Tuesday, 26 June 2012

Moment of Silence

This morning started slow. Six days post chemo and very much still in rally mode. I have had a little blue friend help me sleep at night, something I am not used to, and I chose not to invite him over last night. I think he was pissed. He voodoo'd me with odd dreams, constant waking and waking on fire. Rest is crucial, it alluded me last night.  I awoke tired and feeling a little battered. I might have to have a sleepover with him again tonight.  Don't tell my husband.So much for being proactive, maybe in a funny way that is what I am doing.

 The chemo has a way of tricking you into thinking your okay. You look okay. Your friends think you look okay. Inside it feels like there is an unwanted visitor, chipping away at your stamina. Its alright, I gotta a plan for you, I don't know what it is yet, but your out of here.

I have revelled in the support as my hair went short and shorter. The departure of the hair has been a slow process. Almost two weeks since I buzzed it as I felt strands departing their follicles. It seems when you are graced with a fine head full of hair like myself it takes a while. The hair slowly thins or so I thought. The last week its just felt like wire sticks in my head. Just sitting there, dead. They hurt if you rub them the wrong way. " I just want them out". Careful what you wish for. I tried to picture in my mind what it would look like when they came out. I tried to think that I would be okay with it.
I just tried to imagine, to empower myself but....

I decided what I need today is a shower, a nice hot one, make all the boo's boo's go away. It usually works. Perks me up. I washed my hair, whats left of it..keep the scalp all healthy. I had noticed each time I wash my hair I lost some of it with each washing. Well today was the day of the great departure. I kept going over my head with my hand. With each pass a hand full of those little wirey buggers. It was what I wanted since it was so uncomfortable, wasn't it? I kept going and going, but I knew I did not get them all out. I suddenly realised, I now had to deal with what was left. How would I look? Was I ready for this today? Nope! I realised I had taken my big girl pants off before I got in the shower, even they weren't working today anyways. As I turned off the shower, I started to cry, not a sob or weeping type of cry, the one that comes from down deep. I think I needed this cry. Nothing prepared me for the reflection in the mirror, combined with puffy red eyes and a snotty nose from crying. Lovely, just completely lovely. I let er go. A good cry, nothing clears the soul better. I called my husband, sobbed on the phone. I assured him I was fine, but what I wanted was not to be alone right then and there. His voice was enough. I hung up and was just quiet. I felt I needed a moment of silence, for my follicularly challenged head. All the planning, prepping, self esteem building from those I love did not work today, but that is okay. This isn't about keeping me from being sad, mad or angry. I don't like it but I feel all those things. I also get to be happy as well. Humbles one to appreciate the now.
Now time to get the wig ready for sure. I had picked it up but it I found it was to heavy so I asked my friend to drop it off today on the way home to the hair dresser. I really appreciate the help. Shortly after I receive a picture text.
So a girl has no choice but to laugh and be happy when surrounded with people who will do anything to make you feel better. It fixed everything.

