Thursday, January 26, 2012

A Spoonful of Sugar

  Almost a week of this chemo thing under my belt, and still feeling like quite the rookie!  They say a spoonful of sugar helps the medicine go down, right?  We can feel that in a few ways this week.  The chemo itself didn't hit me very hard, but the "sugar" they use to build your immune system back up, was a whopper!
  Monday got off to a tough start...not for chemo, but for my family.  While I slept Sunday night, my husband, Kent, ended up taking our son to the hospital, because he'd been throwing up all night and his muscles were convulsing, like a seizure.  They hooked him up to an IV for a while because he was so dehydrated.  My frazzled sweetie woke me up around 1 am, so I could keep an eye on Zach, while he ran to the pharmacy to get an anti-nausea prescription.  (I have three anti-nausea drugs for chemo in the medicine cabinet!)  I put my game face on and went to work, feeling a little sleep-deprived, but pretty normal, and knowing that people would be looking for chemo effects.
  I think, if anything, I was over-analyzing little things to see if they might be chemo symptoms.  My taste buds were still a little numb, and I felt a little fuzzy, but that can be normal at 5:00 on a Monday morning!  The morning and noon newscasts went well, and I felt like I was going to be okay.  I was more worried that both kids had stayed home from school- son with the whole flu thing, and daughter with a nasty cough and head cold.
  On the way home, Kent met me at the Cancer Center for the quick, little "Neulasta" shot.  It is a $6,000 injection (kept in a refrigerated safe) that makes your bone marrow work overtime to boost your white blood cells.  White blood cells are the foundation of your immune system, and after chemo knocks the crap out of you, this shot is prescribed to make you strong again.  The shot itself was like a flu shot...no big deal.  The doctor said taking Claritin for a few days would counter some of the bone pain expected, so I took one when we got home...and waited.


   My knees started to ache a bit around 8:00, which would be a good early bed-time that I don't usually get.  I took some Tylenol, headed upstairs, and my sick family tucked me in for the night.  Holy #@&%!!!  I don't think I slept more than five minutes all night.  It felt like someone had a screwdriver up inside my shin bones, trying to pry them open.  My ankles and knees felt, not aching, but s~t~a~b~b~i~n~g pain!  I've broken my arm, blown my knee, and gave birth to twins with both a C-section and vaginal deliveries in a half hour...and this was all that pain combined.  I kept trying to sleep, but threw in the towel around 1 am.  By that time, my tongue was swollen from the taste bud thing, and I was the closest to being in tears of pain ever.  (I don't remember ever crying from pain...I swear instead.)  I called in sick, hearing the pity in our cute producer's voice.  Crap!  Thought I could do it!
  My husband got Kenzie to school, and took care of Zach and I the rest of the day.  Alternating Tylenol and Ibuprofen for me...and Immodium, Pepto, and Ibuprofen for Zach.  The pain started easing by about 9 am, when I limped down the stairs to curl up on the couch.  We drank a lot of powerade and watched a hundred episodes of SVU and Big Bang Theory between naps.  Later, my big burly husband got to take my daughter to the mall, and the froofiest stores possible to get a dress for the upcoming Winter's dance.  (Wish I had a picture of him at the Deb store to post!)  We each had a favorite Lean Cuisine for dinner (except Zach, who had coffee ice cream) and slithered off to bed, hoping for a more restful night.
  Wednesday felt pretty dang normal for a full day of work, and today is going well also.  My feet and ankles ache a little bit sometimes, and I can tell my scalp is losing some sensitivity, like my taste buds.  Luckily, food is still tasting good, I'm getting little naps and keeping my energy, and my brain isn't as fuzzy as I thought it would be.  Both kids were back in school yesterday and today, which is a relief....now they can help me take care of Kent....who has 102 degree fever and the full-blown flu.

