a little c

because I refuse to give it a big one

Posts Tagged ‘cancer’

(hot) Flash Dance!

Posted by wendy on 2011/07/24


This is how I feel at least 3 or 4 times a day.

They’re baaaaack.  With a vengeance, seriously.  It’s the tamoxifen, I know–but, I’m kind of hoping that when I call the clinic on Monday morning (First thing.  I am calling first. thing.) they’ll be all “Oh, just take an extra Effexor and they’ll clear right up!”.  A girl can dream, right?

I remember her telling me this would be a side effect, but we were hoping it wouldn’t be too bad for me since I’ve been on Effexor for a few months now. Oh, lowest possible dosage of Effexor, you are doing me no good whatsoever at the moment.  le sigh.

Of course, the entire nation is stuck in the middle of a massive heatwave–no one is happy at the moment–but, seriously, there’s nothing quite like getting a hot flash when the heat index is sitting at 110 and you’re sitting in your car and your keys are swimming around the bottom of your purse and you cannot find them and I’m not sure WHY I thought buying such a huge purse was a good idea but, I’m just going to start using a safety pin to attach my keys to my clothes all second-grade latch key kid style and God help any impressionable children who may be within earshot of me when this is happening.  (“Mommy what’s a #@$%! purse?  I’m scared!”) Hey, I was desperate, people.

Hot flashes are so hard to explain to anyone who’s never had one.  It’s this…heat that comes from inside–not the fun, sexy heat that you get when a cute boy  kisses you, but a  really uncomfortable hotness that seems to start in my stomach and spreads out from there.  The worst area for me is the back of my neck/head.  My skin gets clammy all over, my face gets all flushed and I break into a sweat on the back of my neck.  (I know–sexy!)  I feel like I’m running hotter all the time, actually.  I sweat more at the gym than I did before–an hour on the elliptical and I’m drenched in sweat now.  That’s not a complaint–I actually like to sweat at the gym.  It’s more an observation.  I’m definitely  hotter now.  In so many ways, she said flirtatiously.

I lived through the last bout with them, and I’ll live through this one–I mean, I guess, ultimately, that is the operative word, isn’t it?  I will live.  I have to remember that when I get stabby over the little things.

I had some really nice reactions to my last post and I want to thank everyone who helped and thank you to those who passed along the link.  I appreciate it so much, and I so appreciate how supportive everyone was.  Thanks for not making me feel like a…a…I don’t know what, but the big black cloud over my head is a bit lighter now.  I made 6 sales over the last two days, which is really awesome.  I will be adding more shots (and items–I’d like to offer greeting cards–although, I may have to go through cafepress to do that.  I’ll update later.)  here, so if you know of anyone who would be interested, please send them my way.

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I want to name this post “Winning!”, but I think Charlie Sheen has ruined that particular phrase for all of us.

Posted by wendy on 2011/07/18

EDITED TO ADD:  You can totally buy the print above at my Cafepress Store!

I actually hesitate to write this post while I’m still all giddy and high off endorphins, but hey, why not–it’s my blog, amiright?  😉  I had my very last radiation treatment this afternoon!  I’m done!  I’m done!  *dances the dance of being done*  I just so completely blown away that it’s over (and a bit incredulous, because–really?  It’s over?  How did that happen?).  I feel all invincible today, you know?  When I was walking out, the oncology nurse gave me a little pin that said “survivor” on it, and it made me cry a little.  It feels a bit like a cheat…like I shouldn’t wear it until my five years are up and I get my official ‘pronouncement’ of suvivorship, but you know–I DID survive.  I will survive.  (Oh wow, I just went all Gloria Gaynor on your asses, didn’t I?)  I’m in the next stage now.  I have to take tamoxifen for the next 5 years, but hey-I take a multitude of vitamins every morning, so I’m not feeling terribly put out by that anymore.  My onc wants to schedule a baseline PET scan for me next month, and then it’s just regular check-ups and keeping an eye on things.  OH!!  And, there is the removal of my Frenemy, The Port.  This baby is coming OUT, people.  Hallelujah.