Wednesday, 20 June 2012

Peaks and Valley's

As with anyones life, its full of peaks and valleys. Happiness and sadness. For me its all amplified. I have tried to embrace both. I remember the day I was told I have breast cancer my friend asked my doctor should I get something to help with my coping. The doctor said " she would rather that I feel everything I am going through. Thanks doc! I am glad that I get to feel everything as it is. The happiness comes from the generosity of friends and family. It was my birthday this week. Bald and breast less at 47. What more could a girl ask for. What off sets the reality of my life right now is the joy and laughter they all bring. As many know I am not a huggy type a girl. Although I feel deeply. So if somehow I don't show it, know that I feel it. I had a wonderful party given by a dear friend and it was filled with old and new friends. I am completely blessed. I just ask and someone is there, with many waiting to help at the drop of a hat. Sometimes I wished I knew what it is I need. When you life revolves about doing its difficult to answer that question for yourself. Its a bit of journey to reach the point of receiving. I know there are many reading this who know of what I speak. Remember to fill your cup, put you oxygen mask on first, if you don't, what your putting out, will diminish your spirit and maybe having you writing a blog about having cancer. I firmly believe that the body says no eventually. Geez I am being a little heavy today with my thoughts. Chemo starts today I think that might be might my black cloud. Can you say steroids. They make me a little crazy I gotta say.
I just was making my breakfast and a commercial came on about the Run for the Cure. It was a husband talking about his wife getting breast cancer and why he was running. I cried as I stood in my kitchen with my cap on my head to keep it warm. I thought that is me, I keep forgetting that is me. I always wanted to run for someone else. How did this all happen. What did I do wrong, what did I do right and what is it I have to change? At this point I know I am being as proactive as I can. Could I be doing more? Sure! One step at a time.
This week is full with a massage, ahhhh thanks Sara, missed my acupuncture, sorry Dr. Munden. They took my blood, lets hope its all good for chemo today. Feel pretty good. I have a baseline MRI on my other breast to see whats up with that. Cross your fingers people. Then we will round of the week with a Nuelasta shot in my belly to keep white blood cells up. Bring on the side effects. I am armed this week with more drugs, not something I ever have taken. I have new homeopathic remedies to help so that rounds it off to 13 things to ingest daily. Some twice a day. Girl has gotta do what a girl has gotta do. I am finding the odd glass of red wine helps to take the edge off. Millions can't be wrong.
I had hoped to take my daughter to my chemo session today but she is sick and can't come to the hospital with her cold. I felt that it would be good for her to see the process and to be able to understand what her mother is actually dealing with. We are good at just coping and sometimes hiding. I tend to be more outward than intrinsic as I got to talk everything through multiple times, but with your kid its different. I try to articulate frequently how I am feeling but i am still cooking and driving and doing what I can. She has school and exams, and work and cadets so very busy. My mother had breast cancer and as a young adult I did not even get it or was there at times when I should of been. I did do what I could living away or so my self absorbed self thought. My daughter is leaving for the summer for a job at cadet camp, so she will miss some of the wonderful chemo aftermath days, maybe not a bad thing for everyone involved. I will miss her dearly.
In the time since my last chemo treatment I have managed to squat in some fun. I got to see the opening of the David Blackwood exhibit, a IMAX movie, Alan Doyle concert, two parties, fathers day, birthday dinner and time with friends. Embracing life when I can. I know this next round I need to maybe rest a little more, but when you feel good you want to do things. Pretty normal. I am blessed to have family coming in July and August, they will both be here for chemo and I am eternally grateful.
See for every sad moment I have, there is no choice but to get back to life. Its happening, its wonderful and I believe all the sad moments teach us to embrace the great ones, and usually the great ones are small things that build us up, not some big aha moment. Its opening the door and hearing a bird sing. blasting a song in the car and dancing a little in your seat as you drive, saying thank you and getting a smile for it, eating a favorite food, sitting with a friend in the sun, a text asking how you are. So if you are feeling a bit down, or life has kicked you in the ass today, find something that makes you smile, do something for someone. Get your channels flowing so the positive can push out the negative. Okay I am preaching. I think I am talking to myself, you all get to reap the benefits today lol.
Here is a song that spoke to me today and gave me a little boost...made me cry and smile at the same time..This is for all of you that read this blog, laugh and cry with me and support me by reading and reflecting back. Thank you.

Thursday, 14 June 2012

" Could you leave a little on the sides please"

I made a decision today. A decision many women before me have made to empower themselves. Taking control where so much was taken. I like to always remind myself that I am not the first person to get cancer, I will never be the last.

I have been made quite aware that one of the side effects of the chemo would be hair loss. I don't know how much resolve you can give to this issue its a bugger. I have been growing my lovely locks for the last year and a half after cropping it a while back. I just got it where I wanted it and bam! Freaking breast cancer, with a dash of chemo. I knew I was going to lose it. I talked about it, I thought about it, I bought the tee shirt and ordered the wig. I am prepared! So I thought. I had read the info, knew when it would happen, it seemed the same for everyone. Okay I am ready. Maybe!

