Sunday, September 18, 2011


Today I felt completely normal. Amazing. After spending most of yesterday napping and taking it easy, I had plenty of energy today. Here's the proof:
  • Went to a local sports bar to watch football with my husband. Drank a TALL beer and ate a burger. No problems with my appetite! Not exactly healthy choices but we had fun. ;-)
  • Went shopping for a couple of hours - bought some cute lounge wear to wear on my next crash and burn days.
  • Came home, did two loads of laundry, picked up around the house and walked the dog.
  • Changed the sheets, rearranged our pillows - basically remade our bed with some new linens.
  • Organized two dresser drawers and tossed a bunch of old clothes to make room for new loungewear and scarves.
  • Made dinner (spaghetti and meat sauce), ate two large helpings then cleaned up the entire mess.
I think that's it. So here it is almost 9 PM and I feel fine. It is time for me to get ready for bed though. Nite, nite!

Saturday, September 17, 2011

Crash and Burn

Yesterday was my day to "crash and burn." It was not unexpected. I have been feeling great thanks to my Energizer Bunny medication (a.k.a. decadron) which I take the day before, the day of and the day after chemo. But it's only a three day regimen which means Friday is the big letdown for me.

I left work right after lunch and went in for my Neulasta injection. Then I came home and curled up in bed for the rest of the afternoon. I was up by dinner time and feeling okay. No nausea, just extreme fatigue. I can handle fatigue.

I slept great last night and am feeling okay today. My appetite is huge. Too huge! I had a Western omelette, grits and toast for breakfast this morning. Yummy! I think I may curl up in bed and watch a movie this afternoon -- or the Red Sox -- the game comes on at 4 PM.

At least I am not sick and for that, I am very grateful!

All for now...

Wednesday, September 14, 2011

Two Down -- FOUR To Go!

**EDIT due to chemo brain: This title of this post should have been Two Down - FOUR to Go. One to go was just wishful thinking..**

I went in for my second round of Taxotere and Cytoxan today. (By the way, I was wrong in my earlier post. I am not getting Taxol. I am getting the generic form of Taxotere which is docetaxol.)

Aside from the infusion center being a little backed up with patients, the day went really well. We arrived at 8:40 which was a bit late for my 8:30 appointment. Mistake. The waiting room was already full and the nurses were scrambling. Lesson learned - arrive by 8:15 for an 8:30 appointment.

I got in around 9:30 and saw the physician's assistant. I gave her a recap of my three weeks and she was extremely pleased. I also found out that they will not be adjusting my dosage of either drug. I know when my mom went through chemo, they used to give her a strong dose one week and a weaker dose the following week. Totally different cancer. Totally different drugs. Obviously not the same, but I did ask... just in case they were going to ramp me up this time. I wanted to be ready.

The PA told me that since I tolerated it so well in Round 1, there is no reason to believe anything will change for the next rounds. She did reiterate that my fatigue will definitely increase. Everyone I know who has been through this has said the same thing. I am fine with fatigue. I have a very flexible job. I can work from home if I need to or take off early if I'm too tired. Except for taking my day off for chemo, I really haven't missed a beat.

This is going to sound very vain but my biggest concern right now is my weight. I have put on about 15 pounds since my diagnosis. Before my diagnosis I was really trying to shed "those last 10 pounds". Now my goal is 25 pounds which is a lot for me.

I am at my all time heaviest weight right now and I dread the thought of setting a new record. Not to mention the fact that I will be going into instant menopause once the doctor puts me on hormonal therapy plus I will have a hysterectomy to look forward to in 2012. So yeah - this weight thing is really bothering me.

I talked to the PA about all this and she told me I really should not be concerned with my weight right now. She told me to just maintain. She said this is not the time to lose or gain any significant weight. And my husband chimed in that he has been telling me the same thing (which he has).

But I already have my eye on next year. I want to get through this and feel GREAT about myself. I want to feel strong and healthy. I want to be Wonder Woman by next summer! Not to mention I have my 30th high school reunion coming up in June.

Everyone is telling me to be gentle and patient with myself. They are telling me I will heal faster and feel better sooner if I don't push myself too hard. It's good advice. Truly it is. But I am not a very patient person. I know this is one of the many lessons I have yet to learn through this experience.

