Bad Right Breast

I've Always Hated My Right Breast!

LOSING MY HAIR November 16, 2011

Filed under: cancer — Bad Right Breast @ 10:55 am

(warning: words like pubic and tampons used below)

The first time I went more than three days before I needed to shave my pits? As far as I’m concerned never, until Sunday nov 6. When I went to the oncologist 1.5 weeks after my first treatment of chemo, I had yet to start losing the hair on my head, but I did notice that I hadn’t need to shave my pits. And then it wasn’t until three days after that until my pubic hairs started falling out. The main reason I noticed was because I had just started my period, which meant I hadn’t gone pre-menopausal just yet. But since I had to wear pads, the hairs stuck to it and were coming out in droves. Yes, a downside was that I had to revert back to the seventh grade and wear maxis. See, my body with low white blood cell count would not be able to fiend off TSS at any level from the mere use of tampons. So even though there was the perk of of the carpet eventually matching the drapes and some sense of my sexuality intact, I had to walk around as if I were still in junior high. postive = 2, negative 1

Then my hair on my head started falling out before the hair on my legs so life wasn’t going along all that perfectly. I was taking my morning shower, and started to enjoy what I knew would be the last hair wash for a very long time. Each strand of hair was no longer than 3″ but the drain looked as it were down my back. I took a deep breath and held back the tears. I needed my hair to stay on through the night at least for the opening of the festival. So I used the last of the rationed hair gel and stuck my hair to my scalp for as long as possible.

I got through the day, holding myself back from running my fingers through my hair. Instead, I became obsessed with patting it down. And the times I couldn’t help myself, I pulled more and more out. The festival opened, and the hair stayed on all night long. But when I got home, I couldn’t hold back anymore. I stood in front of the bathroom mirror and began running my fingers through my hair. And it came out. Not in clumps but in fingers full. I had to stop. I needed to go one more day before I could shave it. Sunday morning was the only time Graham and the rest of us would be together for the next four days, and I knew it wouldn’t last that long.

I got the girls home on Saturday and started talking to them. We were in the bathroom on the potty, and I said, “Do you wanna pull some of mommy’s hair out?” and they eagerly replied yes. Fortunately I’ve raised girls who aren’t queasy and turns out, a little bit masochistic. We brought in a trash can, and they began the process. I had to stop them before they pulled it all out. My scalp was a little sore. Then for the next 3 hours they couldn’t help but continuously ask, “Can we shave your head now?” “Can I pull more hair out?” Not till tomorrow I replied, but behind closed doors I have to stop myself.

The last night with my hair was pretty gross. As I rolled over in the night I could feel strands sticking to my pillow. At one time during the night, I had to collect it up in a hairball pile and discard, wishing I had kept a lint brush by my side. Sunday morning I woke up anticipating the shave, only to be sidetracked by Penelope getting stuck in the underside of the glider’s ottoman. So stuck, in fact, that after removing 3 screws and 4 hex screws, we had result to the jigsaw. Unfortunately I couldnt locate my flip cam, and we missed the kodak moment in order for to keep her cool which she was soon on the verge of losing. Leave it to a 3 year old to steal my thunder.

After Elizabeth and Scotte arrived, we started. It took a while as it was still thick, but also because I let Penelope and Sophia give it a try for a while. Boy did they get a kick out of it. Scotte cleaned me up, Elizabeth filmed.

And all I can say is it’s damn cold with a bald head. Going to work I knew it’d be ok, even picking my girls from preschool. But when I promised a childhood friend visiting from home that I’d join her at her press junket for the guiness world records (for the world’s largest afro, go AEVIN JUDE DUGAS!) I hesitated all day long, trying to come up with excuses. But Scotte promised to come over & watch the girls so I could go. I internally hemmed & hawwed and finally gave in. I put on a nice top, snazzy jacket, a wrap scarf to keep my neck warm & new hat from Becca to cover my head & ears. I got there & Aevin was in her prime. We chatted and I secretly show her my head and then convinces me to leave my hat off. It was itching like crazy and it started to get warm inside the lounge. I had never thought I would be self-conscious about it, but I have to admit I was. Then I thought: 1, it’s New York. 2, I never cared what others thought before. 3, if there’s any place to look out of place, it’s the guiness world record press junket. (No offense Aevin but have you seen the party you’ve joined? The slide show scrolled through werewolf girl, the guy who can spit milk through his eyeball, a contortionist and more.) If there was any place for me to break in my head, it was there.

