Friday, December 31, 2010

goodbye 2010

i kind of hate blaming a year, or thinking that things will be different because of a calendar. each day is a day to make it ours. nonetheless the new year is the ultmate time marker. and symbol of new hopes.
Tomorrow i write out my year goals, with my dear friend, in our matching wizard of oz journals, eating black eyed peas & greens, just like we did last year. I feel a bit more tentative and anxious. Last year i had strong motivatins, clear goals, wishes, plans. And the first part of the year seemed to be going as planned. And then i got breast cancer. not in the plan. it feels a bit scarier now. part of me has that - fuck last year, THIS year will rule, i'm gonna kick ass and then some to make up for it - feeling. another part of me has that - what's the point of planning when you have no control over what the eff happens in life - feeling. scary. everything is harder than it used to be. motivation & hope are a littl bit harder to find.

I am waiting till the moment to see what comes out onto my paper - Guess which one will probably win :)

update: i had my replacement surgery Dec 14th, it's been a bit rough. about 5 days after i started a fever and one side had several red patches. Got new strong antibiotics. Seemed to feel better after a couple of days, finshed the antibiotics. Then again a couple a days later one area got really red again and painful. So now i'm on antibiotics again. I am feeling a bit better just discouraged and reall really tired of not feeling great.
In other news, my hair is growing pretty nicely - i am so over scarves i'm not wearing them anymore, but it's too short for me to just wear out so i'm wearing a cute hat these days. Oh an my eyebrows are back already.

Saturday, December 25, 2010

...she never stumbles

i feel like on this day i should post about how grateful i am for how far i've come and all the blessings i have, and i really do feel that, truly i do.  but i feel stuck in a bit of a self pity rut of how hard everything is. I don't enjoy it, it's not my style really. but here i sit, thinking how lucky everyone else is and feeling lacking in things, coping skills, easy buttons, glitter...

welp, i will do something that always reminds me of who i am, and how i reallyfeel, listen to Dylan. It's like he gets me to just be in the exact moment of the moment  - that's all we have. It's like getting to the roots of me. it is, a Dylan album was the first album i ever heard in my life.

so i give you all this song to hear - i just listened to it about 8 times in a row and remembered who i am & i feel a little more adjusted :)  "she's got everything she needs she's an artist she don't look back..."

PS i promise in a day or two i will give a physical update xxxxxooo - n

Monday, December 6, 2010

since we are on the subject of boobs

I can honestly say that for the majority of my life i have not given much thought to boob size & it's impact or effect on things, except in maybe a humorous manner. Or a Dolly Parton reference. I certainly never desired a boob increse to improve my life in anyway, my winning personality and happy smile are enough right?
hmmmmm, where the hell have i been??? 

Example 1:
when i first started getting my boob expanders filled, i asked my darling plastic surgeon how many times he thought i should come in for expansions....his answer "How many houses to you want to sell?" - Good Point! I may end up writing a blog post one day titled "How Breast Cancer Improved my Career" I LOVE my plastic surgeon by the way.

Example 2:
One day after an expansion appointment, i asked my 12 year old daughter what she thought of the size, and should i get more...her answer "they look great of course you should get more - you will just have to walk out the door and you will get a boyfriend!" - well then, clearly i could have made my life easier YEARS ago  - methinks i may have to work on that strategy with her a little....

Friday, December 3, 2010

been a while....need more glitter

wow, so it's been a month ish that i've written here. I guess it's been a pretty rough month and i didn't feel like whine writing. sometimes it helps but sometimes it gets on my own nerves to hear me.

it's been a rough month for a number of reasons. i think a lot has to do emotionaly with a coming down of sorts from the drama of surgury & chemo. now it's past, life is getting back to normal, except it's not.

I started Tamoxifen - that could have a lot to do with it. it can cause emotional shit & depression. I thought i was weepy before?? it sucks

I've finished getting the expanders expanded, but the last three were super painful & uncomfortable, shockingly so. No as I await surgery the pain is gone but they are still ridic uncomfortable. I don't know how to dress even sometimes.

Finances have been a strain - in real estate you have to be always working a few months ahead to keep it steady, screeching to a halt this summer is still affecting me. Working my ass off now. Loving it but disheartening for earnings not to be reliable like a job job

I want my head hear to be more normal, it is growing back tho, but i can see how slow it's gonna be, i'm ready for the Ellen do.
And this today, i noticed that my eybrows are now falling out. 6 weeks since my last chemo!!!???  seems unfair. I'm patching together normalness, this feels like a set back.

ok purged. done. I am not great at wallowing. don't worry, i have cried a ton. I just know that if i get too caught up in the sad i won't move forward somewhere. I have to work, i have to be a good mom, i have to make money and i like those things, so i don't want to mess them up.
I will go to Sephora this weekend and ask a girl or guy there to help, and i will purchase some excellent brow product no matter how much it costs.  Maybe i need a new glitter eyeliner to remind me?

PS - my replacemnt surgery is December 14th - for you lay people - that's new boob surgery. yahooooooo

Saturday, November 13, 2010

The Glitter Dropz - my 2010 Komen team

Last year i signed up for the Komen Race for the cure because breast cancer had just affected my family for the first time. My kids step mom, yes my ex husband's wife, was diagnosed in october 2009, she's way too young. So it was important to me, and important for the kids.
lalala, months go buy, my story starts....when i thought about the 2010 race, it seemed so far away, i didn't know at all what shape or stage i'd be in. Then i had innocent ideas that i'd actually be well enough to run! eventually i figured out it fell at quite a good time, about 3 weeks after my last chemo and well after the big surgery. Regardless i signed up and made a team - my daughter came up withe the name the Glitter Dropz , people signed up.
A sweet lady Shelley who i hardly know, volunteered to donate team shirts and design & print our team name! Aren't they awesome! Shelley is the mom of a schoolmate of my kids, & my neighbor/team member Kristen helped facilitate this, i'm so grateful!

Beth, the kids & I decided to get a room at the Westin at the Domain for kicks, and to save the time and stress of driving & parking in the morning. That was a blast! we roamed around the Domain & had dinner at Kona Grill.

The gang met us in the lobby in the morning and we headed en masse to the race area, lots of booths to look at, and freebies to grab. It was kind of overwhelming. It was kind of sobering to see so many survivors.