So, there is a lot to talk about here and I’m just going to jump right in, as I cannot think of a witty segue-way from “YES!!  I AM DONE WITH TREAMENT!!” to “Hey, this is what a radiation rash looks like.”

Radiation Rash

I feel like I should have painted my nails before I showed you my rash. I also feel weird that I just showed you my rash.

I had zero fatigue with radiation, which is a very good thing.  And, I had no real effects from it until this past week when the rash sprang up.  It’s not painful, really–but, it DOES itch like madness.  I’m putting benadryl cream on it, and it helps a bit.  My skin is also a bit tender and pink–like a slight sunburn at the radiation spot.  It’s kind of funny to note that it is actually in a perfect little square section of my right breast.  When I saw the Dr last week, she pronounced my red, rashy skin to be “exactly what we like to see at this stage”.   She said it shows them that the radiation was actually doing its job and that I will continue to get pinker over the next week and a half, but then it will probably clear up just as quickly as it showed up.  (and seriously–this rash?  Popped up overnight–it was crazy.)  So, there you have it, Dear Frantic Googler.  That’s a radiation rash you see over to the  side of this post.   You can also see why they were at first concerned about my port getting in the way–and I really wish that I had pushed this issue–this is probably the most uncomfortable thing I have going right now–the skin over my PORT is itchy and sore and I have to put cream on it, which means I have to TOUCH MY PORT.  So, I’m both uncomfortably itchy AND skeeved out.  It just doesn’t feel fair at all.

Life is rarely fair, but it can be good.  Oh yes.  It can.

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Paying it Forward

Posted by wendy on 2011/05/06

This is going to be a quickie, because my Dad came down to be with me for my last chemo, and we’re all heading out into the world to see and do stuff today.

Chemo  #8 went off without a hitch and (due to mixups and denials and then retractions of denials) today I’m off to get my neulasta shot and I don’t even think an all-caps YAY could describe how happy I am about that.  My recovery is so much faster with it.  I don’t go back to the clinic til June, which means I am doc-free until the 31 (Radiology).  Hmmm….whatever shall I do with my time?  😉

I bedazzled my head yesterday to celebrate and it was a big hit at the clinic–I lost count of the number of people who took my picture (good thing I’m not camera-shy at all, eh?).  It was a bittersweet moment when my pump started beeping for the last time, though.  This bit of my fight is over, the next one starts next month–but, I think I am through the hardest times.  That’s a good–yet, really surreal, feeling.


So, after the clinic, we went to my favorite Chinese restaurant for dinner, and had a really lovely meal, all chatting and with me a little bit on cloud 9, I think.  But, the most extraordinary thing happened when our bill came–we all grabbed our fortune cookies (mine was yet another what I like to call “observation cookies”, because “you are full of grace” is not a fortune, that’s just VERY VERY TRUE. ) (What?).  My Dad wanted to buy dinner, so as he was pulling out his credit card, the waitress came by and took the bill and passed Dad a handwritten note.  I’m kicking myself for not remembering the exact quote right now, but it was essentially about the healing power of God–it was just a really nice little reminder for all of us, I think.  So we all read it and smiled (because hellooo, what timing, right?), but then hit HIT US.

Whoever sent that note PAID OUR BILL.  And left.  We have no idea who it was, our waitress was all smiles and completely mysterious (I think she enjoyed the whole thing, too).  You know, it was just the perfect way to end my chemo, I think.  A random act of kindness from a stranger to all of us.  It was marvelous.

I have so many friends who are of so many different faiths–I like to joke that “all my bases are covered” when it comes to beating cancer, because I pretty much have all the major religions behind me–and a few of the non-major ones as well!  😉  I feel blessed on all levels, you know?  I have friends who pray for me, I have friends who don’t pray, but send me love and good vibes across the cosmos, I have friends who light incense for me, and yesterday, a total stranger said a prayer and bought my family lunch.  With all the horror and anger that we’re faced with in the news every day, it’s easy to forget how many amazing, wonderful people there are on this planet.  I’m going to make an effort NOT to forget that again.