Much to ponder...

On a different note... I have temporarily given up reading "Americans in Paris" by David McCollough. The material is just too heavy for me to get through right now. I really need some laughs, so I turned to my friend Jane Heller and downloaded a book I have been wanting to read for quite awhile.

I can't wait to dive in! With the season my Red Sox are having, I think I will be able to relate to Jane's story about her love affair with the New York Yankees.

Tuesday, September 13, 2011

Halloween options

Okay - no more pictures of my bald head... But thanks for all the compliments! I am really surprised at how easily I am adjusting to it. My husband is definitely supportive which really helps. We are even able to joke about it.

I am not one to dress up for Halloween but just the other day I had a thought. My new bald look gives me all kinds of options for dressing up this Halloween! I could be a cone head a la Jane Curtin or some kind of alien and paint my face green. I could open the door and shout 'Take me to your leader!'" That would really get a reaction from the kids, I'm sure.

Then my husband chimed in and said we should dress up as Addams Family characters. I could be "Aunt Fester" and he could be "Lurch." My husband would make a great Lurch -- opening the door and staring at the kids and grunting. Perfect!

But I know us... we won't dress up. We don't even get that many kids on Halloween. But at least we can joke about it!

Saturday, September 10, 2011

I did it!

I lost so much hair that I had to wear one of my scarves to work on Friday. That was it. I couldn't wait any longer so I called my regular hairstylist and she buzzed all my hair off during my lunch hour. What a relief!

We started out by leaving a little bit of length - maybe 1/4" - but even that was falling out all over the place. So we quickly realized that we had to take it all off and here I am!

My husband took this picture of me today.

And here is a picture I took of myself in my office after I returned to work.

I am actually okay with being bald. I just figure it is part of the process of healing. My hair falling out means the chemo is working and that's really the only thing I care about at this point!

Thursday, September 8, 2011

G.I. Jen

If she can do it, I can too! I am thinking this weekend is the best time to shave my head. My hair is falling out so quickly -- it's disgusting. I have some scarves so I'm ready. At least I think I am ready!

I'm no Natalie Portman or Demi Moore but... these ladies don't look so bad.

As long as I don't lose my eyebrows and eyelashes, I think I will be okay. Maybe I should go to a barber shop and do something decorative. What do you think?

Tuesday, September 6, 2011

Losing my hair and letting my body down

My hair started falling out today - 13 days after my first round of chemo. My oncologist said by day 14 I would have a new hair style. She wasn't kidding.

Even though I have known this was going to happen, it was still very unnerving. I was in the shower getting ready for work and when I started to shampoo my hair, I had hairs covering both hands. And then when I towel dried my hair, it was all over the towel.

I felt like a dog who sheds really badly. YUK! If it continues to really shed, I will get it buzzed. But a part of me is still hoping beyond hope that it will just get thin. Yes, I am in DENIAL!

I think this is the most down I have felt since my surgery when the doctor told me they found a tumor in my sentinel lymph node.

The other part of this whole cancer experience that I am struggling with is feeling like a failure.

I forgot where I read it, but I remembering reading that many people who receive a cancer diagnosis often feel their bodies have betrayed them. Despite their good overall health, a daily exercise regimen and sound eating habits, their bodies developed cancer anyway. And these people generally feel angry or wonder "Why me?"

I feel just the opposite. I feel like I am the one who has failed my body. Perhaps I have not taken good enough care of myself and that is why I have cancer. I stopped exercising regularly years ago. I drink more alcohol now than I ever have. I've put on weight. I stopped going to yoga class. Cancer tends to run in my family. I have never asked "Why me?" I have concluded "Why not me?"

Obviously there is a bit of guilt involved with the way I feel right now. Perhaps that is my Catholic upbringing kicking in. It's the old "scorekeeping" mentality I know so well. Not good.

I am trying to come to terms with the fact that cancer is cancer and it is an equal opportunity disease. We all know there are things you can do to help decrease your chances of getting cancer. But there are lots of really healthy people who get cancer and die from it, including a high school classmate of mine who just passed away from pancreatic cancer at the age of 47. He left behind a wife and three kids. He was the picture of health.

