  The recovery has been a lot longer, more painful and frustrating than I had ever imagined, but with determination, perseverance and faith I am ready to prepare for this race and run for all of those fighting desmoid tumors today. 

As I embark on the difficult task of getting back in shape for this half marathon, 3 abdominal muscles short, thanks to my surgery, I ask for your support by donating to this cause.  Please join my fight for answers, for information and for health by donating to the Desmoid Research Tumor Foundation.

Follow my journey on my blog:

Find more information about Desmoid Tumor Research Foundation at:  http://www.dtrf.org

Thank you for your generous donations and support of my health and my future.

~Sera Fiana

The stick figure Ethen sent me when I asked him to design something that reminded him of me for my race.

The stick figure Ethen sent me when I asked him to design something that reminded him of me for my race.

My parents, always there:

Mom and I at U Penn, post surgery #2.

Mom and I at U Penn, post surgery #2.

My Mom - always standing beside me.

My Mom – always standing beside me – here at RFA year – the half marathon.


Mom and I at the RFA finish year 3

Mom and Dad at RFA the 5 miler, 2010 (Year 1 of the race we know now)

Mom and Dad at RFA the 5 miler, 2010 (Year 1 of the race we now know as RFA)

Dads always been here!

Dad has always been here! Year of the RFA half marathon for me.  Little did he know he’d start running with me soon!

Dad finishing 5 miles at RFA  year 1!!

Dad finishing 5 miles at RFA year 1!!  His 1st EVER race!  what a champ!


Ryface and I after year 3


Year 1 – speaking at the start of the 5 miler

year 2

Year 2 – our DTRF Team

year 3

Year 3 – the DTRF team gets bigger!

year.3 gals

Year 3 committee!


Year 1 – part of the committee! We had no idea what we were doing this year 🙂

Year 2 - the committee!

Year 2 – the committee!

Reaching Goals and Making Break-throughs!

Hi, my name is Sera and I’m a runner.  🙂 I feel like I’ve been waiting months to say that again and really feel like I meant it.  After months of starting, stopping and/or modifying my running routine due to pain I am so happy to say that my first month of PDR training has come to a close and I feel great!!!!  WoOOoooo HooOOOooo!!  I got all, but two of my scheduled training runs in this month.  A strained muscle in my stomach set me back a few days last week, but I know rest was much better than pushing through and hurting myself more.  I am so thrilled to be on schedule and feelin’ good!!  A month ago that is exactly what I hoped for!

In addition, I checked another goal off my “things to do post surgery list” this morning by running the Ben Franklin Bridge.  I loved running this bridge pre-surgery, but haven’t done it recently because it is a longer run for me from my apartment and it is quite a challenging run due to the incline of the bridge.  My body hadn’t quite been up to the challenge in the previous weeks, but it felt like the right test for me this morning as I woke up bright and early to start my Sunday.

At 6:30 a.m. the air was already so heavy and muggy due to the ridiculous humidity hanging around Philly the past few weeks.  With just a little drizzle blurring my vision I set my sights on the climb of the bridge and I was instantly reminded of how beautiful the view is on this run.    You get the view of the river, Camden (it may not sound pretty, but it is), and Penn’s landing on the way out and my favorite, the Philly sky line on the way back.  Seeing the sky line when I turned around to climb up the incline for the 2nd time, on the way back, today was such a needed sight.  A nice distraction from the aches and tiredness I was feeling in my legs.

I’ll admit that while I am hitting my goals of making all my runs so far I still have yet to really hit my “runners high” – or to me the point when the aches and pains seem to disappear and I am just with my thoughts.  My legs are still aching a little, I am still pushing through to get back my stamina, which means I feel the “am I almost there yet feeling in my legs” halfway through my runs – but I am loving it.  Each time I get the “are we there yet” feeling I just remind myself of when I couldn’t run and how bad I wanted to….it makes me pick up the pace and stops the whining every time!

To keep with the good news of  hitting goals and making break throughs this week, I had a HUGE break through with my stomach pain this week.  I haven’t been very accepting of the doctors, “you will just be living with this abdominal pain, post surgery” explanations over the past few months and have been trying a variety of things to release this pain.  I continue to have a lot of soreness around my surgery site and it seems to really flare up after my runs.  Obviously this is due to the use of my core muscles while I am running, but I couldn’t quite figure out what to do about it.  Monday as I was doing my post run stretches, I pulled out my foam roller and began to roll out my tight hamstrings.  For those of you who are not runners or not quite familiar with this, the roller is exactly as the name concludes – a big cylinder piece of foam that you place under your tight muscle, (typically hamstrings, IT bands, quads) roll on it back and forth and it miraculously takes away aches and pain.  As I was gliding forward and backward on the foam I had an Ah-ha moment – if this works for the soreness in my legs, why wouldn’t work for my stomach?!   I flipped over, gently laid the cylinder under my abs and rolled.  It was PAINFUL – as tears started to form in my eyes I questioned (briefly) if I was crazy, but when I stood up – I knew for sure I wasn’t.  My stomach felt great.  There was such a release of tension and tightness – it was amazing.  I’ve done it everyday, twice a day since, and my stomach is feelin’ good.  My runs have been better because of it and just as important, my pain between runs has been much more tolerable.   YAY!!!!

Of course this discovery now has my mind twirling – if I had the answer to my stomach soreness under my nose (or should I say under my hamstring:) for the last few months without noticing it, what other answers could I possibly have just lying around me?!   Sometimes we seem to get so caught up in the “right things to do” and searching for the right answers that when the answers to our problems are right under our nose we miss it completely.  To say that I have been searching for the answer to my stomach soreness the past few months is an understatement.  I have been to doctors and acupuncturists, massage therapists and physical therapists.  I have used ice, heat and a variety of different oils to try to elevate the pain.  I am not saying that my research didn’t yield some good results and ‘pain elevating’ moments, but I certainly didn’t find anything that was a winning solution.  The foam cylinder is a winning solution and it was here before the doctors, the massages, the heat and the oil.  Do you know how long ago I could have released this pain if I would have just paid attention, really paid attention to what my pain was and what tools I had around me to “fix” the pain?

I challenge you to think about a problem or issue you may be going through right now that you have been trying to get an answer to.  Have you stopped to really address the problem and take a moment to look around you to be sure you don’t have the tools to provide a solution?  I’m looking for answers to some bigger life questions right now (which will probably come out in later post, so stayed tuned) and I’ve been taking time to see if the solutions and/or tools are already in my path right now.   I think I know what I’ll find and I couldn’t be more excited!!

Here’s to a week of reaching goals, having break-throughs and finding answers.  I hope your week was as great as mine!

With gratitude,


First Post!

Welcome to my first blog! As I scratch my way back from a difficult surgery and recovery period and train for my first post-abdominal surgery half marathon I am inviting you to get inside my head as I run. I have found over the past year that many of the best ideas, revelations and reflecting of my life come to me when I am running. So, as motivation to get through the next few months of training and as an outlet to release a lot of the mental garbage that sits in my mind I will be blogging weekly to keep you updated on my progress. I hope you enjoy and feel free at any time to comment where you feel your thoughts would help!

With Gratitude,