Short Hairdo

I got my haircut today.  Ed went with me to the hair salon.  He was great support and felt right at home because they were playing 80’s music in the background.  Nothing better – especially to Ed – than getting your haircut to Lionel Ritchie.

No tears were shed.  I wasn’t even really nervous.  I think I have talked myself through it so much that I was fairly ready. It is short and darker.  All the highlights I paid for are gone.  Oh well.  But Ed and I both actually like it (and Gracie too).  It’s a nice change and a good transition to baldness…for me and for everyone else.  So without further ado, here are some before, during, and after pictures.  Enjoy.  Hope you like it.

Before

Oh Boy!

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Going with it

Ta Da!

 

 

 

Feeling Better

Today was a good day.  It was by far the best day I have had since treatment last week.   My head was much clearer than it has been recently and my energy level remained good until late afternoon.  With each day I am feeling better.  I am wondering if I will ever get back to 100% during these chemo cycles, or is the best I can hope for 90-95%?  I’m not sure.  The next few days or week should tell.

So tomorrow is a big day.  I am getting my haircut “pixie” short.  It will be the first real visible change, so get ready.  Ed is going with me.  We are making it a date!  I’ve got a couple of pictures I am taking in with me. I shared those with Gracie this evening and she helped me pick out a cut.  I will drop her off at school with long hair and pick her up with short hair.  We are all staying upbeat about it and looking forward to my new cut, even though it will be short-lived.  On a positive note, at least I will know what my hair is going to look like as it grows back in.  For those of you that are interested, we are planning to take before and after pictures and post them on the blog.  Knowing Ed, we might be streaming live video from the hair salon.  Who knows.  Anyway, get ready to tell me how fabulous it looks.  Ha.

I need to get working on the wig and scarf thing.  I’m totally bought into the scarf world, but I do need to learn how to tie them.  It seems relatively easy, but I bet there is a special technique.  The wig thing is still overwhelming.  I may or may not ever get there.  We shall see.  But either way, I need to move fast.  The clock is ticking and I will be bald soon.  Bald is beautiful, right?

Chemo Fog

On Friday I had to go in for a shot of Neulasta which is used to stimulate the growth of “healthy” white blood cells in the bone marrow.  We were planning to have Ed trained to deliver the shot over the remaining 5 treatments to save us a trip back to the doctor’s office, until we found out that particular shot costs $5,900 per shot.  Yikes.  Now we are second guessing that.  One mistake would cost a nice chunk of change.  Ironically on Friday, right before administering the shot, the nurse dropped the syringe on the floor.  Oops.  She had to go back to the pharmacy for a new one.  Hope she keeps her job because I really like her!  Anyway, as she is giving me the (new) shot she asks, “Have you taken your pain medicine?”   “No”, I reply.  “Well, you  might want to”.  “O.K.”  “This shot tends to cause severe bone pain.”  “Great”.  Guess we should have read the side effect information in more detail.  That was not what we expected for some reason.  So home we went and I took a pain pill.  I felt totally fine on Friday.  Maybe because of the pain medicine?

Saturday  I woke up feeling a little different.  All weekend I have been in a “chemo fog” and have felt like I have the flu.  With that said, I have still managed to get up every day , get dressed, have been outside both mornings, and have been somewhat productive at home (which most of you know is important to me).  I have not been in bed all day but have been in need of an afternoon nap.  It’s been a rough weekend but I am hanging in there and hoping for a good day tomorrow!

I can’t thank everyone enough for the meals, gifts, cards, texts, emails, calls, kind words, and prayers.  Ed and I are both overwhelmed with all of the love and support.  Thank you!

Chemo Day

Reporting live from the chemo room

Today I was back in the “chemo room.”  The day started a little earlier than yesterday.  Ed, Gracie, my mom and I piled into the car.  Ed dropped me and my mom off at the doctor’s office, and then off he went with Gracie to the zoo.

