Thursday, July 30, 2015

Chemo Round Three: Kick Cancer in the Face!

On Monday, I met with my Plastic Surgeon who filled my expanders. I am very pleased with how they are shaping up compared to the beginning stages. I would show pictures if I didn't think that may be a tid-bit inappropriate for the Internet anyways. I have had more than I can count look at my new breasts in person. It's funny because I don't feel the least bit inhibited by this. Maybe because they really aren't mine? I mean the insides aren't theoretically mine. Maybe because I am becoming less insecure. Maybe because they are just breast after all! This fill is probably my last. I will keep the expanders through the duration of my treatment and once my blood count is good I can have my surgery. This is far out so I am not thinking about this just yet. While I was at this appointment my doctor asked if a possible patient could take a peek. I said sure. I mean everyone and their mother has seen them at this point and I am not shy about it. This woman was in her fifties, my guess. She had received a lumpectomy by the same surgical oncologist I had five years ago and has now been diagnosed with breast cancer. Early stages but still breast cancer. She had only just found out five weeks ago and was at my plastic surgeons office for a consult regarding the bi-lateral mastectomy with reconstruction. She would be receiving the expanders after surgery just as I did should she choose this option. This woman was so sweet and terrified. You could see it in her eyes. She was teary-eyed just speaking about her diagnoses. I let her look at my breast to see how they turned out. I explained how scared I was for my surgery, but  Dr. W was the best and she would be in great hands. I spoke to her about how I went through a range of emotions and have been very open with my journey. I gave her my signature "Heather Hug" and let her know that the MOST important thing she can do throughout her journey is have a Positive state of mind. Stay strong mentally! After meeting her I felt compassion for this woman whose life is beginning to go upside down. I know. I have been there and am going through it!

Round Three is not fun!! I had my usual routine blood draw, met with my Doctor and vitals were checked. I am pleased to announce that the five pound increments of weight are not consistent so I weighed in the same as two weeks ago. I am happy to not continue weight gain but know that it is mostly due to my depleting appetite. At my appointment it was discussed how harsh the nausea was on round two along with the fatigue and achy bone pain. For these side effects they decided to change up my anti nausea meds I receive via IV. I cant remember the name but instead of Zofran I am receiving something that begins with an A.... As for the fatigue and bone pain I will be receiving IV fluid and some other medicine that begins with a T..Tordol (?) on Friday in hopes that I can have a pleasant weekend. Fingers Crossed!!

So handsome in his uniform XOXO
*I have to brag a bit about how wonderful my littles are before continuing. On Chemo Day,Tuesday, I went with my husband to drop off the littles at preschool. My dear sweet Grayson asked me before leaving the house if I could go inside the school to show off my head!! LOL! When I went inside without any hat he was ecstatic. He was so proud that I was his mom and I got teary-eyed as I was leaving him in his classroom after the hundredth hug and kiss. It completely melted my heart. The innocence of children always surprises me. What would otherwise receive an not-understanding glare or ignorant comment from an adult who has no clue other than the personal judgement and criticism they feel pardoned to turns out to be a beautiful acceptance and honest lovely pride from a child. I am and always will be one of those moms who will hold onto a tight embrace until they are ready to let go. I will tell them I love them a million times a day if I feel the urge to do so. In this moment my heart really could have burst! Also have to brag how awesome he looks in his karate uniform. okay. That is all. Brag session over.*

Back to Chemo Round Three. It was just as the other two treatments had gone. I had a different nurse. This time nurse K. I received my new anti nausea concoction, my strawberry daiquiri followed by my clear liquid. This round I met a fantastic women who just lit up my world quite literally. Her energy was tangible to say the least. She is in her fifties, has three children, one of which is autistic, just finished her chemo in June just before I began mine, is currently taking radiation and will be having her hysterectomy with mastectomy using tissue transfer from her stomach. She gave me a bag full of hats to wear and sat and talked with David and I for a good while. She discussed how this changed her life and she values her family time now more than ever. She just wants to go to Disney when all is said and done. She refers to my AC treatment as the Anti-Christ, secretly may I say, I agree. It is awful! She had the same chemo treatment I am going through and gave me insights into tricks she did to feel better and cope. She was this really rad, hippie, laid back, energetic, and funny woman. Her attitude about everything was remarkable. She was high energy and ready to be done with everything. She stated to only focus on one thing at a time. Get by one portion before thinking of the next. After meeting this amazing, strong, energetic survivor I was thinking how I hope to continue my journey with as much emphasis on life and survival.

All ready for my torture

The Strawberry Daiquiri
Later after treatment around 5:30pm I began feeling intense nausea. This time I really came the closest I have ever been to throwing up. I could only stomach the delicious but high sodium Ramen noodles for dinner, took my anti nausea pill and went to bed.

Day two, Wednesday, I woke feeling awful. Sore throat and nauseous with no appetite. I went in for my routine Neulasta injection and went to bed early with the littles.

Today is day three, Thursday and I woke up feeling like I had been hit by a truck. That awful flu-like achy feeling with warmth of a fever but lack of one. Still nauseous. I took all my meds including Claritin and Advil to help with the injection side effects and think I may play sleeping beauty today.

