Saturday, April 29, 2006

Bald Chicks are hot...

These are some bad ass bitches. Now all I need are some chandelier earrings and a machine gun.

Friday, April 28, 2006

Locks of Love

So I shaved my head on Wednesday. I'm told these kind of stories are a bit depressing, so there's your warning. I, however chose not to be depressed. I had been losing "all kinds of hair" for a couple of days so I knew it was only a matter of time. I also knew that I wanted to donate my real hair to Locks of Love : It makes wigs for kids with cancer. I figured if I can't wear my hair, someone else can. My hair normally wouldn't be long enough if I was just cutting it, but cutting it at the scalp gave me just that chance.

So Wednesday began the process. First, and how's this for irony- I dyed my roots. I didn't want to give them my manky ass roots, so I bought my last bottle for a long time and dyed my hair. I reveled in the time I will no longer have to spend doing this my self or the money I will save by not getting it done in a salon. Then I washed it again. Who wants hair that smells like dye? I stood in the shower and ran my fingers through it, realizing I wouldn't be able to do that again for months- a year, even. There were a couple of tears. Then I focused on the no less than 4 bottles of shampoo, conditioner, leave in treatment reconditioning balm, etc.etc. that were no longer necessary. I'll just use my husband's crappy drugstore stuff on my bald head.

I have never been high maintenace. I wear my hear in ponytails, I don't wear make up a lot, I don't really tie my hair into who I am. At least I didn't think so. I've been through enough horrible haircuts (who didn't in the 80s and 90s) to realize, this too, shall pass.

I got out of the shower and blow dried my hair. Alan told me dry hair is best. I didn't just blow dry it- I straightened it, curled it, styled it... it looked good. Again, I wanted to donate some pretty ponytail to the kids. As I was running my fingers through my hair, strands were coming out in alarming numbers. Not quite clumps, but definitely more than the usual few I get with my lion's mane. At the advice of a friend, who reminded me how horrible it looks to get your haircut when you have no make up on, I did just that. You would have thought I was going to the prom, my face looked so good. The eye makeup particularly. I asked Alan for a second glass of champagne- he bought it for me, thinking I would need reinforcements. He was right, as usual. Then it was time.

Alan began by cutting my hair, like I was some Indian getting scalped- minus the machete. It made it easier to put hair into a ponytail for donation this way. We picked the right day, because Alan told me I had a couple of thin/bald patches already. I watched as he put the hunks of my hair onto a towel. I noticed how shotty the color job was. Seriously, it was like Joseph and the Amazing Technicolor Dreamcoat. Hair that looked pretty good on my head looked sort of dull and pathetic on that towel. Alan was wonderful. He made jokes- made me laugh. While cutting the hair, he conveniently left the back til last. Then stood back and admired the coolest mullet ever. Seriously, Michael Bolton mullet. We talked about taking a picture of this creation, but I didn't want it passed around the web like I did this mullet on purpose.

Then began the shaving. Alan had fun with this too, I think. First there was a clippers right down the middle of the head- a reverse mohawk. We realized that the clippers weren't short enough when Alan told me my head looked like a leopard- dark spots, dyed spots...tee hee hee. So we decided to clip it shorter. As Alan was shaving, I was thinking about crying. I could feel the tears in my eyes, but then I thought, "I can't do this, my eye makeup looks fierce." Yep, another good reason for the makeup- thanks Hope. Alan told me it looked cute. I thought I looked like Sinead O'Connor with about 35 pounds. My eyes looked blue and huge- a plus. I didn't have hair to cover that still left over chin- definitely a down side. The lipstick I was wearing seemed a little much when I didn't have fabulous hair. It isn't as bad as I thought it might be. But it's not great, either.

Alan and I celebrated the evening by going on to the nicest restaurant in town. There really is on, I promise. I put on a dress (gasp) and Sally and BAM! I was ready to go in under 10 minutes. May this bald thing has it's perks. Sally looked good. Although I kept looking around thinking everyone has to know. Alan said he could barely tell. After a wonderful meal cut short by the fact I had chemo the next day, we came home. And I put Sally away and reveled in my bald head. I better get used to it.

Before After

Tuesday, April 25, 2006

I have a backyard!

That's the view to the back from our master bathroom window. Now, imagine if you will, a large black gorilla looking dog digging a huge hole in the brand new sod and mulch, tearing up bushes and playing in the mud. Then, imagine a pasty bald girl in a bandana running out to yell at said dog, only to be jumped on and covered in Georgian clay. She tries to bring the gorilla out of the mist, but to no avail. She shrugs, dejected, and thinks to herself, "Why did I ever think this was a good idea?"

