Just a quick post from sunny Texas!

Here on vacation with the boy and his missus who are awesome hosts as always.   The weather has been gorgeous! I was worried that my chemopause would make the heat unbearable but that hasn’t been the case.  It was only really hot one day and by evening was beautiful.  Apparently there is a Nor’Easter brewing at home. So sorry to be missing it.

I dutifully wore the compression sleeve while flying and had no problems at all. Maybe I wouldn’t have anyway, but why risk it? I’ll wear it on the flight home as well.

I am now able to cross one more thing off my bucket list. I got my tattoo on 6th Street in Austin on Monday.  I used a very scientific method to choose the parlor/artist. I picked the building with the friendliest looking storefront.  It was amazingly clean and bright.  I’m not sure what I expected but I felt like the whole process was more sterile than my medical treatment at times. The artist, David, was covered in tattoos and piercings (of course) as was the rest of the staff.  He was great, explaining every step, offering to stop if it hurt too much, and fast!  He sent me off with better skin care instructions than my radiation oncologist. Go figure! Just goes to show you should never judge someone by their choice of body art.  If you are ever in the Austin area, looking to get some ink (doesn’t that sound badass?) visit Affinity Tattoo and ask for David.  He won’t even question the fact that you are a 50 year old conservatively dressed woman with her husband and son along for support getting your first tat. No judgment.

p.s. it really didn’t hurt. It didn’t feel good, mind you, but I wouldn’t call it painful.  Maybe biopsies and endless needle sticks have desensitized me to pain or maybe I was just too excited to be getting the tattoo but it wasn’t bad at all!

As for the rest of the bucket list.. I’m working on it and while my bucket list isn’t all that long, my fuckit list grows daily.

Check out the chemo curls!  Still not long enough in the front to cut and style, but it’s getting there!

I went with the forget-me-nots. The skin looks angry and red, but that didn’t last long at all and it looks great now! Didn’t he do a great job?

Searching for love in all the wrong places?

It’s not often I blog twice in one day but this was too good to pass up. I was looking at my blog stats and clicked on search engine terms and on 10/17/12 someone found my blog searching with “strip me to the waist and use a whip on my back”.   First.. eww really?  Second.. bwaHAHAHA.. can you imagine their disappointment?  I was hoping to find more but the rest were pretty legit searches for blogs dealing with breast cancer, chemo and all the rest.  Oh except someone searched “using brouhaha in a sentence”. Is it weird that it makes me a little proud that my blog came up in that search?   I wish someone would search shenanigans now.

Chemo cookies.

Ever think something is really funny until it’s not?  Just after my first round of chemo my mother gave me two big tins of ginger cookies (this was just after Christmas). I had picked up some crystalized ginger for nausea and she thought munching on a couple of these with a cup of tea would help too.  The ginger still sits on my counter all these months later. I’ve eaten maybe two pieces. One tin of cookies made it back to my daughter’s dorm and the other still sits in my dining room, largely untouched.  One day my husband reached for them and I overheard my daughter say “you cant’ eat those.. they are mom’s chemo cookies”.  I got a good laugh and some evil ideas.  Since that time if there is say.. only one stick of gum left I will say “I need that for my dry mouth”  hence our newly termed “cancer gum”.  It’s much like drinking the last cold beer on a hot summer day.  Nothing tastes better, especially if you know someone else (chemo cookie coveting husband) wanted it. I will sometimes (legitimately) ask the girls not to drink the last ICE in the house. This is a fruit flavored carbonated water with no calories, sugar or sodium that I love and there are days when it’s the only thing I want to drink right after a treatment.  Mostly though, nothing is really just for me. It’s all fair game. Until I want to mess with my husband and will claim chemo ice cream. This all got me to thinking about all the products out there sporting pink ribbons and how people will go out of their way to buy them when realistically they do nothing for cancer awareness.  Unless when you eat them you feel an overwhelming urge to donate or hug a cancer patient.  I mean.. who is not aware of cancer?  But.. you have to admit it is marketing genius. Which leads me to mention that if any of you marketing geniuses are reading this and think that’s it! Chemo Cookies! Cancer Gum!.. don’t do it. It would be morally and ethically wrong on so many levels. And also.. if you do, I want a cut.



