In the Air!

In the Air!
400 feet above the ground in Orlando.

Florida

Florida
Taking my first step towards a new life.

Virginia

Virginia
Spending an afternoon at Marymount during my internship!

My rocks!

My rocks!
Wouldn't be where I am without my parents!

Graduation

Graduation
Walking for my Masters. An interesting book end as this all started when I graduated from undergrad!

Awesome Nurses!

Awesome Nurses!
After my port removal and saying goodbye to my chemo nurses before moving away from Michigan. Wouldn't be doing that without them!

Hair again!

Hair again!
Growing longer each day

Last Chemo

Last Chemo

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Silliness

Silliness
Something to remember and return to. A good day!

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Tuesday, July 23, 2013

Chemo Number 2

Well, while today was not reaction free, it wasn't as intense.  Still horrible feeling but we caught it quicker.  I'm hoping next time we can get the right steroid combo before hand!!  And I'm able to finish all of my chemo in one day this time around!!!  Just have to come back in tomorrow for my white count injection.  Apparently my blood counts from yesterday were practically textbook for a chemo patient!!  That was exciting!!

Today has been up and down but as it comes to a close i don't feel too bad considering:-).  I'm still wiped out but able to handle it better:-).  Hopefully with the new anti-nausea pills I have the next few days wont be as bad as last time.  Come on Zofran...do your thing!!!!

As I sit in my chemo chair watching the bag finish up I am redetermined that i will kick this thing and never come back unless it is to bring my awesome nurses a present!!  1/3 of the way done!  2 down, 4 to go!!!!!   I CAN DO THIS!!!!!!

Pictures:
1' Me in my  chemo chair.
2' My IV pole with my last drug of the day.
3' Me and mom
4' With two of my nurses!! Jan is blonde and Michelle brunette!  The 4 nurses here are the best!!!

Thursday, July 18, 2013

Buzzing My Head

Getting my head buzzed yesterday was probably one of the hardest things I have ever done.  If it hadn't been for my sister in law and my mom it probably would have been pretty traumatizing.  It's amazing how much something like hair can mean to you.  I'm not trying to be melodramatic or anything. But it probably took everything I had that day to not burst into tears. Not saying I didn't cry as you can see in one of the pictures. But, it wasn't as hard as I thought it was going to be. I know that doesn't make much sense given that I said it was the hardest thing that I did.  Having people around you that love you and care for you made it possible. but at the same time I just can't get over this head of no hair.  I still jump when I look in the mirror!
That being said,  I'm a little excited about what I can do with this look!  My sister in law, Margo, has made me scarves to wear and bangs to go underneath them.  I can be blonde or burnette depending on my mood:-).  This Monday I'm learning how to put makeup on while going through chemo and how to tie turbans.  There is a class and they actually give me a bunch of makeup afterwards.  They teach you how to draw eyebrows and put on eyelashes and other things.  Its called Look Good, Feel Good.  Its amazing how your self esteem takes a beating during chemo so whoever came up with this idea deserves an award!
So, I am not watching my hair fall out so dramatically anymore...and I'm starting to feel like I don't look as much like my brother Andy as I did yesterday.  He's a handsome guy but as a woman I would rather be pretty:-).  A huge thank you to Ashley for cutting my hair and being amazing!!  And especially to Margo for setting it all up and doing so much to get me through and still feel good about myself!  Love you!!!

Tuesday, July 16, 2013

Shopping in a Mask

While I'm not sure what my white count is right now, I've decided playing it safe is advisable.  So I've started wearing a mask in stores.  The first time I did this I felt incredibly self conscience!  I braced myself for people to stare at me.  That didn't so much stare as made a concerted effort to look away.  People very studiously avoided looking at me at all.

I don't know if that was better or worse.  After a few more times out with a mask (and a talk with the social worker at the cancer center) I'm a little more confident.  I'm doing this for myself.  And if the bandana on my head doesn't clue them in as to why I have a surgical mask on then not much will. 

But why do we look away from what we know to be a serious illness?  Trust me, in doing that you aren't giving that person any privacy, respect or concern.  You make them feel even more isolated!  The only time a person will feel isolated in a crowded store is when they are purposely and obviously ignored. 

I'm not saying go up to someone and start talking about cancer to them.  But instead of turning away, meet their eyes and give then a smile and keep on going!  That one small, noninvasive action helps more than you know.  It breaks the isolation and gives people a good feeling of acceptance, mask and all.  And maybe, helps them deal with what they are going through themselves.

Tuesday, July 9, 2013

The countdown has begin

Well, this week has been rough.  Mostly from being beyond exhausted and blah from the chemo!  When they said their number one complaint about chemo is how tired you get, they weren't kidding!!!  Even with severe anemia, I didn't feel this kind of tired!

I've made a sign to help me count off the treatments.  When I was in my last semester of college I marked off every day on my calendar, waiting for April 27 to arrive.  My chemo should go through mid October and while I'll probably start marking the days again, I also cross off each chemo on the sign i made with relish....or as much relish as I can muster!  The intent to be gleeful as I X a treatment is there, even if it isn't visible!

I know i haven't been blogging but to be honest, they would all say the same thing....very tired today.  I'm still very tired but starting to be able to push through some.  The crazy thing is, as tired as I am...I couldn't sleep at all last night!  Go figure!  I'm discovering that the human body is a confusing thing and it really doesn't like to be messed with!!

