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Sep 29, 2008

Fight like a girl... October is breast cancer awareness month


It sort of just dawned on my that we're on the cusp of a new month. Don't know where my head has been. In case you didn't know... October is breast cancer awareness month.
Well, of course this hits home pretty hard for me. And I really am starting to gag on pink ribbons and such. But... this isn't about me... rather, it is about MORE than just me.
Where ever you are located... if there is something going on in your community for breast cancer awareness... please try to attend, or make a small donation. If you can afford it.
I've decided to have a breast cancer awareness party on the 25th. I haven't selected a location yet, but the plan is to have some breast cancer survivors and some medical personnel come out and talk about breast cancer, its effects on black women and other general information. On the 18th of October, I will have had my 4th chemotherapy treatment -- and will be HALFWAY through the entire course.
Since I need a pick me up and it is breast cancer awareness month, I'm going to have a "Fight" party -- its time to really get into the fight for breast cancer. I'm hoping that the event will be part celebratory and a little bit of educational fun -- as well as a fundraiser for several breast cancer charities.
I thought I knew about breast cancer before I was diagnosed. I did my self-exams (not as regularly as I should have maybe...) and I was just waiting to hit my 40th birthday to start my annual mammograms. But since my diagnosis I've learned so much more about the disease and some of it is scary stuff.
Breast cancer in younger women (under 40) is on the rise, but they don't know why. Breast cancer, when found in black women, is normally found at a much later stage than in white women (like mine being found at stage 3). The issues surrounding black women and breast cancer are combinations of genetic disposition and access to health care. So, we've got to fight the battle twice as hard. When we are found to have breast cancer, our disease tends to be more aggressive and even more likely to kill us, than the same disease in white women. We're not as likely to get breast cancer as white women... but when we do, it is often more deadly, more likely to recur and more difficult to treat than our white sisters.
(even in illness, we gotta work twice as hard for half the reward... )
Very interesting study results found in Chicago regarding black women with breast cancer. A Nigerian sister found that women in her country were dealing with a really aggressive breast cancer problem. Then she came to the US and found that black women here were having similar issues with very aggressive and treatment resistant breast cancer. I am fortunate that I do not have the triple threat breast cancer that most of these studies is focused on. However, many sisters are dying from breast cancer and it is a tragedy.
So... keep these thoughts with you:
-Women have a 1 in 8 chance of being diagnosed with breast cancer in their lifetime.
-African American women are less likely to get breast cancer but are more likely to die from the disease, according to the American Cancer Society (2008)
-From 2000-2003 African American women had a 36 percent higher death rate than white women, giving them the highest death rate and poorest survival rate of any other racial or ethnic group for breast cancer.
All in all... its frightening out there. And while this certainly isn't the only thing in the world we need to be vigilant about, it is one more thing.
If you don't check your breasts... start now. If you feel anything suspect, tell your doctor. If your doctor isn't responsive, find a different doctor. If you're really freaked out, press for the mammogram anyway. (now, let me be clear here... if you press for the mammogram you might have to pay for it out of pocket -- and its not cheap, but death ain't either and chemo isn't any fun at all) In other words... don't let breast cancer take you out. Fight back.
Fight back.
----
How I'm feeling today: Better. Anxious. Scared. Nervous. Tired but not as tired as last week. Ready to get on with life, wishing I could skip chemo on Thursday. Generally... I'm okay. Food has taste and I am eating all that I can when I can. And we know that eating is a good thing.
I keep thinking back to earlier this summer when I started this journey. And no matter how much I review it in my mind, it still really doesn't make sense to me. But I guess... its not supposed to. At least not right now.
My hair is still falling out in patches. I look like a chicken took a razor to my head... but I'm scared to shave it for some reason. It seems so final. Yesterday I was contemplating methods of hair removal... should I use some clippers, or just a regular razor, or maybe some Nair/Veet. I opted against the chemicals because I was afraid some might drip down and take away my eyebrows (which are holding on nicely... ). And the razor scared me because I don't want to nick my scalp or something. Of course, you know that I can't use clippers to save my life... and I can't go back to the barbershop again.
So, that's where I am. I don't know what I'm doing. My visual isn't fit for public consumption... and I'm freaked out again because its chemo week. *sigh*
But its a good day, right? Another blessed day on the planet.
I'm holding on to that.
http://fabulous-boobies.blogspot.com/p/new-here.html

Sep 27, 2008

looking like a cancer patient, visiting with old friends

Today, I spent a lovely couple of hours with some very dear friends. I haven't seen them in awhile... you know... 'cause life gets in the way sometimes. :)

Lionel and I have been friends since high school, 10th grade English. And his wife has been my friend since they were dating. (They are still the cutest couple... even now... lol) Lionel called to let me know that they would be stopping by in the early afternoon. So, a short time before they were due to arrive, I started to get ready.

Now... last night, my boyfriend and I went out for a quick bite and to watch the debate. He left for a trip with his boys this morning and I wanted to see him before he left.

Remember, I got my haircut on Monday? Well... for those of you who do not go to the barbershop... one thing you have to know is that when you get your hair cut at the barbershop, lots of little hairs are left in your head. The clippings from your cut. Well, at old school barbershops anyway... And until you shampoo your hair, you sort of deal with the little hairs falling down every now and then.

After my cut, my hair was falling... but I didn't think much of it because I knew that I had just gotten a cut and I had expected some minor shedding to start as well. The cut was Monday... I've been dropping hair since then. But I still had not noticed any real balding... so I wasn't too concerned. When I washed my face Friday night, I took my washcloth and wiped it across my head. (I needed the warmth on my scalp for a moment because my head has been tender for about a week)

A scream got caught in my throat when I wiped the washcloth across my head... and pulled away a whole patch of hair by my right ear. It looked like I had shaved my head in that one spot. As I continued to wipe the hair off my face... I noticed some small bald areas cropping up on the top of my head. I slapped a Maryland baseball cap on my head and headed out with my baby. I didn't show him my new state of appearance... he was already very upset at the thought of leaving me for 6 days. I did not want to make it worse.

I woke up this morning, looking like I looked last night. One menacing bald spot by my right ear and a few nicks on the top of my head. I got into the shower about 1:30pm. I promised myself I would just shampoo my hair really good and finally shake loose all that loose hair and get myself looking like I cared about my appearance.

First of all... I think I'm losing my lashes too because the shampoo immediately went into my eyes. That burning sensation... was a real blower. Who knew that eyelashes were so important? Soap can get in your eyes... even when they are closed... ugh.

