Monday, September 3, 2012

Just keep swimming...


   I couldn't decide what to title this entry.  I feel like I'm "Making a Comeback," but I don't think I was ever gone.  I thought of "Still Recovering," but in many ways I'm already recovered.  My hair is coming back, but I didn't want to focus on that, AGAIN!  I guess, as with other obstacles, you just deal with it and keep going, like Dori in "Finding Nemo."  Just keep swimming!  Just keep swimming!  What's cool now is, the swimming is getting easier.  If anything, I feel like I should be totally over all the chemo stuff, because my last treatment was four months ago!  I know it takes a few weeks for that last treatment to work in your body, then many more weeks, and months for all of the toxic effects to work their way out.
  The month after chemo, my muscles felt weird...like the lactic acid rush from doing a bunch of weight lifting reps, even though I just stretched or barely moved.  Without the numbness of chemo, I'm getting more aware of little things like that.  I worry that the strange stuff will never go away, or that it moves or changes, and I'll never be normal again.  Just a couple weeks ago, I had an overwhelming chemo feeling.  I felt like "day two" of treatment, down to the foggy head, achy muscles, and non-vomiting nausea.  Luckily, it only lasted about one minute!  What a slap in the face!
   The farther away from the chemo fog I get, the more I realize how thick the fog was.  Just like real fog, when you're in the middle of it, you see the things you need to see, but everything around you is not quite clear.  Things gradually started clearing up, and the sunshine is burning the fog away.  I feel more and more like me, but every once in a while the mist swings through, reminding me that I was poisoned, and it will be a while before I'm 100%.
   This weekend, the back of my hand was all puffy and swollen.  It's not on the side where they took two lymph nodes, but on the side where they administered chemo.  Is it a circulation thing, or a neuropathy thing?  I'll call my oncologist tomorrow.  If it hurt, I would be more worried, but at this point it's just puffy.  I might have bumped a nerve or something at our volleyball tournament this weekend.  I am coaching the sophomore team at our high school, and having a blast.  I was hoping I would be working out and in shape to do more with the girls, but I still move like an old lady.  Apparently, waiting for the muscle to come back isn't doing the trick.  I have to actually work out!
   Working with the volleyball girls a few hours a day is a pretty big time commitment, but it's also time with my daughter (even though I don't coach her team.)  I also see it as time that I'm up, busy, and interacting with other passionate people!  The hair is still a bit of a shock to some people, and a shock to me when I see myself in windows or a mirror.  I haven't been wearing the wig to practice for more than a month, and since going home (to the Pacific Northwest) for more than a week, I had been leaving the wig propped on my desk at work.  I only put it on for the newscasts, because I didn't want to scare the viewers!

  I am comfortable with my hair, because I know I can't change it.  It's still weird to get the double takes, and every once in a while, honest questions about it.  I overheard a man telling his wife that I must not be doing the news anymore because, "look at that haircut."  Another gal asked me what inspired me to cut it so short?  I don't have a problem with explaining, and I don't get upset.  Being in the public eye desensitizes you a little to the blunt honesty of others.  Yes, sometimes it hurts, but they are allowed their opinions.  I was hoping to wear the wigs until my hair looked like a cute super-short cut, and I think I jumped the gun.  It still looks like chemo grow-out, and I get a lot of compliments laced with pity.  My hair used to grow pretty fast, but, even on vitamins, it's taking forever to grow even a quarter of an inch!  I chose to color the white new hair blonde, so the grow-out line wouldn't be as obvious.  Never thought I'd be a blonde, but you do what you gotta do!
  The rest of my life is coming along smoothly.  It was great to visit with family in the Seattle and Yakima areas.  A lot of them hadn't seen me since Christmas- before my first chemo treatment.  We just got to hang out and visit, relax on the beach, and enjoy family time.  Then school started for my sophomore twins, who now have their driving permits!  My awesome husband and I will celebrate our 22nd wedding anniversary next week!  And I'm pretty lucky to work at a place like KUTV where the attitude is always upbeat and fun.  It was with their help and support that I decided to ditch the wig and go on air with the new do.  Started last week, and I hope to never wear a wig again! 
  

37 comments:

  1. Hi,
    My name is Mary and I am a breast cancer survivor and also a ‘Pirate’ with the “Pirates of the Cure-a-Being” in Denver, CO and I started the Breast Cancer Community at vorts.com.
    We would love for you to share your wonderful blog with our members, they will appreciate it!
    It's easy to do, just cut and paste the link and it automatically links back to your website… it’s a win win. You can also add Photos, Videos and Articles if you like. It’s free and easy.
    Email me if you need any help or would like me to do it for you.
    The Breast Cancer Community: http://www.vorts.com/breast_cancer/
    Thanks,
    Mary, Editor

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  2. Mary,
    So glad to see and hear an update! I personally love the new blonde look! So happy that life is treating you better and better. Love to hear your enthusiasm and to see you ditch the wigs...you look beautiful no matter what. Our dear friend Jill is about to go through a double mastectomy and we all hope and pray she gets through all of it quickly and without much pain. Please keep her in your heart. She asks about you all the time and is so very thankful she got to meet you. Congrats to you and your family! Keep up the great attitude and keep swimming!!!