37 comments:

  1. I'm pretty sure I cheered more after finishing my last Neulasta shot than I did after my last chemo treatment. Just thinking about it now makes my bones ache. I was able to work through the days of chemo but took the day after my Neulasta shot off every single time. Now I've just had twins and you are right, I would rather go through that pain 10 more times than volunteer for another Neulasta shot. Keep fighting and thanks for sharing your story.

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  2. You are amazing and doing so well. I was a total wreck in every way after my first treatment and shot. I cannot believe how well you are doing. I wish you the very best.

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  3. Mary - Great job! Your 1/4 of the way done with chemo! Yay! I know I mentioned this before... sorry if I seem like a stalker, just really cheering for you :)... but because my blood counts were so good, my Oncologist didn't make me have 3 of the 4 Neulasta shots. It may be worth asking about your counts each time and see if the shot is necessary. They may want you to take it "just in case" and that might be a good enough reason, but I was sure thankful that I didn't have to have it and I did really well. I also had two questions. Do you know what your vitamin D levels were when you were diagnosed? And are you taking the adriamycin? Sending lots of prayers for you and your family... hope they all feel better soon and that you will have continued strength. Your doing great!

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  4. With taste bud issue. I was told not to have anything I loved to eat/drink while on chemo because it can turn something you love into something you'll never want again. I enjoy coffee. I had ONE sip of coffee during the first week of chemo and it was the worst thing I've ever tasted. I ended up being coffee free for 4 months. Now, I still enjoy my one cup of joe a day!
    Hang in there!!!! You are doing great!!!!

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  5. We are with you Mary! Hope Kent gets feeling better soon! My sister is awaiting her latest number and hopefully she will be clear again. We met a 17 year old this past set at the fire house and he has just been diagnosed with testicular cancer that has spread tonhis lymph nodes, liver and lungs. Does not sound very promising but we were able to help him with the abdominal pain and nausea with zofran and fentenyl while transporting to the ER. We helped his newly single mother with advice and care planning. We let her known that we are there 24-7 and if she needed a shoulder, help lifting and just someone to talk to all three crews will be there in her time of need. Cancer is just so unfair but perhaps it brings out the best in all of us as family, friends and public servants. Candles are lit and prayers are said. Fight Like A Girl! Godspeed jack and Cheryl

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  6. I didn't have the 'pleasure' of getting the neulasta shots, my Dr chose to watch my counts for each treatment rather than giving it as a preventative. With the side effects I had from the Taxatere though I'm glad I didn't have to deal with that pain too.
    Stay strong!

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  7. Thank you, Mary. Because of you, I got my first mammogram this week! I've put if off for 2yrs; at 40, I gave birth to a little girl with some major Congenital Heart Defects. Now that we're in between her heart surgeries, I thought it was time I take care of mommy.
    I haven't gotten my results back yet...and given my not-so-healthy lifestyle (-I had fun in college; I'm a periodic, social smoker and thoroughly enjoy a good glass or 2 of Malbec, Pinot Noir, Chardonney, or even a good ol' rum and coke-), I am one of those who wouldn't be surprised to get breast cancer in my lifetime.
    Thank you for getting me past the first hurdle. You are an inspiration, and I hope and pray you get through your treatments as smoothly as possible. And for Heaven's Sake ...tell your cuties that it's mom's turn to be sick ...it's their job to be well right now! :) Hoping your entire household feels better soon.
    Most sincerely,
    Joey

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  8. I know exactly how it feels!! I had the neulasta shot 7 times, luckily my 8th and final chemo he told me I didn't have to take it, I was so grateful! One thing that did help me was a hot bath. I would actually go soak 2 or 3 times a day just to get some relief and it did calm it down and relax me! Hang in there, oh and of those nausea pills I was on #3 pretty much the whole time and kept on top of it. I always had a knot in my stomache, but as long as I took #3 I was ok! I sure am thinking about you, I don't wish this on my worst enemy, its so hard to watch others go through it! Keep fighting, just know this will be the hardest fight you will ever face, but please know that you CAN do it!!! And the growth that comes is incredible!