I lathered up really well and set my hands on my head. I wanted to make sure that Lionel and Gail saw me looking like me and not like some lame azz cancer patient.

I don't know what I thought I would look like... but the image of me exiting the shower... scared me.

I was frightening.
I was... borderline ugly.
I was... balding.

I had washed away big patches of my hair.

I cannot describe how I look right now. I debated about taking a picture of myself and posting it here... but I realized that my vanity just won't allow that.

Lionel and I have been friends for longer than 20 years. And if I never knew that he loved me like a sister... I know now. That man... said repeatedly with a straight face... that I looked good.

I'm going to tell you the truth.I look like a cat somebody tried to boil.

*blank face*

Luckily for me... he married an honest and sweet woman who finally had the courage to say... no, the haircut is bad. But you are still cute.

I could stand by that declaration.

I LOOK like a cancer patient. You know... the patchy hair, the sad eyes... the utter fatigue and lack of concern about appearance. Yes. I have that now.

I look like a squirrel who got in a fight with a mad hedgehog.  I look bad. I look pitiful.

I can't even laugh at myself... because I look... I finally look... like I have cancer.

I recently received a book that I ordered on Amazon called Turning Heads. And it is a picture book of women who are bald because of cancer. The pictures are amazing.. and some of the stories are too. Some of the women were obviously on the other side of their cancer story and spoke in terms of feeling valiant and strong. But at least two women... black women at that... talked about how sad they were, how thrown off they were... how cancer had stripped something from them. I assumed that they were in a different place with their illness than some of the other women in the book. Somewhere near where I am in this thing... some soft scary place that takes your breath away.



I keep crying... every time another hair falls off my body, or I get nauseous and can't breathe... or I eat something and its like eating paste. I keep crying. I am waiting for the day when I hit the point in my grief and mourning when I can accept what is happening to me and I don't cry anymore. I know that day is coming... even though it isn't here yet.

Just as sure as the sun shines... the tone of this blog will shift and I will start writing in stronger tones about life, and resurrection and love.

But right now... I just keep crying.

Cancer is stealing me from me. I visited today with people who knew me when I was a skinny nerd in high school... and a slightly curvy yet fully neurotic young adult. I hung out with people who I know would love me with no limbs and no ability to speak (not that I'm wishing that upon myself)... but I mean to let you know... I spent time today with FAMILY.. and it felt good.

But I was embarrassed because I look... like a victim. And I really hate that.

Lionel wouldn't let Gail get me flowers. He told her ... "Nic's not dead, and we're not bringing her flowers". LOL... He's always been such a boy and has always treated me like one of the boys. I laughed when they told me that story.

I've been through some stuff in this life. Some hard stuff. But being a victim isn't really my thing. It also isn't my thing to be super-woman either. I like to maintain my equilibrium. When I first went into the cancer center... I told myself that I did not want to "look" like those people. I never wanted to look sick.

Well... today I look sick and I am wondering if I really have the energy to put on makeup and wigs or scarves or hats... just so that I don't look sick.

I don't think that I do. I think that I will hide out in my bedroom for awhile... until my courage comes back. That may be as soon as my dad shaves my head. Or it may be weeks from now. I'm really not sure.

....in my email group someone asked what people were planning to do for Thanksgiving. In my family Thanksgiving is THE holiday. We usually head to North Carolina to be with the whole family and eat like starved hogs for days. Mmmmm.... good times! But this year, I don't know that I will be up for the travel or for the company (should the family decide to come this way)

So of course, I wept a little when I was reading the replies. The thought of all that good food, and laughs and family.... and I might miss it. Thanksgiving with no appetite has got to be like hell on earth. My family can cook. And I like to show my appreciation by eating as much as I can hold... and then bringing Tupperware containers so that I can take away with me, all that I really really liked. Thanksgiving with a suppressed immune system -- scary in a family with lots of small children. Thanksgiving with chemo fatigue -- depressing in a family that can sit and talk for hours on any given subject.

I am hopeful that I will be up to being a part of Thanksgiving with my extended family... like usual. Even if that means I'm upstairs in the bed, while they are downstairs having fun.

Cancer cannot take everything from me... it just can't do it.

Sep 26, 2008

a week to feel almost normal

My last chemo treatment was last Thursday. I have been practically bed-ridden since then. Yesterday was the first day that I didn't think my heart would jump out of my chest when I walked a few steps. I feel ... almost normal.

My job has a requirement that after 4 days of absence from work, you automatically are deferred to short-term disability. I now need a doctor's permission to return to work. Which is funny because by the time I could get permission, I'd be back out again because of the effects of my next chemo treatment.

I didn't blog for those days following the treatment because it was difficult enough to hold my head up for extended periods of time or to walk or stand for any length of time.

You know what's a blower? Going from your bed to the bathroom... and breathing heavy while you're sitting on the toilet. Or moving from your bed to the kitchen and back again... and feeling as though your heart is about to leap out of your chest from over exertion.

I am in a bad place mentally. I'm trying to keep myself out of a funk but it grows more difficult every day.

I look a mess. I see it when I look at myself in the mirror. My hair is really low... and small bald spots are starting to appear. I guess I will have to shave this soon. I have no hair on my body below my nose. No underarm hair, no pubic hair, no leg hair. Oh... I do still have hair on my arms... just a little. There are little hairs here and there... and I mean, one or two... no more.

I went to the barbershop to have my hair cut one more time on Monday evening. It was coming out in my hands and I wanted to look presentable -- I thought I was going to work the next day. Nope! I finally told my barber that I have cancer and guess what he told me? He has cancer too.

Ain't that a blip? That news made me even more sad. Every time I hear about someone else with cancer, I get sad. Its bad that I'm going through this... its horrible that so many others are going through this too.

Some months ago, I made a proclamation to myself that I wanted to live to be 100. I am 39 now. Will be 40 on May 1st. 60 more years? How am I going to do that when I can't walk to the mailbox and back? I have too much time to think and not enough energy to do more than that. I was reminded by my boyfriend that I could use this time to work on my unfinished novels. I don't know that I can do that... but I will give it a try.

I have to be honest here... I've been holding back about how sad and upset I am about all of this. I have been trying to make it easy for the people who love me to deal with me, and with this crisis. I do not like being a burden. But ... I am hurting down deep in my soul. And I know that there is nothing that anyone can do for me but me... to change my perspective. My mind aches, my heart aches and my body just doesn't feel right.

Sep 19, 2008

I forgot something... I got a portable DVD player today

My lovely cousins... Tonia and Trina... (1/2 of the bourgie sisters...lol)... surprised me with a beautiful sony portable dvd player.

