Friday, September 28, 2012

I'm losing it

Ugh.... my hair is falling out....

I've been running my fingers through it for the past week more often than usual. The docs told me around day 17 after my first chemotherapy infusion, the locks would start to shed. It's the dose and type of chemo I'm getting. It happens to everyone who gets this type of chemo. Even though I tried EFT and praying and meditating and visualization. It's not coming out by the 3 or 4 strands per stroke anymore. It's way worse than that now.

In the wee hours of this morning, there's significant pieces and possibly clumps of hairs coming out. The question is, what do I do? Do I shave my head like many other women that face this hurdle through chemotherapy? Are we going to have a head shaving party with my husband and maybe son or whomever wants to join in? Invite only. It's my party so I can cry if I want to.

The other option would be to see how much falls out and how long it takes. The docs said bald, but I still hold on to the idea that I could be spared of my luscious mane. I really wish I could. I already cut my mop short. Couldn't this be enough? Perhaps I'll wait and see how much falls out before I go all the way. Let's hope it spares my eyelashes and brows and even my nose filaments because those have purpose. Yet if the down is gone in those unwanted areas, that could be a bonus. Some survivors have told me that my head might start to hurt once a majority has come out. I just brushed it and it's disturbing how much was in the brush.

The nurse practitioner for the oncologist said that she wondered why people were so concerned about hair loss instead of all of the other side effects. She has no idea. She doesn't have cancer nor did she lose her breasts, have an infection, replacement surgery, and finally nothing on her chest at all. She has her hair, her health, and I'm sure she sleeps. It's just easier to talk about then all of the other side effects. The other embarrassing and uncomfortable reactions that arise from this chemical infusion aren't as easy to converse about.

Our society is driven by vanity. That makes it tough for those of us going through chemotherapy to keep up with the Jones'. Two down, six more to go. The last infusion is planned for my daughter's first birthday if all goes as planned. I might sport a wig, a hat or a scarf and apply some make up in an attempt to fit into the mortal world until I'm ready to join in again after treatment has ceased.

Wednesday, September 19, 2012

Surgery revisited

It's odd how one day you can feel so positive and then the next day a huge wave of sorrow comes crashing down upon you. Welcome to yesterday - a day of sadness, disappointment, and setbacks. A diversion from my great plan that was going so well after the infection had cleared up. I'd adopted a new perspective coming from the depths of bottoming out. For awhile I was on a pink cloud, floating and loving life and enjoying the little things.

The night before I had broken sleep, and I woke up every hour sweating and anxious. Then the morning came. I couldn't find anything. Everyone annoyed me. Perhaps it was some kind of psychic premonition tickling my senses. Something just wasn't right.

It took forever to get ready to take Talon to school. Then when I finally got into the car, I dropped my phone into a fresh vat of vegetable juice with beets. The bloody colored juice sprayed every where, and it appeared as if a gunshot had gone off, killing someone in its path. It stained the whitish grey clothes I wore, me hands, the car, and various other items in the mess called my car. I hope no one noticed that I looked like a violent murderer while I dropped my son off to his hippie school.

Afterwards I got gas, and I even made it to my appointment only 5 minutes late. Things were looking better. My phone even still worked.

The nurse got the saline injections ready to pump my fake breasts up another size. Then the Dr came in unfashionably late over an hour, examined the incision, and broke me the bad news. He mentioned that the expander was exposed and now "colonized" because it was in contact with the air. Well duh.... It was like that a month ago?! What had changed?? The nurses even brought it up to me then. He said, "Yeah but there was a stitch in it."

So.... It didn't count when it touched the air 4 weeks ago? Perhaps you were overbooked and too busy to remember that was a problem and preferred to make me wait 6 weeks to break my bad news and set me back further in my treatment. Perhaps you should spend more than one day in the office with patients so that you can give them the care and compassion they deserve? Or perhaps you're sick of your job and have to keep doing to pay for your extravagant lifestyle - the Prada shoes you wear at office visits gives that away. Why did he approve me two weeks ago to start chemo if the expander was showing all this time?

He said that we had to remove the tissue expander as I lay there on the examination table with my shirt off, my nippleless mounds exposed. I put my hands over my eyes and sobbed uncontrollably. He silently fumbled for a box of tissues and gave me a tissue. I didn't feel much compassion from him... as usual. But I will let him remove this implant. Then it's over.

Dear Dr, You're fired after your remove the damn thing tomorrow. It's not me, it's you. You've had more than enough chances. Good riddance.

Now I'll be flat on one side. As if I wasn/t already challenged with my new self identity with small, nippleless, scarred, wannabe breasts. Now I will become accustomed to one flat and one round bump on my chest. I won't be able to do chemo for some time again. I won't be able to work or hold my baby, drive, or tattoo.... again. I try to be strong like everyone suggests, but it's so hard when I keep getting slapped in the face.

Monday, September 17, 2012

So far so good

My new doo is courtesy of Martino Cartier at his salon in Washington Township, NJ. His charity is called Friends are by your side. He offers free services, hair cuts, wigs, extensions, to people undergoing chemotherapy for breast cancer. You might recognize him from the show, Tabitha's Salon Takeover. It was fun to get my hair chopped off. I let him so whatever he wanted. It was a good experience, and I'm grateful to have found this charity during this tough time.

Long hair equates beauty in our society. To my surprise I didn't worry too much about getting my hair cut. I feel cute.