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  9. Mary, My Grandmother whom I was oh so close to passed away from breast cancer almost 6 yrs ago! You keep fighting for yourself and your family! You have an AMAZING support system with your family, friends, and collegeus! Keep up your good spirit and I know you will conquer this! You are a great role model and beautiful person! Good Luck too you my love!

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  10. Mary, you are amazing. I have always enjoyed watching the morning news crew. Now that I am not working...I don't get up early enough to see it live, but I record it so I still start my day with you guys. You truly are an inspiration. I finally scheduled my mammogram. I'm 50 and I have only had two in my life. I guess it's time to get into gear. I was worried about you on Tuesday when you weren't there, but very glad to see you back on Wednesday.

    I have no advice since my only experience with cancer was when I was 12, watching my father slowly slip away. This was obviously many, many years ago, and things have changed so much in that time. I know you have a large family and many friends to support you at this time. Just know many of us viewers are keeping you in our thoughts and prayers too. You have brought this story home, since you are in our homes each day. Thank you for sharing your story. I know it makes many of us feel better to know what's going on and how you are doing.

    Keep up the good work and laughter! At hard times in my life, I am usually laughing...one day someone asked me how I could laugh at what was going on, and I told them about an episode of M*A*S*H where Radar really told Hawkeye off about always making jokes of the things going on, and Hawkeye told him this place was awful, and the things happening were awful, that his only defense was to poke fun and make jokes...otherwise he would be crying and it would really get him down. This was obviously paraphrased, but you get the point. That really meant a lot to me and I have tried to live by that...and from a few comments you have made, I believe you do too. Keep it up!

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  11. Having been there, I thought that this may cheer you up a little. Hang in there, you are fast becoming one of our heroes.

    A MESSAGE TO MY CANCER

    It may seem like you have control in my life right now, but you don't. Your presence only makes me stronger, braver, kinder, wiser. I choose how I act, what I speak and how I love. You will never be able to touch those things. Never.
    The fear of your name no longer haunts my soul because I know that my soul belongs to me and to God. You may take your claim on this frail outer shell but never on my divine spirit that cries out "I am not my body".
    My soul will run, leap and tower over the attempts you make to pull me down into despair. Those who surround me will fight with me to let it be known that we will not surrender. Our hearts and souls are tied together in a lasting bond that no amount of your impeding growth can break.
    You see cancer, you do not own me.
    I own myself.
    And I will survive.

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  12. Mary, I noticed you said your tongue was swollen, when I was going through chemo my mouth got sooo sore, my dr. told me to take L-lysine, which you can get in the vitamin section. It helped tremendlously. You are going to get through this and it will just be a bad memory. Still sending the good vibes!

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  13. I know you don't know me but there seems to be a silent connection among women w/ Breast Cancer. I think of you every day and how you have to fight this battle so publically. I hope that that doesn't make you feel even more alone. I was 27 the first time I was diagnosed w/ Breast cancer. My daughter was only 10 months old. I thought I kicked is butt. I went back to school to get my nursing degree and then 2 weeks before finals in my last semester of my A.S. Degree, I found out my cancer had metastasized to my bones and liver. This time I was 29. And it is terminal. I started a blog
    http://mylifewithstagefourbreastcancer.blogspot.com/
    and have been trying to find the balance between fighting as hard as I can and making my peace with the fact that I won’t be around when my daughter walks down the aisle or graduates college. But I am not commenting to complain to you I actually want to thank you for being willing to share this personal part of your life with us. You are an inspiration. I have your same doctor and I want you to know (as if you don’t already) that he is the best around. I trust him completely with my life and treatment. He is always three steps ahead of the latest research. I have never once doubted that he has my absolute best in mind. I also would like to ask you a question. (If you don’t ask then the answer is most definitely no.) I of course understand if you can’t. But the local support group Young Survivor Sisters holds and annual Celebration of Life Dinner. This year it is on February 11, at 6:30pm. Would you consider being my guest? This is a great group of girls and is different than many support groups where all the women are older. Let’s face it the challenges are different for us younger women fighting Breast Cancer with kids and careers. I am not trying to push you into the lime light but this is a beautiful night of Motivational speakers, friendship and support. I also don’t know where you would be in your chemo cycle,and if you would be up to it, I have to have chemo the Tuesday before so I will still be tired and nauseated but this night is worth it. What do you say? Please take care Mary. If I could give you any advice it would be don’t try to be Super Woman. People will understand when you need a break . But bigger than that advice is to forgive yourself if you don’t feel as bullet proof as you thought you were. Cancer is whether people like to say it or not a traumatic event and you need to allow yourself to handle it in whatever way works for you. P.S. Sorry about the neulasta that stuff really suck!

