Sunday, October 17, 2010

Ready for Chemo!

The "main event" since I last wrote was the meeting with my oncologist (cancer specialist) on Thursday.  This post gets a bit science-y at times, and I apologize, but I have many a doctor in my group of family and friends who actually want to know the details of my chemo treatment.  Sorry to everyone else!  The Oncologist explained we will be treating my cancer with "curative intent."  Any time I hear the word "cure" I get all kinds of excited and my eyes light up, so this is very good, right?  Next came the more unsettling part.  The sweet doctor said that this meant "hitting me hard" with all kind of drugs, surgery, radiation therapy and hormones.  So I'll live, but life may not be terribly fun for a little while.  Here's the science:  I'm going to be on 3 different types of chemo drugs.  The first two (Adriamycin & Cytoxin) will be given together every 2 weeks for 2 months (4 doses).  After that I will receive Taxol every 2 weeks for 2 months (4 doses).  This will be followed by surgery, radiation for 6 weeks, and finally hormones (which I will be on for at least 5 years).  All in all, it could be a LOT worse.  For example, I could have cancer that isn't treatable.  I could be without my amazing husband.  I could be without my huge support group --all of my dear family and friends!  Life could always be more unbearable.
They say there are amazing drugs now to help with nausea, which I will also receive.  It sounds like the biggest side effects associated with chemo nowadays is fatigue for a couple days after each treatment and, of course, hair loss.  This is going to be the trickiest part for me.  I think I am going to get my hair cut short this week in preparation for the bald head that is to come.  As of right now, my hair lands about 4 inches past my shoulders (probably the longest I've ever had it!).  Some women facing chemo are terribly brave and just go into the barber and buzz it all off without any concern for vanity.  Well, that's not my style.  (I must admit, however, I've had visions of walking into the barber shop down the street and pulling a Britney Spears.  Maybe I would make the local news?)  Alas, I am far too vain to go from long to bald in one day.  My thought is that hair falling out will be less traumatic if it is already short.  We'll see. 
In happier news, did you know you can get a prescription for a wig?!  I'm not yet sure how much (if any) our insurance will pay (fingers crossed!), but I plan on befriending the woman who runs the wig boutique at the hospital in any case.
This reminds me.  Yesterday I dragged Aaron into a vintage clothing store (we were in the neighborhood anyway!), and I talked him into buying me a fabulous hat.  It looks vaguely 1940s to me, but I will call on my fashion historians to correct me. 
*This is where I was going to paste a picture of said hat, but I appear to be having technical difficulties, as always.  I promise to post the pic ASAP!*
Finally, I'd like to close with a cute story.  At our breast cancer class on Friday, we were given more information than we could ever possibly retain, but it was good experience.  The class was for newly diagnosed women, so you really couldn't tell the cancer patients from the family members who were there for support.  Aaron was one of two husbands in the room, but the other man looked to be in his early 80s.  The final class presentation came from the woman who runs the cancer boutique at the hospital.  She was telling us about special post-surgery undergarments, wigs and, finally, prosthetics.  She was terribly excited to share with us a new prosthetic that NASA helped develop.  It was the latest product on the market, allowed the skin to breathe, and was just the best fake boob money could buy.  She was so enthusiastic about this product that she insisted we pass it around.  The elderly wife looked at it with great interest and passed it to her elderly husband who everyone was watching to see how he would handle it.  He simply passed it along to me as quickly as he could.  He then told Aaron "We're really gettin' into some sh*t now!"  Aaron joked later that the man had probably fought in the Korean war, but nothing in his life had prepared him to hold a fake boob.  Poor guy.


  1. Thanks for the update Joyce, glad to hear that you're getting the best treatment possible. We will be with you in spirit as you begin the healing process, lots of love!

  2. I really, really appreciate you sharing your story with us (including the bad stuff AND funny anecdotes!) Thinking about you lots!!
    Love ya, Kadie

  3. Wow, I can picture Aaron and the old guy bonding at the meeting. :) I hope the treatments go well. It sounds like a grueling regimen, but the "cure" part sounds awesome!

  4. ...or at least not hold a fake boob in a meeting full of people where he was only one out of two dudes.

  5. Hi Joyce! I love the story about Aaron, the old man and the fake boob. If you do end up shaving your head, just don't do EXACTLY what Britney did and try to beat up your paparazzi with an umbrella. Love you!

  6. All our love to you and Aaron as you begin and throughout this journey.