Wednesday, June 29, 2011

More fun news ....

So, you know, sometimes retail therapy is a good thing. So today I indulged in some retail therapy and purchased these two shirts:

This one is available at cafepress here

And this one is available, also from cafepress here

I hope they arrive soon so I can wear. {And no, I'm not bald yet, but I am preparing for it!}

Blah, blah, blah ....

I really have nothing to say today.

Later I go for my second chemo treatment. Last time I was nervous because I didn't know what to expect. This time I'm nervous because I know exactly what to expect.Ha ha! =)

If it's anything like last time, I'll probably be pretty silent for about a week. We'll see. Secretly I'm hoping that it goes much smoother this time. Like my body will have completely adjusted to chemo and there won't be any side effects at all. Hey, a girl can dream, can't she? ;-)

The plus side here is the first round of treatment is 4 doses. So after today I will be half-way through. We'll pretend for a moment that there isn't a second round of treatment to follow. Because I'm just taking it one step at a time.

Anyway, that's all. Hope all of you have a great 4th of July if I don't get to talk to you before! =)

Sunday, June 26, 2011

Wig Shopping

Yesterday my lovely mother and I went wig shopping. We each bought a wig. I LOVE the wig she bought - it's perfect for her. She loves the wig I bought. She says it's perfect for me. I bought it on her recommendation.

The truth is I don't think I would have liked any wig they put on my head, even if it was a wig, made with all of my hair and looked exactly like my hair looks right now. Because one of the things I hate the most about all of this, is that I have to lose my hair.

Sometimes I complain about my hair, but I actually mostly like my hair. And I like it long. And I hate that soon (yes soon, the falling out should start around Wednesday and be completely done (if we don't shave it before then which I think we will) within 2 weeks) it will be all gone. Having to go buy a wig is just a reminder that it's coming and coming soon.

I know, I know. Hair grows back. I'm told it often comes back looking nicer than before. But still. I'll be hairless. Blargh.

I think, for me, the biggest reason this bothers me is because it's like a shining beacon to the world wherever I go that I have cancer. Might as well just put it on a shirt and wear it out. Oh, well, I mean besides the awesome shirt my mom gave me for my birthday! LOL!

And really, it's silly for me to think that. I imagine the truth is that it's much like when you are 14 and you are positive the entire world is staring at you, watching your every move, when in truth they are too worried about you staring at them to really be staring at you.

Of course, the hair will grow back, this too shall pass. I have lots of pretty scarves and hats and now a wig (well, okay it still needs to be ordered, and trimmed, but they can't do that until I'm bald) to cover my head just in case my bald head is hideous and we didn't know it because my hair was so lovingly covering it!

And still. I wish I didn't need to get a wig. But this is life. And my hair loss is supposed to be short lived. And right now my hair grows quickly and I'm hoping and praying that doesn't change.

{As a side note I wish I had a picture to show you, but after we left I remembered I never pulled the camera out to take one and I really had intended to! Oh well, it will be here soon and I'll show it off then!}

Saturday, June 25, 2011

The good, the bad, the ugly ...

I've been through all of it recently. I know, I know, not surprising.

I haven't talked too much about the bad days though. Mostly because when I'm having a bad day, the last thing I want to do is sit up, stare at a computer screen and type. And that's probably a good thing. Because I'm pretty sure if I did post on those days, it would leave more than a few of you worried.

But the truth is I've had some really bad days. Usually, and thankfully, not really bad days, more like moments. Moments where I'm so angry and pissed off and just can't stop thinking that it's not fair. Because the truth is, it's not fair. It's not fair for anyone to go through this. And yet here I am. Smack in the middle of going through it.

And some moments I'm just sad and weepy and I just can't stop crying.

And some moments I'm all of it wrapped up into one package: angry, sad, mad, having the why me thoughts, thinking it's not fair, and just bawling my eyes out.

I can write about it now because I've had a couple really good days. Which leaves me hopeful ... chemo will be about a week of hell, and then things get better.

Of course there will still be bad days. And there will still be moments where I just can't wrap my mind around all that is happening and stop thinking about how incredibly unfair it all feels.

I'm sharing this because I have a tendency to gloss over the bad stuff around here. I like it that way. But at the same time I'm trying to be honest about everything that is going on. Or maybe I just needed to let it out. I don't know. But there it is.