Went through several meetings today with no hat, and I’m pretty ok with it. I’ll use my wig on special occasions but for the most part I think I’m ok with being bald. It’s winter. I don’t want to have to worry about wearing snow hats over my wig.

What else? met with the plastic surgeon today. Turns out my left tissue extender is sliding a bit, but will be resolved when we do the exchange.

and tomorrow it starts all over again.

much love to you all.
Laurie

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CHEMO TREATMENT 1 of 6 November 15, 2011

Filed under: cancer — Bad Right Breast @ 10:09 pm

(updated this to include all 21 days, if you’ve read before skip down to day 11)

Day 1, wed – It was a long day, 8 hours at the hospital – vitals checked, check in with the Oncologist.  Then because I wasn’t prescribed steriods to take the day before, my chemo intake took several hours longer.  I felt pretty good though, no pain or nausea.  Ate lunch during chemo and then dinner that night.  I took a Tylenol 3 for a slight headache that came on and then took one anti-nausea pill just in case.  Felt tired, but thought that it was more due to the long day and not because of chemo.

Day 2, thu – I took my time getting ready for work. I could feel a slowness of energy. I worked from 9am-5pm. By the time I got home, I was wiped out. No nausea, just a bit of an achiness. My in-laws had picked the girls up from dance class & beat me home. Cheryl was in the middle of chopping vegetables for stir fry. I helped, added to the mix, cooked the rest of the meal, sat down, and ate way too much. My system just couldn’t digest it. It sat there. Reminded me of when I was pregnant and Penelope was sitting on my stomach and Sophia was pushing up on my esophagal tract. I decided at this time I needed to start the 4-5 small meals. Once I finished eating, I went to bed and just laid in a lathargic state. I slept well though.  I drank lots of water throughout the day.  Lemon water truly cuts out the metallic flavor in my mouth immediately and soon becomes my best friend.

Day 3, fri – I woke up feeling good, still a bit tired but able to move around. Another side effect started, but minimal. Soreness at the bottom of my feet, like i had walked several miles. Not unbearable, but I knew what it was from. Went to work, was extremely slow & tired.  Left at 4pm and went straight to bed. Graham picked the girls up from pre-school and I joined them in the living room. I laid on the couch watching my family from afar, as if I was an outsider. The girls seemed as if they had grown inches in the past several days, like I had been away for months and missed a significant part of their lives. I start to realize what I could be left out of throughout all of this & vow to stay in the present as best I can. I had a little of the Pesto Fussili Pasta with Sundried Tomatoes and Chicken – still have my appetite.  Then, went straight to bed.

Day 4, sat – Graham is loading in a show all day, but I had already scheduled the girls to be away at a friend’s house till the early evening. Rich & Kim pick up the girls (dressed in their fairy princess costumes) on their way to a halloween party. When they leave I break down. I’m missing things already. But there’s no way I can go. There’s a freak snowstorm coming & I decide to take the opportunity to simply lie in bed & do nothing, all day long. Graham comes home and makes burritos, but I add my seasonings when necessary.  Again, I watch from afar, and eat a small burrito later on (it tasted great!)  Graham takes care of the girls’ bath and bedtime while I lay comatose in bed.

Day 5, sun – I wake up and feel like a brand new person.  I make blueberry pancakes for the family, start to feel slightly sluggish so I slow down.  We enjoy a nice breakfast together, and then prepare to go grocery shopping, which is never an easy feat even sans chemo.  But we do it, even though Graham pushes the cart up 2 of the 3 hills.  Then he leaves for work, and the girls and I enjoy a light lunch.  We all nap at the same time, and then we enjoy movie Sunday.  I defrost gumbo for dinner and we enjoy a quiet evening.