I am such a sap these days... I cried for 10 minutes when I opened the box. They did not have to do this... and with so much going on in the world, and everybody's money all sorts of funny... they really really didn't have to do this.

Some days... I am just so amazed and overwhelmed by the love that has been shown to me during this craziness.

So... to the bourgie sisters! Thank you. And... I christened my machine by watching Love Jones.

It was the perfect segue to a wonderful nap this afternoon.

Thanks.
http://fabulous-boobies.blogspot.com/p/new-here.html

Feeling okay so far... after #2


So, this is me and Tiff... at karaoke night on Wednesday, the night before my second chemo treatment. Just laughing and having fun. Nothing serious. That night was the best I'd felt physically since my first dose.
Now, its the day after the second dose and I'm moving a little slow, but I am not as achy as before. I'm hoping that it will remain this manageable for the next few days.
I wanted to tell y'all about the pee-pee man... and why I ended up writing all that stuff about my boyfriend.
On Thursday, D dropped me off at the medical center while he looked for a parking space. So I was in the waiting room by myself. Rather, I was without him but I wasn't alone because it was very crowded in there Thursday morning.
An older white gentleman came in, looking disheveled and unbathed but he seemed generally in control of his faculties. And then he walked past me and sat one seat away from me. Whew lawd... he smelled like strong urine. It was sad. His clothes were wrinkled and a bit dirty, his hair looked unwashed and stringy... he had this sad little black briefcase in his hand. Just a sight of pitifulness.
And the thought that hit me was... he's all alone. With the exception of a few folks, most of the patients had someone accompanying them. Let me tell you... it is a sad experience going to the Cancer Center. You know that everyone there is in a crisis. Some of us look like it, others do not. But you wouldn't be there if you didn't have to be.
D has gone with me to every doctor visit leading up to the chemotherapy and each chemo trip. He has been by my side every scary step of the way. As I stole glances at this gentleman, I felt sad for him. He seemed to be capable enough of taking care of himself, but not fully so. I wondered if he was single, or divorced or widowed. Someone around to tell him the basics like... honey, you can't wear these clothes, they stink. Or baby, you stink. Something like that... just a reminder in the midst of his own crisis that the world still goes on and you can be a part of it too.
A few moments later, D came up -- I sent him a warning text that the pee-pee man was in the waiting room and it was stanking to high heaven in there. He came into the center and found me. Greeted me with a kiss... and then pulled out a starbucks bag. :)
He had picked up some breakfast for me... an apple fritter and some luscious grapefruit juice. He didn't have to be that thoughtful, he never does... but he always is. Always. Even when I'm snappy, or silent, or tearful... he's right there, right there.... RIGHT THERE.
He took me back to the hospital today... for my follow up injection. And he had learned the day before when we were talking with the oncologists... that I have been battling some wicked gas. I mean... wooo lawd there are some moments over here when I just can't stand my own self. I've been keeping that secret really close to my heart. lol...
So... this afternoon, I had a moment when we were at pizza hut... when I felt the wickedness coming upon me... and I didn't know what to do. So, I did what I thought was best. I warned him that I was about to blow!
He could have made jokes, or made me feel badly... but he just laughed... and then challenged me to a duel.
lol... I do love that man.
I passed on the duel. Something tells me... I would have lost that fight... but I loved the way he diffused my fear just that easily.
I like going to the restaurant where he works...and just being around him and his family. But looking at the picture of me and Tiff... I know there will be days to come when I can't make it. There already have been days I had to stay in the bed. Didn't help when the doctor told me I couldn't have any late nights. I needed to get my rest, and stay home as much as possible.
What??
I tried to plead my love case... "my boyfriend works at a restaurant and I don't get to see him too often unless I go to where he is...." Yeah... that didn't go over to swell. I used to go over about 5 times a week. Have dinner with my baby after work, then head home. But now... its like once every other week. Maybe twice in a two week period. So, the time we spend in chemo is even more priceless because its basically hours of uninterrupted time.
All that to say... although I enjoy talking about people and giggling... won't lie. I often learn a lot about myself and life by just watching people. The pee-pee man reminded me that having someone in your corner, boyfriend, girlfriend, neighbors, family, colleagues... is priceless.
Just like this picture of me and Tiff.
Priceless.


Sep 18, 2008

2nd dose down....

So far, I'm feeling okay. My doctors told me today that my PET scan was clear... which means that the cancer has not spread beyond my breast/lymph nodes. That was good to hear.

I'm gonna let you in on a secret. My pubic hair has started to leave me. :(

I realized the other day in the shower... and it upset me so much that I had to lay down and cry for awhile. I felt like such a baby crying about it too. In all honesty, I had no idea it would go. At least not right away. And I thought that by the time it did go, that I would be in a better place about this hair loss. So, if you talked to me over the past few days and I was a little moody... that's why. And since its just not the type of thing that you just say to people... I just had to hold it in for awhile until I came to grips with it.

This thing is real y'all.

I ordered a couple of wigs over the weekend and they arrived yesterday. I'm really not feeling these. Luckily they were cheap and I could afford the risk. I may keep looking around. And I'm definitely going to call my insurance company back to discuss the issue of paying for it. I learned that the state of Maryland has a law that insurers must cover hair replacement/wigs/etc. for chemotherapy patients. Let me add... I looked cute in the wigs... I just wasn't feeling it. All that hair in my eyes, on my face... yuck. YUCK! It was just... its been a long long long time since Nicole has had hair long enough to touch her skin. In fact, its been so long that the sight of long hair (other people's) makes my skin crawl.

You know how you visit other people's homes... or use a public bathroom and there may be a few little hairs that belong to someone else lying around? Well... that creeps me out. Seriously. I just stand there for a minute with a ghastly look on my face like... "eww... that came out of somebody's head."

*shudder*

Anyhoo... (just sharing...lol)

But that leads me back to my shower incident. At first I thought I was seeing things when I noticed that clump in my hand... (maybe this is too personal, too gross to share, hmmm). But it happened several times and then my tears joined the shower spray. Just like... damn.

My surgeon mentioned that I would lose hair all over -- but I still didn't think ALL over for some reason. Her joke was that she didn't have to shave her legs for 6 months. It still did not occur to me that this would happen. I don't know what I was thinking but I was definitely surprised. However, judging from the way that its happening... this hair loss thing will be un-sexy. I'm imaging little bald spots springing up here and there. I may have to make one more trip to the barbershop after all... because I may need to have my head shaved.

wow. That's a blower.

