Wednesday, November 28, 2012

Clumps of hair

Today is the day that I've been dreading. My hair officially started to fall out. Since I have an abundance of hair, I'm used to my hair shedding all the time; in the shower, when I brush it, all day, everyday. But this is so different. Clumps of hair. And strands of hair just fall out with the slightest touch. It sucks a lot.

This morning as I brushed my hair and noticed the huge clump that came out I just broke into sobs. I don't want to lose my hair. And its not really even about hair its about so much more than that. Right now I just look like a normal person. But once my hair is gone I'm going to look sick. To strangers. Everyone's going to know that I am fighting cancer. Everyday when I get dressed I'm going to be reminded that I have cancer. I spend a lot of my time trying to forget that.

During my breakdown this morning I kind of wanted to shave all my hair off Britney Spears style. Just to get it over with. It feels like the build up before surgery when I just worked myself up so much about it and it ended up being perfectly fine. I'm hoping that like the day of surgery, on Saturday I'll be more at peace and relaxed. It SUCKS. All of this just sucks BUT I have to still remember that my hair will grow back (and if its anything like my hair now, I'll have a full head of hair a month after chemo ends!) and that losing my hair means that the chemo is doing what I need it to do. Luckily for future generations of breast cancer fighters they are working on chemo that just kills your cancer cells and not ALL of your rapid growing cells. That would be amazing!

I saw this story on Monday and I was SO incredibly touched. Colts cheerleader Megan bet Colts fans that if they raised $10,000 for Leukemia research she would shave her head in honor of the Colts coach Chuck Pagano. Not only did fans raise $10,000, they exceeded their goal and raised $22,000!! So Megan held up her end of the bargain  in front of EVERYONE at the game on Sunday. And not only did Megan do it, but Crystal decided at the last minute to do it too! See pictures here! I felt like this story happened this past weekend just for me. These women were so brave to do this when they didn't HAVE to. (But again...please don't do this for me!).

I'm still on the fence about the whole wig situation. I love the one I picked out at the American Cancer Society but I just feel like I'm not fooling anyone. I think that the wig is more for me to feel like a real person again but I'm not sure I see it that way yet. Of course I might look at my big bald head on Saturday and never take the wig off (except in the kitchen- they're highly flammable!) or I might love the bald me. We'll see on Saturday. I am pretty interested to know what I look like bald although I never thought I would find out.

I've been prepping Mackenzie about how mommy is going to shave her head "like daddy's" and she has been saying that she wants to shave her head like daddy too. She JUST got some hair so I definitely cannot let her do it! But I think its cute. I'm still so worried about what her reaction is going to be. But I think I'm not going to let her see me until I get myself together and can put a smile on my face about it. I'm hoping that if I seem like I like it then she will like it too. I've also heard the suggestion of letting her color on it a little bit to lighten the mood.

And I'm going to miss our nightly hair brushing sessions. Mackenzie is such a caring little girl and I know that I am going to miss that so much. I'm hopeful that she will be as excited as I am when my hair starts to grow back. Right now it just makes me so sad every time she touches my hair because I know that those mother/daughter moments are ending. Well just the hair part of those moments. I know that we will continue to bond in other ways but I sure will miss that. I'll have to find other things for her to do...maybe put lotion on my poor bald head! Or rub it for good luck.

But to end on a happy note I am looking forward to a few things. Getting ready in the morning will be so much easier without having to straighten my hair. Showers will be quicker. I won't have to worry about drying my hair. And I won't have hair every where from my daily shedding. But only for a couple months. I can't wait for my hair to grow back all ready!

Sunday, November 25, 2012


Thanksgiving is my favorite holiday. Good food and family...what more could you need!

I'm thankful for a lot this year. I'm so thankful that I was diagnosed when I was. Even though I don't want to have cancer. I'm so lucky that I found out that I have it when I did. Not knowing about it wouldn't mean it wasn't there and that's what I have to keep telling myself.

