Tuesday, August 31, 2010

Chemo delay

Yesterday was my scheduled chemo treatment. But when I got there I was told my white blood cell counts were too low. So they gave me a Neupogen shot to help build them back up, and chemo is rescheduled for Thursday. So much for my attempt at having an ick-free weekend! It seems I'm always feeling worst on the the weekends and since John is away at work, the girls are stuck home with me not feeling like doing anything fun. I feel so bad for them. Just this morning, Caroline was saying she was sad we didn't get to go to the beach this summer. I told her I was sad, too, just as much as she was. But we didn't know I was going to get cancer and it was going to ruin everything!

Plus, I was planning to teach next week. I've been visiting the classroom to get to know the kids, and they are such sweeties! I was all prepared to work. But now, I'm not going to be feeling better in time. Maybe the week after, I can work some.

And! the Neupogen shot makes my bones hurt since it stimulates the bone marrow to make more white blood cells. My head, legs, shoulders, back, all ache. At least, Motrin works for these pains. Maybe it means that my white count is coming up and I'll be able to get the treatment on Thursday. yipppee.

And, and! John is not going to be able to come home for a week and with the ickies, I won't feel like going up to see him. Not even to meet halfway for dinner together (I tried that once with the ickies and it was terrible!). We all miss him when he's gone that long.

So, I'm feeling sorry for myself today. Not proud of it, but there it is. Maybe tomorrow I can look on the bright side.

Tuesday, August 24, 2010

The deed is done!

So, last night we buzzed my hair. John did actually. It really was time and I really was ready. We all gathered in the bathroom and did the deed. It took a while and made a huge mess (which John cleaned up, bless his heart). I do still have stubble left. I heard that it's not a good idea to clean shave it, irritated skin or something, so we used a #1 guard. It really was thin so there's not a lot of stubble. I guess the length was hiding most of the bald spots. But it does feel fuzzy. The girls have had fun rubbing it. They took it pretty well. Both were not happy when I told them it was time to do it. I think Caroline is at the age that being embarrassed is a huge deal. She has made a few comments that I will wear a hat or scarf in public, especially at her school. And, of course, I will. Rachel Rose just said, "Oh, I hate it when Mommy has to do this!" Like it's a routine occurrence! I just hate that they have to have a sick mommy who looks like this. But then isn't it part of a Mom's duty to embarrass her kids! I think I win this award!

So, now I have to get down the bag o'scarves from the storage closet. Never thought I would have to see those again! Maybe I'll get some new ones, just so it doesn't seem like I'm repeating the past. This is a new experience, I should embrace it! Let the New Adventures of Melinda Young, Cancer Patient begin!

Monday, August 23, 2010

Today's the day! Buzzzzz . . . .

Yep, I'm feelin' it - today is The Day. I'm ready. Getting the clippers out, I'll probably need scissors first, broom/dust pan. It's gonna happen Today. It is time. Hair is everywhere. Each time I touch my head, I get a handful. Gross, messy, I'm ready. Yep . . . I am redd-eee! At least, I think so . . . no, I know so! Really, it's time. I mean, it's gonna happen no matter what. I can shave it or let it sprinkle out all over my house. Even if I do have the length still in the back. The top is sick-looking. It needs to be done, it is time. I'm almost sure I am ready. I could let it go another few days, maybe a week. I can still wear a hat to cover the top and the bottom looks like my hair is still normal. With a hat, I don't look like a cancer patient. Just a chick having a bad hair day. I could still be me for a few more days . . . . . but, (deep breath) I gotta do it. At some point, I will be bald, no way around it. Do I begin bald today? Am I really, really ready? Maybe tomorrow should be The Day, hmmm . . . . . I hate cancer!

Tuesday, August 17, 2010

Still feeling good

I went back to Dr. Levitt, the rad dr, and I thought he was going to do a scan of my neck. But apparently, it was just a follow-up appt to see how the rad side effects were doing. The sore throat is MUCH better, the skin is healed just darker than before, and the eye is the same. He said I may be stuck with the wonky eye. I told him I didn't mind the not sweating part or the small pupil, it's the droopy lid that bugs me. It affects my vision on that side a little bit. He said there are procedures they can do to correct the lid like tightening the muscle or inserting weights (what? weightlifting for my eyelid? not sure about that one!). If it doesn't get any better, I'll consider doing something to fix it. What I would really like is to have a big one-time procedure with a plastic surgeon - get my eye done, my belly scar fixed, a little liposuction, tummy tuck, nose tweaked . . . would insurance pay for all that??