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  14. You are amazing Mary. You and your family are in our families thoughts and prayers.

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  15. You are so brave. It's okay to cry. My cousin has severe rheumatoid arthritis as well as many problems with her back and spine so she can certainly understand your bone pain. She too tries very hard to be brave but sometimes the tears flow. Sometimes she just watches a romantic comedy to just let it out so she can control when the tears come. Don't be ashamed to cry. You are going through a tough time and you will get through it with the wonderful support system you have. You will have good days and bad as far as emotions go and that's okay. Maybe they can cut that shot into smaller doses? I sure hope they can do something to lessen the after effects.

    I hope your family is healthy now. What a wonderful husband you have to play nurse while you are down. He's a keeper for sure. :)

    Good thoughts and prayers are coming your way.

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  16. Blast that Neulasta! That is the worst! i will not miss any part of chemo, but I will especially not miss the way that Neulasta makes me feel.

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  17. My girlfriend Anne had Cancer in a different area and of a different type and had to go thru 6 rounds of chemo and Neulasta and basically was knocked out by the Neulasta for the better part of four days after the shot.... yes you are only going thru the beginning of this journey thru the valley of the shadow of death and you will be tried as she was to the limits of endurance as the effects of the chemo are cumulative. Now she is two months off the chemo and her hair is coming back in with a vengeance and her nails are starting to grow again in fits and starts as the Taxol starts to leave her body... the pain of the neuropathy is also fading rapidly and while she has OTHER challenges SHE MADE IT THRU!! and i think YOU CAN TOO GO FIGHT WIN!!!

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  18. Hi Mary, what is it they say, "it doesn't rain but what it pours"? Reading your posts means so much to me!! I have admired you so much for so many years that having you post in such a personal way makes you feel as a very personal friend!! My thoughts and prayers are always with you, your amazing, your so strong, your such a terrific role model to so many women and to us men as well!! Take care and keep slugging, you're going to come out the winner!!

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  19. Mary, I have never had cancer, hope to never have it. It is amazing to me that people go thru it and things turn out fine and they live a better life because, they enjoy the time they have on this earth. Sometimes we just except the good life with know worries, when they find out a person they know has it, or a family member has cancer. That is when they think of there lives and appreciate life alittle better. That is what you are doing for sooo many people that are watching you. We start to take care of ourself's better and appreciate our families and friends and we turn to God for the help to get thru it all. You will Mary,then when you are over this big bump in the road and your family helps you thru it you can help others that are going thru it. That is what you are doing now, May God bless you with all the blessings you need at this time. You are a strong person, even before I heard about your cancer I thought of you and all you do, and thought of you as a very strong person then, you started strong and will end up stronger then before! What a good person you are. Take care for now be good to youself at this time of need. You have a very caring family and that is the best thing you can have, Many prayers for you and your family.