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    Replies
    1. Jill is such a sweetheart! I sent her an email, and hope she will keep me posted on how things are going. I really hate that she has to deal with something like this. Thanks to you for being such a good support for her (and for me!)

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  3. Wow,
    Mary, you're my hero! How do you keep such a positive attitude? Thanks for the candor. It gives all of us, who suffer quietly with our own trials, to carry on!
    Thanks again.

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  4. Mary, I've watched you on 2News for many years now ... Thank You for being so honest in sharing your Fight with Breast Cancer, to go through something so tremendous, and while being in the public eye. I can not imagine what you have, and are going through, you are Brave and Strong, great example to us all. I am curious as to where you got your wigs from, and how you decided where and what kind. I myself am dealing with the after effects of 'Renal Failure', as I am Grateful to still be alive, it is an on going Health Struggle, and I know all to well how people can be so Shallow and Cruel when it come's to Women's Hair Loss, mine is VERY thin, and I get Crazy, Rude comments ALL the time, You are classy for being so Polite back to those people ... I am researching the best, healthiest Wigs for Women, I'm an Actor, and need something while working, ONLY! Any suggestions you could share would be greatly appreciated! Best Wishes to You and your Family, Health, Happiness and an Abundance of all that is good in this World to You! Deborah Lee Douglas

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    Replies
    1. Hi Deborah Lee, Thanks so much for sticking with me through this. I am so thankful that the viewers are being so nice, patient, and forgiving of my different "looks." Still dealing with the wonky eyelashes!
      I got my wigs at Creative Wigs in South Jordan. The gals there help with all kinds of hair loss, and really help you find the right type for you, and they even trim or help style it the way you want.
      All my best to finding a good solution!

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    2. Thank's for the share Mary, Hugs to You and stay Classy! Deborah Lee Douglas

      http://www.imdb.com/name/nm4409583/

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  5. As you said. Just keep swimming! I am finding yoga and pilates are helping me build back post-chemo muscle strength. I didn't realize how much I lost until after I started to try to do beginner pilates. Everything takes time, don't be in a hurry, and don't get too frustrated with yourself.

    The moment I could ditch my wig in public I did. So much more comfortable that way. My first haircut gave me a really cute pixie. I won't ever cut it that short again, but I figure it is the chance to try out those wild haircuts I never would have tried eh?

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  6. Mary - I am so happy for you! You have gone through all of this so beautifully and with such courage and grace! You look beautiful and isn't it like a breath of fresh air taking off the wig?! That brought such a sense of hope to me when I took my wig/hat's off. You'll be anxious to get back to normal... be patient with yourself. You and your body has been through a lot! I am two years out from my diagnosis and still have some "off" days. I have found yoga and meditation to be very helpful with my stiff muscles and keeping a positive attitude. Congratulations again for ditching the wig. That is such a huge mental and physical mile stone.
    Much Love
    Danae Shill
    faithofasunflower.blogspot.com

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  7. Mary, just keep on with that attitude and you'll get through all those "moment" hurdles! I wish I had been as smart as you and went for the blond look when the white came in, instead I went for the dark look and it's a pain to keep up ... You're beautiful for sharing your life with everyone. I am 18 months out and the hair took off like a weed after 9 months out. It'll start growing fast again. :) And that chemo fuzz will get back to normal too. I echo everyone else. Just be patient, don't get over-whelmed, and stay upbeat in all you do. Life has a way of weaving it all back together.

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  8. Mary, I love your new hair! I'm really glad that you work at KUTV, too. You are my favorite anchor! Wishing you all the best!

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  9. Mary you look great. My sister in law was just diagonsed this week with breast cancer again. It is very devastating this time because it is a very rapid growing cancer. It has been very difficult the last few days dealing with this. I have to admire anyone that has to hear those horrible words CANCER!!! She has a very long road ahead of her and reading what you have gone through helps a bunch and gives us hope. Thanks again Mary for letting us be a part of your journey.. Thanks again Ronda

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  10. Hi Mary,
    You are beautiful with your hair. and don't worry what people think because who are "They" anyway. My last chemo was in Feb. and by the next January I had to go have my hair thinned and it came back just as thick and curly as it was before. I am at ten years this year! One more cancer dr. visit in Dec. and I am done going for yearly check-ups. Yeah! I had chemo fog also and I'm here to tell you it doesn't go away in "months." You might have it for a couple of years, not as intense as now, but I went to a workshop about it and they said it could linger for 10 years. (I still use it as an excuse when I forget something. :)). I quit wearing scarves about 9 weeks after chemo and didn't look back. I had my last radiation treatment in May and I think it was in July I work up one morning and thought "I feel good." Don't push it, won't worry. Slow but sure you will bounce back. Good luck to you! Sandy H