So, today's visit was rather uneventful. I sat and talked with the oncologists. They were in good spirits, I was in good spirits. It was a nice visit. I learned that I don't have more cancer to freak out about. They told me that I was doing very well. And they agreed with me that my insurance company sounds like a bunch of cheap freaks. (well, they didn't use that language but they encouraged me to call back and talk to a supervisor for better information) So, I will likely be calling tomorrow after I get my booster shot.

And... speaking of said shot... its that thing right there... that makes me feel like utter crapola for days. That dang neulasta shot that boosts my white blood cells... also makes me achy and sore and tired and nauseous, and all those things.

Have I mentioned lately that my boyfriend is the bomb?? lol... I am still so very amazed that he continues to hold my hand throughout this process. God definitely provides what you need, when you need it. Because I needed this guy at this time in my life. I cannot imagine going through all of this uncertainty and fear with a boyfriend who would have been unable to be by my side this way. I know me well enough to know, I would have gotten through it alone. I would have never complained because there would likely have been "good" reasons why he couldn't be there -- mostly work related issues -- but I would have been heartbroken about it. But... I don't have to be there by myself. He has been there, without grudge or complaint. Taking it all in. I worry about him -- which he brushes off -- but I know that this is a heavy burden to bear. I keep him in my prayers.

I am also fortunate that I have really really good friends who will come with me on the next chemotherapy date because he can't make it. I would have asked my mother, but honestly, I don't think she would handle seeing me hooked up to the IV for hours. Especially when Theresa does that first needle into my port -- its rough to see. She sort of jabs this long needle into my chest... and it hurts like the dickens. Next comes the blood samples... about 4 tubes. And then comes the drips. Its not cool to watch. When I watch her and the other nurses hooking up other patients, I cringe. Even though I'm sitting right beside them and getting the same thing... it is not pleasant to watch. So... my mom will have to be protected from this part of the struggle. It will be hard enough for her to deal with the surgery and its aftermath.

Hmmm... I think I just freaked out my friends who are planning to visit with me on October 2nd. I hope not. But if so... know that I do understand. Believe me.

I feel some nausea coming on, so I guess that's my cue to lay back down.

How do I feel? Less powerless than I did the other day... more courageous than I felt last night. A bit achy... but I had some ice cream after my chemo... and that strawberry made it all better.

~Nic

Sep 14, 2008

I'm sick of having cancer


I spent this weekend trying to gather my strength, relax as much as possible... and avoid what needed to be done.
I went to my boyfriend's restaurant on Friday night, to spend time with him (I miss seeing him everyday) and to see one of my best and closest friends in the world.
I can't express to anyone how much this woman means to me. She is the sister I never knew I needed and the strength that sometimes I have to rely on. Even now, as I type this... I have tears because she means so much to me and we don't get to spend much time together. You know... life gets in the way sometimes. The upside of having cancer so far... is that friends and family that I haven't been the best at keeping up with, have made it their mission to see me and let me know that I am loved. As crazy and sad as I feel most days... I need to know, to hear, to see that I am loved all the time now.
I thought that hanging out on Friday night for a few hours would be easy... but it was harder than I imagined and I was so absolutely exhausted when I got home, I almost had to crawl up the stairs. I was only there for about 3 hours. And it wore me completely out.
I hate that I have no energy for anything fun. I spent most of the remainder of Friday night, alternating between hanging my head off the side of my bed and running to the bathroom. It was not a pleasant night. Saturday, I recuperated from Friday night. I lay in bed, read a little bit and watched all sorts of great TV shows on www.hulu.com. My cousin turned me on to that website and I have been hooked all weekend.
For the record, I officially miss Fantasy Island. Mr. Rork was fine and those stories were so sappy cute, that I want to see a remake come on now.
Finally today, I tried to do what I have been avoiding for a few days and it still took me nearly 10 hours before I could admit it needed doing, and go to the sites where I could get it done.
I'm talking about purchasing my "cranial prosthesis"... Regular folks call them wigs.
My second round of chemo is this Thursday and if things go the way that the doctors expect, my hair should start falling out a few days afterwards. I'm definitely feeling some kind of way about losing the little hair I have and not seeing it again until weeks after my chemotherapy ends. We're talking January folks -- before I can expect to see some sprouts of hair again.
*sigh*
I have been going back and forth about whether I was going to get wigs or not. And honestly, even after looking at site after site -- I still don't know. I will ask Dr. Siegel for a prescription this week. And maybe by Thursday, I will have made up my mind about the purchase.
Cranial prostheses are expensive. Very very expensive. I believe that my health insurance would cover the cost and reimburse me for most (if not all) of the expense. However, that's only if it is a purchase of a cranial prosthesis though, a regular wig is not a reimbursable expense. I could spend a hundred or less for a regular wig and just suck up the costs as part of my vanity. Or I could invest hundreds of dollars into a cranial prosthesis... and hope to recoup my loss through an insurance reimbursement.
I may have to take the cheaper way out because I'm still paying therapy bills and radiology bills... on top of my regular expenses and I don't think I can wait for the reimbursement of $500-800 for a wig that I'm not even sure that I want. I'll let you know what I do.
I am going to order my eyebrows before I go to sleep tonight though. That is one expense that I have to incur.
I was supposed to do laundry and generally prepare my bedroom for the "after-chemo-time" but I have been hard-pressed to get out of bed all weekend. I think I'm hiding out. I haven't answered the phone all weekend - though I have been email accessible - and I'm not really ready for work tomorrow. I am in a big funk.
I spent a lot of time this weekend on planet cancer. It is a social networking group of cancer patients under 40. And for me, it is a godsend because I can talk candidly with other people who are dealing with craziness just like me and there is no pretense whatsoever.
The count-down to chemo is becoming dreadful. Every minute that passes, is one moment closer to sitting in that room with all those sick people tethered to an IV for hours. There are only a few days left for me to prepare and I haven't gotten it together yet. I need to go to the grocery store to pick up my "sick food" items (like crackers, chicken soup, ginger for tea, etc.) but I haven't even started my list of what I need. I had planned to treat myself to either a Kindle or a portable DVD player... but, after thinking all weekend about the preparatory materials I need for the weekend, and looking at prices of my vanity items (eyebrows, wigs and maintenance materials)... it may be some time before I can do that.
Chemo stinks. Cancer sucks. And I'm mad about all of this.
I know I have to do it. I know why I have to do it. I just am dreading it so much. Its like waiting to get a spanking... just tense. I've been mildly sick this weekend -- little waves of nausea here and there. But a part of me is just nagging the crap out of the rest of me -- telling me to just suck it up and move through it. It won't get better and I know that but I'm tapped out of energy and I'm sick of getting sick every few hours.
I battle with myself between feeling like a punk and giving myself the room to just relax and take it easy because I need to.
Well, I'm going to go now. Sorry this was so rambling and off-message... but that's how I've been feeling all weekend -- all over the place. Crying here and there, moping around... laughing at Tattoo. "The plane! The plane!"
Thanks for that Gerald. I owe you big time.
http://fabulous-boobies.blogspot.com/p/new-here.html

Sep 12, 2008

morning grumble: not quite a vent, not quite a praise report

I didn't want to come to work today, but I didn't have a good reason to stay home -- except that my sheets felt good. That's a loser proposition. So, I picked up my latest O magazine and headed for work.

