Sunday, September 23, 2012

The Bald Truth

To the 4 kids and their mom in the blue Honda CR-V in the Trader Joe's parking lot:

The next time your kids yell out rude comments from your car window at the bald lady (AKA, chemo/cancer patient) pushing her grocery cart through the parking lot, PLEASE.DO.NOT.MAKE. FUN.OF.HER!! Instead, why don't you 'parent up' and make this a 'teachable moment' in lieu of allowing your little angels this disgraceful behavior. SHAME.ON.YOU! And, while you're at it, you should also not look directly at the bald lady (that would be me!) and start laughing with your kids before quickly rolling up your window!

Oh, and here's another little insight for you CR-V mom - you will, at some point in time, be afflicted by this epidemic called breast cancer! If it's not YOU, it may be your daughter that was sitting next to you in the car in 15 years that receives this diagnosis. Or, it may be your mom, sister, cousin, best friend or neighbor that has to endure this atrocious and hellish disease.

Truth told, do you not think that I already don't feel emotionally drained from this experience that I have had to withstand for the past year? 20 years? Do you think that I am feeling at my physical best during this cancer gig? Do you know how horribly difficult this past year has been on my life, my partner's life, my sister, my mom, cousins, friends and neighbors?

Will you laugh then when your own life is impacted by the doctor saying - "I'm sorry to tell you, but you have breast cancer - AGAIN!?" Will you stop your sons from making fun of your mother, daughter-in-law, sister, daughter? Will you look the other way to try and hide your snickering then? OR...... might you take the high road and impart some thoughtful and mindful wisdom while showing some compassion and sensitivity as a conscious parent?

Just asking.

Tuesday, September 18, 2012

Herceptin #9: No Monkeying Around!

As Dr. G. said to me a couple of weeks ago, "You have chemo room anxiety. All patients do!" Really, I thought? Not me. I don't think I feel that much anxiety about going in there. But, this morning at 3:00 am proved me wrong. Dang! I don't like that he's right on this one! I mean, even Hil admitted to having the same anxiety about being in there along with the familiar 'chemo smell' that gets to her while we're in the treatment room.

But, early this morning (3:00am to be exact), I was awakened by significant nausea, which, was going nowhere and actually became significantly worse. So, I popped my anti-nausea pill and tried to settle into it and go back to sleep but, my stomach wasn't buying it. Hil went downstairs to get me an applesauce cup so that I could have something in my belly to help and it did the trick thank goodness. As her dietician cousin says, "Nausea needs attention with meds and stomach pain needs food." So, that's what we did, which, definitely helped, but was taking a little longer than I desired.

Hil, now wide awake, spent the next half-hour sitting next to me with her hand on my stomach trying to aid me to sleep. Must have worked, because the next thing I knew, it was 6:00am and the alarm was sounding off.

So, in my usual pre-infusion ways and rituals, I took in lots of water today, went for a long walk, meditated, ate wonderfully, healthy foods and journaled. I also like to keep to myself on these days in order to cultivate the right mindset and framework. It's much too easy to be externally distracted by life's minutiae so my goal is to maintain a certain, yet solid mentality that allows me to have my 'Pac Man Medicine' as my focal point for the day and for my treatment.

As for the Herceptin infusion itself, it went fast and easy once my veins cooperated. Took a couple of tries but eventually my nurse (the fabulous Martha!) found the right one. She kept apologizing that the first several pokes weren't working and I about squeezed Hil's little hand right off, but we got through it and all went well.  I even scored a monkey bandage like I used to get when I had to go in for my post-chemo immune booster shots with Amber. 

As for our time in the chemo room, we spent it as we usually do with Hil going to the 'blanket oven' and bringing me two blankets (and a pillow!) - one for my cold infusion arm and one for my body as it's very chilly in there! And then we settled in... me on my iPad, iPhone and writing some cards while Hil was grabbing some snacks and downloading all those saved up Amazon gift cards on her Kindle (my sister would be so proud of her that it only took 2 months to use them since her birthday)!

So, all in all, Herceptin #9 treatment proved to be just fine and A-OK! Only 8 more months of my marvelous infusions and it's a done deal. In the meantime, I'm aspiring and striving at staying present with myself each minute, hour and day as I forge on with my cure. What choice do I have but to stay as focused as I can and allow this miracle medicine to heal and cure my body. While that's the prize at the end of this trail, I can't help but be reminded that each moment we have is a precious one. As the children's song 'Going on a Bear Hunt' says - Going on a bear hunt! Going on a bear hunt! I'm not afraid! I'm not afraid! Are you? Are you? Not me! Not me!

Sunday, September 16, 2012

Standing on the Corner of BALD St. and CHEMO Ave.

No, I did not plan this one bit. In fact, I didn't even notice this sign when Hil and I went to Ojai a couple of weeks ago for one of our 'Sunday drives.' We simply wanted to be out in the sunshine and after stopping at a new outdoor cafe for a break and a small bite to eat, we returned to our car to keep heading down the road when we noticed it. We both gasped, laughed and immediately she wanted a pic of me right under my new street sign. We couldn't believe the coincidence (HA!) of standing on this corner at this time in my life - baldness down one street and chemo down the other. Clearly, a salute and a bow to this journey.

Tuesday, September 11, 2012

Flying Solo with Herceptin

Although it's been some time since my last blog entry, cancer, chemo and Herceptin are always on the forefront of my mind. And after finishing 6 rounds of chemo, a bout with bronchitis and now the flu, I remain grateful for all the good medicine that comes my way.

Officially, next Tuesday will mark my 9th treatment total and my 3rd solo Herceptin infusion which takes less than 2 hrs. from my pre-treatment appointment with my oncologist, a chat and check-up with his fab P.A. Amanda, and the dreaded weigh-in. A far cry from the 6 plus hours I used to spend in the cancer center. And although I'm nearly 40 lbs. lighter, I still beg the nurse to skip that part and negotiate at least 2 lbs. less due to clothes and a meal in my belly. She usually gives in and now says, "Okay, minus 2 lbs, that makes....." Thank you Martha!

As for the wonderful support people in my life, I count myself extremely fortunate to have good friends and neighbors helping out along the way. Deb and Sam (my beanie pal across the street) drove me to my first solo Herceptin treatment in August and provided great company to me. Afterwards, we even fit in a quick stop at the beach on the way home to get a whiff of that great ocean air and take in some of those magical negative ions to enhance the mood.

So, even though I have 8 months left of infusions for the 'ol veins to endure, I count my lucky stars that my 'Pac Man Medicine' (my visualization) is doing its thing to implode those cancer cells. So, thank you Herceptin, thank you Dr. Michael Press for discovering this miraculous medicine that's giving me my cure and thank you Cancer Center of Santa Barbara.

Grateful indeed.