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  20. Hi Mary - I am a 3 and 1/2 year survivor of triple A breast cancer stage 2. I was also given A, C, and T drugs as you will have to take. After doing a week of the white cell boosting shots daily it was found that they did not even work on me - so they tried Luken. I had a different symptom every hour or so with bruising the size of bricks. After several tries of those with no results on elevating white cells I just told the doctor that was it. Returned the unused vials and waited to see what happened. I stayed in the same 2 week to 3 week white cell recovery pattern as on the shots. So don't be afraid to yell "uncle" if they don't work well. My oncologist also told me that they have found that some folks who take the shots only weekly are now being diagnosed with leukemia - so don't hesitate to speak up on that question! I did the daily shots due to that reason - with hubby acting as nurse and shot-giver. As for the hair loss, it starts at around 14 days after the first treatment. And starts to grow back about 4 to 8 weeks after the last chemo treatment. The brows will go last and come back first :) Once the hair goes you will find that the scalp is very sensitive and you will be cold all the time due to the lack of hair. I found some great fuzzy hats made here in SLC Utah (maybe you could get them on the morning show as a part of your coverage on your cancer) called "Hats with Heart". The Furry Fleece Comfort Sleep Cap is the one you want to use to sleep in at night so you will not be so cold at night. Turn it inside out so the seams will not rub the scalp - yes it will make a HUGE difference in comfort. I send these to all my cancer friends and family when they are told they will need chemo. They all loved them! When I found that wigs were painful and uncomfortable I turned those hats right-side-out and wore them during the day and out and about. You will get through this as I did. And you will find your "rhythm" of your chemo. I did mine on Thursdays, worked on Friday, went downhill on Saturday, hit bottom Sunday morning, then started coming back by Monday. And you will find yours. And you will discover that sitting in a chair is not resting. It will become hard work. So learn to lie in a bed flat and let your body rest that way when you feel unrested. Even if you don't sleep, resting totally flat will help give you more energy to use later. The most important thing is to not try and be a super woman. Know your limits, ask for help from the family to do the chores and such, and accept the days that you just can't do it all. I wore a pin to all my chemos and a set of my dads dog tags from WWII. They reminded me that I needed to fight to win. The pin was a replica of the USS North Carolina battleship and it reminded me to take aim and kill those cells. The dog tags reminded me of my father's march across Germany and how he survived. Keep fighting, keep telling those cells to die, and remind yourself that each day is a victory. We'll all pulling for you!!! Fran C.

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  21. Mary, as Brenda mentioned above L-lysine will help tremendously with the mouth sores that may come. Also, if nobody said it yet, a non-alcoholic mouthwash every chance you get will help. I have 5 out of 12 chemo treatments left for appendix cancer. Always on the count down. You do a great service to everyone, bringing awareness and de-mystifying chemo. God Bless You!

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    1. Hi Mary,
      Just something about the mouth sores, suck on ice during chemo, it worked for me! It will still kill your tastebuds but they will eventually return! I think what your doing is awesome, putting it out there for the public to see what really happens. The Neulasta shot SUCKS, what else can I say, I would take 2 claritin and an Aleve together to get a jump on it, it sort of helped. I started losing my hair exactly 2 weeks after my first treatment so I had my husband shave it. It's only hair and it grows back! I had 6 rounds of chemo and 35 radiation treatments and I live in a rural area so I had to drive 5 days a week for radiation and then went to work. So you will be able to do it, but don't try to be Super Woman either! If you wake up and feel bad stay home, chemo knocks the socks right off of you, at least it did me, the fatigue was unreal. Now radiation that was cake compared to chemo. You will be a SURVIVOR just like the rest of us. I have now been cancer free for 2 1/2 years and counting. My thoughts and prayers are with you. STAY STRONG and ROCK ON!
      Terri S.

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  22. Hi Mary, I love how you write! I love that you can find humor in your cancer and in your family's sickness. Thank you for the card. Don't know how you found time to do that! I think about your everyday, especially when our daughter is eating top ramen. I think about how you used to put an egg in yours and you LIKED it. (it was cheap eating too!) I was just in Lewiston for Jack and Regina's 50th and drove by what used to be TIDYMAN'S...remember walking into the store liked we owned it and yelling for Jim to help us find something? TOO funny! Jack and Regina said to tell you they are thinking of you and praying for you! Everyone is my friend! Sounds like you are getting some great advice from some veteran cancer survivors...you are blessed to have so much info that can help you.
    I love you my friend. Keep writing and lean on that amazing family of yours, both your own family and your work family.