Thursday, June 23, 2011

Down for the count

Yesterday I had a very important doctor's appointment. It was for the big blood draw - just to show how low my blood counts would go with the chemo regiment. (Apparently yesterday should be in theory the lowest it drops and hopefully counts are already climbing as I type away).

Well, apparently my chemo is very good. Because my white blood cell counts are super un-fabulously low. Some parts are so low they are non-existant - for those wondering my granulocytes are one of those which is apparently really bad as it leaves me wide open to possible infection/illness/etc.

Awesome. And by awesome I mean totally not awesome. I am now supposed to avoid crowds, sick people, fresh fruits and veggies (and fresh fruit is one of the few things I can tolerate these days in what is fast becoming a very very picky stomach).

Today however is supposed to be my lowest of lowest days (which is why I had to have the all important blood test today). And as I said a few sentences ago, hopefully numbers are already on the rise. But in the meantime the number one job is now to keep me healthy. And to get those counts higher (not that I can do anything about that one though).

I can't lie though. I'm nervous that after every treatment things will drop this low. I'm really hoping though it dropped so low because it was the first treatment and it just sent my body into shock and things will be better next time.

Also, today I sneezed more times than I've ever sneezed in one day for a really long time. By that I mean, you know, a whole 4 times. But every sneeze makes me anxious. One of the kids coughed today. I wondered if I should find a place for them to spend the night, just in case. Which is strange because in general I'm not a germaphobe or even usually slightly worried about stuff like that. I mean, sometimes I have hand sanitizer with me. So I guess I need to change that and always have some with me.

It's not a complete surprise, but at the same time, to drop so low. Really? I mean really? It couldn't have dropped just sort of low? But no. I guess when I do something, I really do it. It's how the whole process has been hasn't it? I haven't gone through one step of this (or at least it feels to me) without being kind of on the extreme side of things. So I guess I should just know by now, this is par for my course.

But. So if you know, you sneeze or cough around me and I jump back or avoid touching you at all, please don't take it personally! I swear it's not you, it really is me! =)

Tuesday, June 21, 2011

How are you doing?

No, really, how are you doing? I want to know. I know that some of you are having trouble answering this question for me lately, so I thought I would send you some encouragement.

I think what is happening is this: I ask "How are you doing?" and in your head you think about all the things you could tell me about and then you ask yourself but is this more important than cancer? And then you (wrongly) assume the answer is no and so you don't tell me all the things you could tell me. Instead you say "Oh, nothing. But how are you doing?" And then I get to have another conversation talking all about me.

So let me help you out. Here's is what you should think when I ask you how you are doing ... you need to ask yourself "Am I more important than cancer?" And the answer, my dear friends and family is a resounding YES! Yes you are! Cancer has not affected my heart or my brain. And YOU are much more important to me. And so therefor you should start to tell me all the things going on your life like you would have told me 2 months ago - talk about the kids, the job, the weather, the spouse, the boyfriend, your favorite tv show, that great book you just read - talk to me about all of it!

I get it, it feels awkward at first. Truthfully if the roles were reversed, I'd be doing the exact same thing in my head - thinking I couldn't possibly bore you with details of my kids latest softball triumph when you have such a major huge thing going on in your life. But here's a secret: you aren't boring me. And also, I get a little tired of talking about myself all the time. I mean I know it sounds fun, for about the first 52 seconds. And then it gets old and boring because conversations can only happen if both people participate.

That's not to say there will be days when I'm just too tired to talk. Or there will be days where you ask me what's going on and I will just unleash a thousand thoughts all at once without even pausing to take a break. But still, please talk to me. It makes me smile and makes me happy. And I love and care about all of you just as much as you love and care about me =)

Monday, June 20, 2011


"Frenemy" (alternately spelled "frienemy") is a portmanteau of "friend" and "enemy" that can refer to either an enemy disguised as a friend or to a partner who is simultaneously a competitor and rival.[1] The term is used to describe personal, geopolitical, and commercial relationships both among individuals and groups or institutions. The word has appeared in print as early as 1953.
~from Wikipedia
I now have my first official frenemy. It's not pretty. I didn't want it to come to this. I wanted dearly to just be friends. Not even best friends, I mean, it's not like I wanted to go skipping off under a rainbow holding hands or anything like that. Just friends would have been okay.

But no, it just couldn't work that way. So here I am. With my first frenemy. My frenemy's name ... chemotherapy.