Dr. Levitt did mention that it is still early to see the full results of radiation. He will wait on Dr. Salmieri's scans that I'll get once chemo is done. Then he will decide if I need more radiation. I told him I appreciate the offer of more radiation, but I respectfully decline. He just laughed. No, man, I'm serious! Zap me anymore and I'll become human bacon!!

So, the plan now is to just keep on keeping on. I'll still get blood tests to monitor my CA125 and I'll still see Dr. S once a month . . . and I'll still have chemo, bleh. After 3 more treatments, 9 more weeks, I'll probably wait another couple of weeks and then have a scan to see where I'm at. Nothing to do until then except keep the faith and keep my chin up.

I'm feeling great now. Except for the fatigue and constant hair drizzle, I could forget I have cancer. Almost makes me feel guilty for accepting all the yummy dinners from everybody! Almost!

One thing I've been thinking about, and no judgments here , is getting a tattoo. Not on any obvious part of my body, just on my head. The back of my head! Being bald is such a unique opportunity, not an everyday occurrence, I'd like to commemorate it with something. Something that will show while I'm bald, but will be covered up when my hair grows back. Something that sort of displays my cancer experience while I'm having it, but then stays hidden and private when I'm done. What do you think? I'm crazy, right?! No? Thanks for not judging!

So if anyone has a suggestion of what kind of tattoo I should get, feel free to chime in. I want something small (less painful!) that is meaningful, pretty, and not a ribbon! Nothing against ribbons, I enjoy wearing them as pins and pendants and all. They are a very common symbol for cancer and I guess I just don't want my tattoo to be common. Maybe even a word or short phrase, keyword SHORT (less painful!) would be good . . . like "If you are reading this, please help me find my wig!" Ha, ha!!

Saturday, August 14, 2010

New Hat

Just wanted to share a pic of me in my new hat.
Cute, huh! It's gotten to where I don't go out in public without a hat. My hair is so thin now that you can see bald spots on the top. Ewww! Like I've said before, I don't want to look like a diseased dog so it's time to start the hat parade! I really like this style, called the "cadet cap". It's like an uptown version of the baseball cap. So far, I've got two of them. I think it looks better with some hair hanging out the bottom, so I may wait to shave it all off for a little longer. The problem is the falling out process. There is hair everywhere!!! Ewww again! At least it's long enough to be able to pick most of it off my clothes and pillow. But when it falls down my arm, I keep thinking there's a spider crawling on me! Which I honestly would prefer (sigh), it's no fun losing your hair. And once it's all gone, there's no way I can deny what I'm going through. I mean, really, how many women are bald for the fun of it! Bald head = cancer patient, period. So far, I've been able to pass as normal and it's been nice not having the "C" front and center every waking moment of my day. I can't stand the pity and the awkwardness. It's like I'll be having a regular conversation, but if I mention that I'm going through chemo I turn into an alien with three heads. People seem shocked that I'm walking around upright and not on my deathbed. And then they feel uncomfortable which makes me feel like I need to reassure them I'm okay. Which I may not be at that particular moment. It's just such a personal thing to have to deal with on such a public level. Most of the time, I'm open and direct with everything, not too worried about sharing. But it has been nice to be able to keep it to myself if I choose to. Not for long . . .

On the other hand, playing the cancer card can have its advantages. I think what I'll start doing once the hair is gone and I'm officially "out of the closet", I'll keep a list of all the perks I've gotten from having cancer. That could be fun! I remember my first chemo go-round, I got John out of a speeding ticket when the officer saw me in the passenger seat without my scarf. Bonus!! Wonder what I can score this time around . . . hee, hee, hee! I'll keep you posted!

Thursday, August 12, 2010

I can see the light at the end of the tunnel

FINALLY!!! I'm feeling better. It's now day #7 post-chemo. Good grief! If I was still on the weekly dose and had to go back tomorrow, I'd be having a major meltdown. Thank goodness, I have two weeks to enjoy. I'm not totally 100% - major fatigue, neuropathy, a few stomach issues - but the nausea is waning. Hallelujah!! It's the absolute worst feeling in the world. Honestly, I think I would rather deal with a severed limb! This time I also had body aches or bone pain, I'm not sure, and chills. It was like the flu multiplied by a million. If the achiness happens again, I might ask for some narcotics! Anything to make me feel better. Too bad medical marijuana isn't legal in Georgia!!

