a little c

because I refuse to give it a big one

Posts Tagged ‘chemo’

Hit it again

Posted by wendy on 2011/10/22

When I signed into my dashboard today this was in my top searches box:

what+do+you+do+when+you+have+fought+so+hard+for+something+but+you+keep+hitting+a+brick+wall?

Personally, my favorite link on that search result is the Aqua Teen Hunger Force movie script.   There is a small part of me that thinks someone would probably benefit more from that link than if they hit my blog looking for answers.  Really, I have none.  Lately, it feels like all of the answers are out of my reach as well.

So many of my photoshoots end up with Pip The Therapy Dog crashing the party--no zombie bride pictures today, because Pippin wants to sit in my lap. 😉

I’m all over the internet this month, taking pictures  and playing  silly Facebook  games and pinning pithy sayings to my pinterest page…but, am I talking about cancer this month? Not so much.    As someone who made it through 8 rounds of chemotherapy without tossing her cookies once, how much of a right do I have to even complain about my experiences?  Sure, I felt like crap and I lost my hair, but it’s grown back and I had a full head of it less than 3 months after chemo ended.  The surgery was hard, but I recovered and I actually like my teeny little breasts more–clothes fit better, they don’t get in the way of daily activities, and they look fabulous in a tight sweater.  I had all the lymph nodes removed on my right side, but I regained full range of motion with my right arm and while the numbness is annoying, I’m used to it so it doesn’t bother me as much as it used to.  I lift weights.  I do yoga.  I was a text-book case of breezing through surgery, chemo and radiation with minimal difficulty.  Did I have cancer-lite?  No.  It was aggressive.  I had multi-focal DCIS and a big freaking tumor on my right breast.  It had spread to 1 lymph node–but, again…I was lucky–we caught it before it spread further.  So many women had it–HAVE IT–so much worse than I did.  I feel guilty because I feel like I really did get the pretty end of the shitstick.  I mean, any way you look at it, it’s still a shitstick, but I got the end that cleans up faster.

Lately, I don’t even like to talk about how lucky I was–it’s like I’m afraid I’ll jinx it somehow.  And…as someone who has both been there, done that, and purchased the pink t-shirt, how much of a responsibility do I now carry to continue the fight to raise awareness?  As a survivor, do I offer hope or do I offer reality?   Can we have both?  I can see how women with metastatic breast cancer can feel left out of all of these pink rays of hope we’re shooting around the world this month–because, the happy hopeful survivor place?  That’s the place I’d much rather dwell, too–and that feels like such a cowardly thing for me to say, but if I’m going to be honest here, then…yeah.  I don’t want to think about this coming back and I don’t want to think about it spreading.  Maybe it’s too soon for me to face the ‘what ifs’.  Right now,  I want to focus on the fact that I WON this round.  But, I was lucky.  So many women are not.  What will I do if my luck runs out and I’m faced with that brick wall once more?

Aqua Teen Hunger Force says “hit it again”.   And, I will.  But, I’m not going to think about that today.  Maybe I will tomorrow.

 

Maybe.

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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.

Shiny!

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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Change is the New Normal

Posted by wendy on 2011/04/22

Chemo #7 went off without a hitch yesterday.  My blood count is the lowest it’s been yet, but apparently, my onc has discovered that my insurance company had already okay’d TWO Neulasta shots for me, and the pharmacy had sent over two, so I have one left–I’m getting it this morning!  *dances*  This should help shoot my blood count right back up where it should be and that will keep me on track for my May 5 finish date.  I haven’t mentioned here that my onc is pregnant, so I met with the doc who will be taking over her patients when she goes out on maternity leave yesterday–loved her, too.  She’s chatty, like me, and I think we broke the morning schedule with our bonding.  😉 It’s nice to know that when I go in for my follow-up visits, I will, yet again, be dealing with a doctor that I really LIKE.  Lucky girl, that’s me.

In addition to the most excellent Neulasta news, we also discussed the fact that I’m moving into the radiation phase, so she’s set up a preliminary appointment with a radiologist next Friday.  And, that’s when the fear hit me.

I am actually afraid to finish chemo.  I mean, don’t get me wrong–chemo SUCKS–but,  it has been my routine for the past few months, and I’m…used to it.  I know what to expect.  I get to sit in the same recliner (my lucky chair!) every week, I love my doctors, I love the nurses and the receptionist.  I love Buddy, the volunteer who brings me graham crackers and knows just how I take my coffee.   I like the atmosphere at the clinic, because it is upbeat and there are smiles everywhere you look–even on the patient’s faces.   Clearview is an excellent place to receive care, and while I know I’ll be back for check-ups, etc…I am about to move on.

I’m graduating Chemo 101 with flying colors, and now they’re moving me to a new clinic with new people and new doctors and I feel so apprehensive about that.  The intellectual part of me knows this is a bit silly–finishing chemo, starting radiation–this is all very good stuff.  I mean, the radiation is the end of my ‘to-do list’.  (wait–getting my port out is the end, but I doubt there will be much apprehension when that little bit comes up-ha.)  I’m all full of dread, though.

I know there is a bright side to this–my hair is going to start to grow back, my taste buds will return, the hot flashes will subside and go away, I’m one step closer to putting this behind me.  I know this.  Moving on is a good thing.  I know it.  But, knowing a thing intellectually and knowing it emotionally is not always an easy thing to do.   It’s a change–and there has been so. much. change. in my life the past 6 months, I should be used to it by now–Change is my new normal.  heh.  New docs, new offices, new procedures, a whole new set of unknowns that I will need to investigate and learn.