Yep. I had my first treatment last Wednesday. They warned my it would be rough. The doctor told me it would be hard. I didn't listen. I thought for sure I'd rise above it. I'd breeze through it. No big deal. Wrong.

It could have been worse. And I'm holding that thought dear in my heart right now. It could have been so much worse than it was. Other people have suffered so much worse than I did. But. Still. It sucked and I felt like crap. There's just no way around it. And it hit fast - much faster than I anticipated - not even 6 hours after treatment.

Things are still lingering - mostly nausea, headache, general achy-ness, just feeling crappy in general, not really being able to sleep. Also, I'm so amazingly dry - I drink and drink and drink, but I'm still so dry.

Again, I realize these symptoms could be so much worse. And I'm trying to keep that in perspective. But I can't lie - many tears were shed by me, many meds to offset the side effects of chemo were taken. {Thankfully one of them made me very sleepy and so a lot of sleeping also happened}.

But one round down. Three more in this treatment cycle to go. I'm a quarter of the way there. And I'm praying the next 7 weeks fly by!

As a side note, the nurses all LOVED my hair. So at least I had awesome hair - bright and colorful. It's kind of hard to walk by the mirror and not smile about the pink and purple hair ;-)

For those who are curious, the two drugs I'm currently receiving are this one and this one.

Wednesday, June 15, 2011

My hair on my terms .....

So later today I will go in for my first round of chemotherapy. I admit, I'm nervous about the side effects. I know they will try to prevent as many as they can - but I also know that I don't often respond to medicine as it's always predicted. So there is a small fear I will come home and be nauseous, uncomfortable, have other stomach trouble, etc, etc.

But the truth is that I'm most terrified of losing my hair. My hair. I actually kind of like my hair. No, I really do love my hair. And in about 2-4 weeks it will all be falling out. And I absolutely hate the idea of my hair falling out. Also, it will probably be messy or something like that and just annoying and oh, did I mention I really hate that my hair will be falling out. Because, yeah. I don't want to lose my hair. And if I could prevent it, I would. In a heartbeat.

So with that in mind, I decided I'm losing my hair on my own terms. And as long as my hair is coming out, I'm going to have fun with it. Because, well, mostly because I can! So last night, I took the proverbial bull by the horn and decided I would be in charge of my hair during this time ... not cancer.

Enter Samantha - a lovely girl who came to my mom's to do my hair

And first we bleached my hair
which seems totally shocking - well at least to me.

But we weren't done there.

And all of that together, allows me to look like this:


Seriously, I'm in love with my hair. I'm so absolutely in love with my hair. I can't believe I've never done anything like that before in my life {Until now, I had highlights put in about 12 years ago and until now that's it!}.

So there you go. Cancer is NOT going to be in charge of my hair. It's MY hair. And I'm in charge of it.

Of course, up next in the hair department will be a complete head shaving. I'm thinking maybe a mohawk for a day or so. I mean, I've never had a mohawk (other than when I was like 7 years old and did it with too much shampoo in the bathtub). We'll see. I have a couple weeks to decide. But don't worry, I'll keep you all posted ;-)

Monday, June 13, 2011

Temporary Room ...

So, while I was in the hospital, I believe my husband talked about we weren't sure where I'd be sleeping when I got home.
The problem was that our bed was sitting on the floor. And it wasn't against a wall so I couldn't stack pillows very well without them all falling off the back.
So, my lovely husband turned our dining room (which by the way is the only place we have a table to eat at in our house) into a bedroom for me. We took the 11yo's bed down and she slept in a tent. {I might add here the tent - it was super fun for a few days and then she was anxious to get her bed back!}.

Anyway, as of last night I am back in our bed. We bought a frame and moved the bed so I can pile on the pillows. But I wanted to show off all the hard work my husband did for me.