Actually I don't worry much about anything anymore. I'm a new me. Nothing is worth worrying over these days. Don't get me wrong, I'm not numb I just don't find things worth getting myself sick over like I used to. I used to worry about this and that. I see people complaining about things on their facebook status or hear them whining, and I really want to say something to help them. I want to say.... "SHUT UP! (in the nicest way) You are fine. Don't waste your time and energy complaining about silly, little things. Don't sweat the small stuff, for real."

Stress is a major factor in your health. I can attest to this. I used to worry all the time. I held things in and stewed over them. Not anymore. If you catch yourself doing this, please stop. Everyone has problems, but you can't obsess over them. Just try to solve them and know that you're working towards correcting a situation instead of dwelling on the problem itself. Don't forget stress trumps all. If you stress it doesn't matter how much you exercise, eat well, pray, or take supplements. All of those other things are important too, though. Teach your kids this too.

So far so good with the side effects. My secret weapon is working thus far - diet, supplements, Iscador injections, EFT, praying, affirmations and of course no stressing (as much as possible). I worked a little this weekend. I tried to do more than I should have, but then I stopped myself. I have to remember that instead of planning too much. I still worry a little, though. It's a difficult habit to break, but I'm trying. That is how I got here in the first place so I must remember. It's time to focus on my well being and not every one else first. That has been the most difficult task at hand. Now is the time to truly keep the balance in life.

Wednesday, September 12, 2012

One down, 7 to go

The First round of chemo went well yesterday besides a slight reaction in my vein so we changed to another one. Afterwards I was tired and slightly nauseous despite all of the nausea meds and steroids.
I have to go back to UPenn to get a Neulasta shot today. This will cause my bones to produce an abundance of WBC's. Because the chemo drugs kill all rapid growing cells in the body, these include cancer cells, and other things like hair cells, gi tract, mouth cells, WBC, hemoglobin, and platelets etc. The Drs want to keep my white blood cells up because of they're too low than I can catch a cold and it will effect me more than a healthy person. It could be potentially deadly.
This year my body has been through havoc after havoc. I've lose a lot of blood this year with the birth of my baby, mastitis with abscesses, 3 separate procedures to aspirate, a breast biopsy, 2 major surgeries, and 1 small surgery besides that. I've been on antibiotics during labor, post partum for mastitis, after bilateral mastectomy, on IV antibiotics during another 6 day bout in the hospital due to a surgical infection in the left, elective side, a strong antibiotic that prohibited many foods and turned my tongue and teeth brown. Thankfully most came off with a vigorous professional cleaning, but I'll be back to see if they can get it all out after treatment is through) ). I'm on yet another antibiotic during the whole chemotherapy to make sure that the infection doesn't come back inside of my breast. My body has been through a LOT this year to say the least. This coming from someone who didn't have health insurance up until I turned 30 years old. Thank God for my husbands insurance.

The list of side effects are staggering. From the neulasta the side effects will be symptomatic like the flu in which your bones with ache and become sore from working over time to produce more white blood cells that the chemo kills. There are more long term effects like bones density loss. Thinking about the impending chemo side effects is enough to make
me go insane.
I'm bringing out the secret weapons in my arsenal to reverse these side effects and let the medicine kill the miscellaneous cancer cells that might have snuck out under the radar and into my body. That's it though. I've been using medidtaion, prayer and EFT to help counteract these side effects. You must check out EFT. It isn't very foods new age. It actually seems very scientific, and I suggest googling it or checking out some videos on
I'm a different person today. Maybe blame it on the Ativan (anti anxiety anti nausea they give you on chemo). I'm kidding. During the second hospitalization I really hit a bottom. I was poked and prodded so much. I felt like a pincushion. My veins were swollen and blown out from Iv's going bad. They'd take my blood every night at 12:30 when all I wanted to do was sleep. I felt defeated when I found out the expander on the left, elective side had to be replaced. I saw my kids once in 6 days. It was a
miserable existence.
Since being out of there, I can see the beauty in the small things. Nothing is worth stressing out over anymore. I believe that stress is a major factor in disease. It trumps diet, exercise, and supplements. You can't stress. I hear people whine and bitch over little things and think 'I wish I had that problem!'. Don't get me wrong, I love trying to help people moreso now.

Here are some side effects and the medicines I'll be taking:

First round 4 weeks every two weeks: (start date 9/10)
Adriamycin aka the red devil side effects decrease of white blood cells, red blood cells and platelets, hair loss, mouth sores, nail changes, discolored urine, severe sunburn with sun exposure

Cytoxan;decrease of white blood cells, red blood cells and platelets, mouth sores, decreased appetite, taste changes, hair loss or thinning, changes in menstrual cycle, bladder irritation, nasal congestion

The second round of 4 weeks every other week starting week 8:
Taxol Side Effects: decrease of white blood cells, red blood cells and platelets, allergic-like reaction, numbness and/or tingling to fingers and toes, muscle aches, bone pain, mouth sores, hair loss, diarrhea

So I'm banking on the EFT to help me. If you want to send prayers and Reiki, I'm done for that too. Please take time for yourself daily and don't stress.

Love and light,

The medicine goes in:
Meanwhile it's Talon's first day of preschool. I couldn't drive him or pick him up, but I did get to photographs that ham.

My hubby and I made it out for a date night before chemo began. The alst time we made it out alone was 4 months ago!!

My little girl loves to swing. She's my little Angel.