My sister gave me a copy of “The Seven Spiritual Laws of Success” by Deepak Chopra, and there is a chapter devoted to giving and receiving.  Essentially, it’s about giving everyone you meet a gift–whether it be a flower, a compliment, or a simple silent blessing or prayer that they receive happiness in their lives.  It’s my favorite chapter in the book, and I read it often.  Because every day that I wake up is a gift.  Life is about love and sharing.  And, I am alive.

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Combustible Lemons.

Posted by wendy on 2011/05/04

Tomorrow is Chemo #8!  I can’t believe it’s my very last chemo.  There is a surreal haze surrounding me this week.  The final chemo, and then next week, I leave for 2 glorious weeks in England with M and I keep thinking…”Really?  REALLY?  That’s madness, because I cannot be finished and I am certainly not well enough to travel!”.  And, yet…there you go.  Done and leaving.

In the realm of “Are you kidding me?”–I am lamenting the very recent loss of my eyebrows and eyelashes.  (they’re not entirely gone–there’s just enough left of each to look really, really stupid.  grrr.)  I’m a bit disappointed this didn’t happen earlier, because I was kind of thinking that the end of chemo meant this would all start growing back (and it IS growing back on my head–I have a very fine layer of down covering my head at the moment), and I was so relieved that I, at least, kept my eyebrows.  Ah, well.  There goes my ability to look surprised or super angry. Unless I draw it in, and if I do that, I’ll have to decide on a mood and keep it all day–and where’s the fun in that?  Maybe I need to invest in some stick-on eyebrows so I can switch it up as my mood changes.

I’m bald.   I have half of an eyebrow over each eye.  Most of my eyelashes are gone.  But, I have to shave my legs every. single.day.  There has to be someone I can complain to about this, because I am so planning to give all these damn lemons back:

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He had me at ‘donuts’.

Posted by wendy on 2011/04/17

3 years ago today, a smartass Brit and I exchanged a few cheeky messages about money and donuts.  We didn’t realize at the time, but both of our lives changed that day–in the best possible way.  I’ve been doing a lot of thinking about life lately–being diagnosed with cancer will do that to you (as my fellow cancerchicks well know)–and, if I have learned nothing else about myself, or about us this past year, it’s that there is nothing we cannot face, nothing we cannot do if we are together.  I found someone who looks at me today with the same love and appreciation in his eyes as he did when I had hair to my waist and a very different body than the one I have now.  He has been there for me through tears and despair and he makes me laugh and smile like no one ever has.  The caliber and depth of his core being astounds and humbles me.  My kid loves him, my dogs love him.  I love him.

Oh yeah–he somehow managed to turn me into a big schmoopy, gross GIRL.  I hope all the glitter and unicorns from the above paragraph don’t drive you guys away, cause I DO have actual cancer-related updates.  😉

I’ve had a much harder time of it without the Neulasta shot after chemo.  I’ve been really run down for the past week–although I did get good news on Thursday when I went in for my bloodwork:  my white cell count IS climbing back up on its own, so I should be able to power through the next 2 treatments with no interruption.  I am SO THANKFUL for that, because I was genuinely distressed at the idea of having to schedule my treatments out to 3 weeks apart instead of 2.  I was having all kinds of anxiety dreams about it.  I’ve looked to May 5 as my last day for so long, I don’t want that to change.  So, YAY!

Now for the BOO part of my last week–I’m officially in ‘chemopause’.  Holy crap at the hot flashes!!  I was having them very nearly every hour on the hour for around 4 days, but my onc prescribed Effexor, and it has cooled me down a bit–I only had a few yesterday.  My onc says  they’ll go away once I’m out of chemo, so I guess I’ll just dress in layers for the next 3 weeks, because–oh yeah–the clothes need to COME  OFF when they hit and I don’t want to frighten any random children at the supermarket if one hits me in the produce section.