So on day 13th  since my first chemo ( not 14-17 like the book says) I am pulling into the hospital parking lot for an appointment. I am currently, like other patients financing a new wing in the hospital somewhere with my parking costs. Alright so I parked in the $2.00 lot the wing may take a while. I went to turn of the car and something drop across my face. I knew in an instance it was my hair.  It was weird because I never thought a strand of hair could have such a presence. I think that can't be my hair, please tell me that is not my hair. No time to ponder I have an appointment with the social worker at the cancer clinic. I arrive and get called in by a very pleasant woman. I am completely preoccupied and as she begins to speak to me, I look at her and say " my hair just started falling out" and then in front of a complete stranger I start to cry. None of my preparation worked. She is completely empathetic, hello social worker what a better stranger to be with. I get through the meeting only bringing up my hair a half dozen times and running my fingers through it constantly as we spoke. I leave and walk through the clinic and look around thinking " don't you know my hair is falling out what is wrong with you people". I go to my car and text my husband and a few friends. Gotta tell someone cause I feel like screaming. Why am I so upset I knew this was coming?
I proceed to buy hats for my self and call the salon for the wig status. We book an appointment for a day and a half later. The next day my fears are not realised as  the hair on my head is departing slowly, but not true for all parts of my body. I realised that when you lose your hair it is not just on your head, its everywhere. Now I never did have a Brazilian but lets just say I won't have to anytime soon. Now talk amongst yourselves on that one. I am hoping it leaves my eyelashes and eyebrows, but one can only hope..
I awoke today, a little slower than others, a little tired and with my head extremely sore and tender. Just like the book says my head would feel. I think my heart was dragging on the ground cause I knew what was coming today. I thought I was ready, I wasn't. I kept putting my fingers through my hair, thinking its not that bad, really. Maybe I will keep my hair a few more days, although I did not want it to get to the point of coming out in patches, that might challenge my self esteem a little too much
I arrived at the salon at noon with my faithful friend waiting. I am lucky to have many of those, willing, ready and able to help me go through what ever it is I need to go through, to get through. I sat in the chair and Robert my hairdresser ran his fingers through my hair, a lovely parcel of it came as he pulled away from my head. He asked me what I wanted to do, his action had been my answer. I knew it had to go. I did not want to go through the hair falling out process since its sad and by the way falling everywhere. I said he could shave it off. He politely left to get his clippers. This was it decision done. I asked him when he returned " will it hurt" he said " no, it might be weird but it won't hurt". I had a little cry to grieve the moment. Perked up and got it started. He was quick and very gentle and soon it was over. He left a small thin layer of hair, enough to make me feel covered somewhat. Nothing a good scarf and a great pair of earrings can't rock. Keep telling myself that and I might believe it.
Turns out I got a nice round head with not too many dents, and a great hair line although there is some evidence of a scar, maybe dropped on my head as a baby not sure. Would explain a few things. He placed the wig on my head and cut it to shape it up..I think the wig feels weirder than the shaved head, its going to take some getting used to. I know soon even the darker layer  that remains will be gone, but I think I can do that now. I understand the attitude of take it before the chemo does more now than when I cut my hair short a few weeks ago.
My illness is a little more evident now, but for some reason I believe so is my strength. I still marvel that  I am on this journey,  its as surreal as it gets. Each event chipping away at my fear. As I lose something, I learn something not only about myself but about everyone and everything around me.
Once again I am grateful.....

Monday, 11 June 2012

one lump or two?

I believe that for every woman who loses her breasts the idea of reconstruction comes into play. As much as I did not want to lose mine, it came down to pure common sense. Lose it and live it. I chose to keep my life going for as long as I can. Cancer makes you chose . It takes away a part of you  and if you let it, it will makes the rest stronger. Sounds a little dramatic for just a boob, but the truth is its more than just that.