Good times. Oh yeah, in the above story, it's 97 degrees outside. Hard to tell who will drop first from heat stroke- girl or dog. He does wear a coat in the summer.


Gimme head with hair
Long beautiful hair
Shining, gleaming,Streaming, flaxen, waxen
Give me down to there hair
Shoulder length or longer
Here baby, there mama
Everywhere daddy daddy
Hair, hair, hair, hair, hair, hair, hair
Flow it, show it
Long as God can grow it
My hair

There are going to be a lot of posts about hair in the next few days. Why, you say? Cuz I'm starting to lose mine. It's day 12. I am apparently right on schedule. With this comes the obligatory hair cutting, wig wearing, first trip out, etc. etc. When you lose your hair, you lose ALL your hair. If you know what I mean. 'Nuff said. That part is actually kind of funny.

I'm doing well. It's amazing- the second week off the chemo is like night and day from the first. I don't have the yucky taste in my mouth, I'm not addicted to popsicles, but I still use my chemo as an excuse to eat like a pig. The past week has seen a fair amount of headaches and I'm getting those pesky mouth sores people talk about. My tongue feels like it's constantly burned. Ouch! I'm not overly tired, although this weekend I did help move furniture with Alan and I think I did a little too much. Alan has forbid me from moving anything else in the future. Fine by me- that's what movers are for.

Speaking of moving, we close on our house in 10 days. I guess having a mortgage will make me an adult. I don't really feel the need to be an adult. The closing and all it entails- lawyers, insurance, inspectors, yada yada yada- have kept us pretty busy. It also keeps my mind off the big C. Then again, some hair in my hand will remind me.

Tuesday, April 18, 2006

Donate to the cause!

I'm a few days out of my first chemo and I'm feeling pretty good, considering. I have some wicked bone pain from my shot to help boost my white blood counts and some funny business going on with my belly, but all in all- not bad. The Roids are definately helping me eat like a pig. All I can think about are burgers and pizza. And I'm still on fire every now and then.

It occured to me that I needed to get on with the fundraising shenanigans for my 3 Day walk, so I got off my ass and wrote a letter. Part of it follows:

About two months ago, I was diagnosed with breast cancer. Since then, my days have been filled with doctors, procedures and treatments. I have just begun chemotherapy. My journey will be long and sometimes very hard, but I know I will come out stronger in the end. I am lucky. I have had wonderful medical care and we caught it before it had fully spread. Not everyone is this lucky. I feel compelled to do my part to stop this disease as soon as possible.

In October of this year, I will be participating in a very special event called the Breast Cancer 3-Day. I'll walk 60 miles over the course of three days with thousands of other women and men. The net proceeds will support breast cancer research, education, screening and treatment through the Susan G. Komen Breast Cancer Foundation and the National Philanthropic Trust Breast Cancer Fund.

I’m doing this for the dozens of women who have helped me along this journey- the wonderful women who have offered a bit of themselves to help others who follow this path. I’m doing this for all those who will be diagnosed this year- hoping they are half as lucky as I have been. I’m doing this for little girls everywhere- my nieces, hopefully one day my own daughters- so if God forbid they ever have to face this, science will be even further along. And I’m doing this for myself. I may be tired and I may be bald, but I am forever grateful that I have the opportunity to walk. Three days is the least I can give to a community that has given so much to me.

I've agreed to raise at least $2,200 in donations. So I need your help. Would you please consider donating to this cause? Any little bit helps. Just click the link below to go to my personal fundraising webpage and donate online.

So the point of this? Dig into your pockets if you can and donate some cash. I would be eternally grateful. And so would the over 200,000 people who will be diagnosed this year.


Sunday, April 16, 2006

Meet Sally

I'd like you to meet my new hair. Alan named her Sally. Actually, he named her "Sally Sass-a-lot." He then proceeded to shake her styrofoam head and spout rude phrases. He's a funny boy. Sally is spunky, fun and has a much better dye job than I do. In fact, I think Sally's hair is nicer than mine. It's a good thing. Sally and I will be spending A LOT of time together. Sally is fearless and funny. In fact, Sally is much like me, only she'll never have roots.

