Tuesday, November 23, 2010


Things for which I'm thankful (in no particular order):

-Life.  Chemo sucks and I may be bald, but sometimes it takes cancer to teach a person that every single day is, in fact, a gift.  Living is really quite preferable to the alternative.

-Prayers, warm fuzzy thoughts, and good vibes.  All of these things are helping me heal, and they're sent by all of you.  Thank you.

-You.  Friends, family and kind strangers.  A person doesn't realize how amazing people are until something bad happens.  I seem to know some of the best people around.  Thank you.

-My husband.  This guy falls into the above category, but he's sort of special.  Not only is he the hardest working poli sci nerd around, when I tell him to put the laptop away and give me attention, he does it (and I'm awfully needy these days).

-My cat.  This little guy hangs out with me all day, every day.  He is the object of forced snuggles and patronizing baby talk, yet he keeps the complaints to a minimum.  That's what I call good company.

-Modern medicine.  The fact that I can put poison into my body to kill off cancer cells and only suffer minimal side effects is completely crazy to me.  Kudos to you, docs and researchers.  I don't get it at all, but I am grateful.

-Wigs.  Because being bald sometimes gets old.

-Insurance.  Because cancer is really, really expensive. 

-Test Results.  The results of my BRCA 1 & BRCA 2 genetic tests came back negative, which means there was no genetic mutation found.  This is good news not only for me, but also for those who share genes with me.

That is really just the tip of the iceberg.  I have so very much to be thankful for right now.  I hope you all are able to spend the holiday with people you love.

Friday, November 12, 2010

Visions of Grace Kelly

As I watch what's left of my hair thin out with each passing day, I can't help but feel a bit like a boy.  I've always been a girlie-girl.  I love ruffles, frills, lace, the color pink, polka dots, you name it.  If it's stereotypically associated with the female sex, I probably can't get enough of it.  Mind you, you will usually find me in my Peyton Manning jersey on any given Sunday during fall, but that's a whole other blog post.  Lately, however, my appearance has drifted into masculine territory.  I have no job to go to, and on post-chemo days I tend to spend the majority of my time laying in bed, so I tend to wear a lot of sweats/pajamas/yoga pants/lounge wear or whatever you want to call it.  This may come as a shock to my college friends, who knew me when I really didn't leave the house without sporting at least 3" heels, a miniskirt and full makeup.  But it turns out when you're undergoing cancer treatment, physical comfort really is the most important thing.  Gone are the days of suffering for fashion.  Now you'll find me curled up in a sweatshirt, stretchy pants and thick woolly socks.  Did I mention I'm also missing the long, flowing locks I once spent hours bleaching blonde and attacking with a straightening iron? 

The wig fitting I was supposed to have on Monday had to be rescheduled due the wig-fitter's (I'm sure she has a better title, but I'm not sure what to call her) health.  She had a cold and did not want to get me sick.  Incidentally, I caught a cold anyway this week.  Not to worry, though.  I never got a fever and my oncologist put me on a Zpac to make sure I'll be healthy enough for chemo on Tuesday.  So now I must wait until Monday, November 15 to find my new hair do. 

Also, my head is very tender right now, so I can't wear anything too tight.  This means I'm spending a lot of time wearing scarves.  I try to imagine myself as a Hollywood movie startlet (pre-Lindsey Lohan).  Someone Old Hollywood.  Someone like Grace Kelly, an icon who possessed effortless style and was synonymous with femininity. 
Sure, scarves are not worn all that much anymore, at least not on the head, at least not in mainstream American society.  There are some current examples from the Spring/Summer 2011 runways, however.
Salvatore Ferragamo


And I am lucky enough to be the recipient of many fabulous scarves, including an Hermes scarf that used belong to Aaron's sweet grandmother, Muriel.  I can't help but feel just a bit glamorous when I wear such a fantastic scarf, especially when worn with big sunglasses.  Feminine, no?   

My mom-in-law just informed me of a NY Times Article about the return of the turban. http://www.nytimes.com/2010/11/11/fashion/11NOTICED.html
I may have to give it a go, too!

Before I go, here is an exchange between Aaron and me yesterday morning when I was dropping him off at the train station:

Me:  "Wow, the trees are looking so pretty!"
Aaron:  "They are.  That one's getting a little thin up top, though."
Aaron (looking at the top of my head):  "Uh, not that there's anything wrong with that!"

This made me laugh out loud.  Can't help but love him, can you? :)