We wrote who we were walking in honor of to pin to our backs.

My godson's was rad

My son's broke my heart

I loved the cheering, i got some random hugs, i felt my sisters with me

My mom & grandma joined us at the end!

Four Generations!

I was amazed at how hard 3 miles was - not thrilled with new found wimpiness

Tito's vodka party at Daily Grill after

got to meet a friend i have known on Twitter for ages - Brady! and his cute fam.

my daughter & brady's daughter!

my son & my god son - not afraid to wear pink

yeah,  5k, pooped
 part of me wants to delve into the emotional part of this day, part of me just wants this to be a little recap photo admiring post. it was emotional at times, little snippets, made eyes tear up. sometimes it was stressfull with the crowds and the team wrangling, like being a hostess. It was a lot of FUN. but really, being in the huge group of supporters & survivors put things in perspective. It was good to get away from the it's all about me and my fight syndrome. I was just a survivor like all the others. And i'm not saying that to minimize anything or trivialize. It's just true. So a huge giant hand High Fiving everyone. We are all amazing. I'm proud of all of us

Thursday, November 4, 2010

it'll never be the same again

"it'll never be the same again" - when this line of thought came into my head this morning it had a dramatic & emotional meaning and impact on me, which i will elaborate on in a min. I fear for the people who see me on my walks when this shit happens. walking crying scarf headed lady

but first - as i thought more on it in my attempts to calm myself and see clearly, i realized that that statement is true throughout life...
you graduate from highschool - it'll never be the same
you graduate college - it'll never be the same
you have a baby - it'll NEVER be the same
you get married - it'll never be the same
you get divorce - it'll never be the same
you get your heart broken - it'll never be the same
you kid's grow up - it'll never be the same
your parents health change - it'll never be the same
a loved one dies -it'll never be the same
you get it....we adjust to the new normal (greatest concept ever) - it's harder with some than others obv.

of course today, in my head, it's about cancer.
on my walk, on my ipod i was listening to the song The Blinding Crash by Li'l Cap'n Travis.
the song is about innocent simple days of love, they have such a way with lyrics to envoke that feeling
and i know it'll never be the same anyway, love n stuff changes as you grow older, it's not
but right now, with my body & my life  & my brain so significanly altered, the concept of simplicity couldn't be further from my grasp - it feels like mourning....

...excerpt from Blinding Crash by Li'l Cap'n Travis

"wanna hold you forever baby

wanna feel you forever baby

sipping straws together baby

blinding crash lasts forever baby

blinding crash lasts forever baby

its codler & colder without you baby

don't cry it ain't nothing but a thing

keep my picture in your jeans

keep your jeans at the foot of the bed

keep good thoughts in your head

keep holding on for the end

when we rock n roll it over again"

Tuesday, October 26, 2010

awwwwww pink out!

My son is in 3rd grade. He goes to a really great school. Well for Breast Cancer awareness month one of the 3rd grade classes initiated a Pink Out day. October 22 they encouraged the entire school to wear pink in support. Cute kid made posters were all over the school.
I found out that as a result, Gabe decided to tell his class that his mom had breast cancer. So brave he is. it was a big deal to him. One friend asked him if he was sad and his answer was yes.
I emailed the parents to let them know that i was ok, and to give them a heads up for any conversations that may arise from the new info.
Anyway - on Pink Out day, Gabe was determined to wear a pink tee shirt, as he tried all mine on, and decided on my Hanes hope tee designed by melina kankaredes that i won online, he did question - do i look too girly? but in the end he said - I don't care what people think. I said real men wear pink.

I went to visit the school that day - the sight of all the little bodies clad in pink walking down the hall made me emotional.  Gabe's best friend Peyton, was very proud to point out every PINK decoration, poster, balloon, so so cute.

Saturday, October 23, 2010

the final chemo!

I had my last chemo session on October 12th, that date!! It seemed so far away this SUMMER when i got the chemo schedge. Then it came so fast. Weird how life still happens in the midst of impossible-ness.

I have to say this first, I feel VERY VERY lucky that my protocol, my "type", my situation, called for only 4 chemo infusions, and that those infusions conisted of a chemo cocktail that is not as harsh and debilitating as many many others. It still is crappy, but not as crappy as it could be. for that i am grateful

So....for this milestone, i had my "full moon girls", Cory & Beth with me. They are special and tho i may see one or the other,or they may see each other periodically, getting the 3 of us at one time is epic power. So it had to be. Helped that Cory brought killer vegan lunch from a new food trailer called Concious Cravings.

Full Moon Sisters
I had heard about the tradition of confettin & ringing the bell on your last day, but by the time i was done, it was super empty and i was feeling self concious about making a to do.  But i had one of those magic moments that only happens in the cancer club. I spotted a woman there who was visitng another patient, she looked familiar, i had seen her at a BCRC event months before and had the same feeling. But this time i got it, i used to know her, our 12 year olds had been in pre-school together. I'd been to her house. I remembered that she had fought this battle way back. I couldn't remember her name. She had short hair, she knew all the nurses, i wondered if she was back in. When she walked by i said HEY, i KNOW you! remmeber, ect... she did. She is back in, stage 4 lifer.

We had a nourishing catch up, you people tell me i'm inpiring, meet her, she made me so happy with her spirit. She was a like a glowy wood sprite, magical, cute.

anywayssss, she wouldn't hear of no confetti, so she made it happen, i rang the bell, i went home.

weird emotions, happy to be done with that, beyond happy. Guilty it was comparitavely easy. Sad to not be going anymore. I know, that's weird, but it's there. Dread as usual with how i knew i was going to feel.
fear in a way, that now, well in a few weeks, i can't "use" chemo, i have to become accountable, responible for my health, efficient with my time, present with my children, stuff i long for, but stuff i'm not as used to. I can't blame a sugar extravaganza on chemo cravings, I can't blame flaky on chemo brain, you get the idea.

So now, i'm still exhausted to the max, what's different is knowing that it's over. knowing that 3 weeks from October 12th will be like new territory, each day after 3 weeks will be a step towards feeling normal. It makes me want to over achieve.  But i was reminded that chemo can stay in your body for up to a year, so i guess i do have a while....i'll try to chill

So...what now. Well. now it's time to focus on the boobs. I still need to go for a few more expansions. Then in December i will have my replacement surgury. Where the plasitc surgeon will remove these horrible uncomfortable yucky expanders and place lovely silicon implants. i can't wait. I have heard this surgury is a piece o cake in comparison. so yay.