Forgot that it was the October issue... so there were several breast cancer stories inside. (just great...) I start to read the first one on the train...and the tears would not stop flowing. My life is nothing like the writer's yet.. I completely felt and understood every thing that she wrote. And it made me wonder if my words about my story were having the same effect on other people.

She was a white woman, married with two small girls... and her story about preparing for her 3 year old's birthday party was simply priceless. It was a well-written story and I'm grateful that O magazine shared it because it was a turning point for me this morning.

A lot of you have mentioned that I should turn the blog into a book. And even a few of you were surprised that I write pretty good (writer's joke... I write well, not good). I love to write. I have been constructing stories since I was a little girl and I will probably continue to write -- hmmm, I was going to say into my old age but -- until I can't do anything else. But writing is a tricky thing... it is simple and convoluted at the same time. Whether or not this blog becomes something tangible remains to be seen. But even if it doesn't... I will continue writing it until (and beyond) the day that I learn that I am cancer-free.

After reading that powerful article and reflecting (as usual) on my own stuff and my own issues with having cancer... I have realized that I'm sick of pink ribbons and platitudes. I'm sick of breast cancer and fundraisers. I'm tired of reading stories where women feel forced to be brave and strong, for their kids, their spouses/partners, their families, their work colleagues... I am tired of all variations of super-woman that we put ourselves through.

Breast cancer sucks. I make no bones about it. I am not apologetic that I even have it. I am angry. I am sad. I am scared. But I'm even more scared that I don't feel that I have time to breathe. And when I read other women's writings/thoughts about it -- I hate that they feel the same way.

There are statistics that say that 1 in 8 women will have breast cancer before they die.

1 in 8.

How outrageous is that? Count out 8 of your friends... one of them will have breast cancer before you have the opportunity to fully flesh out all the nuances of your lives together. And if you're black, you are more likely to die from breast cancer than women of any other race.

I am going to plan a party for the month of October. I don't know what the theme will be -- but it will have something to do with breast cancer. But it will also have something to do with living out your dreams too.

Something like...

My life matters and this is what I want to do with it.

Sep 11, 2008

Thinking about death and working from home

Today was the 7th anniversary of the September 11th attacks. I can honestly still feel the terror I felt that day... its something that shook me to my foundation. Though I didn't know anyone personally who died in those crashes... I felt the pain as deeply as if I did. Its difficult to describe, but I mourned for months... maybe even years... the senseless deaths of innocent people.

Last night I was dreading today... I had heard about all the street closings (there was a memorial service at the Pentagon today) and anticipated that morning rush hour was going to be horrible. I went to bed early -- like I do these days -- thinking that I would have to really get it together for the morning, if I wanted to get to work on time. (that's very important these days, ya know...)

So of course, my anxiety got the best of me and I spent the entire night running back and forth to the bathroom. I stopped counting by the 10th trip. I woke up feeling miserable but since that's not entirely unheard of right now, I figured I'd make it through.

nope.

Six more trips to the bathroom this morning... before 7 am. I had to accept that it was a bad night and it was starting to be a bad morning... and maybe, just maybe, working from home was the option to utilize. So, I did... and then I had to battle guilt with myself for another hour.

I do not understand why I feel so guilty for being sick. But I swear, I really do. I feel like my illness is just a big ol' imposition on every body's life. And before I get fussed at... I know I shouldn't feel that way but I do. As much as I try to encourage everyone around me to do a little something for someone else... I have so much difficulty asking or accepting help from others.

I am working on it.

I realized... slowly... that my neck, throat and ear were really achy. But I didn't think much of it because well... all of me aches (especially the part that's been propped on the "white throne" a lot lately). That is, until I started reading more about having cancer... and I read something that said that infections could delay your chemotherapy treatments. And delaying chemo is a very bad thing.

Seems that doctors (amazing people that they are) not only figure out what drugs to prescribe to you to kill all the yuckiness inside, they also put it on a schedule that is best for your body and best to eliminate the cancer. However, infections put a slow-down on the process because, they have to be taken care of prior to the chemotherapy. Long story short... I have 7 days until my next treatment... and anybody who has ever had an infection knows... its typically 10 days before the antibiotics run their course.

That's a problem.

So... is my ear, neck, throat pain an infection? Or my over-active (and sometimes hostile) imagination? Dunno. I called my oncologist (first mistake) and by the time the nurses called me back, they were under the impression that I had been to my primary care doctor and wanted to know what drugs he had prescribed.

I had no idea I could even do that -- call a different doctor for a different problem. (sounds silly now, but I didn't know that)

After talking with the very nice (if not very patient) nurse, she realized that I was self-diagnosing myself and I was freaking out because I didn't want anything to slow up or otherwise derail my chemo schedule. (I need Fred and friends to be gone... on time) She asked me to do one small thing.... take my temperature and call her back. She mentioned to me that one of my cancer drugs gives me flu-like symptoms -- which I know to be true because that's how I've been feeling since last Thursday -- so while it was important, I didn't need to alarm myself unnecessarily either.

I limped around the house looking for a thermometer only to realize that I couldn't read the darn thing. And its not because I don't know how... but I couldn't see the mercury line. (seems that lately my vision has been even less clear than normal and I don't see much very clearly anymore... but I ain't telling nobody that)

I laid back down and tried to figure out how to handle this latest minor dilemma. I have a neighbor (Hey Vera!!) who is also a DC Sistagirl and she made me swear that if I ever needed her that I had to call her (she is not a mind-reader, thank you).

Y'all know what happened right?

I didn't call.

But I had a lot of good reasons why.

My folks had just gone out for a moment and rather than upset Vera and make her think that I was dying or something... it could wait until someone came home and could help me.

Do not... throw rocks at the screen right now.