Since my body has undergone some pretty drastic changes in the past year, I’ve become a thrifting fiend, so I want to share my latest finds.  We have some fantastic places around here:

I love this dress!!

Jonathan Saunders for Target – Buckle Ponte Dress in Eternal Flame (Thrifted – New with tags–$6 – It fits like a DREAM and it’s so completely adorable! I loveloveLOVE this dress!)
Coat – Chaus (Okay–not thrifted–I got it at Dillards for $14–they’re going out of business and I found this on the clearance rack.–it’s got a cute little ruffle feature on the back that I completely forgot to get a shot of. doh.)
Shoes -Bandolino Mary Janes – $2.88
Hair – Well, okay. That’s not thrifted, either. Paula Young dot com – The Jaclyn Smith collection. 😉

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If life gives you lemons, make sure you’ve got some vodka in the freezer, because lemonade without vodka is boring.

Posted by wendy on 2011/03/30

Occasionally, I like to look on the bright side of my situation.  So, today, I am going to make some hard lemonade and share it with you.

I have  discovered an unending wellspring of support and love in both likely and unlikely places.   People I’ve never met have knitted me hats, sent me little gifts and cards to cheer me up–I’ve had countless emails offering support and well-wishes from so many people–it’s humbling and overwhelming and nearly impossible to articulate how appreciative I am and how much of my strength has come  from this knowledge.

Along those lines..I’ve met the most amazing women since this happened. Women who’ve been through it, women who are going through it–they make me laugh and think and they give me hope.  I really love that.  Granted, I have no doubt we’d all much rather  be able to bond over our love of shoes/scrapbooking/stamp collections/whatever, but just the same, I’m glad to have found them.

I no longer have to shop in expensive specialty shops for bras.  That first trip into Victoria’s Secret to buy a cute little padded bra (courtesy of my fabulous friend, Brenda, who immediately sent me a gift certificate when she found out about my diagnosis and pending surgery)?  Well, that was super fun.  And, then–a huge revelation for me was finding a Calvin Klein bra for $6.99 in TJ Maxx.  INSANE, people.  I used to pay $60 for my bras on a good sale day.  I love that I can walk into Target and pull a cute little 36C off the rack for $10.

And, clothes!  ooo..I’ve discovered that my inner fashionista is actually coming out to play more and more.  When you don’t have any hair, you’ve gotta work everything else just a wee bit more, I think.  And, there is the added bonus that my wig is already styled, so the usual half-hour/hour I used to spend on my hair  before going out has been cut to pretty much nothing.  I’ve always been pretty firmly against showing up at Walmart or the grocery store in your sweats (Seriously–M makes fun of me because he says I dress up for doctor’s appointments like I’m going on a date–he’s not entirely wrong, although I’m less likely to wear my super sexy lacy bras to see my oncologist. I like her a lot, but not *that* much), but I’ve discovered I pay even more attention now.  I’ve become very detail-oriented with jewelry, shoes, bags.  I like exploring this side of me.

Tank Girl! Fake cigarette (cause smoking is bad--mkay?), fake gun, fake mohawk--but GENUINE bald head! A once-in-a-lifetime opportunity, I tell you! Well. Hopefully, just the once.

I’ve also found this experience to be a validation of the lifestyle changes I made last year.  2010, aka The Year of Getting Fit, was an important year for me.  Had I not lost weight, I may not have found the lump in my breast.   All those months of daily workouts and getting in shape were instrumental in my ability to  heal quickly from my surgeries, and I firmly believe that it’s made chemo much easier for me than it otherwise would have been.

Artistically, it’s been fun to play around with my shiny bald head.  One does not get the opportunity to bedazzle one’s head very often, I think.  There are days I cannot face a camera, but the times that I have felt well enough to do it, I’ve been pretty pleased with the results–and since I am freakishly into documenting stuff, I think it will be nice to have something to look back on and smile about.

So, you know–good things have come from this.  I try to keep that in mind when I start to feel dark.