We checked in, were quickly called back to the lab room where they inserted the needle into my port, and off we went to secure my recliner in the chemo room.  The name of the nurse I was assigned to was Meredith.  Perfect.  The day was starting out good.  The room was pretty empty compared to yesterday.  Maybe 8 – 10 people total.  I was definitely the youngest person in the room today (yesterday there was one other woman pretty close to my age, give or take a few years).  They started by dripping in three bags (one-by-one) of pre-chemo anti-nausea medicines.  Once those were done, the chemo drugs followed:  one bag of  Taxotere and one bag of Carboplatin.  Both “cocktails” (chemo speak, I’m learning) were clear liquid.  When you look around the room you notice that other cocktails are different colors.  As you can imagine, people in the chemo room are being treated for all different types of cancers and have different chemo regiments.  Anyway, just something I noticed.  We arrived at 9:00 a.m. and were leaving the office around 1:00 p.m.  So, it was about a 4 hour appointment.  Like yesterday, the time went by fairly quickly.  Mom and I were well equipped with magazines, catalogs, and plenty to talk about.  We took a couple of pictures today we thought we would share.  No laughing aloud!  And then, our chauffeurs (Ed and Gracie) arrived to pick us up after a fun morning at the zoo followed by a lunch date.

Deluxe Accomodations

So, it was fairly uneventful actually.  Now we are all just waiting to see what side effects rear their ugly heads.  I guess I am hopeful I will make it through this treatment cycle fairly unscathed.  Time will tell.  I am tired tonight, but honestly, I think it is more from just being worn out than the chemo drugs.

Ed and I go back tomorrow for a 1:00 appointment.  It should be fairly brief  – we hope.  They are giving me a shot of Neulasta which is used to stimulate the growth of “healthy” white blood cells in the bone marrow.  White blood cells help the body to fight infection.

As always, thank you all for your support!  I can’t say it enough really.  We are just so overwhelmed with the support.  We appreciate every single bit!

Day One of Treatment

Doesn't this look like fun?

I made it through the first day of treatment!  We were at the doctor’s office for about 3 1/2 hours.  It started with a quick weigh in, blood work ( they put the needle in the port for the treatment and took the blood from there), a visit with the oncologist, and then off to the chemo room.  Ed went with me today.  Let’s start with a description of the chemo room.  Before today, I had physically seen it a couple of times on previous visits.  It’s a fairly large room with a nurses station in the middle.  There are recliners lined up around the walls of the room.  There are windows around the perimeter of the room, a couple of flat screen TVs, and free WiFi.  They provide blankets and pillows if you want them.  What else can you ask for, right?  Ed and I went equipped with magazines, books, our i-phones, music, movies, snacks…more than we could do in the amount of time we were there.  But we were ready.  Time went by relatively quickly.  It was a pretty full room with men and women of all ages.  There were people like me that were there for their first treatment.  There were people that looked good and people that didn’t.  We watched a woman throw up in a garbage can and then work her way through at least three popsicles one-after-another.  Oh Lord, please don’t let that be me!  We had an older woman three recliners down snoring loudly.  It was pretty funny actually.  Early on in the process, I was disappointed to hear that there weren’t private suites.  But honestly, it’s not all that bad and makes for good people watching.  On a another note, I am only allowed guests for the first week of treatment.  After this first treatment I will be on my own.  At first I was really bothered by that, but I am not too worried anymore.  I know I will go in with a lot to do, and who knows, I may even get a nap in.

So back to the treatment:  you are assigned a nurse when you enter the chemo room.  Jill introduced herself, made sure I was comfortable, and then hooked me up with a bag of Herceptin.  Herceptin is not chemo, but it is a part of my chemotherapy regiment.  I will actually continue to be treated with Herceptin beyond the 6 chemo treatments (for a full year from today).  Simplified, my cancer tested positive for a particular protein.  Herceptin is an antibody that has proven to be effective against tumors that are positive for this protein positive breast cancer.

Funny story:  When we were done, we got in the car, immediately rolled down the windows and opened up the sun roof.  It was such a beautiful day!  Ed backed up the car and then headed for the exit.  The wind picked up and from behind the driver-side visor, the parking ticket went flying by my face and out my window.  Ed stopped the car and before it was completely in park, I opened my door, jumped out, and went running for the ticket.  I could see it in sight but all of the sudden the wind picked up again and the ticket went flying further away.  I was finally able to catch up to it because it got stuck in a bush.  Proud of my accomplishment, I turned around and headed back to the car.  My husband was still safely secured behind his seat belt.  I am fortunate that there were no cars around and hopefully limited witnesses.