This week is still not over as tomorrow I have another round of IV liquids to hopefully make me feel better. I had a good week all in all. I met two amazing women. One who is just beginning her journey and one whose journey is coming to an end. It is a reminder to me how this cancer nonsense is an epidemic. There are so many lives touched by cancer it is ridiculous. For my journey,  I will stay strong and continue to kick this cancer in the face because I AM STRONGER than my CANCER.

With Love & Hugs,

Thursday, July 23, 2015

Shave it Off

Early this evening was my appointment to have my wig fitting and head shaved. In all honesty I was nervous about how I would end up feeling during and after the appointment. My experience with Wig fittings has only been to the extent of a very sweet elderly volunteer with the American Cancer Society. That wig was a no way. Simply looked too wiggy! Then last week my sister gave up her two wigs she got for fun but again I tried them on and they looked too wiggy! Tonight though, was a different level of Wigery.

Let me explain how the hair falling out feels so that you can understand. For men I really have no comparison unless you have long hair and wear a pony tail however I imagine it would feel the same. First of all it itches and is sore. It hurts to touch and irritatingly falls everywhere. Ladies can understand this comparison. It is similar to when you wear your hair in a ponytail too tight or pins in your hair too tightly. When you take it out your scalp hurts. It is sore. That sums it up. Just all over your scalp.

My new sleeve
I arrived at the Image Recovery Center early and one of the staff helped me with getting my Lymphedema Sleeve (Compression Garment) fitted while I waited for the Cosmetologist to be ready for me. This was great considering it saved me time from having to come in next week after my injection appointment. This fitting consisted of her measuring around my wrist, forearm and upper arm. She then gave me a pantyhose supportive stretchy arm sleeve to put my right arm into. Being as my right arm had the most lymph nodes taken out, this is the possible Lymphedema arm. At any point in life the possibility of getting Lymphedema in this arm is lingering. To avoid this I must be careful to not burn or cut myself on that side, no heavy lifting or repetitive motion, no pulling etc. I need to wear the sleeve when I feel sore or swollen in this arm or armpit area, when traveling on an airplane, exercising, and when doing yoga. This will help give my arm the support it needs during those activities but is not to be worn at night.

It was time for me to do this. My hair has been continuously falling out since last Thursday evening. With no signs of slowing its pace and only further receding hairline, it was time. The Cosmetologist, Lisa, was phenomenal. She was fun, kind, knowledgeable and had a great energy. She explained that the Chemo is preventing my body from fixing itself inside out so my job is to take extra care of the outside. Meaning, pamper with pedicures and manicures using organic ingredients and nail polish, moisturizing skin, continuing to shampoo and condition scalp using products without harsh chemicals, massaging the scalp to help for when my hair grows back, resting when my body needs rest, wearing a comfy hat to bed to keep my scalp warm, sleeping on satin sheets (I liked hearing this one) and overall care of a wig was discussed.

I did not think I had to wash my bald head. Silly me, the whole reason behind washing hair is not for your hair, it is for your scalp. By washing and massaging your scalp you are allowing regeneration of hair follicles to continue so that your hair continues to grow. I learned that immediately after chemo and/or radiation my hair will start to grow back. Also, it may grow back thicker, finer, curly and in any color, even gray! This is so exciting. My new head of hair will be like a chia pet or a surprise toy you find in the bottom of a cereal box! I wonder what color and texture it will grow out to be. Plus I will get to have that pixie haircut I always wanted to try but was too afraid of. Mostly because until my hair is long again, Pixie is what I'll be working with.

I have an average sized head.In case you were curious.
Option 1- Priceless - Literally
Option 2 - Bob
Silly Break
Option 3 - $150

Lisa got three wig boxes from storage. Two were donated. Translation: Free. The other was one of the $150.00 range. She had wigs up to $350.00. My insurance doesn't cover the wig but she wanted me to see the difference. She placed a stocking over what hair I had left for sanitation reasons and began with the first one. It was perfect! Much like hairstyles I have had in the past. I didn't feel like I was wearing a mullet on my head or too Wiggy. It was one of the donated ones so that was a plus. She showed me how to adjust the size and explained that there was no need to wear a cap under. She combed it out and it looked great. Well, I thought so anyways. The next was a short bob, which didn't look too bad but the first was more complimentary. The last was the one at $150. It was nice and had pretty highlights but still was not as nice as the first. I was super excited to finally have a wig that looked somewhat natural but more importantly a wig that I would feel comfortable wearing because "Hello" it is my bald head we are talking about here.

Now it was time for the shave. Lisa cut down to a 3 (I think) leaving some hair behind to fall out gradually leaving behind bald spots until all hair is gone. She couldn't shave off completely because risk of nicking the skin and an infection arising. As she was shaving I kept thinking this isn't that bad. We laughed and made comments about a Mohawk etc. After, I felt more feminine, more empowered, stronger, and I along with my husband and mother-in-law were all smiles. Lisa helped make the experience a better one. Not once did I want to cry or pity myself for what needed to be done. It wasn't bad at all. Still hurts but less hair now so that's a plus. Now it is the waiting game to see how long it takes to all fall, when it starts growing back again and what it will look like. Until then I am going to rock the wraps, hats, wig and bald head!

Away we go
Almost Complete
Yeah, We are Best Buds now!
How I left

With Love & Hugs,