Flying catdogs, runaway pickups and teleporting relatives

The makings of a summer blockbuster?  A country hit?  Nope, just chemo-dreamin.  I’ve always had kind of vivid dreams, sometimes even serial dreams when I couldn’t wait to go to sleep to see what would happen next.  I’ve woken up so pissed off at someone that I was sure they would give me a good reason by the end of the day so I just went with the feelings. Those were daydreams compared to today’s double feature.  I would describe my dreams in greater detail, but on the off chance one of my doctors stumbles across this blog I don’t want to be subject to psychiatric testing.  Not that there is anything wrong with that.  The other day a friend described a vivid, confusing dream about her son. I teased her and asked what she ate before bed.  I didn’t eat anything particularly strange but I am on day 6 of my treatment and after two infusions I can safely say days 5 and 6 are  when I am going to feel my worse. My “worse” though is not nearly as bad as some people experience on their best day, so I’m trying really hard not to whine too much.  I spent the afternoon watching mindless television until I could doze off. This included about 20 minutes of Toddlers and Tiaras which will be a rant for another day.  Those mothers… ay yi yi..   I took an Aleve for pain and an Ativan just because. The Ativan was prescribed for nausea but has also been prescribed for anxiety.  I had neither. I knew it would knock me out and that it did. Okay, maybe it was the Ativan and not the chemo? Or maybe it was just me? In any event, my dreams were interesting enough to remember, crazy enough to be disturbing and kind of fun.  I’m anxious to go to sleep tonight. Sweet dreams!


Mixed messages

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.

Snatched bald

Literally.  So disregard my previous post about screwing with their stats by keeping my hair. Chemo won this round.  After yet another night of feeling the pillow and my head fairly obsessively I decided to vigorously brush to help things along.  I got an impressive amount of hair but now my scalp felt tender. So I started “gently” pulling out handfuls.  Yikes..now I looked like a plucked chicken.  I considered leaving the down as cushioning under my wig, but I needed to even things off. After a quick trim I thought what the hell and took the electric razor to it.  The good news is my head is not horribly misshapen like I have long suspected.  The stubble is minimal and I read a lint roller can take care of that.  I am rocking the Sinead O’Connor!

Looking ahead to spring though.. after this round of chemo I start another that will mean weekly treatments, so basically no recovery time in between. I was thinking at least I can sit out on my deck with a book or putter in the garden when I feel up to it. But no.. with this one (Taxol) I need to stay out of the sun. Completely. Lovely.  After a winter in Maine I’m white. Blindingly so. I am also now bald. Spring 2012 will find me rocking the Powder. Anyone know where I can get some blue shades?

Can you NOT?

Dear Dr. Can you not tell me every damn time we meet that my hair is going to fall out? From my very first post diagnostic visit I have been reminded that I will lose my hair at every appointment, by every nurse, doctor, coordinator.  I realize this is very traumatic for most women and I doubt I will be any different when it happens to me, no matter how prepared I think am, but really? you feel the need to mention it ad nauseum?  Does the “yes I know”  “I have wigs, scarves, hats and turbans ready” or “I’m as prepared as can be” not register to you?  Why not just throw in “by the way, you have breast cancer” each time too, in case it’s escaped my thoughts for a nanosecond?  I had my first post chemo visit yesterday. I was feeling great, my numbers were good, I had plans to eat out and shop afterwards with my daughter.  At the end of the visit Dr. Doom asks what day it is again? I say Day 11. “Oh, well your hair is going to fall out in clumps now” and describes how it will feel.  I spent the rest of the day feeling like there were a million little invisible bugs crawling around my scalp ready to uproot my hair and throw down.  I envisioned myself standing in line at the bank while my hair fell out in waves and the branch manager discreetly followed me to the counter with broom and dustpan.  Last night I woke up every few hours and felt my head and pillow for signs of baldness. By morning I had myself convinced I can’t leave the house now until “it” happens.  Screw that. I’m keeping my hair just to mess with their stats.


“The doctors are going crazy with all that chemo”

This was said to me by someone who loves me when I was describing my upcoming regimen.  I didn’t react, but it struck me because at that time I was really struggling with my decision after reading up on and discussing all of the possible side effects of the drugs with Oncology.  Had my cancer spread it would be a no brainer, but it hadn’t.  Am I doing the right thing? Will I kill the cancer, but end up with life long health problems?  Cardiac or nerve damage?  This wasn’t a decision made lightly or without consideration of all the possible ramifications.

This is the thing though, the treatment I have chosen gives me a 10% chance of recurrence over the next 10 years. That’s a 90% chance of being completely cancer free 10 years from now. Let’s get crazy.