The Devil You Know over the Devil You Don’t, eh?

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Ms Cranky McStabbypants

Posted by wendy on 2011/04/11

I cannot decide if my least favorite side effect from the Taxol is the bone pain or the hot flashes.  Perhaps, I’d take either/or, but of course, I’m getting them both at once this weekend and it’s…oh.  Tiresome.   It’s the nature of curing cancer, I suppose.  You change meds, you trade one set of unpleasant side-effects for another set.   I will say that I’ll take the way I feel right now over nausea any day.  I mean, this sucks–but, it’s not debilitating.  (Well, a little–I mean, I’m definitely not up for running around the block, but I could take a careful stroll around the backyard if I needed to.)

I’m doing some reading on ‘chemopause’, but I think I need the M-filter to go to work on it as I keep finding ‘OMGZ IT’S FOUR YEARS LATER AND I STILL HAVE HOT FLASHES!” stories.   I like to read about the happy endings right now.  And, on the ‘happy endings’ note, I have a PSA for the general public:

If you run into me while I’m out and about, please do not approach me and then tell me about your <insert relative or friend’s name here> who fought a long, hard battle <insert lurid details of radiation burns and chemos gone wrong> with <insert type of cancer here> and died <insert the exact date and time said tragic death occurred>.  Seriously, dudes.  GIVE ME A HAPPY ENDING RIGHT NOW, M’KAY?  I’m going to be completely selfish here and say that now is not the time for me to be bonding with total strangers over their losses.  I’m going to be even more selfish and suggest that it’s not cool to remind cancer patients that they have a disease that could kill them.  Cause, we already know.  We do.  Really.  REALLY.   So, you know, the next time you walk up to a profusely sweating bald girl in the supermarket, think before you speak.  Because the hotter I get, the less likely I am to be polite about it.

PS – The hot flashes are making me stabby.  Does it show?

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I yam who I yam! Who yam I? Popeye? Oh, hey, he doesn’t have any hair, either! Although, my forearms aren’t nearly as large.

Posted by wendy on 2011/04/09

One word titles are so hard to do.

I had a comment on a shot of me wearing my wig in which the question was asked “Why hide who you are?”.  I had to think about that comment a bit–because I DO choose to wear a wig on the days that I don’t feel like being ‘the bald girl’.   When I’m wearing my bandanna, I am immediately recognizable as a chemo patient–hell, I was approached twice yesterday by people who wanted to know what kind of cancer I had–I am happy to tell them and to talk about my experiences when this happens, but seriously–my life could quickly become The All-Cancer Channel if I allowed it to be.   We call this the “little c” around here, not the big one.  I don’t think wearing a wig ‘hides’ who I am, I actually think I am more me, more Wendy when the wig is on.  I look into a mirror and I see ME again.  Losing your self-identity is so easy to do when little bits and pieces are constantly whittled away by an illness.  My wigs (all of them) have helped me find that ownership of self that is so important to me.

I am not defined by cancer.  Period.  It’s actually a bit insulting to me that anyone would want me to carve out who I am around my illness.  Some days, I wear a wig, some days, I wear a bandanna.   I am learning that I am always me, inside–where it really countsno matter what my outward appearance is to the general public.

Has cancer changed me?  Yes.  Obviously.  You look your mortality in the face and it is bound to change you.  My perspective, my priorities, they have shifted.  But, I refuse to make this the most important thing that has ever happened to me.  I’m not going to allow that.  There are so many other wonderful things in my life that are important.  In fact, I see what IS important so much more clearly now.  This cancer is a blip, an interruption, an unwelcome interloper.  My son is important, my love is important, my family is important.   I’m going to get through this, I’m going to beat it, and I’m going to get back to the things that do define me.

pfft.

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Oh. Seriously.

Posted by wendy on 2011/04/01

You know, there are so few upsides to the entire chemo thing.  Of course, one of the biggest downsides is that you lose your hair.  Now, I would venture to say that an upside of losing your hair is that you tend to lose ALL of your hair.  ALL. OF. IT.    I haven’t had to shave my armpits since, oh…January?  I can’t remember.  And, there was this glorious period in which shaving my legs was a distant memory as well.

HOWEVER.  In the past 2 weeks,  shaving my legs has once again become a daily chore.  To which, I say….”Really, Universe?  REALLY?!  Of all of the hair on my body to start growing back like gangbusters–it had to be on my LEGS?”.  Yeesh.   I mean, I was  actually ENJOYING that bit.  I know life isn’t fair and all that, but it really does feel SUPER UNFAIR that my legs have more hair on them than my head.

My eyebrows are still hanging on for dear life, and for that, I am completely grateful.

Whilst–I do love that word. “Whilst”.  Whilst whilst whilst.  Well, not so much now, because I just used it too much and it doesn’t feel like a word anymore.  Like pants.  Pants pants pants pant….wait.   What was I talking about?  Oh yes!  Whilst I am on a whinging kick, can I just say that I’m super upset that it’s freezing cold outside and I cannot take my cutely bedazzled and sparkly head out in public?

More sparkles. I feel like this would totally be appropriate for both ballet and beach.

 

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Glitterati

Posted by wendy on 2011/03/29

Shiny!

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
love

————-

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?

protruder
intruder
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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