However, by the time my folks came back home, the Tylenol had kicked in and I wasn't in pain anymore... so I took a quick nap.

I have decided that tomorrow, when I go to work, I will find a new thermometer (one that I can read easily) and take my temperature then. If its high -- which I don't think it is -- then I'll walk around the corner to Dr. Kabatsi's office and see if he can write me a prescription for something.

Today's lesson is... skip hugging and kissing folks. Keep antibacterial gel with me always. And be much more careful who I sit near on the train. Folks are germy messes. Eww.

Before I came to a logical conclusion that I was being a big baby... I had more thoughts about my own death. I know that you don't want to hear this, but this is as honest as it gets for me. I think about dying every day now. And it is not the same as the way that I thought about death when I was battling depression. I don't think of it in the way of... say, planning my funeral... but more in terms of what if questions.

What if, after all this money and time and drama... I end up dying because of breast cancer? Will I still think its worth it? What if... I forget that one person who meant something to me in my life and I don't reach out to them and I die... will they understand, forgive me and believe that they were special in my life? What if... I don't die but I don't get better... and I end up a shriveled sick mess... am I strong enough to live a life without full use of my whole body?

and so forth. I know that we all end this life with death. And I know that dying doesn't have to be a sad or somber experience. But I know that knowing something logically is vastly different from trying to plan your 40th birthday celebration and wondering where you're going to be physically because cancer decided to stop at your house one day a few months prior. I do not feel that I'm going to die from this. Let me be clear. I honestly don't.

I'm saved. I have no doubt that when I die, Jesus and I will have a good long chat in heaven. I am not so worried about me -- but about the people I would leave behind. I guess I should say that my thoughts circle around making sure that everyone around me, everyone I know, everyone I love... KNOWS that I love them. Knows that I care for them. Knows that they are fully enmeshed in my heart.

Everyday, I think about people I haven't seen or talked to in years and wonder if its appropriate to call them up, or email them and just say hey... I wanted to let you know that you mean something to me.

One person who is on my heart... Ednita Tingle. :) Girl, I miss you. Just had to get that out there.

But honestly... it seems disingenuous to say that I have feelings and emotions for thousands of people I have crossed paths with in my life. But that is how I feel. I guess I'm assuming that people even think of me years later... that's sort of arrogant, huh?

If its arrogant, then that's my name today.

Go in peace all the families and concerned citizens who found today a little harder than yesterday to get through. Tomorrow, we all have another chance to make it better.

I love you. (and I'm not just saying that)

Sep 10, 2008

Good news and good news...

The first good news... my dad got the word that he can go back to work. This is fantastic news! A few months ago, we were in ICU at GW Hospital praying for him to make a full recovery from his aneurysm. Now... we're seeing those prayers come to fruition.

My daddy (yeah, I still call him that) is better. I am so excited that he can go back to work now. Gives me one more reason to be excited that this stuff I'm going through... is just temporary.

My second good news... is that I talked to my auntie tonight. And she made me feel better in a way that only an auntie can. :) Thank you auntie.... and I love you.

That's it... I'm going to bed.

Suzy is tired.

I am tired of not feeling like Nic

Being the nerd that I am... after finding out that I have cancer, I have made it my business to crawl over the Internet looking for information, support groups, whatever... anything to help me with this transition.

I have signed up for a bunch of e-newsletters... probably promising me far more than they can deliver but it makes for good reading when my mind starts wandering down the "I have cancer" hallway. Little tidbits of good reading, latest clinical trials or tips to battle nausea... just small notions that keep me on track.

Yesterday, I received a newsletter and there was a story about this lady who had breast cancer. But she was so special, so mystical, so superlative... that she never ever ever stopped doing anything that she did prior to being diagnosed.

(gas face)

For some hellish reason, I chose to read this article. I guess I was looking for some insight, some inspiration or something. A light basically... that would shine on my forehead and make it all better somehow.

Well...after reading about (let's call her Suzy Do It All)... and how she never skipped a damn beat, I wanted to beat myself in the head with a hammer.

She went to radiology while her daughter was in school. She took naps before her daughter came home from school. Then she continued to kick-box or jujitsu or whatever-the-fck-sort of aerobic ICANKICKYOURBUTT exercises she used to teach... every single day. She still cooked dinner for her family, helped her kids with their homework... and basically... Suzy was a gawd-damn STAR! Suzy just kept on keeping on... and no one (supposedly) ever really noticed that Suzy had breast cancer and was in treatment for it.

Woop-de-damn-do! Good-for-freakin'-her.

That story pissed me off in so many ways I can't begin to list them all.

Long before breast cancer darkened my door... depression entered my life. And I learned way back then... that trying to do it all, be it all, have it all... was a quick way to burn it all the hell up. So, I do what I can and that's it. I don't accept the label of super-woman, or anything close. In fact, I rebuke that evil... every chance I get.

I'm sure that the writer of this article felt that he/she was doing the world a favor by highlighting that cancer doesn't have to stop you in your tracks. Your life can go on.

Guess what? Cancer will stop you in your tracks. And that doesn't make you bad or a slacker or any way less than Suzy Do It All. It makes you human. And fragile and in need of tender loving care.

That article made me angry... and I'm still residually angry today because I realize that I have been trying (in my own way) to be Suzy Do It All too. But I can't. And the frustration that I feel is a sign that I cannot do everything.

I cannot answer every email. But I try. I cannot direct every DCSG through the mazes of figuring out how they receive their messages. But I try. I cannot coordinate every nuance of every moment of every work day. But I try. And I try and I come up short and then I cry because I'm frustrated.

I can't do it.

My name is Nicole Valencia... not Suzy Do It All. And for every story that someone shares with me about their super-human friend, cousin, grandma... a little piece of me withers away... because that might not be my experience. How can I express that feeling... without feeling like I'm giving up on who I am?

So far, out of all the advice that I've been given these past few weeks... one thing has stuck out for me.

Every cancer experience is unique. What worked for one person may or may not work for you. Allow yourself to be uniquely taken care of...

that is the best gift I can give to myself ... and to you.

I don't feel 100% like me most days. And I'm more frustrated than you can imagine because I don't feel like myself most days. But I am trying.

I don't know if I'll ever feel the way I used to, or if I will (once again) have to get comfy in new skin that is similar to the old and yet completely different.

I don't know. But I do know this... Suzy Do It All... don't live here. So, when you start to realize that I'm not returning your email pleas for help, don't take it personal... I'm just taking care of Nicole Valencia ... for a little while.