Tomorrow I go back for another three hours of treatment, where I will get the actual chemo drugs.  Yuck.  It sounds like they will start by dripping in some pre-chemo meds (like anti-nausea medicine) and then they will start the chemo.  My mom is in town and will be going with me this time.  Ed will be taking care of Gracie.  It will be good daddy-daughter time.

How am I feeling?  Well, the port area is still a little sore but continues to heal.  I am a little tired, but that’s nothing new this time of night.   So I would say, so far so good.  We will see what tomorrow brings.  One day at a time.

Thanks for all of the love, kind words, and support.  We can’t thank you enough!

Port Placement

This is what the port looks like.

The port is in.  This afternoon I had the port placed in my chest.  I have not been looking forward to it, but had to do it, and see it as the start of the journey in beating this cancer.  I have been assured a number of times that I will be happy I chose to have a port versus having them have to administer treatments through an IV each and every time.  Plus, they can do all blood work from the port too.  I get the feeling I will have blood work every time I am in that doctor’s office (which will be a lot).

Wonder what the port looks like?  It’s a small device, actually about the size of a quarter, which is used to carry medicine into the bloodstream.  The port is shaped like a triangle and is placed under the skin on your chest.  So, it’s all underneath the skin.  It’s primarily plastic but does have a little bit of titanium on it.  Great.  They tell me I will not sound off the alarm at the airport, but patients have reported that their ports have set off alarms at some retail stores.  They gave me a card to put in my wallet  to show the type of port I have if necessary.  Lovely.  Gracie will love that!  “Mommy you are setting off the alarm again!”

The procedure today was actually pretty painless thanks to the “happy” anesthesia that they gave me.  I was completely awake and coherent, just very relaxed.  While the actual procedure lasted about 45 minutes, with prep and instructions we were there for 2 hours.  It was done at the doctor’s office vs. the hospital.  Sounds like it will be sore for a few days and I will bruise – but not a big deal in the whole scheme of things.

Tomorrow we have the day off i.e. no doctors appointments.  Yippee!  Wednesday is when treatment will actually start and will be a 3 hour appointment.  Then we are back in on Thursday for another 3 hours.  For the first treatment cycle, they divide it up into two days.  Going forward, for the five remaining treatment cycles, they will combine it all into one visit.  And then on Friday I have a follow-up appointment for a shot of Neulasta – which is a medicine given post chemo to stimulate the growth of “healthy” white blood cells.  It’s going to be a long week, but we are happy to get this show on the road and I am personally anxious to see what the side effects are going to look like for me.

Ed did a little better on round 2 with the waiting room window

On another note, Ed and I did tell Gracie yesterday about “mommy’s boo boo”.  I have to say it was tougher than I thought it would be.   I did shed tears (and even more after she was in bed), but Ed and Gracie held it together.  I did some research before we talked to her and also had the help of a book that a friend gave us titled “Mom and the Polka-Dot Boo-Boo“.  It is absolutely perfect for a 4 year old and is a very gentle story explaining breast cancer to a young child.  It was written by a mom and illustrated by a child.  It’s adorable and has been and will be very helpful resource or tool in communicating this mess to Gracie.  As any 4 year old, she was very inquisitive.  Her biggest worry seemed to be around mommy losing her hair.  So we talked about scarf and hat shopping!  We read the book a number of times last night and she wanted me to read it to her again this morning.  When she woke up this a.m., she ran to our room and crawled into bed.  The first thing she said to me was “remember that you have a polka-dot boo-boo.”  Sad, but too cute.  She is clearly still processing it and will for days or weeks or months to come.  But, kids are resilient.  I know she will be fine and a huge helper to both me and Ed.  She has already told me she is going to make me breakfast in bed when I am too tired to get up.  Now that’s what I am talking about!

Ed and I continue to be overwhelmed with the outpouring of support.  Thank you, thank you, thank you!  I personally enjoy reading all of the comments on the web site, emails, texts, and voice mails.  When I am having a bad day or just a bad moment, they really do lift me up.  So for that, I thank you!