Carrying around this guilt really isn't helping anything, so I have decided to look at this experience in a new light.

Maybe this "new" me -- this soon-to-be-bald person -- is someone who is very health-conscious and strong and takes really good care of herself. Maybe this new me is absolutely kickass and is much much stronger and healthier than the old me.

Where's my golden lasso?

Saturday, September 3, 2011

Do I really have breast cancer?

Some days, most days, it is hard for me to believe I have breast cancer. Maybe I am in denial.

I remember how I felt when I received my diagnosis. I know that I had a lumpectomy and wore a lovely drain for a few days. I have a small scar on my right breast that looks like a cat scratched me. That's it. Oh, and another small scar under my right arm where my lymph nodes were removed. I have had one round of chemo but no bad side effects.

I actually feel really good right now and I guess that is why it's hard for me to believe I have cancer.

I am not asking to feel bad. Believe me, I don't want to feel bad! But I went for a long bike ride this morning with my husband and was just so thankful that I feel this good.

I am sure I will have days where I will feel lousy. And I will blog about them when they happen. But for right now, I feel fine and am just waiting for my hair to fall out. The big hair loss is supposed to happen next week (2 weeks after Round 1 of chemo). We shall see. Maybe that will make it all a lot more real for me.

Until then, I am just enjoying the hell out of life especially now that the worst of the summer heat is gone and we're getting ready to head into Fall (my favorite season)!

Thursday, September 1, 2011

Feeling Fantastic

That's right. I feel fantastic. Is that bad to admit? I am almost ashamed to say it. If chemo was Day 1, this is how my week went:

Wednesday Day 1: Chemo infusion from 9 AM - 2:30 PM. Went home and napped the rest of the afternoon. Felt fine.

Thursday Day 2: Went to work, felt like the Energizer Bunny (thanks to decadron). Got my Neulasta injection in the afternoon.

Friday Day 3: Went to work but felt like I needed a nap in the afternoon (no more decadron).

Saturday Day 4: Was exhausted pretty much all day. Stayed in bed, dosed, napped, took it easy. This was also the day the tropical storm hit our area so we had no power. Napping was the best option!

Sunday Day 5: Not quite as tired. I would do a few things here and there, then lay down and rest. Still no power so napping was still the best option.

Monday Day 6: Went to work. Tired by the time I got home but not exhausted. Got our power back on. yay! Started to feel some bone pain. Took Advil and it went away.

Tuesday Day 7: Attending an offsite training session all day. Felt fine but was tired when I got home. Not exhausted. Felt some pretty bad bone pain during the night. Have added Aleve to my daily pill regimen.

Wednesday Day 8: Feel great! Tired in the evenings but no more bone pain. The Aleve is doing its job.

Part of the reason I think I am feeling so good is that I am getting a great night's sleep every night. My oncologist gave me a script for lorazepam (Atavin) which I take every night before bed. And it works. I sleep through the night without any strange dreams and I wake up feeling completely rested and refreshed the next morning. No grogginess. Love it!

So I went from a person who never took any pills to someone with a pill box. Here is my daily regimen so far:

- Effexor 37.5 mg (low dose) for night sweats and hot flashes

- Prilosec for heartburn due to chemo eroding my stomach and esophagus

- Aleve for bone pain (morning and night)

- Lorazepam to help me sleep (night)

This lovely cocktail seems to be working for me. I also have two separate nausea meds just in case. I only took one compazine a couple of days after my chemo just in case. I wasn't exactly feeling nauseous but we had a lot of smoke in the air due to wildfires nearby and it was causing me to feel a little strange. But other than that, I haven't had any nausea at all. Knock wood.

I still have two more week to go before my next chemo on September 14. I am really looking forward to a long weekend and just relaxing with my husband and pupper.

Oh... I did order some scarves online through the American Cancer Society. I ordered them here:

I should get them today or tomorrow. My hair hasn't started to fall out but I ordered them knowing that my hair will probably start falling out sometime next week.

All in all, I am extremely lucky to feel this good and hope the rest of my treatments go this smoothly.