3 Down, 1 to Go

Don’t get too excited … one more left in Phase I of my Chemo. My first phase was a combo of Adriamycin and Cytoxan (AC). It was given every other week for eight weeks. The second Phase is going to be either Taxetere or Taxol to be given every week for twelve weeks. So I’m not even actually half-way through, but it’s still something to celebrate 🙂

My chemo companion was Daddy today. He picked me up in his 1965 Austin Healey. Rag top was down because 75 degrees on December 15th is how we roll in our neck of the woods. I wanted to take what I think would be the coolest picture — my reflection in the the side mirrors (located at the front of the vehicle), but my phone was in a bag in the back seat, and I thought I could get it on the way home (he ended up having to leave before I was done — center was running late today). I will try to re-create it soon.

I will share pics of me, but it will be in my forthcoming first Beauty Post. Stay tuned ….

The Cancer Center was crowded today. I mean packed! I’m not sure if its because of the holidays, or if we have new patients (I did notice at least two). But they were running behind. No worries for me … it gives me time to people-watch.

An older African-American woman was on her way out, flanked by two other women. My experience is that black women age VERY well, so if I think she looked a little older, who knows? She could have been pushing 90. Anyway, she looked so pleased with herself, and she was carrying (close to her face, like she was showing it off) a wrapped blow pop. I immediately grinned (I love blow pops too) and she gave me a beautiful smile back.

Fortunately I was taken back after only a few minutes of waiting. Many may be familiar with the Chemo process, but for those of you who aren’t, a brief primer. Each time a patient arrives for Chemo, vitals are taken and a full CBC (complete blood count) is done (This is one of multiple reasons for patients like me to have a porto-cath placed under the skin … less poking of veins). The CBC is done to ensure several things: to make sure that my white blood count is good (chemo and illness can lower it); to make sure that my liver function looks good (it takes a toll on that, too); and to make sure I’m not dehydrated. I’m sure there are other things the Doc looks for, but that’s what they have mentioned to me so far.

Since I have been sick and may have used a certain home remedy involving a certain favorite spirit to help with my cough (as recently as last night), I was nervous about my blood work. However, it turned out wonderfully (whew! got away with the Bourbon-nipping). Onward and upward, as they say.

Chemotherapy and the rest of the day went off without a hitch! Stay tuned for my first Beauty Post!

xoxo

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Did I Overdue It?

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That’s me on Wednesday, the last time I felt good. By Wednesday night it was pretty clear that I had caught my son’s cold (he was home sick on Tuesday). Actually, I don’t know if I caught my son’s cold or picked up germs from the event I was at last Saturday.

The thing is, I don’t feel like I have cancer. Other than after my Neulasta shot, I’ve been feeling pretty good. The big tell, I guess, that I’m sick is that I don’t quite have the taste for alcohol as I did pre-chemo, and I get tired more quickly.

So, while many were surprised that I made it to last Saturday’s event, I didn’t see it as such a big deal. Until I got the cold. And I immediately began to wonder if I had overdone it. I don’t typically get full-blown colds. Don’t get me wrong, I get runny noses, and coughs, and sneezing, but only once in a blue moon do I get the I-cannot-breathe-through-my-nose-so-I’ve-become-a-mouth-breather cold.

Its been quite pathetic. I’ve gone through at least three boxes of tissues. My lips and nose are chapped. I can’t quite taste my food. And I just don’t feel well enough to do anything, but I don’t feel so bad that I need to sleep all day. So my days have been spent binging on crime-show reruns, Lifetime movies, and iPad games; obsessively checking Facebook and Instagram; and pathetic attempts at napping.

Clearly, a fairly pathetic existence … but I hope to be back to myself this week. I have been brainstorming how to approach my “Beauty” posts, and looking forward to feeling up to actually applying makeup. Stay tuned my friends …

xoxo

Perspective

I had a lovely weekend. I credit much of that to the extra fluids I received intravenously and to the care I took to keep myself hydrated. I was able to attend a full-day spiritual event that I had been looking forward to for weeks. So many people approached me and hugged me (hoping that won’t bite me in the butt this week), ecstatic that I was present. It was moving to see how many people had heard in passing, and how much they wanted to offer expressions of affection and love. It is because of our Heavenly Father hearing and answering these people’s prayers that I am coping with this diagnosis so well.

Sunday we got to spend with one of my favorite families in the world! It was such a respite from the barrage of attention I’ve been receiving lately. There were no glances at my head (that I noticed); no looks of concern. Just down to earth fun. M and I swung on swings at a playground; we drank wine and watched TV; and sat around by a bonfire with our kids. It is the most normal I’ve felt lately, and I am so grateful to them for allowing me to just chill.

