Thursday, March 29, 2012

  I feel like a rookie all over again.  Our family is taking a quick flight for a weekend volleyball tournament, and I have no idea if flying will have a different effect on me because of chemo.  I know to be more careful about germs, but what about air pressure, dizziness, headaches?  One of my most common side effects of chemo is over-analyzing!  The good thing is- any little ache, pain, or mental lapse...I can blame on chemo!  But then I think...realistically, most things have been pretty much the same, even while I'm being poisoned.
  Chemo is geared to attack fast growing cancer cells, so it attacks fast growing healthy cells too.  That's why hair comes out, and the stomach lining is affected.  The medications have been working really well for my digestive system for the most part, and I'm now thinking about shaving the rest of my stubbly hair.  Maybe we'll do that this weekend.  I just hate the look of pity I get when people see my nearly naked head.  I think that's the main reason I wear wigs!  Some people don't show that they're shocked, but others, just for a second, the look of  "Oh my God, she's dying!" crosses their face.  I'm NOT dying!  I'm just on medicine that made my hair fall out!  Odds are this chemo is killing every cancer cell in my body (if there were any) and I will be okay.
  I think "that look" is one of the worst parts of chemo.  Some people shake right out of it and talk to me like normal, but I feel bad when people are so sad that they don't know what to say.  My kids and husband are fine with me going out bald, but I still feel uncomfortable being the one to make people so uncomfortable.  Does that make sense?  I'm not a hat person...and even though I have some gorgeous and super comfortable hats waiting to cover my dome...I haven't worn one yet.  Not scarves either.  I think scarves are pretty and comfortable, but I look in the mirror and it screams, "I HAVE CANCER!"  A lot of women rock the hats, scarves, and even the bald look...but I'm not brave enough just yet.
  I don't know if I'll take the wig off for the airplane flight, or if they'll give us a pity discount if I check in bald at the hotel!  I don't know if the wig will protect my head from sunburn, or if I'll have to take it off in a hot crowded gym.  Just like normal, we'll take each moment as it comes, and make it work! 
  BTW- I'm feeling on the upswing after chemo #4 last Friday.  SO thankful for family checking in on me, and friends who make me feel loved!  Chemo #5 is April 13th, and the last one May 4th.  ALMOST DONE!!!

Sunday, March 11, 2012

More Good Luck!

  As I go through chemo, I keep realizing how lucky I am.  Really!  I have had some yucky days in the weeks following my three chemo treatments, but only two days that were bad enough to stay home from work.  Even then, there is no nausea or horrible pain...just headache, aching eyes, some numb-ish fingers and toes, and the feeling of tiny buzzing bees in my mouth.  (Not stinging, just buzzing!)  And, yes, fatigue...but not exhaustion.  A nap or two is helping a lot!  Oh, my daughter told me I've been a little bit spacey lately.  My husband will agree!  Chemo-brain seems to make me search for words more than normal, and forget things like who I told what.
  Chemo is such a strange poison.  It terrorizes some people with nausea, some with pain, some with exhaustion, some with everything.  Every person is different, and each cancer is different, so it makes sense that each chemo cocktail will have different effects on all of us.  I feel lucky to have such minor side effects.  My third treatment, on March 2nd, followed a very similar track to the first and second treatments, but with symptoms just a little worse on everything...which still wasn't that bad!
  I'm lucky to have so much support from my husband and kids, from my big family in Seattle, from my work family, and from my school/church community of friends.  I'm even getting prayers, homemade gifts, strength and support from people I've never met.  My biggest prayer right now is that God shares all of the strength I'm getting with others who need it more.  I can't imagine having to help a child battle cancer and chemo, or having to face this battle without a great support system.
  I have insurance!  That makes me feel really lucky after seeing the bill for my first chemo treatment- $24,000!  Yes- 24-thousand dollars for three IV bags of poison!  I guess working for the same station for 21 years isn't just luck, but I know many others are stuck without jobs or insurance right now, and I'm lucky and blessed to be where I am.
  I'm lucky my job had me get a mammogram for a story and caught my tumor early.  I'm lucky to have my husband home again, after his high-stress job that had him working and away from many kid's events for a couple of years.  I'm thrilled my son made the high school baseball team, so I can plan my afternoons around sitting in the sun watching America's game!  I'm so proud of my daughter, working hard year-around on her favorite sport- volleyball, which will take us on a few fun weekend trips in the coming months!
  I'm lucky to have a sister who's been through a lot of what I'm going through (and worse.)  She checks on me and is there for support, warnings, and advice.  I'm lucky to have bosses who let me take a nap at work when I need one, and who sincerely want me to take care of me before taking care of them.  I'm lucky to have been raised in a big, happy, resourceful, optimistic, hard-working family that set the stage for how to react when challenged, and how to make the best of any situation.
   So here's signing off, lucky, and gearing up for chemo number four!