I have to say, looking at the American Cancer Society's wig catalog was one of the most depressing things ever. What? A wig for $49? I don't think so. Many reminded me of wigs I might have worn when I was in "Fiddler on the Roof" when I was 17. And I have to say, I may not wear the wig all the time, but when I wear a wig, I don't want to look pathetic, you know. There's nothing worse than a young cute girl with a sad little wig. This amazing wig is courtesy of my aunt- the coolest woman ever. Her hairdresser is some fancy schmancy guy in New York who makes wigs for Jewish women who aren't supposed to show their real hair. I'm not sure if hiding your hair by using really good wigs is what God intended with the rule, but whatevs- I'm a goy- I don't know. So Dov, (that's his whole name, no last name required) made me this beautiful wig. Seriously, better than my real hair. I should be donning this bad girl in about a week.

Thank you, Megan. It's beautiful. And you know, to make my real hair look like this, I'd have to spend an hour. Now I can just put Sally on. There's got to be some perks.

Happy Easter!

Well, here I am- 3 days post chemo. It's also exactly 2 months since I was diagnosed with cancer. In the past two months, I've had surgery, lots of procedures, taken many drugs, had lots of needles, hatched my own eggs and poisoned myself. Pretty busy couple of months. And just like Jesus, I too experienced my own passion the past couple of days. Instead of crucifixion, I had a post op mammogram. Squishing my still blue, sore, disfigured boob into a little machine and crushing it... maybe Jesus had it right. (Looking around for lighting to smite me.... nope, nothing? Blasphemy, hah!)

I'm doing okay. Haven't been sick, still hot all the time. Still got a funny taste in my mouth. Yesterday I went for a wonderful walk with my puppies only to come home exhausted and sleep for 2 hours. I have highs and lows, I guess.

It's funny. I went to church today for the first time in, well- a long time. I usually don't go unless I'm songleading, which means I don't go unless my mom suckers me in to it. It's amazing how the same horrible old lady singing, the slow tempos (yes, that's what I pay attention to)- the same prayers you've heard since you were a kid- it's oddly comforting. As if the whole world can go to hell, but you go to church and it's the same it's always been.

I've always been a big believer in everything happens for a reason. We may not know it now, but there's got to be one, otherwise what the hell is all this for? I wondered for months why Alan and I weren't getting pregnant, when now I realize it's because I had this to deal with first. Can you imagine how fucked up this would have been if I already had a bun in the oven? I wonder what cancer will teach me? What will I get from this that I couldn't get any other way?

Alan, my somewhat heathen husband, says that me getting cancer isn't about God at all. That it's hard to imagine a God giving a otherwise pretty good kid such a shitty deal. I see it the opposite way, I guess. Maybe it's the 12 years of Catholic school, but I've got to believe there's a reason for this. Then again, maybe we make it all up to make ourselves feel better. And you know, that's probably okay too. Whatever gets you through the day. For me, I'd like to believe that in 10 years I'll look back on this with a little bit of hindsight, thanking whatever, whomever got me through this and made me better for it.

So happy Easter. Hop yourself up on some chocolate. Eat some for me.

Ps. I still believe God has to be a man.

Friday, April 14, 2006

Chemo #1- 'Roid up, Bitch!

Yesterday I had my first chemo session. The chemo itself was, well, uneventful. I was expecting to get all freaked out, or to cry or be depressed- nothing. Alan and I were put in a private room (Jeffrey apologized for not getting me the penthouse- I told him to try harder next time.) We flipped through some TV- God, I hate Star Jones. My nurse Kathy is awesome, she talked everything through with me and made sure I was all good. She raved about the quality of my insurance as she handed Alan a box full of $6500 worth of drugs. That's just for 2 cycles. And doesn't include the drugs they actually give you during chemo. I was sleepy already- 6am wake ups are not my bag- so I was eager to crawl into my bed and get doped up. First, a needle was stuck in my port- sort of looked like a push pin... kinda how it felt, too. After that, smooth sailing! My veins say thank you. I've lost all the egg hatching weight and my blood pressure was 105/70...except for this chemo thing, I was in pretty good shape.

They started with two anti nausea drugs- Ativan and Aloxi. Ativan is also an anti-anxiety drug. Unfortunately, I didn't feel any calmer or happier. Damn it, I must not have been that anxious. The Aloxi is the "Cadillac" of anti-nauseas, or so I'm told. They hooked me up and let them settle for about 10 minutes. Then I got the first drug- Adriomycin- That came in 2 reddish colored syringes and were pushed right into the IV. That would explain my orange pee. Then I got the decodron- steroids, baby. This inspired Alan to exclaim, (insert high pitched WHOOP! WHOOP!) Roid up, Bitch! Yep, that's my hubby. So After I got my 'roids, I got the Cytoxan by IV drip and VOILA! I was done in about 2 hours total. Pretty painless. I felt fine.

