When we arrived at the cancer center there were these huge blowers in the lobby. Didn’t think anything of it until I saw several groups of men in hard hats going through the doors to Medical Oncology. Had my lab work and was taken back for the nursing assessment where I was told the place had been under water yesterday! A pipe froze and burst and they were shuttling patients to the hospital all day for chemo. Today they had made accommodations on site, so after the nursing visit I waited to see my Oncologist who was waiting on my lab results. The flooring had been pulled up on in the exam rooms and the baseboards removed. There was a lot of hammering and sawing going on and those huge blowers everywhere. What is usually a very peaceful space was complete chaos. When the doc finally got my results and came in to speak with me she was asking me the same questions she had asked at my interim visit. I answered them but after a few minutes couldn’t resist saying we had gone over all that last time. She didn’t realize I was here for a treatment or was so frazzled from the chaos that she forgot! It was nice to see her in that human light. Not that she is the type of doctor to hold herself “above” her patients, but still.. it made me laugh. We finally got upstairs where they had transformed a conference room into chemo bays (but with no privacy at all). One man was snoring so loudly I thought he was choking and wondered why no one seemed concerned. Another was getting sick and they had to stop his infusion and the Oncologist came to speak with him. They were just starting it up again when we were leaving a few hours later. My meds were not there, had not been ordered, so we had to wait for a bit. Once I got them it all went smoothly. I was sad to see the man in the chair closest to me was a teacher from my high school. I don’t know what kind of cancer he has, he didn’t say and I didn’t ask. He and his wife and my mother chatted the whole time we were there and when I was leaving he asked when my next one would be and wondered if he would see me again. It was a very different experience from my first one, but the time flew by and I was grateful not to be shuttled to another building like the poor patients were yesterday.
Today was also the first time since my hair loss that I ventured out without a wig. I have a beautiful wig but my scalp is still very tender and even with a liner it hurts. I have been wearing it more out of consideration for others. At home I wear one of those really soft sleep caps or nothing at all. I even stepped out onto the deck with my naked head and quickly remembered the date! Not going to do that again. Today I wore a really pretty blue scarf that just happened to match my outfit. I felt more confident in that. I am certain even the most casual observer can tell I’m wearing a wig and it makes me self-conscious. Strangely, wearing a head scarf did not. Go figure!
I just want to add a funny that one of my Daisy girls posted for me today. Thanks, Gumbo!
Shit Girls Say to Other Girls With Breast Cancer
My mother is picking me up shortly for the 30 minute trip (in the snow) to the cancer center. This is round two of sixteen. I feel much better going in. Last time around was two days after Christmas. I was exhausted, nutritionally a hot mess and scared of the unkown. Still, everything went fine and I expect the same today. I’ve been eating better and trying to exercise every day. I had a good work out this morning, got my house in order and my orders out for my small ebay business. I feel strong and optimistic. Bring it chemo.
No one has used that phrase about my diagnosis of breast cancer, at least not to my face but you hear it so often when someone is sick or even dying. How their illness is a “blessing in disguise”? I’ve never understood that. Blessing? Really? I have been blessed in many ways but having breast cancer is not in the top 10. Top 100 even.
I do admire people who can find blessings in things like illness. I’m just not at a point where I can agree. A tip of the wig to you.
I decided I needed to get back into an exercise program. I’ve.. umm.. slipped since my diagnosis. As in my give a shit broke and it wasn’t on the short list for repair. I started with my stationary bike. 5 minutes in decided it’s still boring as hell. Moved on to weights.. bah.. so I decided to pull out the weighted hula hoop. When I first bought it I nearly killed myself. True story. Let’s just say Grace is not my middle name and leave it at that. But.. last summer I gave it another go and got pretty good at it. Well, for me. When I was diagnosed I decided I shouldn’t do it any more. Don’t ask me why. I’m pretty sure it’s not possible to actually “bust a lump” though I have threatened to. So I pulled it out, put it back together and gave it a whirl. I was hooping along, feeling pretty good, and realized I was standing in front of my large picture window, sans head covering. I got the giggles and that was that.. hard to hoop when you’re laughing. I’ll leave it out where I’m sure to see it (or trip over it) and get back to daily use. It’s fun and believe it or not gives a pretty good work out!
I don’t know why now or why I can’t seem to stay off the cancer sites or stop reading the reams of materials I have. Maybe because my next treatment is coming up and I have a feeling I won’t be as lucky this time around. I keep hearing how the effects are cumulative and recovery time between each is harder as time goes on. I think I’ll give myself the rest of the day to dwell and then I’m over it. Until next time.
Anyone else getting mixed messages from your docs? I saw my surgeon for my final postop visit. Everything is healing well so he has discharged me, except not… I can call if I have any further problems without waiting for referral, I have a “Fast Pass”. My followups will be at the Cancer Center when my treatments are done, except I should see him yearly to remain an active patient, but there really isn’t any need since my follow ups will be at the Cancer Center, but I can, but I don’t have to. Clear as mud. Since there are obvious changes in my breast from surgery I asked if there would be more and when I would know the “new normal” as far as doing self breast exams. He said there was no proof that self exams did any good. (WHAT???) or mammograms for that matter. I reminded him that I found this lump myself. So I should do them. Or not. Apparently it’s up to me. I skipped my mammo last year based on the new protocol that every other year is sufficient and look where that got me. It wouldn’t have changed the reality of the cancer, but it would have been caught earlier and maybe it would not have spread and I could have avoided the chemo. We’ll never know. I’ve had similar conversations with Oncology. For instance, when asking about side effects I get the standard “Everyone’s different” and then in the next breath.. “You WILL experience (fill in the blank)”. And usually it’s the one side effect you hope to be spared .. like hair loss.
I’ve heard of chemo brain, but I thought that was supposed to affect the patient, not their providers. That being said, I really do like my doctors and my surgeon ended the visit by telling me I look remarkably well for someone undergoing chemo and pretended he didn’t know I was wearing a wig by asking if I had experienced any hair loss yet. You gotta love that.