Thursday, February 23, 2017

Chemo Shwemo

I missed having my hair today for the first time.  It probably would've been frizzy and messy and I probably would've just put it up to go out with some friends tonight.  This was a first because I've pretty much been used to it being gone now.  It's nice being able to sleep in every morning because I dont have to wash it or style it - which, let's be honest, only took 2 minutes anyway - curly hair is the best. When I first cut it, then shaved it, I would still go through the motions - out of habit.  In the morning I'd walk in the bathroom to shower and I'd still reach for my hair to take my ponytail out.  Or I'd put a scarf around my neck and reach back to move my hair...but it wasn't there.  But now i'm used to being a baldy.  I have a few little sproutlets growing up there, but nothing substantial yet. I'll keep you posted.  I'm sure it'll be a party when the crazy curly mop grows back.

At the event I was at tonight a woman came up to me and introduced herself.  (I immediately panicked and thought it was someone I should know, but didn't remember - chemo brain is real, all). Anyway, she looked at me and told me she was in my shoes 5 years ago and that I was beautiful with my bald head and that everything would be ok. She cried. I cried.  I hugged her...and spilled my wine....and my food.  Her name was Holly and as long as the chemo brain allows, I don't think I'll ever forget her.  If you think you might know Holly, tell her thanks....(and sorry if I spilled anything on her).

There's good peeps out there.  I'm a lucky, lucky girl.

So even though I'm a rather happy person, i haven't been super sunshiney through all of this.  I fell into a rut of not wanting to write for a while.  This happened last year during treatment too.  Cancer treatments make me bitter.  When I'm TOO bitter, I sound really cranky and no one wants to read that.  Right now im only a little bitter...and I've had some wine...soooo there's that.

The chemo sucks.  I've had 4 out of my 6 scheduled treatments so far.  Only 2 more - so I got that going for me.  I go every three weeks.  The chemo knocks me out for a solid week and then I feel like myself for about 2 weeks and then we do it all over again.  When I say "knocks me out", I mean it makes me feel like complete garbage.  Luckily I'm not puking, but I get nauseous.  And I get restless legs - great for when you feel like doody and you just want to lay down.  I get neuropathy - where I can't totally feel my fingers and toes.  My head is in a constant fog and I'm exhausted. But other than that I'm totally fine. Ha! Now, if you know me, you know my family is the most important thing ever.  Well, let's just say, during my hell week, I wouldn't mind being on an island. Alone.  I love my husband. I love my children. I love my family.  But it's hard being a functional human during this time.  I put on a good front for the kids because no one wants a cruddy mommy.  And I put on my adult face and go to work when I don't want to(don't we all).  But chemo is kind of an asshole.

It takes 7 hours. 7. 7 hours of drugs through an IV.  It's not all terrible. We don't have cable at home so while I sit there I get to watch bad reality TV on Bravo. You have to take the perks where you can get them.  One of the drugs I get while I sit there is Benadryl.  They give me a bag of liquid Benadryl.  A bag.  Puts me right to sleep!  Which sounds like it should be enjoyable, but they're also pumping me with fluids, so I have to pee a lot.  And the pump constantly beeps when the meds need to be changed.  So I kind of just sit through the afternoon in a drunken/sleepy state.  I'm entertaining for visitors, so if you need a place to spend your lunch break every 3rd Thursday, I'll save you a chair!

Each round leaves me feeling a little crappier than the last.  I've grown to dread them as they get closer but I find that I get through them easier if I compare them to a long run.  The day leading up I'm thinking of excuses to get out of it but I'm thinking of how great I'll feel when it's done.  A couple days into hell week when I'm feeling my worst is like the middle of the long run.  I question why I'm doing it. I'm recognizing that it would be easier to give up, but more rewarding if I don't.  I think of all the other patients/runners that do this and don't give up.  I remind myself that this feeling isn't forever.  Then the days start to get easier and it's like you're nearing the finish line - I'm happier that I'm almost done and I'm excited to feel better again.

This also shows you that you don't want to be in my head while I'm running.  I swear I enjoy it, I really do, but there's always pep talks.

So that's my update.  Thank you for reading.  Thank you for your positive thoughts. Thank you for taking part in any of the several fundraisers for my family.  Thank you for dinners.  Thank you for hugs.  Thank you for notes and letters and messages.  Thank you for still being my friend & family member even though it takes me 6 months to thank people for the nice things they've done for us.  I'm honored to have so many people with me on my adventures.

Photo courtesy of Ben Richey, Roswell Park

Photo courtesy of Ben Richey, Roswell Park

4 down. 2 to go!


Lynn said...

Sharing your story with such humor and grace inspires so many, Les. Thank you. xoxo

Christina Abt said...

You give us all so many things to think about, Lesley. Thank you for writing when you can. Your words make a difference.

Mary Lou Hewitson said...

I read this and remember what it was like 5 years ago. I have lymphoma and had chemo...not as strong drugs as you are getting but still the experience...I survived it and know you can too. Stay strong and know we are all praying and supporting you.

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May God bless you and may you have a speedy recovery. I am amazed and astonished to see that how brave you are and I want you to stay the same. Much love.