Once home, I decided a nap was in order. Upon waking, I realized that I had been run over by something heavy while I was sleeping. I felt groggy, My mouth was watering, I felt like maybe I could puke at any minute. While these drugs I'm taking (and I will take for about 3 days after each treatment) are anti-nausea, I'm finding they don't prevent the feeling that you could yak and a moment's notice. It's like the morning after drinking without the room spinning. Cotton mouth then really watery and tasting yucky. I haven't gotten the metallic taste yet, but thank God for popsicles! I've been able to eat, sort of. Crispy chicken on my Chili's salad last night had to go, and jello pudding pops make a great lunch.

Last night I took an ativan to help me sleep. It didn't help. I woke up in the middle of the night thinking I was on fire. My husband was like a flaming pyre next to me. I needed air. I grabbed my pillow and blanket and crawled onto the floor next to the window. This is a favorite spot of our dogs. I can see why. The window felt nice. I slept there there rest of the night. Alan was a bit confused. Harry was pissed I took his spot.

So all in all, I'm okay. Not awesome. I don't feel like the 'roids have given me this post chemo high that I've heard about. That's unfortunate, as I have a shitload of stuff to do and could have used the 'roid induced high. For now, I'm going to take an ativan, have a popsicle and go to sleep.

Wednesday, April 12, 2006

Inappropriate Boob Humor

Tee Hee Hee! Thanks Megan and Victor!

T-Minus 34 hours til chemo

It's amazing. The last week I've felt better than I have since I was diagnosed almost 2 months ago. My body doesn't ache with every move, the stitches have mostly healed, I can wear my jeans again...things were looking up. (however, I will let you all know there is still a bit of blue where I had the dye injected for my surgery) I should have known this was the perfect time to start chemo! I will have my first chemo treatment on Thursday. I'm hoping I get the Penthouse suite overlooking the lake. I've gotten some questions about my treatment, so here's the rundown. I will have 8 treatments, 2 weeks apart (each treatment is a cycle) . So 16 weeks of chemo- 4 months. This will be followed by another month of radiation.

My first 4 treatments will be A/C. The drugs they use for chemo are long and hard to remember so they (by they I mean all things and people medical) use initials. The A is Adriamycin. (see why they use initials?) A will of course kill the cancer cells, but I can look forward to the following side effects:

Nausea (hopefully they'll pump me full of enough drugs to cover this one)
Low blood counts (I get a $4000 shot the next day to cover this- no, that wasn't a typo- 4k)
Mouth sores
Hair loss (it's called alopecia. I've had hair on the brain lately. More on that subject later)
Fertility problems (in some women- hence the ovarian pac-man. It can also mean menopausal symptoms- like hot flashes. Great- a hot flash in Atlanta in the summer. Sounds fun.)

The C is for cytoxan- cuz anything with "tox" has to be good, right? With this drug, I get all of the above plus:

Poor appetite
discoloration of the skin or nails.

In order to combat these side effects, I will get a bunch of other drugs, some of which will cause side effects of their own- like the steroids they'll pump me full of. 'Roid rage anyone? Weight gain? And some of the drugs do some horrible, not to be talked about in mixed company (or any company, for that matter) things to your digestive/intestinal systems. Sweet. Why yes, that sounds wonderful. Sign me up.

The last 4 cycles are taxol. Apparently the nausea isn't as bad, but I will see such goodies as:

Bone pain
Numbness in the hands and feet

Things I will need to do while on chemo:

Drink lots of water. The more I drink, the faster I flush all the poison out of my body. Plus water's good for the pooper :)

Get lots of rest. This part I will enjoy. I'm sorry honey, you want me to carry something? I'm exhausted. How about I carry a pillow to my bed?

Wash hands often and be wary of infection.

Avoid contact sports. Sure, cuz tackle football's high on my list.

Avoid sun exposure. Apparently I could fry just thinking about the sun. Bald, fat and pasty. I'm every man's dream. I'm using it as an excuse for the Burberry hat and the expensive sunglasses.

Alcoholic beverages should be kept to a minimum or avoided altogether. Thanks, take the one good thing away.

As you can tell, it's gonna be good times. You know, with all the other stuff, I could try to forget that I had cancer. Chemo sort of kills that plan. Oh well, the sooner I start, the sooner I'm done.

So bring it.

Saturday, April 08, 2006

Free Mamograms

If you're like me, you have a number of websites you visit every day. You get news, weather, you chat to somebody, you check out if Katie's had Tom's baby yet, etc. It is my morning ritual. In fact, when I'm procrastinating, it's my afternoon and evening ritual as well. If you could please add this website to your list.