I will start my 5 years of Tamoxifen in a week. Weird to think of taking something for 5 years. I am trying not to read too much about side affects. It is what it is. I have to deal.

I will start excercising more, little by little, i'm joining a 12 week program at the Y through livestrong. I need more yoga. I would like to lose the weight i gained during chemo.

appointments and follow ups and scans, i guess they will be part of my life.

Oh yeah, and my hair!! i am so ready for that.

Friday, October 15, 2010

the love bomb dropped - thank you

I had never heard of before yesterday.  But when i emerged from a 1.5 hour accupuncture appointment and looked at my blackberry as usual, i thought my eyes were fuzzy when i saw 164 emails on one of my accounts. I glanced and saw they were all comments on this blog. what?
when i got home i started to figure it out.  then i spent about the next 2 hours reading all the comments....and they kept coming.
What can i say! this amazingly happened on a day where i was too chemo sick to do it was such a blessing, such a way to be uplifted, and so nice that i was clear from work or parenting so i could fully dive in to the love and support that was poured on me.

I wish i could reply to every single one of you, i mean, everyone!
I can't believe this exists, i can't believe people really take the time to do this for people. I imagine this love just spreading and exploding all over the universe and finidng those that need it, it all swirls around and lands in the right places, and comes back to those who give. 

These comment have affected me so much!
Some of course made me cry
Some made me feel strong powerful & capable
Some humbled me
Some made me really laugh out loud (i took my phone on a short stroll & freaked out a neighbor when laughed at one particular comment)
Some people wrote poems
Some prayers
Some people related
Some reminded me of who i am
Some gave me hope
Some inspired me
All made me feel good
All were thoughtful and perfect
I pretty much felt the full 360 degrees of emotions, which is a very affirming feeling. That's life.

i will always tout the value of this kind of support during something like this. it takes all kinds, not just the traditional hands on. This kind of thing has helped me immensely

the comments are still coming...
so to ALL that dropped the love bomb and all that take the time to comment, to me or anyone that needs it - i thank you!


Saturday, October 9, 2010

crappy chemo side effect of the day

i guess you could post a post a day about each crappy side effect, and i suppose different chemo patients would have varying degrees of crapiness.  Sometimes we all feel we can relate to each other, but sometimes we notice how each experience is unique. 
but today, what is bugging me the most is the crying, like pms hormone to the MAX. i can't stop. it's ridic. everything makes me cry:
this episode of chopped
my 12 year old's trials & tribulations, successes & failures
my 9 year olds cute exhaustion that only comes from a good time
happy pretty people walking around town
my friends 1 year old son at the children's museum, innocent smile
the fact that i'm happy
the fact that i'm not done yet
my low GI cookbook (see, it's not your average cry fest)
my cute daddy
a poem
the past
the future
my tiredness
my reflection
the love

Friday, October 8, 2010

you never know

Sometimes when i go about my day, grocery store, coffee shop, walk in my neighborhood, with my gypsy head scarf look,  i am convinced of course that people look at me. They probably are, i don't blame them. But i am always convinced i know what they are thinking.
The teenage girls look with a bit of fear, and distance, the beautiful neighorhood moms out running look with pity and glad it's not me thoughts, maybe a bit of wow she's so brave thrown in. The men driving by, also sympathy, tho more detatched than the women.
but one day, a man drove by in my neighborhood when i was walking, and he smiled at me, and i had a sudden epiphany, it's far more likely that the teenagers are looking at me thinking, yeah, that was my mom last year, the women are thinking, i remember when so & so lost her hair, the men may be remembering when they supported their wife 5 years prior, and thought she was still beautiful with no hair.
That's sad that that is so likely, but it's also comforting.  It's helped me to think this way, it makes me see myself as stronger, as a person to inspire,  not as a spectacle, an object.

ps. i realize that almost every blog post i write, has two feelings about something, a sad, scared, neg side, and an opposite counter, is that because i'm a crazy gemini? or is that the nature of trauma and the blessings. Oh yeah, it's both

Wednesday, October 6, 2010

Chemo Round #3

wow, i just realized i never posted about this round, it was 2 weeks ago. I guess cos really it was in some ways uneventful, and in many ways so much worse than round 2. it really kinda wore me down.
let's see...
In between 2 & 3, my white blood count got really low, as expected, but they were worried and put me on atibiotic. For some reason this put in a funk, and it also meant i couldn't get expanded on my usual day, delay delay delay, hard to accept.
Sooooo, i went for expansion the day after Chemo #3, my white blood cells were up again enough, enough to not need Neulasta shot again (thank goodness)  - but not long after the expansion appointment i started to feel so sick, bed ridden sick, i got a fever that reached 102.  Nurses said probably was inflamation due to the expanding, and to watch to make sure i didn't get an ifection in the chest area. I didn't. I stayed in bed and watched 3 movies in a row, fever went down, i didn't puke.  but yeah, felt pretty bad till about sunday. I missed attending a closing. Luckily i have wonderful understanding clients. but i had a closing! yay.
oh, and my AC was broken, for some reason i was ok with it till about thursday. My amazing next door neighbor took matters into her hands and called a highly reccomended and "cheap" AC guy. and offered to pay unless it was really huge. Not only was it not huge, but they guy only charged $50, he said it was "his part". The kindess of him, my neighbor, the universe - again makes my knees week. It makes me so emotional. and grateful.

Since then...well, good. My funk lifted mostly, my energy returned mostly. I'm still more tired, deep tired, than i've ever known. I'm emotional, on edge, sometimes peaceful, tired of it, happy it's almost over. Feeling like isolating somewhat, scared of germs. roller coastery. irritated. empowered. scared. yep, all of the above.

Just had the 2 week post chemo blood test results yeterday, white blood low, but no antibiotic this time. Red blood up a bit. Don't hug me if you see me. I feel it. exhaustion is in the bones. And i hate worrying about crowds and germs. I just flaked on recording a video for clear channel for race for the cure because i'm too tired & don't want to be around so many peeps. hate flaking.

I had an appointment with the amazing Dr. Luepnitz (nutritional oncologist)  and feel confident that his work will really help my body strengthen & recover from the ravages of chemo as well as add to my arsenal of remaining cancer free for life.