Thanksgiving day we woke up and I made cinnamon buns and we watched the Thanksgiving Day Parade. Mackenzie wore her Cinderella dress and danced to the music for 3 hours.

After the parade, we went to my parents house. We played and played until dinner was almost ready and then Mackenzie just couldn't stay awake anymore. She slept through Thanksgiving dinner, just like she did 2 years ago at her first Thanksgiving! But the rest of us ate and enjoyed it. It was delicious!

Friday, my brother and I went to Gravely Point and Arlington National Cemetery. Our grandparents are buried there but I have never been there to sight see. I always just go to see them. We walked to where the Kennedy's are buried and to the Lee House. Then we walked to the Tomb of the Unknown Soldier. We waited almost 45 minutes to watch the changing of the guard. It was a cool ceremony to see.

View from Lee House
Changing of the guards

I love this time of year so much. I really can't wait to decorate for Christmas. I all ready started on my ornament wreath that's been going around Pinterest! And I'm excited that Mackenzie gets holidays more and more. She knows that Christmas is Jesus' birthday AND that Santa brings presents. She picked out Princess wrapping paper and wanted to open it and I had to tell her that Santa only accepts wrapping paper that is brand new. So far that's worked!

Next weekend is my head shaving party and I'm still not ready for it. I know either I shave my head or my hair falls out. I'd rather feel like its under my control, even if its not. I bought a new hat today and I've received 2 free hats. Luckily its winter so hats are totally appropriate AND I don't have to worry about my head getting a sun burn all the time! I think that hardest part of losing your hair is that you start to look sick. Right now strangers have no idea that I have cancer. Next weekend it will be obvious. Not when I'm wearing a wig but I don't really plan on wearing it that often. But luckily starting March 1 my hair will start to grow back. I'm hoping it will be the same color and just as thick. Regardless of the color it will be SO healthy! I'm going to miss picking all my split ends!

Tuesday, November 20, 2012

5 days later

It's been 5 days since my first chemo. I was too afraid to post anything because I'm really superstitious and I didn't want my symptoms to get worse. I always hope for the best and prepare for the worst and I think I did pretty good this round considering.

I took my anti-nausea medicine almost immediately after my last post and took it every night for the first 3 nights as a safety net. My stomach has felt pretty uneasy since Thursday but today after lunch it finally feels better. I diagnosed myself with chemo induced lactose intolerance. I didn't eat any dairy today and felt much better. I'm not sure if its because its 5 days later or I didn't eat dairy. I'll have to ask my doctor (or maybe I'll eat ice cream later to test it!).

My worst symptoms this round were exhaustion, having no taste and the stomach uneasiness. I could have slept 24 hours a day but for some reason I would force myself to stay up for most of the day. It caught up to me yesterday after I stayed up all day on Sunday. My doctor told me to underdo my normal activities and while I did, I should have actually slept a little more. I wasn't eating a lot on Friday-Sunday because I couldn't taste anything and I felt like it was kind of a waste of food. I also found out that my stomach is mixing up its signals and I wouldn't realize I was hungry until I was starving, which would make me more nauseous and then I would eat too much because I was so hungry would would also make my stomach hurt. Maybe that's why my stomach hurt so bad yesterday!

My Neulasta shot wasn't too bad. It stings A LOT going in but after I didn't have too much pain. They nurses tell you to take Claritin the night before and then the 3 nights after. I only had mild leg discomfort, more like restless leg feeling than actually pain. I've heard pretty terrible things about that shot and I have also heard that however you react the first time is how you'll react each time. I hope that's the case for me!

Emotionally I'm doing decent I think. I went through a little pity party on Sunday and laid in my bed in the dark by myself while my husband and child played downstairs. I just am not 100% ready to lose my hair and I just kind of realized that there's no turning back now. The chemo is in. A lot of times I think about how much I want to go back to July when all I had to worry about was when to get pregnant to have the baby in whichever month I wanted. But then I realized that even if I went back to July, I would still have cancer. And even if I never went to the doctor, the cancer would be there. Which would be worse because I wouldn't know about it. No one wants to go through this and especially not in their 20's. But I have to keep remembering that there is life after this. And I have to especially remember that there is a life during this that still has to be lived to its fullest every day.