Day 6, mon – I’m feeling better.  It’s Halloween after all.  I prepare the girls’ costumes for preschool and we head out.  On the way back to the subway after I drop them off,  I started feeling another side effect – itchiness on the palm of my right hand and then the whole thing starts to tingle.  I massage with some aveeno lotion and it all subsides.  I take it slow at work and leave a little early to meet up with the girls and in-laws at a preschool party before we head out to go trick or treating. It was a grand time, after one kid calmed down from a tantrum! We go home to find jambalaya made by daddy!  I hold off on eating for a while.  I bathe the girls and get to bed early.

Day 7, tues – It’s a beautiful day so I test my limits and bike to work.  I don’t push myself but take it slow.  I takes me twice as long to do it.  I discover at the office that my lemon juice bottle opened up all over the dress I was doing to change into, so I stay in my biking outfit all day – attractive.  I’m worn out but not exhausted and start to feel good.  I get through the day and leave early for the long ride home.  I arrive completely worn out, but feeling great.  The first time I think that I can get through this.  I prepared myself by asking friends and family to handle dinner and it’s a true blessing.  I can work, which I have to in order to keep up with the bills and my brain, and take care of the girls.

Day 8, wed – A full week later and I’m getting into the swing of it, if that’s possible.  Good energy in the morning.  4-5 meals throughout the day.  Constant lemon water at my side.  Pick up the girls, get home in time for a yummy chicken stew from the Hodge/Kefgen family.  Graham’s working, so I feed the girls, bathe them, get them into bed, and crash.
Day 9, thu – Check up with Doctor says so far so good.  Check in at work, so far so good.  Pick up the girls from Wayne’s house, bring them home for snack.  Then off to dance class, where I can sit for an hour and not do anything (except reply to emails).  We head home in time for dinner by Melissa.  Graham comes home early, so we eat.  I bathe the girls, get them into bed, and crash.
Day 10, fri – Again, great energy in the morning, but maybe because I decided to sleep in.  I work from 9:30am-4:30pm.  I pick the girls up from pre-school, and get home to rest a little.  Dinner by Jennifer, a mom in the area I always wanted to spend more time with, but never over my kitchen counter talking cancer.  (we need a night out together girl!)  Graham’s working, so I feed the girls, bathe them, get them into bed, and crash.
Day 11, sat – FEEL GREAT THIS MORNING!  I make fresh blueberry pancakes.  We all decide that it’s pajama day and lounge around and do absolutely nothing.  Good to hear laughter all day long.  Dinner by Stephanie & Casey is yummy!  But I crash early.  Graham handles bath and bed while I lay lathargic on the couch and wait for the LSUvsAlabama game to start!  GEAUX TIGERS!

Day 12, sunday – GOOD DAY!  store, laundry, playground, football

Day 13, monday – load in at the theatre. Feel fine.

Day 14, tuesday – day 1 of 3 in teching 21 shows. Three 14 hour days in a row. The girls spend the next 4 days at their grandparents so Graham & I can rock this out. I run around the theatre as if all is normal. I forget that I have cancer and am going through chemo. It’s not until after midnight until my body starts to remind me.

Day 15, wednesday – pushed myself too hard yesterday & am feeling it today. I mostly sit & have things brought to me.

Day 16, thursday – am exhausted from working three 14 hour days in a row, but it’ll be worth it.

Day 17, friday – opening of the festival, and hair is really starting to fall out. I seal it to my scalp with the last of my gel, and have a great final night out with a head of hair in a long time. Unfortunately, sangrias teased me all night long.

Day 18, saturday – slow morning, recouping from a long week. But excited to see the girls, how I miss them so. When we get home I let them start to pull my hair out, and I have to stop them before they take it all! Little masochists.

Day 19, sunday – shave my head, energy & appetite are great. So even though I officially look like a cancer patient, i dont feel like one.

Day 20, monday – first day at work with the shaved head. Man, it’s cold. Energy is great, appetite is great. All to just soon start over again.

Day 21, tuesday – hosted a new show at our office, and had them courted around town – all with my bald head.  In the middle of the day, I went to my appointment at the plastic surgeon’s to check up on my breasts.  Inserted a bit more saline, as he confirmed that there would be some reduction when the implants are inserted.  We talk about making the desicion of doing the exchange operation before or after radiation.  More to think about.  He also confirmed that my left tissue extender is sliding a bit to the left, but that it can be corrected in the exchange surgery.

and then we start all over again.