In the middle of the page, click on the Fund Free Mamograms box. The hits on the site help fund mamograms to underprivileged women. Mamograms are the first step. This doesn't cost you a thing. Their corporate sponsors/advertisers use the number of daily visits to donate a mammogram in exchange for advertising.

Please click once a day. It takes a second and helps so many. Thanks Elizabeth for sending this to me.

Friday, April 07, 2006

I have plants and a mailbox!

Nothing else to say really. My house is almost done! YAY! Seriously, I'm going to kill those plants.

Giving Thanks

Maybe it's because it's 67 degrees. Maybe because my doggie just licked my face. Maybe it's because I'm beginning to see my chin again. But I'm feeling optimistic. Yes, I have cancer. And yes, I'm about to go through chemo, which by all accounts is the really shitty stuff compared to the smooth sailing of before. I'm going to be sick and lose my hair and not feel like myself. But my chin- really, it's back. Cancer sucks, and there is not a day that goes by that I don't think about it- all I have to do is look down and see the now 4 scars across my chest, or see my inside elbow bruised from the needles. But you know, it could be a lot worse- I could be ugly. That can't be cured. :)

Seriously, cancer aside, I have so much to be thankful for. Maybe it's because I just had a harvest of my own, and harvest time implies inviting over some people of color and giving thanks. I have black dog- does that count? So let's give thanks, shall we?

I am thankful I am finding my chin again.

I am thankful for my husband- my rock. I never expected to put this on him. He is so wonderful. He makes me laugh. He holds me when I cry. He picks up the dog poop in the yard.

I am thankful for my family. I'm now at my parents practically once a week, usually overnight. They put up with me, my husband and my dogs. And still they take us out for free dinner. My extended family has been beyond awesome.

I am thankful for my friends. They are far away for the most part, but I feel them in every email, every message on my voice mail, every blueberry bread they send. They laugh about implants and wigs and all those non politically correct things we're not supposed to joke about. They talk about things that aren't cancer, like all the horrible choices they make over and over again about really shitty boys. It's nice to talk about things that aren't cancer.

I am thankful that I will never again have to go through that process of dealing with shitty boys. Believe me. I made enough bad decisions for a lifetime.

I am thankful for the song, "My Humps" by the Black Eyed Peas. I myself had a lovely lady lump (of a different kind) and I can still make him work, make make him work.

I am thankful for my puppies. One look in their eyes and I can't help but feel better.

I am thankful for my great job that allows me to be flexible, still earn money, and thankfully, allows me to escape reality a bit. I am thankful for the fabulous group of people I work with.

I'm thankful that in 2 months I will be leaving the tiny small town I have called home for the past 3 years. No knocks to those of you who may like small town living, but 45 minutes to get to a GAP? No Starbucks? No thanks.

I am thankful that for the first time in my adult life, I actually do not have to worry about money. With the exception of whether or not the $250 Burberry hat that I feel I deserve to cover my bald head is really worth it. That in itself is a blessing.

I am thankful I have not lost the ability to laugh- the ability to find humor in an otherwise crappy situation.

I am thankful for the Taco Bell Crunch wrap. Yum. Especially after a night of cocktails.

I have so many things to be thankful for. When I look at myself and think, I'm squishy, I can't have babies (at least not right away, and not without A LOT of medical intervention), my boobs look different, I will lose my hair, have months of shittiness... I push though it all and find that little pocket where a part of me knows that in the end, I'll be fine. I will be stronger for it. And it could be so much worse. I could not have insurance.

So go email, call, hug someone you're thankful for. We don't thank the people in our life enough for being in our life. You'll feel good doing it, I promise.

Sunday, April 02, 2006

I have a goiter

Yes, seriously- a goiter. I know it's a thyroid condition and all, but my goiter is in my belly. I am like a malnourished National Geographic photo. Only I'm far from malnourished. But I'm definitely distended. They warned me of this. Hyperstimulation, they said. Yeah, yeah- I have a goiter. Seriously, when you push my belly, it's hard. I am very sore and it hurts to walk. I'm hoping the bloating, swelling and pain will go away soon. I'm "pushing the fluids"- but what does that mean? Well, my bladder is somehow smooshed in there somewhere and it means I'm peeing all the time. Which by the way, means moving- which I have to say I'm not a fan of.

Combine this with the fact I'm still a little sore on my left side from my first surgery and on the right side from getting my port in- I am a mess.

I feel like it's some fucked up fraternity hazing. They break you down to build you back up. If someone shows up with a sheep- I'm out of here.

Updated Statistics

It's been a busy week!

Ultrasounds: 12

Needles: 38

Eggs: 31

Cancer: Priceless