I'm dreading round #4 but i know it will be over so trying not to dwell....

Sunday, October 3, 2010

music is me

now that the drama of surgery & recovery are past, and chemo is firmly embeded in all my cells & organs, i find myself hard to define.
I don't even know if i know what that means. but this is what if feels like:
I go to usual places, and i feel awkward and alien. I have a head scarf on, tons of make-up. I know i'm pretty but i feel unusual, something to look at. At the grocery store i only feel "normal" when i think of myself as someone other than the nanette i am used to. At school pick up, i hover further down the street. I don't feel like hanging out so much in places i used to feel comfortable.  I rather go to unfamiliar places, because then i am anonymous random person
I'm not ashamed or embarassed about looks, i just don't feel like me.
I don't react to things the same way. I don't see things the same.
I'm not really sad, or depressed, i just don't feel like me
I don't find that nanette i recognize, that impy cute girl with long braids that always got what i wanted, the pink haired daring teenager that lived for shows, that superawesome mom of babes who was so instinctive, that badass single mom who tried to deal with it all.

but i did discover that the only time i truly feel like me, is when i'm listening to rock n roll, on my ipod, in my car. it's the only time i'm not in my head, i'm just being. being me. Music IS me

I know that going through this has changed me completely, one day the chemo will be out of my system, my scars will fade, i'll run without getting out of breath, (i'll run!) and normalcy will ensue, but i never will be the same. And the reason i'm not sad, is that i know i will be better.
but thank god for rock n roll

Thursday, September 23, 2010

Mamma Jamma Ride coming up

So i've been aware of the aweseome Mamma Jamma ride against breast cancer coming up this weekend, the 25th - but not being a bike rider for some reason i was feeling kinda detatched from the details and involvement. But today i got an email from my friend Chris Pellegrino, telling me he was riding for me! I'm really touched. Not only is Chris a good friend, he is also one of the owners of Austin Fine Properties the Real Estate company i work for. It feels so good to be so fully supported by them in my personal life as well as proffessional . 
One thing that is awesome about this event is that it is raising money for 10 different LOCAL non profits including two of my faves that are close to my heart - The Breast Cancer Resource Center & Wonders & Worries - read about Wonders & Worries and what they mean to me HERE
So if you have been hearing the buzz about Mamma Jamma ride and looking for a person or reason to donate, check out Chris's personal page below and donate :))  and maybe train for next year!

Chris' Mamma Jamma ride!

Sunday, September 12, 2010

Look Good...Feel Better = feel awesome

the large bag the goodies came in
of all  the many wonderful services & progams for those undergoing treatment for cancer, this one could possibly this make-up junkie's absolute fave.

The American Cancer Society offers their Look Good...Feel Better to help women learn to apply make-up to look better during treatment. As well as offer tips & advice for hygienic safe practices while being compromised immune wise, and BEST OF ALL provide the survivors with a chock full o nuts bag of free make-up & products. So amazing.

Some things i learned:
Your skin can get drier, so use gentle cleansers and facial and body moisturizers for dry skin.
How to apply under eye concealer more effectively for dark circles as a result of fatigue & lack of sleep
How to blend and use more eyeshadow than I usually use to really accentuate eyes - this is important when you lose your hair and wear scarves bring more focus to eyes. i amd LOVING this part. I usually just put on eyeliner, glittery of course, and light mascara.
Same with more blush, you can get pretty pale undergoing chemo
Don't get manicures, any cuts from cutting cuticles can put you more at risk for infection. I am sad about this, i am manicure obsessed and get them regularly. But i learned to make sure to really use cuticle oil a lot to keep them from drying out. and you can push them back with cuticle pusher back sticks, and wear clear polish so Drs can check your nail bed color for signs of anything.
We learned some make-up brush cleaning tips.
Eyebrow filling techniques for thinning or complete eyebrow loss

Our "teacher" was Matilda, she is a stylist & make-up artist at Ulta and has gone through specific training to be able to offer this program. She knew a lot about chemo & it's side effects. She was very knowledgeable about the situation specific make-up & beauty needs. She explained in great detail about the hygiene needs. And she was cute as all get out.

me & Matilda

As for the make-up bag, i'm amazed at all the goods inside, i didn't get a picture of it all, but there was TONS, and good brands too! Chanel, aveda, Estee Lauder, Bobbi Brown among others.
I got cleanser, moisturizer, 3 tubes of eye cream, two tubes of body lotion, concealer, 2 eyeshadows, eyeliner, brow pencil, mascara, foundation, powder, 3 lipstics, blush,  I'm in love with it all.

just some of the goodies

Lipstick is my fave make-up
And even though i'm still not used to the time it takes to do it all in the mornings, i really am having a blast pampering myself with it all and playing and i really do feel pretty.

I hope that every woman with any type of cancer takes advantage of this program. Please if you are reading this and you have a friend, pass the info on, i think it's so very important to have that girly/womany/pretty feeling when you are dealing with things that are doing their damndest to take that away from you.

Tuesday, September 7, 2010

Chemo Round 2

I was late to this appointment because 1. i am not used to putting on total make-up, it um...takes longer & 2. i didn't give myself scarf practice time, this was day after shave day, i had a mini fit of panic, but got it in the end.

My darling friend Laurie who braved this trail just before me, met me there to hang for a while. We share the same oncologist, you should have seen his face when he walked in the room and saw us both there. he was all "what???" her support has meant the world to me.  Laurie also brought me a latte - joy.

Port access was easier, i didn't have to get med explanation, all in all uneventful and cozy. it's odd how i  sort of look forward to it.

Beth came to visit too

I lounged out and read magazines

One thing that was different, i got less of the steroid, because i suffered from really bad stomach pains last time, sort of acidy.

As a result of this i think, i felt much sicker sooner. Night of day two, morning of day three were bad. I conveniently remembered the 1 million anti nausea meds i had and that miraculously did the trick on thursday morning. So i was able to get to my beloved accupuncture appointment with Dr. He

Another interesting point, is that altho my white blood count was low at 2 weeks as it was supposed to be, it had climbed high enough by the infusion day that i did not need the shot of Neulasta which i was dreading.