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  11. Mary,
    I think you are so amazing. Thanks for being so candid. I think you are beautiful no matter what you do. I can't imagine people being so rude, and I am amazed at your kindness toward them. You are such a sweetheart.
    God Bless you in all you do. You are truly one of my heros.
    ~Anita Hahn

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  12. Mary...
    I hope you read this.. I don't know you, Only as the public figure you are. But, I'm so proud of you, I say it to you here and there! I truly am inspired by your poise and grace and your " keep swimming " attitude! You really are so awesome! Great example and I will always refer to your story to others who may need a positive light .
    Oh p.s. your face is so pretty u were gorgeous bald lol
    Love the hair !!!!
    Sincerely Shelly Anderson

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  13. Wow you are beautiful as a blond. Your eyes have always popped but even more so now! So glad you are doing better. My mom said it took a good year and half to feel "normal" again, then added I think this was normal LOL.

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  14. You are beautiful inside and out! You are such an inspiration! Just keep swimming :)

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  15. Hi Mary!
    As I turned the news on this morning, I saw you for the first time since before you made your announcement of cancer! I had no idea! With small children, I never get to watch the news! I first of all thought you looked amazing and thought how much I love your hair! I was thinking "what an amazing change, and how well it suits you" then my second thought was with such a drastic change and that maybe cancer was the reason! I googled and found your blog and your sltrib article. First of all I am so very sorry for this trial. So many people can relate for so many reasons! We have been plagued with cancer in my family! Including my mother, grandmother, mother in law and an aunt who has been living with cancer for years! I am so thankful you are winning this battle, and doing it beautifully! I know that this experience probably has been anything but beautiful for you and your family, but on the outside looking in you are amazing! Thank you for being so proactive in keeping us posted on you continued progress and best of luck to you and your family!
    P.S. I think you should keep the hair!
    Julie

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  16. It was nice to meet you last Saturday at the Susan G Komen luncheon. As I mentioned, just being diagnosed in July, it was nice to find your blog. Of course, by the time I started to read it you had finished chemo (lucky gal) but reading your experience has been so helpful and insightful for me. As much as chemo and cancer is alike - it is different. My wish is for you to never have to wear a wig again as well! Best wishes and Great Health to you and your family!
    Jeri Boyle

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  17. Hi Mary -
    It was a pleasure to meet you today! I feel an extra kinship to you as the cancer I had was a triple negative as well. Today you mentioned there are things we can do to help reduce the chance of recurrence. I would love to hear what more you have learned and what you are doing. I have reduced my sugar intake, but I hadn't heard about reducing fat content - although I try to do that already as well as animal protein. What was the number we are suppose to stay under? What is a typical daily menu for you? I really believe that what we put into our body matters! I also wondered if you knew if you were vitamin D deficient when you were diagnosed? I'm just trying to gather as much info as I can to try and put this puzzle together. It's tough! It would be nice if there were some answers, but in the mean time I am just trying to give my body the best chance possible and trying to stay positive. Some days are easier than others.
    Anyway, thanks again for sharing your story and for any help. It is nice to be able to strengthen each other.
    Sincerely,
    Danae Shill
    danaeshill@gmail.com

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  18. mary, i am so glad to see you doing so well & want to thank you for being such an inspiration for so many cancer patients (one of which is my hubby).
    my mother pat gierloff use to work at channel 2 when you first came on board & she used to talk about how you were one of the most friendly & down to earth people in the newsroom. it's been 10 years since we lost her, but seeing you on tv always makes me think of her & smile. :)
    good luck on the next fabulous chapter of life!!!
    ~~~patty gierloff

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  19. YOU ARE AMAZING!!! I'm one of the gals from thecraftingchicks.com and I always chat with you about volleyball and how your daughter plays...you are amazing, keep fighting my dear :)!!!

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  21. Hi,

    I have a quick question about your blog. Could you email me when you get a chance?

    Cameron

    ReplyDelete
  22. HI. I'm Katya and I just wanted everybody to know there really is a place to get breast cancer help like never before. I suggest you check out curelauncher.com and connect directly to the medical researchers working to cure breast cancer. You could check out: http://www.prweb.com/releases/prweb2012/10/prweb10042726.htm
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    ReplyDelete
  23. Mary, you have always impressed me with your poise so your strength is not a surprise. I appreciate your sharing your story, and even though my pain is different if gives me and my family a boost. Thank you and bless you.

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  25. Mary, I've watched you on the 2News for many years, since before your twins were born. Your courage, strength and sheer resilience have been an inspiration to everyone who has watched your journey this past year. My professional organization would like to have you speak at one of our monthly meetings. Please let me know if you would be willing to do this. By the way, I really like your short hairdo. The longer hair was very pretty, but I like your present style just as well...and I'll bet it's much easier (and quicker) to get ready in the mornings!

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