Wednesday, February 29, 2012

No News is Good News

   I haven't posted anything for a while, because there really hasn't been much to talk about...and that's good!  Other than strange, symmetrical, itchy spots, my symptoms have been very mild.  Even the itching is more weird than troubling, and it's not painful at all.  It started with the palms of my hands...just itching in both hands at the same time.  Then the arches of my feet...again both at the same time!  It's not the skin itself, it feels like it's inside, and probably a form of neuropathy.  It's popping up in a few different spots and has lasted a few days.  But honestly, a few days of scratching beats a boatload of other symptoms in my book!
   Also, we were working on a news story to update my treatments so far, and to urge more people to schedule screenings for early detection.  I work with some pretty amazing people who make up a top notch team to put things like this together.  From management making the assignments, to the photographers, producer Carla, editors, webmasters, and more...it's quite the team effort to turn two months of treatment into two and a half minutes of television.  Our KUTV Web-team is posting the whole story for us here:

video

      Chemo #3 is this Friday, March 2nd, so we're planning on a rough weekend ahead, and maybe worse symptoms this time around...but hoping for continued mild side-effects again!
   If you have personal questions or stories, please email me so I can reply in confidence.  MNickles@KUTV2.com

Tuesday, February 14, 2012

Two Down...Four to Go!

 Even though I knew what to expect with the actual treatment this time, you still get the unexpected. (Like treatment #2 makes me a seasoned pro?)  First, it was great to have my Dad and step-mom here for the appointment, and for the birthday weekend for our twins.  They are so supportive and genuinely interested in how everything works, so it was wonderful to have them along while our photographer grabbed more shots for an upcoming story.  Dad is 87, but a pretty sharp, funny, and amazing guy...so he stepped up to entertain anyone who stopped by to say hello.
  The chemo room is an open area, with several windowed, open cubicles.  In each, two big recliner-treatment chairs for the patients, and a few extra chairs for folks cheering the patients on.  I met some new members of this ill-begotten club.  Vickie, my neighbor for this round, had been there since 8:30 in the morning.  Tough little cookie had some complications, and was still smiling and cracking jokes with the best of them!  And Nancy and her husband were over in the corner, sharing in the laughs to boost their spirits as they went through their first treatment.  (I hope my fuzzy chemo-brain didn't help me mess up their names!) 
  Dad and Marlys said it was inspiring to see how people light up when they get to share their story with our group.  I feel like I'm the one who benefits, because I absorb the positive energy and strength from every smile!  Like I've said, it is a club you never want to belong to, but once you get there, you meet some incredibly awesome and strong people!  I was praying for a new friend, Jil, going through her first treatment, and my new advisor, Leslie, came by with her husband for a little visit.  I hope that seeing everyone get on with regular life will help others do the same.  I know the chemo knocks some people on their can for quite a while, and I sure feel lucky to not have that kind of effect yet!  I hope those stuck in the more ravaging symptoms will hang in there and know we're all on the same team to beat this!
  This time around, I got my chemo Friday, and the Neulasta shot on Saturday, so if my bones hurt, I would have the weekend to get through it.  I'm assuming that the treatments might compound a little and make the symptoms worse, so I've been expecting more.  Friday we waited...twins birthday dinner from Texas Road House tasted great... no pain... Slept for hours... no pain... Watched my daughter play a few volleyball matches Saturday morning... got the Neulasta shot, and waited more.  No big pain.  Sunday, still no big pain, even went out for another birthday dinner! (Can't believe my twins are now 15 years old!  Best Valentine present ever!)
   Monday 3 am came way too early!  Plus, I took for granted that the wig would be in "ready for air" shape, and it took me a few extra minutes of fussing with it, setting me a few minutes late.  I was also feeling punky and had a little like a post-concert ear-ringing feeling as I got ready, but thought I could shape up and make it through the day.  Fake it 'til you make it, right?  I forgot my vitamins, didn't grab breakfast (so ate a handful of almonds when I got to work) stumbled through the three hour morning newscast, and decided to go home and take a nice, long nap!
   My sweetie, dad and Marlys just let me rest til the kids got home for their birthday dinner.  Turkey meatloaf and spinach salad are my new healthy specialty... then we had my son's late basketball game.  Both kids said it'd be okay with them if I didn't wear a wig, but apparently, I wasn't quite ready.  I think the noisy gym, intensity of the game, and irritation of the wig brought my headache back...but I wouldn't have missed my boy playing for the world!  Woke up glad that I went, and hopeful for another better day back on the right track to recovery!

  HAPPY VALENTINE'S DAY!  Give extra hugs to those you love EVERY day!!!  And thanks for sharing your stories and questions....we can all help each other a little bit!

Wednesday, February 8, 2012

Wigging out!