I am wondering if it is the accupuncture & chinese herbs that are helping that. I also wonder if they can be attributed to my quick recoveries. Who knows. I just know that after that bad 24 hours i really only felt blah-ish and super tired.  I had a low point on saturday night again. but i blame that on the return of the offspring - hehehe. they do wear me out more than if i were alone.

Now it's tuesday as i write this and i have been working, both showing houses and on the computer, running errands, talking small walks doing yoga at home, and attempting pupusa making with my brother

 And i'm half way there....

Monday, September 6, 2010

the buzz

so as i posted just over a week ago, i noticed the beginnings of the hair falling out, it was depressing.
it was pretty slow at first, handleable, but i was scared to wash it, and blow dry it. wanting to "preserve" it as long as possible.
I had things to do, a party, a social media event - the awseome BlogathonATX - an Open House at a listing, shopping, i wasn't entirely ready, i swear i used enough hairspray to kind of shellac my hair in place. That makes me laugh now.
But over last weekend it actually got to be a pain in the ass and also somewhat alarming. Hair was everywhere - so i designated Monday August 30th as Head Shaving Day.

waiting for the clippers

My best friend Elizabeth is also my hairdresser, she is also as close as a sister, i wouldn't have anyone else do this. (see her "pretty handiwork in this post )

so, kinda like the wig post, this wasn't really as sillyfun as i naively hoped. I had a fantasy about initially shaving it for pics into the "chelsea" cut of old skool girl skinheads, a hairdo i wanted soooo bad when i was 13 and living in London, my mother would NEVER let me do it - i wanted a re-do ;)
But once she started it was insanely hard, i couldn't look in the mirrior and tears were streaming, needless to say a majority of the pics are not being published. 

having the back shaved was easy
It doesn't matter what you "know" inside, there's still no being ready for that, it's too shocking. It's like the ultimate hardcore reminder that this is REALLY happening. There is no denying it. It's unreal.

If it hadn't been for Eliz and my dude and some lipstick i don't know how i would have made it out of there. Oh and the cool head scarf....that scarf allowed me a shopping trip to target

so since then i've gotten more comfy with scarf tying, i learned some fun make up techniques from the Look Good Feel Better program (post upcoming), i've gotten more used to looking at myself, i've gone to my son's 3rd grade back to school night, I've felt self concious in stores, i've felt brave too.

It seems like it's going to be a heck of a long time till it starts to grow back, that's depressing, i'm tired of it already.
 but i am looking forward to growing back, and the hairdos to come. such a chance to experiment. 

the pile
so if you you see me now, i will be all gypsy scarfy

Saturday, September 4, 2010

What's that on your head? A wig!

One of my fave children's books is Wig! the B52's song illustrated by Laura Levine. The words are funny, the illustrations are colorful and quirky - it's hilarious. My kids & i have laughed, quoted & visualized the zany wigs on ourselves - the pages are torn.

I tried to envoke this kitchy glamour when i went to the American Cancer Society to get fitted and choose my two free wigs. (please look for the location near you to get yours!) - i brought along my fab friends John & Chris who i knew would cheer me on. But trying on wigs for this occasion wasn't quite as fun as i imagined.

I think i was just feeling a bit tense & down with the obvious signs leading to needing them...i'm gonna try again in a week or so at the oft talked about  mecca Quarter to 10 where faux hawk wigs are rumored to be in supply, so stay tuned for that post.

I do think it's wonderful that the ACS provides this, they also have massive amounts of scarves and hats and turbans and wraps and you are allowed to take 2 home with you. All free.
First the girl (who's name i forgot immediately) showed us the wig room, where i had to pick a couple i thought i might like, it was kind of surreal, and none looked really me-ish

John telling me to get a "realtor" wig

then she measured my head - i have a small head

then she gave me the sorta stocking cap to put over my head, both for hygiene, and to help them not to slide, i think i look weird in it.

I did pick two, but i didn't love them, my natural hair is fine, so anything with volume looks weird to me, i suppose they might look ok to a stranger, and perhaps if i have a new client or something i'll wear one.
ummm no

this almost looks real

I did end up getting this one
She also gave me a Survivor shirt for the ACS Relays - i will find out when those are and sign up!

I really did have visions of this experience & this post to be more fun filled silliness but i just didn't feel it that day, i guess it's because i wish i wasn't experiencing it in the first place.  I am grateful to ACS for what they do though

Don't worry, i AM getting that hot pink wig....

Monday, August 30, 2010

A welcome mini vaycay - Brenham TX

To put it mildly, my kids have had a shitty summer, a pretty shitty year for that matter with their stepmom fighting breast cancer, and their grandpa almost dying all right before my stuff.
But the summer is supposed to be fun right? We had plans to go on another road trip like last year's one to Atlanta. This time we were going to go to The Oz Museum in Wamego Kansas - we are Wizard of Oz fanatics.  The kids were also going to maybe to a camp or two, theater camp, horse riding, funnish stuff. Of course none of that happened.
The trip for obvious reasons. The camps for financial. They spent a majority of the summer at their dad's house. Which of course isn't terrible, but it's not me. They misssed me, they missed me on top of the worry & fear. They were so good.
They did have one thing to look forward to though - Camp Kessem - a FREE week long sleepaway camp for kids who's parents have cancer, they weren't into it at first but grew to excitement level - welllll that was cancelled 2 days before it was to start. I'm not going to to diss the program, i don't fully understand the red tape circumstances involved, and i hope they can go next year.  Then i'll write good stuff about it. but yeah, that sucked a lot, so much dissapointment, so unstable. so shitty.

But here's where i get to the good stuff, first, it really is good that they got to spend a week with me solid before school, AND it was the "good" feeling week in between chemos.

They needed that. So i decided to take advantage of feeling good (and still having hair so looking good) and take them on a mini trip. My parents encouraged this also, we all felt so sorry for them.
It needed to be close-ish, and not too hard for me, like amusement park, or big city maneuvering - we came up with Brenham Texas, home of Blue Bell Ice Cream!
Just under 2 hours away...check
Small town low key low $ entertainment....check
Reasonable hotels...check

We stayed at a Comfort Suites that the kids literally did cartweels in, cos they could, it was that big. Kitchenette, two rooms with a wall divider, mini sofa bed, 2 flat screen TVs, free breakfast with Texas shaped Waffles (is there any other state that can do that???)
I searched the internet and this is what we did over 3 days & 2 nights

The Jersey Barnyard
Also known as Frerichs Dairy, this is actually in nearby La Grange. Kids met Cisco the donkey, fed chickens, roosters, rabits & calves, went on a hayride & milked a cow. Family owned, unbelieveably nice people, we were the only ones there.
we called this chicken Bellina after Dorothy's pet in Wizard of Oz


Blue Bell Creameries
We went early for the first tour, saw the factory how the ice cream is made & packaged and you get free ice cream at the end!