I saw my sister off last night  with a Manhattan in a cocktail glass she painted for me (remind me to post a picture of it) and her homemade cheesecake (yum). She will be back to visit with her hubs in three weeks, so the goodbye was not quite so bittersweet.

This morning, after dealing with the initial dry-mouth, dry nose, stuffiness that is Chemo treatment, I planned my outfit and applied my makeup (thanks to my friend A for the amazing eyeshadow palettes!). I even tied my scarf by myself!IMG_2252

Clearly, I was proud of today’s look. I am actually quite enjoying the whole outfit/makeup/hat/scarf planning and execution. Not that I’m glad that I have cancer or anything … but it is awfully fun to take a little extra time to make oneself pretty. In fact, I’m thinking about posting different looks, and sharing what makeup I use … almost like a beauty blog post or something like that. What do you all think?

It reminded me that significant events … marriage, birth of a child, major illness … really help to put life into perspective. As anyone who knows me is aware, I am typically a pretty high-strung person. Always tense and anxious, I usually have a heck of a time unwinding at the end of a day.

But since my treatment started, I’ve begun a new routine. Bedtime is earlier (which I’m sure mostly has to do with the chemo), routines are more relaxing to me. I’m enjoying my evening tea as much as I used to enjoy my evening Manhattan (I know, weird, right?!). I look forward to blogging. I feel closer to my Heavenly Father. My heart swells with appreciation to my friends near and far; old and new; fair-weather and steadfast.

The outpouring of love, prayers, and generosity is beyond comprehension. Since my diagnosis, barely a day has gone by that I have not received a card, care package, flowers, or gift. Today alone, I received seven hand-knit hats and two huge cases (24-can) of La Croix. (By the way, please let me know if you sent it because I want to send a thank you).

Ironically, tonight I feel happier than I have in quite awhile. Truly, to love and to be loved is the sweetest feeling in this world. It really doesn’t take much to be happy if we we open our eyes and hearts and welcome all the beauty that exists each and every day. My heart swells with gratitude to each person who has helped me appreciate this.

xoxo

Thank you, Sinead O’Connor

I first became a fan of Sinead O’Connor when she released her rendition of Prince’s “Nothing Compares 2 U” in 1990. I was 13 then. Sinead’s bald head shocked many, but I have vivid memories of watching her videos on MTV (back when it played videos), and being struck by how gorgeous she was. It’s the first time I realized that some women can be beautiful bald.

Not that I supposed that I was a candidate. Over the years, I joked about shaving my head because I was frustrated with my fine hair that was so finicky, but never did it become a consideration until the “diagnosis.”

For me, I cope best when I expect the worst and hope for the best. Therefore, I began doing research as soon as we found the lump. Once I received the preliminary diagnosis, I knew I would receive Chemo — which probably meant hair loss — so I began to research that. I had determined even before I knew that it was Triple Negative Breast Cancer (for which the chemo drugs are so strong that hair loss begins between 7-21 days after the first treatment) that I would shave my head as soon as I noticed any hair loss.

This was my decision based on my personality. I won’t go into the reasons why I chose this course, because there is no “wrong” decision. This just worked for me. So before Chemo began, my mom and I shopped for hats online; and thanks in large part to Market giveaways (when we shop for the shop) and my Aunt, I actually have a rather nice selection of scarves.

Yesterday, as I washed my hair (and because it was day 15, which is right around when the hair begins falling out), I decided that Tuesday, December 1 was the day I would shear myself (you know, like sheep). I have the BEST hairdresser in the world, and she allowed me to come to her house instead of the salon to take the milestone step. Here we are before:

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As you can see, we are both very excited about this. Because, as my Aunt helped me realize, going bald is an outward sign to everyone that I am kicking this cancer’s butt!

Being the awesome stylist, Breast Cancer Advocate, and volunteer that she is, she stopped numerous times to capture the progress. But I won’t bore you with the step-by-step. All I will say is that we (hubs, kid, stylist, and especially me) were stunned by the result:

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The kid deemed me “beautiful and gorgeous” and pointed out that I look like Pink the singer. That was all the praise I needed, as I was most worried about how he would react. Hubs said I never have to grow my hair out again, and when the hair comes back, he wants me to try a pixie cut! The general consensus has been that I can rock it just like this, and I actually agree … but my head and ears get cold, so scarves and hats will still probably be part of my regular wardrobe.

The response just from texts and on Facebook and Instagram have been so empowering, so I genuinely and sincerely and from the bottom of my heart thank all of you for the outpouring of support.

In other news, some of my readers will be happy to know that alcohol no longer makes me want to run, and that I have actually been able to libate a few times. Yay for normalcy 🙂

Also for my regular I-have-cancer-so-let’s-milk-it post: If anyone knows how I can request VIP passes to The Cure concert in Atlanta (June 2016), please let me know. 😉

xoxo