I recall when this journey started that I would wake up and literally weep in bed devastated that is wasn't a dream. The stark reality, a shot to the heart, sadness in its purest form. You are grateful for the fact that the cancer has hopefully been removed, but you are forever changed, your sexuality and sense of self challenged. Redefining yourself at 46 can be a good/bad thing. I know I needed a shake up in some area's of my life. I think I could of handled just being stirred a little.

I am lucky to have to a cast iron claw foot tube that soaks my aches and pains away. Its in a lovely bathroom, painted red, and I feel cozy and healed when I get in.  The problem always arises when I stand there naked, in all my glory, and looking back at me, in the lovely LARGE mirror, is my new body. I don't get sad, I just think " nope, not keeping this model". Alright my heart pangs a little, but in the honor of self preservation I tuck that little bit of pain where it belongs. Away.
I knew I wanted to get myself a new boob since before it was gone. People would say " don't worry you can get another one". Do they have a special asile at Walmart for those? Will I regenerate like a starfish or a worm? Why does it sound so easy?
I had tried to talk to my surgeon several times about reconstruction but the smart man that he is, he always said " down the road" and would not really engage me in those conversations. I was a little ticked with this approach, but I understand now that part of a mastectomy is the unknown and many things can come out of the pathology report. As we all know I got myself a grade 3, multifocal type a cancer and we still don't know for sure what that other boob of mine has in store for me yet. Details are scanty. MRI to follow.

I did however take it upon myself to be get referred to the plastic surgeon. I chose a surgeon who I had heard many good things about. The bionic woman had a the best team and so should I. So far I have been very lucky with the team that surrounds me. I had my first appointment with him the other day. I knew it was just an initial consult but you still wanna hear he can do it. I waited with many others in the waiting room. I was feeling really tired and was slouching in my chair but I was still fascinated that every woman there was probably there for the same reason. Your not the only one Sondria!!!! You know this but need to be reminded periodically. I finally got called in. Oh great put on the  blue gown, strip off, waist up and wait. He came in swiftly, I had seen the pace to which he went from room to room. He asked some questions and then said drop the gown. Now as a woman who was pretty shy with my body these days my gown goes down more than the temperature  in St. John's. He put me on the table to look at reconstruction possibilities, one being rebuilding you with your own tissue. This entails taking tissue from the abdomen area. Anyone who knows me knows that is not happening. He says " there is nothing there to take". This I already knew. It would have to be an implant. He explains the process and the months it will take and the multiple surgeries. I ask him about my other breast. He looks and says, not wait for it ladies " there is not much I can do with the other one its pretty much a perfect breast". Sweet jesus in the garden " I love you". Then I blurt out " that is what I thought about both of them, which is why I was sad when I had to lose one". He just looks at me.  I am thinking " did I just say that". I did. I ask him would we maybe just lift it a little and he says "maybe something like that."
He asks me to make sure this is something I really want and to refers me to a website www.breastreconstructioncanada.ca
I explain to him that yes this is something I want. Its not for everyone. I want two lumps. I know I will never look completely matchy matchy but it would make the illusion easier for me. In the end its all about how I feel and what I want. I am gonna park this baby now and focus on staying well and getting through the next couple of months. There are many mountains to climb before the I do booberest. God I crack myself up.

Tuesday, 5 June 2012

My First

" Hello" Hello" " "Is there anybody there?" " Yes, yes down here, can you see me? Can you get me out of here? I just wanted to see what was down here they said it would help."  Liars!!!!