Monastery of St. Clare Miniature Horse Farm
Miniature horses are cute. Kids love them. beautiful setting. happy kids

Chappell Hill Lavender Farm
This place was so gorgeous and the kids loved picking their own lavender. It was slim pickins due the Lavender festival being the weekend before but we found some

We ate at Must Be Heaven - which has an old timey ice cream parlour and walked around the cute old downtown, there's also a Starbucks & a bunch of other good & easy places to eat.

So really what this post is is about is a reminder that life does not stop, you can still do fun stuff while undergoing treatment (if you actually can physically, i know it's different for everyone)

AND take advantage of the times you feel good, between the chemos. Do something you want to do! 

PS. I also have been working while I feel good, showing houses, held an Open House, studying the MLS, blogging on  it helps me to feel real and more like ME.

Saturday, August 28, 2010

misplaced obsessions

sometimes it's easier to focus on other stuff than cancer & recovery & pain & surgeries & chemo - i call them missplaced obsessions

at first right after surgery it was ocd house clean stuff which if you know me is really odd. but because i was unable to do anything for myself, i was really stubborn at controlling how others put stuff away, washed dishes, every wayward paper or dish had to be picked up, tons of petty things like that. I hated it, and i purposefully made myself get over it, i really did appreciate all the help and wanted to ACT like i did. now my silverware is stored in a totally different order and i get a kick out of seing it every day -  the standard "let it go" lesson.

sometimes my focus is being perfect mom, i'm determined to start cooking family meals, scrapbook with my son, paint my daughter's nails, and that after this is over it's gonna be all different and better and i'm gonna start now.....and see?? i'm amazing, i can do all this and fight cancer, of course i know this is ridiculous  - the standard "i can't do it all" lesson combined with the standards "i am doing the best i can" lesson

currently my missplaced concern is weight gain. I know that is so trivial and not relevant in regards to my health. but i read constantly about how some people gain weight during chemo, i think about actually "dieting" during it, when a friend tells me how the steroids made them gain weight, i think to myself, "oh that won't be me"
everyone tells me not to think about it, focus on being healthy, but when i think about losing my hair, or the current size of my chest, i feel like dammit, i gotta look good somewhere.  it's like insult to injury.
and then i feel guilty for being so concerned with something so trivial. it's hard when i just don't look or feel like my normal self - the standard "i'm beautiful no matter what" (bleagghhhh) lesson and "just focus on my health" lesson

errrgg contsant struggle with my brain to balance gratitude, fear, bravery & exhaustion

Thursday, August 26, 2010

Chemo Round 1

I am soooo due for an actual update!
Had my first chemo session August 10th - at Texas Oncology. i wasn't nervous, just more apprehensive and strangely looking forward to it, to get it going, and to have an excuse to sit for 4 hours and veg.
I was however nervous about them accessing my port for the first time - turns out it was hard for the first nurse to get a line, and it hurt a little, then another nurse came in and got it  right away, this was for blood draw initialy, then for the chemo IVs.

Then a chat with my lovely dear sweet oncologist, i adore him. then off to the infusion room. As i didn't go to the "chemo class" it was all kinda new to me, it was a bit more clinical than i thought, and seeing all the other patients sitting with IVs was a little sad.
My nurse explained how the scene was gonna go down, first this drip, then that drug, then this blah blah blah.

i really don't know why i look surprised - these chairs are superlazyboys, nice

My friend Kati took me and stayed with me the whole time, AND Jennifer came to visit for a while as she had a follow up appointment anyway.

me and kati

I took an ativan before going so i was really relaxed, i read mags, tweeted/texted/emailed on my bb, dozed, and chatted, it was really kinda nice.  I guess i'm lucky that the drugs i get do not effect me as they go in, so all in all it was a pleasant experience - weird huh...

I blame the ativan and vicodin for this pic
so.... side effects: I didn't start feeling bad till the third day - and i can only describe it as like a bad hangover maybe, just generaly feeling like crap, heavy, zero appetite, tired, draggy. then for a couple of days i felt ok in the day to work showing houses a bit, but the evening, i would get bad stomach pain and bone aches, so much so that i had to get in bed and take something for the pain. Pair this with the fact that i had my kids back, AND their free camp for kids who's parents have cancer was cancelled. But they were good, sweet, and let me rest. There were moments where i felt so down that i was scared and angry and sad that i had to feel this way because of a stupid disease and an evil drug that i need. And i felt dread at the thought of the other sessions. I know they are supposed to get worse each time. and i won't have hair next time

THEN after a week, i felt great, super good energy, NORMAL :)  so much that i took my poor kids on a mini trip (blog post later)
Ok - so that's round 1, i hope round 2 on August 31st is the same, i can handle that.....

Wednesday, August 25, 2010

hair - redux

yeah, today i feel the first signs of the hair falling out - i'm on the verge of tears constantly, even though of course i was expecting this, and i was even expecting to feel this way, i still feel unprepared to cope.

I have scarves galore, i have an appointment with the American Cancer Society for my 2 free wigs, i have confidence somewhere inside me, but i still want to cry, and i still don't want it to happen.

i also have a beautiful silk pillow case that my friend Christina from My Soul to Keep gave me, supposed to be good for all this

PS did you know the Amercian Cancer Society will give cancer patients 2 free wigs with a fitting and everything? AND they also offer Look Good, Feel Better program which includs a free makeup kit, to help with makeup & stuff durinig treatemt? Look it up, it's awesome


I cut my hair super short in prep for chemo hair loss....i LOVE it, now i'm even more bummed it's gonna fall out as i wanna rock this do for a while, but then if it hadn't been for impending chemo, i would not have had the guts to cut it.
Thanks to the artistry of Elizabeth Giddens for the sexy do

Tuesday, August 24, 2010

Scarf Party

Inspired by  the hotness of my friend who wore sassy scarves when she lost her hair, my friends and i decided to have a scarf party!
the idea being to bring a scarf for me to use, and then have fun trying them on, learning to tie them ect... you tube has some fun videos showing how..
well we didn't end up trying them on and playing, BUT i did amass more scarves than i can probably wear during my no hair time and we did have a blast, with bloody mary's, vegan cupcakes and other vegan goodies and of course the best thing, my girlfriends all around!