In the meantime, the girls started back to school. Caroline is in 4th grade and Rachel Rose is in kindergarten. They are both at Mashburn Elementary and it's so weird to see them both get off the bus together. For so long, RR has been in the car with me while we wait on Caro. Usually, she was talking nonstop. Now it's just me and it's quiet, ahhh!

They are both loving their classes. RR comes home each day saying it was better than the last. And Caroline now has a crush - but don't say anything!!! We are so lucky to have our girls at Mashburn, it is an exceptional school. All of the teachers there are wonderful, but I do think we got a couple of the star ones - Ms. Buchwald and Ms. Melton. I am so thankful!

I am still not working. My gracious director, Ms. Marty, is subbing for me this month. She is a lifesaver! I hope to go back part-time in September, teaching during my 2 good weeks. We'll see how this month goes and what kind of pattern I can expect.

Next Tuesday is my follow-up appointment with the radiation oncologist, Dr. Levitt. He will do a scan to check the lymph node on my neck where I had radiation. The burns are all cleared up and my throat is minimally sore, so I'm hoping he'll get an accurate picture of the node. It still feels like a big bump to me, we'll just have to wait and see . . .

I have to give a huge thanks to my aunt and uncle, Lanie and Jerry. In addition to bringing a delicious dinner (I did finally have a plate the next afternoon, so good!), they stayed and did repairs in my bathroom and cleaned my whole house! I can't imagine what professionals would've charged, and they did it all! I am so blessed to have them. They are the sweetest, most genuine people. Love, love, love to them!

And I want to thank another aunt and uncle, Martha and Jimmy. Their generosity amazes me. They can't possibly know how much I appreciate them! Love, love, love to them, too!

Tuesday, August 10, 2010

Today is my 5th day of feeling horrible . . . I'm wondering why they couldn't just put me into a drug-induced coma until next week.

Saturday, August 7, 2010

#7 down and 3 weeks OFF!

Today was my first triple dose treatment that will last me 3 weeks. It went without a hitch, but was very long! I arrived at 8:30 and left at 5:30, ugh! But, at least, I don't have to go back for 3 weeks, BONUS! (That's a new RR thing, too much TV) Now, I only have 3 more of these treatments and I'll be done . . . I hope. I'm beginning to get a little worried that after these treatments are over, I won't have the results Dr. S is looking for and he will decide to continue chemo a little longer . . . eww, I just gagged at the thought! Now is the time that prayers alone can make results.

I have a CT scan on my neck later this month with the radiation dr. and Dr. S will want to do his own chest scan after I'm done with chemo. I need to ask him what he is looking for to declare me back in remission - shrinking of tumors, no change in tumors, normal CA-125? My eye, which was my initial problem, has not changed at all. But it could be that the radiation permanently damaged the nerve and my eye is collateral damage. It will be a bummer if it's permanent, but we all can't be supermodel perfect, now can we? And my wonky eye actually bothers me a lot less than the turkey waddle I'm growing under my chin. And the cottage cheese rear end, and the the flabby tummy, and the . . .

So, I'm waiting to see what kind of side effects I'll have this weekend. It could be just the same, even with the triple dose - yucky on Sunday, Monday, and Tuesday. I need to look back in my blog and read how I reacted back in '07 with this dose. I don't remember it being much worse. Knock on wood!

On a happy note, Caroline had her birthday on Thursday, she is now 9 years old! We aren't having her party until August 21 and we're combining it with RR's birthday which is August 18. So yesterday was a pretty normal day, much to the chagrin of the birthday princess! Drama was the theme . . . "I can't believe you're making me clean my room on MY BIRTHDAY!! I should get to do whatever I want on MY BIRTHDAY!! Everybody should bow down to me on MY BIRTHDAY!!" We did go out to dinner with family and she got to open her presents. Once she had gifts and cake in front of her, she was all smiles and declaring, "This is the BEST BIRTHDAY EVAH!!" Heaven help me when she hits the teen years, I can't imagine it getting worse!

School starts on Monday! The girls are ultra-excited! It's going to be a great year, I just know it!!