That is how I have been feeling the last week. Stuck!!! Like getting on the Zipper at Thomas Amusements and you have complete regret right away, but you can't get off.
My first. All the anxiety, anticipation, worry, tears, fears of chemo was here.
The whole experience of the infusion was easy and actually more surreal than anything. The nurse was kind and on task.  When she put the needle in my arm my reality became all too real. I cried. I cried cause it hurt and I cried because I knew what was coming or did I? I had my husband and my friends there. I have to say they made the hour of your fingers in ice more tolerable and consoled me when they were so frozen I wanted to give up. I was grateful.  I saw lots of people from the hospital, as the chemo suite as its called, is a busy place and a reminder of my fortunate situation of finding my cancer when I did. Everyone understands what your going through, they all smiled or frowned as they went by. Your on display, so if you cry, you cry, and if your having a good laugh, well that is shared for all as well.
An hour for this drug, an hour for that one, flush you out and off you go. Nurse just looked at me and said " you can go now". Geez you could of at least gave me a sticker, or a kiss. Nothing just goodbye.
The next two days were somewhat normal, whatever that is these days. A trip to Costco, which proved costly  taking a woman full of steroids . Pat said no more Costco on chemo days. I was shopping like I was going in a  bomb shelter for a month. He didn't say a word just allowed it to happen. I also needed a a new dry erase board and new fireplace screen, essentials when having chemo. Oh oh and new socks and enough Venus Razors to do me a year. By Friday I got up a little slower, could feel the fuzzies in my head, and by lunch my hips felt like I needed a replacement. It was starting. I hoped this was going to be as bad as it gets, but we all know the answer to that.
The following days have been filled with drama of calling my husband to help my off the toilet,to experiencing my first ever " gulp" hemorrhoid. What the heck? My poor bum has not been left unscathed?The chemo likes to make you think that you are not doing too bad and then " whamo"! It likes to get up in your head as well like a fuzzy blanket. A slight tingly feeling all over. " I know what you are doing up there" " You want my hair" " Well you can't have it  the side effects say 14-17 days and that is when it is going to happen." Lets see if it listens.
The place the chemo seems to like the best in me is my bones. It had a friend called Nuelasta to help it along. Together they have made my body feel like I was tossed around by transformer, Optimus Prime. I am not sure why that visual has been in my head all week. Maybe its because I feel completely battered at times. I had been feeling incredibly healthy lately. Post surgery that is. More energy than in a long time, so I feel completely jaded that all the work I did to recover from  surgery has been taken away. FOR NOW!
My favorite side effect is the way the chemo knits a fine pair of wooley socks around your mouth and then tops it off with a after taste of cast iron pan. I never knew pizza could taste like a piece of tasteless gum as you chew. Okay folks bacon with no flavor is just as wierd as it gets. Chemo loves sugar. Natropath won't be happy
Alright! Alright! I will stop complaining. I know I am not the first person to go through chemo. I will tell you this last week has taught me why individuals call themselves survivors. I was struggling with that term. I didn't get it. Well I did, I just wasn't comfortable with it. All clear now.When you are going through the side effects of chemo you really feel helpless at times. You aren't but you just feel that way. You make it through this, you definitely survived something. I have been humbled by all the men and women I have met so far who went this path already and now even more so. I get it when they tear up about their journey's. Why they want to form a group.
I have been blessed with great friends who have supported and are teaching me to embrace the word " yes". Its easy to say no " I am okay" when your not. Ahhh the martyr I know too many of those, not sure in the end what it gets them. So in case I forget to say it, thanks for the phone calls, texts, emails, macaroni casserole, sausages, soup, croissants, buns, back rub, creme, magazines and on  and also generally letting me vent and cry. Dont' even get me started on the menopause effects.
I want to mention to end this wonderful entry that my friend quit smoking on the day I started chemo. I asked him why and he just said" if you can do chemo then I can quit smoking." I am completely happy that out of something so difficult will come something wonderful not only for me but for someone else. I wish him every bit of courage on his journey.

When the Japanese mend broken objects, they aggrandize the damage by filling the cracks with gold. They believe that when something's suffered damage and has a history it becomes more beautiful.
Thanks for being my gold