Here are some pics from the shindig:
my son sportin a hot look

words words words

I really do believe that the words you say to yourself, your inner tapes, are incredibly powerful. It's not a new mega insightful revelation, positive affirmations have always been touted for creating good things in one's life, negative self messages are well known to eat away and damage self estem and confidence.

So when i remember, i do try to think and talk positively about this cancer, you know, everyone says the positive attitude is what gets you's true i know i know, but i'm also realistic with myself and i cuss and cry and tell it all to fuck off now and then.

BUT the other day i had a super powerful experience around words, and changing them, and my attitude.
I was talking with a fellow warrior, she is further along than i and was talking about how even tho the Doc says it's fine, she feels worried & unconfortable laying on her stomach during yoga class.  I totally could relate and said  "well we've been through so much - i mean our chest area has been brutally..." and she seemlesly finished my sentance with "....mutilated"
Such strong and violent words, yet when we were talking they made me feel powerful, like yeah, heck yeah, that's what we'e been through, it sucks, it's hard, we're dealing. despite what's been done to us. power.

BUT a few minutes later i was doing some gentle yoga on my mat at home. I like to speak mantras to myself with my breath in passive poses, and i've been working alot with chest/heart opening poses, to physically counter the weeks of sitting on my couch and the effects of surgury, and to mentally open my heart to love & life. So as i stood in mountain, meditating, opening, the words came back to me, "brutally mutilated" and they just didn't feel right in my loving yoga practice.

SO i decided to reword it, change the experience. What came to me was "i was lovingly cared for and tended to by my doctors who worked on me with love and the desire to save my life and make me beautiful" (yeah, kinda long and not as impact-y as the original version)  - the result was more powerful. The feeling of gratitude overcame me.

it feels so much better to not feel like a VICTIM of all this - (even though it's still not fair)

Monday, August 23, 2010

Why I Race - Komen Austin newsletter

I wrote my story for the Komen Austin Race for the Cure newsletter and it was released August 2010 - you can see it on the website HERE  but i also copied it here - it was inspiring and emotional to write - i hope some of you will join my Komen team The Glitter Dropz

I race because of this huge, loving, inspiring club of fellow survivors!

In 2009, I participated in the Susan G. Komen Austin Race for the Cure to honor my children’s stepmother who was diagnosed with breast cancer at the age of 32. Her diagnosis was shocking and felt tragic to us, driving home the concept that it can happen to anyone. It inspired me to get health insurance, which as a self- employed person is not the easiest thing to do. But at least I didn’t have cancer.

Six months later, I felt something in my breast and had a strange feeling. No, there was no way I could have breast cancer, not me! I also had breast pain, googled it, and self-diagnosed a hormonal cystic fibroid. Whew! Nevertheless, at 42 years old I had never had a mammogram, so I scheduled a regular check up and was sent for a mammogram.

After viewing the mammogram the doctor sent me for a biopsy that day! It was a Friday and I had to wait over the weekend for the results. I remember thinking that I didn’t want my life to change, but it did when the phone call came. Getting the call that I had breast cancer was a call I will never forget. It is impossible news. What about my kids, my plans, my breasts, my money, my happiness? What was going to happen to all of that?

I found that inside of us there is an amazing strength to do what we need to do when life throws us challenges. I told my family and friends, I made my appointments; I put on pretty clothes and makeup. I took action. Taking action is a powerful tool.

Due to various circumstances, what was originally planned as a lumpectomy became a bilateral mastectomy. I started chemotherapy on August 10th. I am amazed daily how happy I am. What originally felt like a tragedy has actually helped me be happier than I have ever been. The gifts I received since my diagnosis are immeasurable. Words from strangers on my blog, casual acquaintances offering help, reuniting with old friends I haven’t seen in a long time, phone calls from survivors I have never met, and of course the huge love and support from those close to me. Generosity is abundant and it makes me happy and strong, and I cannot wait to pass it on.

I thought I was a tough and strong, but now I KNOW I am tough and strong. Yet I have also learned to yield, ask for help and accept help. That has been my biggest lesson; strength does not mean that I have to do it all by myself.

Breast cancer sucks, and the frequency of its diagnosis is shocking. It’s physically and emotionally challenging, but in some odd way we are lucky. We are part of a huge, loving, and inspiring club. I am thrilled to be able to race at the 2010 Austin Race for the Cure, along with my fellow warriors, those that are survivors, and those that support us all.

Nanette Labastida
3 ½ month survivor

Friday, August 6, 2010

Highway 71 revisited...

this past thursday i attended my 7th Bob Dylan concert at the new Backyard....! My first was when i was 12. I'm 42.
I've talked Dylan in this blog before, and anyone who knows me well knows i'm a diehard fan. love him with a passion.
I bought tickets for this show, back when i knew i had breast cancer, but i had NO idea where i would be in the treatment of it. I just bought them and hoped.

my last post i updated that my final drains were finally removed, well since then i have steadily been feeling better & better, gaining strength and feeling more "me". I have started taking little walks in my neighborhood & doing some gentle yoga so by the time the Dylan show date came i felt like i was ready to handle it.
It was perfect.  We didn't park far, we got an excellent spacious spot with a great view of stage, and it was miraculously not too hot.

It was one of the best Dylan shows i've seen. He is sounding goooood, the band was amazing, the SOUND at the new Backyard was perfect, the setting ideal, the company loving, and i was there....i made it, and i felt good & happy throughout.

It feels special & right that my first post surgery night out was at Dylan, in the hill country with my best people. I am lucky.

Oh...and he played Stuck inside of Mobile with the Memphis Blues Again...ohhh mamaaa

Thursday, July 29, 2010

schedule schmedule

i really need to stop with the expectations and planning
i always think of myself as so go with the flow and easy going, and really i am, but in this, i have found that counting days, figuring out when stuff is gonna happen or be over, gives me a sense of control, except it doesn't...

so first of all, i didn't start chemo on the 27th, i changed that to Aug 10th a while ago, cos somehow i just knew the 27th would be too soon. I was right.

