Tuesday, March 23, 2010

Chemo Glow

Self-portrait of me with my chemo glow:

Sadly it didn't work out very well, but if you had seen me today you would have noticed very pink cheeks and upper chest. It's actually quite nice and I suppose an unexpected bonus of getting chemo (please note that there are very few of those!).

Strangely, I actually had some nausea today which was bad enough to take some medication for (over and beyond what I normally take). That's the first time since my very first treatment that it's happened (which I suppose is lucky).
Some notes on my hair. I often see myself (sans head covering) and think I look like Susan Powter...sometimes I even say "STOP THE INSANITY" out loud. I'm probably one of the few that think that's funny, but I just can't help myself. My husband, such an incredibly sensitive guy, told me I look like our waitress from the old Break the Fast on 9th Ave in Calgary. I know he was kidding "kinda" but I am definitely owed an extra pair of designer shoes for that comment (and those of you who know who I'm talking about would agree!). I'm actually not that sensitive about my appearance, but I'll admit at times I do miss having some hair!

Monday, March 22, 2010

A Long Week

Last week was to be my good week. It started on Sunday afternoon with finally having the courage to shave my hair down. It was actually pretty "easy" to do - Ron was more than willing to help and so was my oldest. My friends Leanne and Gord came over to help cheer me on and we celebrated by having a barbecue afterwards. A pleasant afternoon really. Here are a few pics:

Then, Monday morning came. I was by myself, with the girls, feeding them breakfast when a wave of nausea sent me running....I spent the rest of the day with massive stomach cramps and was getting very bloated and unhappy. I talked to S at the TBCC and we decided to see if it would clear up overnight....if not, I'd have to go in and get checked out. Of course, with my rotten luck, it was still bad on Tuesday so I set out for the hospital after lunch and ended up getting a bunch of tests and hydration. To help ease the pain they gave me some iv pain killers and anti-nauseants and then they sent me home with some meds to get better. Wednesday and Thursday showed little improvement in my discomfort and then Friday was lab day and they decided to rehydrate some more...by Saturday I was starting to feel slightly better, although exhausted from getting little sleep at night.

Anyway, to make a long story short, I just started feeling better when I had my next treatment to look forward to (which I had today). Yay me! Sorry that I stayed quiet last week, I didn't feel much like talking....I will try hard to blog again tomorrow or the next day.

Saturday, March 13, 2010

Halfway Point?

Some have been calling my treatment this week my halfway point. I'm actually thinking that my real halfway point will be the 21st, just before my next cycle begins. Regardless, I'm just happy that I only have 6 treatments left. This week's infusion went very smoothly again - looks like I'm on a roll! My Dad came with me and got to experience the "high-end" cancer treatment as I got assigned a bed WITH a TV!! Seeing the Brier was on, it was rather nice for my Dad that everything worked out so well. I, amazingly, got a short nap in as well. Really, a banner excursion to the TBCC. Here is a pre-nap shot:

It was a pretty quiet day with only 80 or so chemo treatments booked. Service was job one!

As you may have noticed, I still haven't dealt with my hair situation. I guess I lost my nerve or something. However, tomorrow is the big day. It's funny, all week long my hair didn't really fall out and then today it started. My scalp started that funny aching (not sure if I've described it before, but if you've ever had a fancy up-do in your hair all day and then taken it out, that's exactly how my scalp feels) and sure enough the hair started to fly. Quite frankly, I've had about enough. Enough with trying to cover the bald spots. Enough with having to clean the bathroom after each blow drying. Enough with finding hair in my toothbrush everyday. Enough with thinking about it. Enough with cancer deciding when and how my hair will fall out!

The next question will be....how will I work the new look into my life? Here is one crazy preview:

Sunday, March 7, 2010

Hair and a few other Things

For the people who can't see what's going on with my hair, I've provided a few photos to help you out. From a distance it looks pretty decent but as you approach, you can see the "air-conditioning" for my scalp that's been provided by several balding patches. Judge for yourself.

(Left side)
If I style it perfectly, it's not TOO noticeable but God forbid it's a windy day! I think it's bothering me more these days because of the front area. It's difficult to avoid seeing it everytime
I look in the mirror.
On Friday at clinic, I talked to the nurses about shaving it down (cropping) and they encouraged me to do it for several reasons, the most important to me being that it's an opportunity for me to take control of the situation. So much of what I am going through is out of my sphere of influence that this provides me with at least a small modicum of control (and being a type A personality this makes me a happy girl). I was planning to shave it down today but it looks like I might wait a few more days....maybe do it late Friday afternoon or something. I know it will definitely be in the next week.
My scars to me aren't looking great as of yet. Portia's scar specifically is giving me trouble - it's very itchy and I can see the supposed disovlable stitches are still hanging out under my skin. The excisional biopsy scar and the "wire" scar are super purple-y red. I guess my uber-weiss skin does not improve this aesthetic. Not sure if this pic I took with my BlackBerry does it justice...

The good news is that my labs were great on Friday (Neutrophils 1.4) and in 2 weeks I'll officially be at the half-way point of treatment. I also have a CT scheduled for April 8th so we'll know what's happening with all of my tumours (I'm assuming they are completely gone). My doc also mentioned that she will schedule me for a PET scan after my treatment is over. I was excited to hear that because they don't have to give me a PET, they could've opted for a CT. We'll see what happens, but one way or another I will get a PET, even if I have to go to Vancouver and pay for one. I really will want that peace of mind.

Thursday, March 4, 2010

Can you believe it's been 2 weeks?!

Wow. I've taken a little heat about not blogging much lately but I didn't realize it had been 2 weeks since I'd written anything. Luckily I can report that I haven't been super ill or super depressed, just super overwhelmend and tired.

Our house finally got hit with a bug, one which both girls had for over a week. It was a LOT of coughing, so much so that Addison had to get an inhaler, and Elise just hung onto it forever. Needless to say, there wasn't a lot of free time as neither girl went to school or lessons for 2 weeks. Interestingly, I did not get sick. Even when my WBC counts were at their lowest, I was "fine" AND when it came time to do my labs, they were the 2nd highest since the start of January. I've no idea how that is possible but there you go! Of course, the day after I was at the hospital for my check-up and labs, I did come down with a stomach bug that was just awful and kept me bedridden for 24 hours. Luckily no one else got that!

My last treatment was on February 22nd. My friend Kellie came to entertain me and I can happily report that it was the smoothest infusion of chemicals yet. We almost had a nursing student pass out when we were set to puncture the port, but other than that there was nothing of note to report.

I tried a new drug regime after this treatement in hopes of avoiding the migraine-like headache I've been getting on Wednesday afternoons that lasts until sometime Thursday night. While I had success with avoiding the migraine, I did feel pretty nauseous through Wed/Thurs so I'll do some further tweaking the go round to see if I can get an even better result. I also developed a very yucky taste in my mouth the day after treatment which got progressively worse until about Tuesday this week when it seemed to get better. It was accompanied by a dry mouth and sore throat so I assume it has something to do with the WBC count. It's a tinny kind of taste and, while it didn't seem to affect the taste of food too much, I can imagine that in the future it will. So I guess I should eat and be merry now!

My Mom is here with me this week as hubby is in Scotland for work. My Dad is driving in from the Okanagon today and is planning on accompanying me to my treatment next week. I am pretty tired as Addison has been up almost every night (who knows why?!) and I haven't scheduled in enough breaks for me. Must improve these 2 things or the next few months are going to be murder. Will blog more later (I'm serious!) about my hair situation and a few other things to look "forward" to.