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Posted by wendy on 2011/03/29


I look so serious.  But, then again, bedazzling one’s head is pretty serious business, I should think.

The bone pain has lessened considerably, therefore my love affair with Taxol continues.  Because I really am loving this no-nausea deal.   M and I are sneakily plotting and planning a trip in between Taxol treatments–because if this keeps up, I think a wee bit of travel might do me some good.  I’ve always believed that my convalescence should totally have been in England, dammit.  We shall see.  I’ve also got to work in a trip to Michigan to see my family there, as well.  ooo..dig me and my inability to sit still!  People to see, places to do.  I am a busy woman and cancer needs to step back and realize I simply do not have time for it anymore.  Oh wait, it doesn’t work that way, does it?  pfft.

36 days til chemo is over.  Then, I get to play with the radiologists! eeeeeee!  Gosh my summer is going to be chock full o’ fun!  😉


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There may be an ode to Taxol written before this is over

Posted by wendy on 2011/03/27

I had my first Taxol treatment on Thursday, and I’m blown away by how much easier this go-round has been.  There’s been no nausea at all and just a smidge of fatigue–I’m amazed by how great I felt on Friday and Saturday.  I am having a considerable amount of bone pain today–it’s settles in my hips and my legs, but my back is joining in on the “hey, I hurt too!” chorus.  I’m also dealing with shooting pains in my breasts today–it’s pretty common, post-surgery, I know.  Today it just feels more severe, but that could be because I’m already aching everywhere else, so I just notice it more.

Despite the pain I’m in right now–I’m actually feeling pretty optimistic with regards to my ability to deal with the Taxol for the next 3 rounds.  (Only 3!  ONLY THREE!!  I want to dance around at the sound of that.)

I really think I’ve had a fairly easy time of it, all things considered.  (remind me of that the next time I get too down about my situation, will you?)  I have hope that it’s just going to continue to get easier from here.

Fingers crossed. x

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I woke up at 5:30 with poetry in my head

Posted by wendy on 2011/03/21

No, really.  I totally did.  I mean, I have been meaning to write that Ode to my port for a while, and this morning, I was inspired enough to try a few different styles of poetry.  I’d considered eeking them out over a period of time, but the chances of me remembering this stuff are pretty small, so we’ll just have a poetry round-up right here, right now.

First up!  The Official Ode to my Port.  I really wish I’d thought ahead and just made that font a bit more flowery.  Just pretend it’s super scrolly and that there are butterflies and unicorns prancing around in the background, ok?

Oh! Port–my port
My left arm
free of bruises
asks me to send you


I’ve decided that since this mentions “breeze’, which is nature-related, that this is totally an official haiku.  Please do not call the Poetry Police.

hard tiny round disc
you have made chemo a breeze
yet ruin my neckline


This is a senryu about my port and a bit of an homage to my surgeon.  Aren’t you totally impressed that I know the difference?  Helloooo, I was  privy to the Santa Monica poetry scene for a super long time!  I know things.  Poetic things.

installed by Amish
flash some skin, but just a peek
cleavage is evil


Lastly, I have an offering of free verse for you.  It’s totally angry and aggressive!  I feel like I was channeling my inner 14 year old when I wrote it and frankly, I feel this piece would be much better as a live performance piece than just words on my blog.  I’d wear a black turtle neck carry a clove cigarette that I wouldn’t smoke…I’d just let it sit in my hand and burn, baby, burn.  Then, I’d flick into to floor as I was finished and you could all snap for me when I was finished and IT WOULD BE AWESOME.  Oh yeah.  I’ve thought about that one.  What?

alien tech under my skin
hook me up
shoot me up
make me sick to cure me

I really need a little pink diary with a tiny padlock so I can furiously scribble my angsty poems into it, don’t I?  Oh wait.  I don’t need that, because I have the internet.  HA!  Speaking of, I totally did decorate my port.  I meant to put a green stem up to my neck, but I’m actually still skeevy about touching that line.

It's CHEMOFLAGED! ahahahaha.


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