First, as you can see, pillow stacking was very very necessary:

Remember my arms were pretty much useless when I came home, so I couldn't push myself up. So I compensated by sleeping at an angle I could successfully use my stomach muscles to sit all the way up LOL!
{Note: the teddy bear came from husband's work and I love her! The DVD player is where I watched many many episodes of Gilmore Girls. And also, it's hard to see but there is a blue and pink pillow hiding that is designed for after mastectomy surgery and they work. So well in fact that when I am feeling much better I will be making some to donate in a pay it forward kind of thing}

The other half of the bed:

So, the green/pink blanket is a prayer blanket from grannie's church. That I love. You can see my shirts we so elequently "hung" on the chair. All my scarves (here's where I admit before all of this I owned one. Just one. It's true!) And I loved being able to look at the kids art work! =)

A chair to sit in:
This is kind of across from the bed. The black curtain behind it was hanging in the doorway to the kitchen. Which doesn't really have a door and is just an opening. So it was nice to be able to block it. He bought a rod and a curtain to put there. Which I loved. Also, that is our cat Marcy. And she spent much time either in that chair or laying with me. It was kind of cute. She doesn't generally sleep with me. I'd like to imagine that she knew I was healing and trying to give me some extra love.

The shot from the front room. Again, the curtain was new and bought just for me. So I could have a bit or privacy.

In general, it was a lovely room. And it was much needed. But I can't lie. I'm glad to be back in my bedroom, in my bed, laying next to my husband. Although, as long as I'm being honest here, I did not in fact miss his snoring! ;-)

Sunday, June 12, 2011

12 years ....

Friday was my 12 year anniversary. For fun, I thought I'd show you a few pictures from our wedding. Okay, the truth is they are pictures of pictures, so not the best quality, but it's fun to look at them anyway!

My daddy walking me down the aisle

My sweetest and I (and yes, I do think we look like children. I didn't always think so, but this year it really feels like it!)

Total bliss:

We've had an awesome 12 years together. I plan to have many many more awesome years with him. And just to make this take forever to load, I'm just going to add a bunch of photos of us. Although, most are recent (thanks to digital photography!)

Him holding our middle and oldest as babies, and our first family photo after baby number 2!
The day I graduated from college:

Going somewhere fancy (but I have no idea where LOL!)

At a (very very very very cold) Bears game. In fact, the game that got them to the superbowl last time they went.

In front of the Sears Tower, just days before it was renamed Willis Tower. (nope, it will always be Sears Tower to me!)

On vacation in New Hampshire:

Leaf fight!

First photo as a family of 5:

At my cousin's wedding:

For a friend's wedding:

Middle girl's birthday:

Anyway, it's been a great 12 years.

Sunday, June 05, 2011

I'm around ...

I'm here and I'm around.

Overall I'm doing pretty well. I just tire so easily. And there are still a million doctors appointments to juggle.

Last week was another big appointment - I met with the oncologist. Not only was a big appointment but a long one - I was there for 2.5 hours and there was very little waiting time!
First let me tell you, my oncologist seriously is amazingly sweet and gentle and kind. He looks like a sweet grandfather (in fact he's retiring in 4 months).

We did a lot of talking. I'll spare you all the details and just give you the "good" stuff. (also, I was given a lot of info, so there's a chance I might amend some of this later)

So, there will be 16 weeks total of chemotherapy. It will happen it two 8 week phases. The first 8 weeks I will go every other week. Each treatment will be about 2 1/2 hours. During this time I will be receiving the 2 strongest chemotherapy drugs on the market. The doctor warned me that this will be rough. They can help with lots of side effects, but the fatigue I've been warned will be intense. Also hair loss will begin after the second treatment. (in preparation for that I'm thinking of dying my hair crazy cause why not?)

The second 8 weeks will consist of two other drugs that will apparently feel like a walk in the park compared to the first two! The second two can't be given at the same time so for that period I will go every week, but get the medicine alternating. The one medicine will take 5 1/2 hours! (why yes, you can come visit me, bring me food, etc!!) the second medicine is (thankfully) 30 minutes. This medicine - called herceptin - I'll continue to get every 3 weeks for 1 year after the 8 weeks is up.

Of course all of this is subject to change because this coming week I have 3 important tests I have te have performed: CT scan, bone scan, and a muga test (a heart test). I wish I could study for this to guarantee I could pass. I'm sure I will. But they mean lots of time at the hospital - 90 minutes one day, 5 hours for the other two tests.

Next week I also get my port put in Friday. Which will be another roughly 5 hours. And to top it off, it's my anniversary on Friday. So this year I guess my present to my husband will be to get cancer free! Poor guy. I mean really can he top that? Actually, not true. If you didn't already know, my husband rocks. And he is the most supportive, helpful, loving husband ever. Which is the best gift of all :)

Anyway, that's about all from here for now.