Sep 9, 2008

I am fricking... exhausted

I was warned. They tried to prepare me. But nothing can fully prepare you for the pure exhaustion that you feel after chemotherapy.

I am tired. Actually, I'm more than tired... I am slam tuckered out.

I have more energy today than yesterday... and tomorrow, I'll probably have more energy as well. And so forth.

I thought that I was a bit of a lazy girl... more bum than anything. But now that I find it darn near impossible to do anything I used to do, without wanting a nap... I realize that I was quite a busy little bee.

I am running into the problem that I don't "look" like I'm in chemotherapy so people are assuming that I'm stronger than I actually feel. The folks at work (some....) don't seem to fully embrace that I have cancer. And its not a regular ol' walk in the park sort of situation.

This morning I was running late... even in my regular world getting in to the office early is a challenge. Now, the challenge is turned up to 10+ but I do what I say I'm going to do. I get here late and basically get chastised because I came late and I left a little early yesterday.

I suck it up. Truthfully, what else can I do? Health insurance isn't cheap for the healthy... and I'm no longer in that camp. But honestly, if I wasn't so tired, I might have stormed off the job today and just said... EFF IT!

I have cancer. I say it to myself several times a day... mostly because I just can't believe it but also to ground myself in the notion that everything I used to do, is just not possible right now. Why?

I have cancer.

Seems basic, but I guess its really not.

I was afraid a few weeks back about losing my job because I couldn't keep up. Now... all I care deeply about is getting through chemotherapy and onto that surgery table. Everything ... and I mean everything... falls way after that.

My paternal grandmother died of cancer (not breast cancer) when I was a little girl. And right now, not a day goes by when I don't think of her and wonder if she felt the way I feel right now. Confused, amazed, disturbed, pissed off.... tired, guilty, afraid... and more. I'm sure she did, and I'm sure she felt it more acutely because she had a family of kids and a few grand kids that she probably wanted to spend more time with.

Today... I am battling more nausea than usual... and I'm a little cranky and irritable. But even with that....

I am happy to be alive... even with cancer. And I have nothing to regret for the day. :)

It is a good day... to be a sexy, bald chemo girl.

Sep 7, 2008

Food, food, glorious food

I started the day going to church with my mom. Neither of us have been in awhile but a friend, well, my brother from other parents, has a church that I have been promising him I would come and attend. We had a good time... and the word was good. :)

After church we stopped at the grocery store to pick up a few things... I wanted to get some things to help me through the week. Picked up some yogurt, some carnation instant breakfast, some plums (just wanted some fresh fruit) and a few other things to try.

We also bought a store rotisserie chicken. MAN... MAN... that was the best chicken I ever had. Well, not the very best, but it was good. I could taste it. It didn't taste like plastic or metal. WOOHOO!

I tried to eat a donut I bought from the store...two bites in I wanted to throw it out the window. But after a little chicken wing, it had some flavor. So I'm guessing that the rinsing before I try to eat is very important and making sure that what I eat has strong flavor will help too. I'm still concerned about my fluid intake, its too low right now but... hopefully I'll figure out a way to cancel that.

I read a comment from a cancer poster on Planet Cancer, that described in painful details the affects of being dehydrated and trying to get through chemo. Let's just say... it ain't sound too fun. So... if you see coupons for Ensure, or something like that... hook a sista up.

I fell asleep shortly after getting home... I think I'm going to have a really long day at work tomorrow. But I'm going to give it my best try. Napping is such a great thing. :)

Oh yeah... some vanilla yogurt... was delish-ous.

Right now, I'm having another drumstick (they are small...let me tell you)... and a little scoop of mashed 'taters. :) Yummy...

Food is good. Woohoo.

Sep 6, 2008

Banana flavored oatmeal... that's what's up.

My daddy just made me some banana flavored oatmeal. Normally... I think it should be used as glue or caulk. But today...

This is what's really good!

I can finally take my medicine.

Yay. Now, I guess I'll have some hot tea to wash it down. :)

...its the little things I tell you. The little itty bitty things that make it seem like... yeah, this will be okay.

Found this on Cancer.gov's website - taste issues

Taste Changes

Changes in how foods taste may be caused by radiation treatment, dental problems, or medicines. Cancer patients often complain of changes in their sense of taste when undergoing chemotherapy, in particular a bitter taste sensation. A sudden dislike for certain foods may occur. This may result in food avoidance, weight loss, and anorexia, which can greatly reduce the patients' quality of life. Some or all of the sense of taste may return, but it may be a year after treatment ends before the sense of taste is normal again. Drinking plenty of fluids, changing the types of foods eaten and adding spices or flavorings to food may help.

The following suggestions may help cancer patients manage changes in taste:

Rinse mouth with water before eating.
Try citrus fruits (oranges, tangerines, lemons, grapefruit) unless mouth sores are present.
Eat small meals and healthy snacks several times a day.
Eat meals when hungry rather than at set mealtimes.
Use plastic utensils if foods taste metallic.
Try favorite foods.
Eat with family and friends.
Have others prepare the meal.
Try new foods when feeling best.
Substitute poultry, fish, eggs, and cheese for red meat.
Find nonmeat, high- protein recipes in a vegetarian or Chinese cookbook.
Use sugar-free lemon drops, gum, or mints if there is a metallic or bitter taste in the mouth.
Add spices and sauces to foods.
Eat meat with something sweet, such as cranberry sauce, jelly, or applesauce.

Taking zinc sulfate tablets during radiation therapy to the head and neck may speed the return of normal taste after treatment.

Hipping you to the SCAR project

There is a photographer who is taking pictures of breast cancer survivors after their lumpectomies and/or mastectomies. I shared the link on this blog and I'm going to ask that if you can, take a look at some of these women.

The pictures are hard and graphic... I won't lie. But if you look at their faces, they tell the whole story. At any rate... if you happen to know anyone who fits the criteria of subjects he's looking for, please share this information with them. Thanks.

~Nic
=============
The SCAR Project. Portrait Subjects Needed.


Hello Everyone,

I have resumed shooting The SCAR Project. For those of you who don't know, "The SCAR Project: Surviving Cancer. Absolute Reality” is a series of large scale black and white portraits of young women surviving breast cancer. Here is a link to a temporary web gallery of some of the pictures I shot last year: http://www.davidjayphotography.com/TheSCARProject/. There will be a fund/awareness raising exhibition and possibly a book. A freelance director associated with Lifetime TV is about to begin a full length documentary on The SCAR Project.I do not choose the subjects for The SCAR Project. I shoot anyone who wants to participate. As The SCAR Project is an awareness raising campaign for the youngest segment of the female population, the only criteria is age. Eventually, I hope to shoot everyone who wants to participate. Last year the majority of the subjects were between 30 and 40. We are currently shooting 30 and under. If anyone is interested in participating, please visit the web at www.thescarproject.org and fill out the brief questionnaire. I look forward to hearing from you and taking your picture.