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  23. I forgot to sign my name on the last post!! LOVE SHARON

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  24. Hello Mary, I went with my mom to the "What Women Want" expo here in St George. I qualified for the "500 Free" mamogram program offered at the expo. (My last mamo was 2009, I skipped my 2010). Having never been to the expo before and having just gotten there, I hesitated a little. But my mom insisted I do it. Thank heavens I did. I was diagnosed with breast cancer on Nov 10,2011. I had my lumpectomy on December 1st. They took 3 lymphnodes (nodes clear) I am stage 1A, grade 2 invasive HER2+. My treatment is 8 weeks of radiation, then 1 Femara pill everyday for the next 5 years. I am starting my 3rd week of radiation Jan 30th. My husband and I watch 2 News morning and night. You are an inspiration to me. Keep your chin up and know that we are hoping all goes well for you. Let's Both Kick Butt on Breast Cancer! :)

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  25. Hi Mary, So glad to hear an update. Although it doesn't sound like any fun and sounds quite painful, you are still so amazing-a beautiful, talented, spirited, and courageous woman. Keep up the amazing attitude and listen to some of your favorite music-music will get you through some amazing things. Thinking of you every day. Thank you for sharing your thoughts with all of us who admire you.

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  26. Hang in there Mary! YOu are amazing! My heart goes out to you and all other women who are and have dealt with this horrible disease! God bless you all!

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  27. Hi. Just came upon your blog when I was researching breast cancer because a good friend has just been diagnosed. So sorry for your pain! That night must have been awful. Glad you feel better now.
    And your poor husband, taking care of everyone and then getting sick himself! Poor guy. Hope he's better.

    My friend, like you, was taken by surprise by her diagnosis. In her case, she had a nightmare about her breast and went to check it out and yes, she had stage 2 breast cancer. She felt fine up 'till then. Now she's on chemo and feeling tired and awful. It's so strange that she felt so well before the diagnosis, and then the treatments started, which will help cure her, and they make her feel so sick.

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  28. Sorry you're feeling the side effects of neulasta, I was lucky to not have to bad a time with the shots.,,,however, I had mine right after each chemo treatment which were every 2 weeks for 8 treatmenst of 3 different poisons. Glad you're doing well at this point.
    Thinking of you. :)

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  29. Hi Mary
    I know the entire community would love to drop by goodies, or help make your day a little easier. Know that you are loved and we are cheering in your corner!
    Karen

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  30. You explained it exactly as I remember it. It has been almost a year since my last Chemo and Neulasta. I cry just remembering it, but I know I made it through it... Every Chemo brings one something new. Feel free to check out my journey www.melanieslemonade.blogspot.com

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  31. Mary thank you for your courage and sharing your journey with everyone. I know it was hard to call in that day from work. Please don't be hard on your self, there are going to be days that you will need your rest and strength, listen to your body, if you need a day to feel better, then you should take one.
    I have watched you on the morning news for years and somedays I forget you have cancer because you show so much positive attitudes while deep down inside you are truly scared. No one is going to look down on you when you take a day off. We all know how brave you are and how much of a hard worker you are. Please know you truly are in our thoughts and prayers. Big (((Hugs))) Mindy

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  32. Hi Mary, I saw your facebood post today about the wig shopping and it brought back some funny memories for me. I was going through chemo this time last year for breast cancer. And losing my hair became a family adventure. My 15 year old daughter was really excited to go wig shopping with me and make sure I used it for that makeover look she had been telling me I needed for a long time. And then about the stage you are now where my hair was starting to fall out, my 9 year old son couldn't wait to help with shaving my head. He thought it was really cool. So hang in there with losing the hair. Being bald for awhile actually has its advantages.

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