Hopefully I will be writing a bit more now until treatment two.  Please keep me in your prayers and I'll be praying for you:).

Saturday, July 6, 2013

Rough going

Short and sweet today.  The past few days after chemo have been bad due to the anti nausea meds.  I'm weening off them now and slowly getting better bit by bit.  Still pretty out of it though.

Wednesday, July 3, 2013

End of chemo #1

Today was the second half of my first chemo.  Like yesterday, it had to go at half speed.  I tend to be pretty sensitive to the meds.

Tired and hyped from the steroids.  And can't sleep...interesting combination.  A short blog right now...can't stay focused!

Tuesday, July 2, 2013

Flowers in the Infusion Room

Today several kind men came into the infusion room with bouquets of flowers and handed them out!  As I walked back to my chair a man handed me these tulips!

It is a little thing, but at that moment, I felt special.  A complete stranger knew I was having a hard day and out of the kindness of his heart, he handed me tulips, and said they were for me!  The rest of the day, I kept looking at those tulips until dad took them home.  Every time I looked at them, I felt a little better for a few seconds:).

The kindness of a stranger I wonder was the kindness of God, letting me know through His creation that He is thinking of me:).  The kindness of people around me today made this day just a bit easier!

Chemo 1 Day 1

Today was a long day.  the original plan was two drugs in one day...shouldn't take more than four or five hours.  However, a reaction to the first drug slowed things down A LOT!!!

It started off with my blood pressure reflecting my nerves and anxiety.  Numbing my port and doing labs pushed the start off.  Then nine minutes into the first infusion I had quite the reaction!  Stomach pain, nausea, heart palpitations and the it felt like my face was going to explode and apparently I looked like a cherry tomato!  I sent my dad running, someone shoved a trash can under my and in seconds I was begging someone to tell me why I it felt like my face was about to pop!  Two of the nurses came in, shut of the infusion and I felt things easing up.  That was pretty scary!  We learned the infusion had to be slowed down a little over by half.  Thus, the day became a long one and I have to go back tomorrow to do the second infusion of the second drug.  Please pray I don't have a reaction to this one.

I am feeling really tired and wiped out.  But for now the nausea medicine is doing it's work.  And I am staying on it like clock work for the next several days!

The four nurses who run the infusion room are really awesome!  Michelle, Jan, Kim and Lindsey are really great, kind, empathetic and on top of everything.  It helps that I've known one of the nurses, Kim, since I was a teenager!  The picture is of Kim and I after we got the infusion under control and I started to feel better after the reaction.

So now I sit (of course!!  Sitting is my thing now!) at mom and dad's, listening as we watch The West Wing since NCISLA is not on for some reason.  Resting, recouping a bit and praying things stay calm.  Praying tomorrow is smoother and shorter!  Then I go back in on Friday for a shot to help with my white blood count.  Helps it not go down so low from the chemo.

I got a new hat today!  Kim came over with a cute, floppy hat with pastels on it!  They give away free hats too there:)  She thought it would look good on me...and I do like it!  It works with the new hair cut.  And for a couple weeks I'll sport it with a smile before I'm buzzed.

Now, I think I need to get some water and crackers.  Keeping a little food in me is highly recommended:).  Talk to you all tomorrow :)

Monday, July 1, 2013

Pre Chemo Hair Cut

In the literature I was given at my chemo class, there was a suggestion for women to cut their hair short before it starts to fall out.  They said it helps some with the emotional upheaval of loosing your hair.  So today, the day before I start chemo, I went and had my hair cut.  I realized that I don't think I could handle having the longer hair buzzed off my head as it was falling out.

I ended up at Looks Unlimited in Owosso as a walk in.  I can't say enough how wonderful they were there!  As soon as I told the receptionist what I needed and why, she called in a stylist.  That stylist was Crystal...one of the kindest women I have ever met!  She listened to what I wanted, but understood I couldn't really say exactly.  She got a few ideas and started cutting...and cutting and cutting!!  I have included pictures of the hair cut and afterwards.  And yes, I was crying during it too.  But Crystal just kept working and looking very pleased with herself as she went.  This helped me calm down some.  But still, as I watched my hair fall on the floor and cape around me, I could see myself \bald in my head and it terrified me.  Fear is so strong going through this that sometimes it feels all encompassing.  I kept looking at my mom, who was taking pictures as I asked her to so I could blog about this, and she kept smiling at me.  Slowly the tears dried up, and with them a little of the fear.

In the end, Crystal asked if she could style it.  Apparently I actually have pretty curly hair, but when it is longer it pulls the curls out.  So for a couple weeks I have some crazy, curly hair:)  At the end, Crystal turned me around and I stared in shock in the mirror!  A beautiful haircut that made me feel like I was looking at someone else!  Then I realized, I was looking at someone else.  Every event in our lives changes us one way or another.  Events of such size as the surgeries and cancer and now chemo that I am going through...I'm not the person I was back in April before this all started.  And I think that is ok.  I don't know exactly who I am right now.  But I think the rest of this experience will help me figure out who I am.

And one step along that way was getting a hair cut to help transition me to someone going through chemo.  I couldn't have asked for a nicer person than Crystal to help me through that.  Between her and the receptionist (who's name I sadly forgot to get) I felt like I was a special person in that time.  So I highly recommend if anyone in Owosso reads this, go to Looks Unlimited and ask for Crystal.  She is someone who knows her craft...and has a heart of gold!  Thank you Crystal for your help and kindness!!