Sincerely,

David Jaywww.thescarproject.org

Woke up achy and hungry...

I had a grilled cheese sandwich last night that was pretty okay. I really enjoy grilled cheese sandwiches so I was really crossing my fingers that it wouldn't have that same strange taste to me. Now, it did taste a little different but it really wasn't horrible at all.

Yay me. One thing I know I can eat. :)

Yesterday after my injection, the boyfriend dropped me off at the nail salon where I treated myself to a much needed pedicure and a fill-in. Of course, as soon as I stepped out of the truck, I run into two people I know: Rachel Primo and Linda Henderson. It was a great and pleasant surprise.

After my services (Nancy at Golden Nails... very good)... I went over to my old job, National Retail Federation to connect with Linda and others at the office. You ever had a job that you really enjoyed, where the people were nice and you liked going to work every day? National Retail Federation was that for me. One bizarre incident led to my departure (which I won't share here...) but I still have good feelings for the organization. My old boss, Mallory, and I chatted for a long time and I tried to catch him up on the past few years. It was a good visit. So happy I saw my Linda-bird. :)

After that, I stopped around the corner to Sports Tavern (formerly Top Shelf) and had some pasta and that sad ginger ale and water... like I said, the pasta was good, but the drinks I just couldn't do it.

My plan was to hang out until about 7 so I could run over to Zanzibar to the Meetup party. I mean, my groups were there so I thought it would be cool if I joined the party. But I absolutely could not hang on. During the course of my meal, it became apparent that my visiting and pampering had absolutely drained me.

When the achiness comes on me... it starts in my hips. Then it travels to my knees... and up to my shoulders. By the time it reaches my shoulders, I need to be horizontal. Completely. Movements have to be limited and very choreographed.

*sigh*

So... I sent a message to Cozzie, my DCSG super-hero back up and let her know that I just couldn't make it. The hips were giving me the sign that it was time to shut it down. I hope they had a good time last night.

I was in the bed before 8pm.

I received a beautiful bouquet of roses from my cousins in California, Carolyn and John. (smooches!!) Thank you, I'll be calling you later on to say thanks. (I know you don't do blogging...lol) I can't wait until I'm able to come back that way and visit. I haven't seen the new house now that you've moved in. But I hear that its fabulous.

...all in all, including the injection, the blood drawing, the urine tests... the pampering and giggles with Nancy, the visit with Primo and Linda on the street, the visit with Margaret, Sandy, Peggy, Tracy, and Mallory... and the pasta bolognese from Sports Tavern...

it wasn't a bad day to be a sexy, bald chemo girl.

*wink*

Smooches, again to my baby for going with me to the hospital. He's such a darling... I won't trade him for a million dollars.

....we might have a tussle over 100 million though.

Jokes.

Sep 5, 2008

A quote I just found on Planet Cancer...

I have a prayer that made me feel better when I found it.

"may God bless the hearts of those who love and care for me, may he turn the hearts of those who don't. Or at least their ankles so I can recognize the bastards when they limp up on me."

So... now, my taste buds are gone

I woke up today thinking... hey not so horrible. I made it through the night and it was okay. I feel really sluggish and heavy for some reason... but I think I'll make it through the next few months.

And then I went out with the boyfriend for breakfast before my follow-up injection.

Nothing tasted good. Orange juice tasted like it had chalk in it. Pancakes... yuck. Even the freaking fruit bowl was gross.

Tried later in the day to eat something again... and again... nada. Ginger ale tasted like some cross between old plastic and metal. Tried some plain water... same taste. My spaghetti was cool... but I need liquids in my life.

I'm scouring the internet and asking everyone I know what to do. I want to lose 50 pounds... but I don't want it to be because of starvation or dehydration.

Help me.

Kind of a cross between a really wicked hangover and being in a car accident...

Not sure how many of you out there enjoy good social libations -- like myself -- but the reason why I'm awake at 6am (woke up at 345 for a potty break...) is because well... I'm not feeling so peppy right now.

I feel like I had one helluva night at a really good bar. Headachy, body achy... bleah. The other closest thing I can describe it as, is how your body feels after a car accident. (I'm talking about an accident where your car protected you from visible injury but you're definitely shook up) A bit achy and out of sorts.

Sep 4, 2008

Ooohhhh... now I see

Oh yeah... this is gonna be fun.

I am achy all over, like I have the flu or something. It is NOT a fun feeling right now. Wow.

Had to share... if y'all thought I was in-cog-negro before... I can tell you now, the day of and the day(s) following the chemo infusion... I'm going deep under cover.

owwww.... I hurt. But its tolerable pain so far.

1 chemo treatment down... few more to go

Well... today was interesting. I was a nervous wreck. Tried to hold it in, but it ended up leaking out my eyes when Theresa (my oncology nurse) started talking to me. She is an awesome little lady... I like her a lot.

Let's see... chemo is just as odd as it seems. Although my port incision hasn't completely healed it was usable... and since I was plugged up to the IV for hours... I'm glad that she used it.

I can't remember all the names of the drugs that were in those little bags... but one of 'em was red like cherry kool-aid. (whispering... it made my pee turn pink too...shhh)

There were a couple of anti-nausea drugs that went before the chemo drugs. Eh... no real big deal. I'm not sure what I expected but I thought it would be more exciting than it was.

The hardest part was that I got there when there were a lot of very sick, very elderly people there. When I was a kid, old people scared me. I thought they smelled funny and looked bad... and I couldn't understand them when they talked. Of course today they don't scare me... but some of those folks look so very sick that I got so sad... and a little scared too.

At any rate... I've been home now for about an hour or so.. and I'm starting to feel achy so I'm going to lay it down for a little while. Thanks for the good wishes (and DCSG, thanks for the laughs today... y'all are a real mess).

I'm not really looking forward to the next "infusion"... but... oh wait... forgot to tell you about the best part...

the really big needle that went into my belly at the end. Yeah, that was nice. Its going to put my ovaries to sleep so that I can preserve my fertility and finally give my mother some grand kids (so she can stop sweating me...dang.)

Other than that... it all was a breeze. Though I've been warned that its the day(s) after that I have to get prepared for. That's when the hellishness is supposed to arrive.

Yippee.

Good times.

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