   I wore a long wig for the Friday morning newscast, and got very favorable comments.  Right now, though, I feel like I have a "shield of niceness" protecting me from anyone saying anything negative!  No one can pick on me... I have cancer!  While this wig felt comfortable, it was also a lot longer than I think is appropriate for someone my age (not gonna say right now) and I will likely have a couple of inches trimmed off the ends.   I really want honest feedback, because that particular wig is $350.00.  I don't want to buy it unless it's really great!
  After brushing out several brushes full of hair Friday night, I shampooed and gently rubbed out several more hands full of hair in the shower Saturday morning.  I thought a cat had gotten into the shower with me, but it was the huge pile of my formerly thick, wavy hair, tufted up in the drain!  I heard I should blow it dry (very thin and some bald spots) before my husband and kids  trimmed it down to about an inch long, then used clippers to give me a buzz cut to about 1/4 inch.

 
   I'm surprised how many brown hairs are still there!  And how soft and strange my head is right now!  Some areas are a little tender, but there are quite a few hairs hanging in there, that don't want to fall out just yet.  I've heard the second treatment can knock the rest out, but in the meantime it feels like I'm G.I. Jane!  (Not so bad if I look like Demi Moore!)  I have heard that this buzz cut can be emotional, but it was kind of fun for the family, and more of a bonding experience than a sad one.  I snapped on a nylon cap, then put on a different, shorter wig (that drove me nuts) and headed to the mall for an interview on KBULL 93- for their radio telethon for the Huntsman Cancer Institute.  Kent and the kids shopped, while I battled pokey bangs that made me feel like a bad American Girl doll.
  The wig came off as soon as we got in the car, and the sun felt good on my naked scalp!  The dork kids and hubby kinda like the new look, and can't keep from rubbing the soft stubble (that will soon be gone.)  I like massaging lotion into my scalp instead of plastering hair spray on stiff hair!  It is a little cold on the cotton pillow case...but like a fresh turn on a hot summer night...not so bad!
  I decided to wear the long one Monday, but switched to the shorter one for Tuesday morning.  LOVING, by the way, sleeping in until after 3 am!!!  My shower this morning was less than 5 minutes long!!!  And no blow dry styling for more than 20 minutes!   I washed my head with a wash cloth, and didn't have to shave legs or pits, so Voila...done!
  The shorter smooth style wig is sassy, but it was like a vice on my brain for the three hour broadcast.  I decide to take it off with a few seconds left of the newscast...to show that I have an almost bald head...and to be real.  Great feedback, and already, the folks at the station are getting used to seeing me with no hair!  I still feel great, have good energy, and am gearing up for chemo treatment #2 this Friday!
  I'm excited to have my awesome Dad here for Friday's treatment!  Really, he and his wonderful wife have come every year for our twins' birthday on the 13th, and it timed out for the treatment.  I hope he's okay...because he's 87...and was by my mom's side through several chemo treatments as she battled colon cancer (and lost) almost 18 years ago.  I hope he is his positive, funny self, instead of having any negative flashbacks about mom.  She was amazingly strong, and served as a state lawmaker in the Seattle area, while going through both of her bouts with chemo in the early 90's.
  I hope I can be as strong as she was...in so many areas of my life.  Her hair never came out completely, and I never saw her wear a wig.  She loved some of those super-soft hats, surrounded herself with positive people, and grabbed naps in her office when she could.  Smart lady...

Thursday, February 2, 2012

Hair today....

  I now know the chemo is doing it's job!  Seriously...I haven't really felt any big effects of the poison that went into my body 14 days ago.  I have a little neuropathy in my fingers and toes, but VERY little...not even like dead skin, just weird. I had a little heartburn, and I have a normal head cold, and my regular tiredness because I get up for work at 2:30 in the morning.  I was wondering if the chemicals were strong enough to kill some stubborn cancer cells.  Then my hair started coming out! Yay, it's working!
  At first, I just reached to tug a little to see if it was starting.  About ten hairs came out while Debbie and Casey's jaws dropped.  I freaked a little too, but didn't think it was a big deal 'til the next pull (not hard, mind you!) and about 20 hairs came out.  Casey and I started looking for a wig store to set up coverage for the station, and for my head!  Tuesday afternoon, I went to Creative Wigs (with a producer and photographer) to document the styles and tricks of finding the right wig once my hair falls out.
  What a lesson!  I hoped to have fun looking at different styles and colors, and I did!  It makes me think that losing my stubborn, thick, solid white, strangely wavy hair won't be so bad!  The wigs gave me choices that I never thought I'd try, and I had fun with Carla and Mike's feedback.  (Mike liked the blonde a little too much!)  Wigs are expensive, and insurance only helps a little bit.  I figure I'm saving about 150 bucks a month for my cut and color, so I have a few months of hair money to play with and still save!  I bought two shorter, fun styles, and borrowed a highlighted, long cut that makes me look like my sister, Betsy!  (That's not a bad thing!)
  While making dinner tonight, I was worried my hairs would get on the counter and it grossed me out, so I ran a brush through my hair a few times.  A softball sized hairball confirms it's ready to come out.  Now I know what it's like to have thin hair (that doesn't look too bad.)  I know more will come out tomorrow, which will make it easier to tuck in a hair net, inside my new wig for Friday morning's newscast.  It's GO RED FOR WOMEN day, so I'm wearing red.... don't know which wig goes best with it, but it's fun to have choices!!!



  P.S. Heart disease kills more women than all cancers combined...so get your heart health tested too!