Tag Archives: chemo

Just What The Doctor (didn’t) Ordered

It’s official. Chemo is OVER! And I must admit, it was very anti-climactic. While something as momentous as this period in my life feels like it should be heralded as a rebirth, a moment to exhale, to celebrate the spirit of the fight, it was just another day in the chair hooked up to the whir of the IV poison going in my port. Oh well. That’s why I planned this huge family trip to Tuscany. I needed something to look forward to the past 5 months of feeling like crap. I need to hear that trumpet in my own heart, if not that of my family. So against the wishes of my oncologist, and after having to push it back a week to allow of my unexpected expander replacement and lavage, we were off!

I’m normally the kind of traveler that can’t sit still. I don’t really care for the beach, and the idea of vacation where you sit on the beach all day sounds like a form of torture to me. But this vacation I planned with a somewhat-out-of-the-way historic farmhouse in the somewhat-out-of-the-way historic Garfagnana region on Tuscany. Surrounded by panoramic views of the foothills of the Alps with an infinity pool and a home that dates back to the 18th century (but foundation much older), we didn’t leave the property for the first 3 days. I cooked. We picked and ate cherries straight off the tree. It was glorious. And peaceful. And calm…. And for the first time since November 15, 2013, after hearing the words “we found a mass, and it’s going to be cancer”, I remember who I used to be.

This is what relaxation looks like.

This is what relaxation looks like.

Staying shady

Great trips start with London

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The Hardest Job Of All

It’s not hard to understand that I have the “easy” part in all of this. Yes, it sucks. Yes, I get sick and feel horrible for weeks at a time. But you know what? I get to DO something. I “get” to be the one who is active in all of this. I have people supporting me at work, at my doctors visits, in Facebook and at home. My poor husband doesn’t get that. He doesn’t look like his world is crumbling around him. To look at him you wouldn’t know that he is losing sleep, worrying, driving back and forth and back and forth, all while working full time managing his office and employees, and the stress of managing the house and kids. He just has to take the scenic route, watching the mother of his children to see what it’s going to be like today. Yup… observer and loved one is definitely the hardest job in all of this.

God bless my husband…

Hubby and me

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Follicle Follies

It’s that time… the time in nearly every chemo patient’s life when your hair starts to go. I had thought I might escape this part, even though my oncologist assured me that the chance my hair won’t fall out receiving my chemo regiment was only 1%. So let’s review for you follicley full friends what it’s actually like to get to bald.

My normal lush locks

My normal lush locks

I’m sure every woman reading can empathize with always wanting different hair. If it’s curly, you want it straight and spend countless hours with a flat iron to achieve that look. If it’s straight, you want curls, and spend countless hours with curly hair product, curling irons and curlers to achieve that luscious, movie-star look. Nothing will make you appreciate what you have, like someone telling you you’re going to lose it in approximately 3 weeks.

I’ve been working hard to ensure that my babies (3 and 4 years old) aren’t surprised when Mommy has no hair. We talk it up as something new and ways we can have fun: wigs, hats, scarves, etc. I think, though, that I may have talked it up too much. My first day of chemo I came home from the hospital and Hannah exclaimed  (with some disappointment) “Mommy! You still have your hair!” Well that morning,  Sarah and I went upstairs to let Hannah know that we were starting this new step in my treatment. We talked about medicine and things that will happen, and hair. Luckily for me, Sarah keeps a photo in her wallet from her bald days. She asked Hannah if she wanted to see what Mommy might look like with no hair. Hannah took the photo and looked at it for a while, without saying anything. Then she looked at me and quietly said, “Mommy, it’s beautiful!” Well of course Sarah and I both well up with tears. (Hey! Don’t judge.) And since then she’s been on Hair Watch.

Transition hair

Transition hair

No about how it feels to lose your hair; it hurts. It feels like you’ve had your hair in a really tight pony tail for 2 weeks and then take it out. My actual hair hurts,  not to mention my scalp. There are those that will argue this, as clearly your hair doesn’t have nerves, to which I say pblblblblblblblblbl. YOU have chemo and lose your hair then tell me it doesn’t hurt.

True to my whack-a-mole analogy, my hair literally started falling out all of the sudden, in a meeting on Wednesday. I decided to cut it short so it won’t be so hard to go my normal hair to bald. I like it. It will be great when it starts to grow back in.

For now, all we can do is sit and wait to see how many days left until we take it all.

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Word of the day: neu-tro-PEN-ic

Wikipedia, in it’s infinite crowdsourced wisdome, defines it as this: Neutropenia, occasionally spelled neutropaenia or neutropoenia, from Latin prefix neutro- (neither, for neutral staining) and Greek suffix -πενία (deficiency), is a granulocyte disorder characterized by an abnormally low number of neutrophils. Neutrophils usually make up 50-70% of circulating white blood cells and serve as the primary defense against infections by destroying bacteria in the blood.

I have a slight variation on that as I am now an expert, having gone through exactly 1 chemo treatment. I would define it as the inability to sit or stand for more than a few minutes without feeling like you’re going to
a) pass out
b) throw up
c) poop yourself
d) all of the above, in various combinations, in rounds and waves

It also feels remarkably like when I have gotten food poisoning. You feel awful (see above). When you finally lie down long enough that you don’t feel the immediate need to puke, you think you’re going to be ok. You get cocky. You decide to make a peanut butter & jelly sandwich, or a bowl of cereal. You get to the kitchen and half way into a routine exercise, you’re toast and must run to the couch to lie down again. Wash. Rinse. Repeat.

My poor children wonder why I lie around all day in my pajamas and won’t get up to get them strawberry milk. They’re devastated. I am mean and lazy. OK, not really, but it sucks. And they kiss my hand. I try to nap. Wash. Rinse. Repeat.

Neutropenia. In our house, another new day of normal.

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My First Day As A “Real” Cancer Patient

1st Chemo yesterday was as good as it can be. We got there to start lab work, meet doc, start chemo at 1030am. We got in the car to go home at 6pm. LOOOOOONG ASS day!!!! The taxitol was rocky. I started feeling funky, got immediate acid reflux, followed by wave of heat induced nausea and other funk. They immediately stopped the drip, added saline, and a new histamine blocker, then sat for a while before restarting. When we restarted an hour or so later we went really really slowly. Got off and on symptoms. First I felt 1 or 2 days post flu- funky and weak but not violently ill. Then got wave of nausea that I took care of. Then later I got shaking chills with that fever onset like last week. It stayed pretty low but I was concerned. Popped more pills for the fever onset, steroids, this and that… It’s like walking a tightrope while playing whack-a-mole. They say in general I shouldn’t feel the more violent effects until today and tomorrow. Fun!

Hannah and Holland are managing as well as 3 and 4 can be expected. Hannah is on hair watch. I walked in from chemo and Hannah said “mommy! You still have hair!” Then this morning she came in my room, kissed my hand, then said “You still have hair. I just felt it.” Then she came back and asked me very sweetly if I could get up and help her. She told me “…hold my hand. If you feel weak you can squeeze my hand and I’ll be your prince.” I’m so blessed with my little people. They are a challenge and a blessing and the best thing I’ve ever done in my life.

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