Thursday, November 4, 2010

One Month Cancerversary

It's true.  It's been a whole month since I heard the words "we found cancer cells in your biopsy."  The first few days after hearing that were scary and maddening, I won't lie.  But since then my cancer journey has been as good as one could possibly hope for.  As I mentioned before, I am being treated by the best doctors at the best facility, I am married to a loving husband whose job came with insurance to pay for these insane hospital bills, and I continue to receive love and support from my amazing network of family and friends, and sometimes complete strangers.
Yesterday I had my second chemo treatment and I am happy to report that my side effects are much better under control this time around.  One of my anti-nausea drugs from last time (Compazine) was giving me blurry vision and causing my jaw to clench up to the point where I couldn't unclench it -- definitely no fun!  I told my oncologist about this, and now I am taking extra doses of a different anti-nausea drug (Zofran) with no complications.  I'm still fatigued, but not nearly as much as last time. 
In other news, I now a freshly buzzed, fuzzy head.  Yesterday morning I had the unpleasant experience of having to clean up clumps of hair off the bathtub floor.  Throughout the day every time I ran my fingers through my hair a new clump would come out.  By evening I told Aaron that I needed to buzz it all off.  He graciously offered to do it for me.  Luckily I had anticipated this moment earlier in the week and bought an $8 pair of clippers at Target.  What sounds like it would be a scary moment actually turned out to be quite fun.  It was a team effort, with Aaron starting in the back of my head, working around to the sides, and me taking over on the front.  And we managed to keep the mess to a minimum!

People keep asking if Aaron is going to shave his head in solidarity, and my response is that I don't think he could pull it off as well as me :)  So for the first time ever, I have shorter hair than my husband!  It is still a shock when I look in the mirror, for sure, and I know the remaining 1/4" will all be gone one of these days, but I have been given so many hats and scarves that the thought really doesn't bother me.  Also, I have a wig fitting on Monday.  Our insurance has agreed to pay %100 for my "hair prosthesis."  Woohoo! 
That's all for now.  We're excited to welcome Kate from Boston tomorrow evening.  She's in for a lazy weekend of movie and football watching :)
Much love to all of my readers!

Monday, November 1, 2010

Good Hair Day

The past week was a great one.  My mom-in-law, Becky, was staying with us and every day was filled with a new adventure.  Most exciting was Tuesday, when I got my haircut.  As I mentioned in my previous post, I wanted to get my hair cut short in preparation for the inevitable hair loss that is right around the corner.  So on Tuesday we went to a salon (big thanks to Laura S. for the recommendation) and got it chopped.  My hair had gotten very long, so I was able to donate it to Locks of Love.
Luckily, I had an excellent hairdresser, and I love my new cut!

More surprisingly, Aaron seems to love it, too.  He had always preferred long hair (typical guy), but when he saw my new 'do he remarked "you should consider having it like that post-cancer, too!"  So I love my hair, which is good and bad.  Good because I feel cute, bad because my second chemo treatment happens Tuesday, which is when the hair starts to go.  At least I have an idea of how to style my hair when it starts to grow back!
Less fun but perhaps my important was my genetic counseling appointment on Thursday.  I have decided to get tested for the genetic mutations BRCA1 & BRCA2.  Because I am so young, in combination with the frequency of breast cancer on my dad's side, the docs thought it was a good idea to find out, not only for myself, but also for my siblings.  If I test positive, there is a 50% chance for each of my siblings to test positive.  This is of obvious concern for my sister, who will be turning 40 in April (sorry, Connie!).  Also, if my brothers test positive, there is an increased risk for male breast cancer (6%) and younger occurrences of prostate cancer.  Aren't genetics a bitch?  Just kidding, mom and dad.
I had my blood sample taken on Thursday but we won't know the results for about 3 weeks.  Apparently there is one place in the country (Salt Lake City) that does genetic testing, so they're kind of busy.  I'll be sure to let you all know the results when we find out.
Thursday was also Aaron's 30th birthday. This means I have less than 2 months to give him crap about being an old man until I reach the big 3-0 myself in December.  To celebrate we went to a great Italian restaurant, and Aaron opened presents.  Usually all of the boxes on our doorstep are for me (UPS/FedEx are still making daily stops at our house -- you all are WAY too generous!), so it was nice for Aaron to get some love in the mail, too.  Part of my gift to Aaron was tickets to "Two Gentlemen of Lebowski," which was a Shakespearean version of "The Big Lebowski" (one of Aaron's favorite movies).  The writing and acting were fantastic; a good time was had by all.
Saturday we went out for Halloween dressed as two characters from another of Aaron's favorite movies, "The Royal Tenenbaums."  I was Margot and Aaron was Richie.  I think we got the look and the attitude down pretty well.
Not to worry -- the cigarette is just a prop!  We went to a party and a couple of bars with some new friends we've made (hooray for friends!), and again a good time was had by all.
Today I'm focused on taking down Halloween decor (a giant spider web and lights on the front porch) and doing all of the chores I'll be too tired to do over the next few days.  Tomorrow is my second chemo infusion, so I now know what to expect as far as side effects.  Also, I'm excited to watch my Colts demolish the Texans on Monday Night Football tonight.  We need revenge for our week 1 loss!
Happily, our good friend Kate is flying in from Boston on Friday for a weekend visit.  I may not have much energy while she's here, but at least we can lay around and watch movies together!
In closing, I'd like to share something from another breast cancer blogger, "Chemobabe."  It is a statement that accurately sums up my inability to respond to each of you, as much as I would like to:
I seek amnesty from the normal etiquette of returning phone calls, texts, and emails. Please don’t take my lack of response as loaded with any kind of meaning. There is a pretty good chance that I actually think I answered you. (Confession: I have this mental email problem in a much milder way even when I am well.) I love getting your notes. I can’t say it enough. Please don’t think I am flaky if I don’t respond.
Happy November!