I am recovering from surgery a bit slower than i expected.
the magical date of 2 weeks after surgery came, and my drains weren't ready to come out. 2 of them did, but the other 2 were nowhere close. drains are annoying, yucky, and constricting. my warddrobe is limited to the camisoles with pockets, the tube sites hurt. and it is frustrating to not be like i was supposed to be.
I'm also still in more pain and more tired than i imagined i would be.
Then i got a low grade fever &  some redness at one of the incision sites. Luckily i had a prescription for antibiotic on hand so hopefully that will take care of any potential infection.

Good news is today i did get the last two drains out - FREEDOM! sadly it hurt so effin much i cried my eyes out, and it pretty much wiped my whole day out. my poor sweet plastic surgeon wiped my eyes with tissue and joked i was crying tears of gratitude for my Dr. he felt so bad.
Also a bummer is that i didn't get expanded at all, i haven't once since surgery, he wants to wait till the redness goes.  this is when he said the words "you are a bit behind schedule, but it's all good" - thankfully what imprinted was the it's all good part. 
I take it as a lesson, to let go and be ok with a plan and schedule that is out of my control. And to trust.
I tend to catastrophize things if it's not EXACTLY how i was told or what i expected, and obsess that it must be all wrong.  The people around me are reaallllyyy good at recoginzing that and snapping me out of it. 

oh, and Dr H wants to walk on my Komen Race for the Cure Team, even though Beth & I warned him he would have to don a bedazzled tee shirt, i think it was the promise of Tito's bloody mary's. whatever, it's awesome.

Thursday, July 22, 2010

redux of a bad moment...

i have heard, more than once, that you are a cancer survivor from the moment you are diagnosed.
i also heard once that SURVIVING the diagnoses is the hardest part
That i believe. I recieved my diagnosis over the phone, in my car, luckily not driving yet. I was expecting the biopsy results. I had emerged from an accupuncure session with multiple missed calls and a couple of messages from the Women's Imaging Center, so i knew not to call when i was driving. Just in case it was bad news.
It was.
The calls were from Dr O'Connell. I had not met her, turns out the day i went in was one of the very rare days she was off, but they told me she would be the one to call. She has a slight Irish accent. That i will never ever forget.
I don't feel like trying to explain all the unexplainable thoughts that went through my brain in those moments of hearing those words. It's really hard to re go through.
But i do remember her accent. And i remember thinking how hard it must be for her to do this every day. And then i went into practical info mode...met with the actual Drs that would be tending to me, and tried to forget that part of it all.

Well today i had an amazing oportunity - my best friend was signed up to take me to a follow up Dr appointment this morning, and we decided to make a sorta symbolic day of it and she scheduled a mammogram right before it at my same old place. Like a dual support pact for the boobs.
While she went in to the imaging room, i spied Dr. O'Connell, and i suddenly got up and went to her and introduced myself. I told her we hadn't met but that she was the one to call me. I told her i just had a mastectomy. And I told her i wanted to meet her to erase the negative imprint memory of her voice. We hugged. We talked about my health. She noticed my accent (what accent??) and could tell i had lived in UK so then we talked about marmite. :)
It was very bondy, and kind of emotional. I feel really lucky i got to do that.

Monday, July 19, 2010

post-op deets

hehe, hospital gown pre-op

hi friends...
so it's been a week & a half since surgery and just over a week since i got home. i think i needed to get out of the emotional & physical fog before i could update on here, i get exhausted talking, and also had i written during the initial post op haze there was high risk of major TMI - hahaha

the hospital stay is kind of a blur, but a fun one. I didn't have any pain really thanks to the lovely iv and constant flow of juice. i did often fall asleep mid conversation, or worse i remember waking up from little naps and dreams and start talking to whoever was there and have no idea what i was really talking about, that was cute. My best friends, mom & boyfriend were all there on & off the whole time. Elizabeth brought me a cupcake, took me for a walk around the ward, Beth helped me brush my teeth, Kati bombarded my room with hot pink roses, giant balloons & pink monkey, Laurie passed on "chemo bear" that i acutally snuggled one nap, Cory brought her sunshine as one of my first faces i remember coming into focus, my dude braved the dreaded cot to stay all night, Jan, Danielle, my bro even my cute dad, barely out of hospital himself. 
All the tweets & texts & facebook comments add to the super heart filling feelings that make all this so much more bearable.
Beinig home has been amazing too, many thanks to Roggie for setting up food delivery schedule, so nice knowing my fridge is constantly stocked with super healthy yummy foods.
Had some pain transitioning to pain meds at home, having the drains is a drag. being able to take a shower is a blessing yet it's a pain in the ass  to do and wears me out big time.
I'm surprisingly not stir crazy nor do i have cabin fever
I'm a bit bored and have watched more tv marathons on tbs, bravo, food network and tlc to last a lifetime.
the port site creeps me out a little, i won't go into detail but if you know what that is you know what i mean.
The expanders are as i heard, uncomfortable
I'm tired of being on pain meds - i wanna be all they way clear headed, but i'm learning to enjoy the veg
I was surprised at my OCD ness when i first got home, i never have had to tell people what to do in such detail before, am letting that go
Getting better at accepting all the help without guilt
At times the future vision is overwhelming and i cry, i can't imagine doing yoga, or running, or getting dressed in my usual clothes, i can't imagine myself  dealing with chemo after this, i can't picture myself with different boobs, being care free, and when i think of the final stage not being till Nov/Dec i can't breathe.
But then someone keeps me focused on now, and I'm OK, now.
Or i count my humongous blessings and see the big picture.
My fear of looking at my physical shape post surgery was bigger than the reality - i expected the worst emotionally, but found it strangely easy. This isn't "me" it's just the beginning, not the finished product.

so despite physical discomfort and expected tough emotions at times - i'm really doing well. and i owe so much of it to my loves who are taking care of my heart and body, esp my bf who is heroic in all he does for me - although he would not like to read that - i love you guys.
thanks also to the BCRC (breast cancer resource center)  for providing the ultra cute and handy camisoles to wear, they have pockets to hold the drains, BEST INVENTION EVER!

next up...drains OUT, expanders expanded...we'll see how that all goes down