So after I ended my pity party, I went downstairs and I danced to princess movies with my beautiful daughter. Because that's how I want my life to be lived. And I want to show her that although sometimes laugh is REALLY REALLY hard and it seems unfair, you have to remember that each moment can be full of happiness.

Thursday, November 15, 2012

Chemo round 1

Today I got my first round of chemo. It's so weird how non nonchalant everything is. They paired me with a nice lady who was here for her 2nd round of the same chemo. It was nice to sit and be able to chat with her about how she felt from her first round until now and she is doing great. She hardly had any side effects.

Too much stuff? And no that's not tequila in the brown bag!
When I got there and checked in I went to the infusion center. My nurse gave me a tour of the center. The bathrooms (only for patients...not even the staff can use them!), the kitchen (they have a fridge filled with water, soda, juice) and they have a water machine for hot and cold water and hot chocolate and a Keurig for coffee. It all says patients only but they were allowing family/friends to use it too so maybe it depends on how busy it is. I packed a giant bag full of food- sandwiches, pretzels, popcorn, applesauce, skittles for me, chocolate covered pretzels for George, a drink for him. We were definitely over prepared which is good. I commented to the nurse about how big my bag was and she told me that it was pretty small compared to some other people which made me feel great!

Then it was finally time to get started. First the nurse accessed my port which just felt like a little needle stick (I have lidocaine to put on it before I go) and then I got my pre-chemo drugs- anti-nausea and steroids.

Hi port! 
After those were done I felt a little sleepy but then I started the first chemo drug which is bright red. The nurse has to push that through the iv and that took about 10-15 minutes.

Then she hooked up my next chemo drug and that one dripped for about an hour or so. It had to be covered by a green bag because its sensitive to light. So weird. The third drug can cause allergic reactions and my nurse sat with me when that started and talked to me about all my prescriptions to see if I had any reactions to it (I did not!).

It was surprisingly relaxing. We were home around 2:15 so from start to finish it took about 3.5 hours which was 2.5 hours less than they told me it would take. I probably could have slept the whole time but I wanted to see what was going on so I could ask questions and also I have to confirm my name and date of birth before each drug was started.

Tomorrow I have to go back for my shot of Neulasta. Neulasta is a medication that helps increase blood cells and immunity. Its supposed to hurt in your bones which sounds scary. So tonight I'll take my steroid for chemo and then claritin for the Neulasta. The claritin is supposed to block something in Neulasta so it doesn't hurt as much. It works for some people but not everyone. I also have vicodin if it doesn't work!

Right now I'm feeling a little nauseous. I'm not sure if its a side effect of chemo or I just don't really have much in my stomach. I ate dinner and a snack. I'm hesitant to take the medication and I don't know why. I hate taking any type of medication but I don't want to feel sick if I don't have to. So I'll probably add it to my bed time medication list.

The meal train site is going great so far! Thanks everyone who have signed up so far! We have about 8 dates filled so far! Let me know if you want the link and I'll send it to you!

Only FIVE more rounds of chemo to go!!! 

Wednesday, November 14, 2012

One good egg

Tuesday I went for my egg retrieval. The process of it went very well but the retrieval itself was poor. Some how after 8 days of injections (most days the injections were twice a day) they only could get one egg. I'll spare you all the details of what I think happened because I know my body so well but I'm looking forward to talking to the doctor tomorrow when he calls. I immediately burst into hysterics when the doctor told me he only got one egg after the procedure but now I'm more angry than anything else. Right now I'm feeling like I want to find a surrogate immediately and see what happens. I don't want to hold on to it for 5 years to see if we can make a baby with it.

This whole fertility thing is looking more and more like a scam everyday. I know it helps so many people but it's like a factory. People came from the Eastern Shore and Ocean City when I was there Tuesday. I thought my drive to Rockville was far but the Eastern Shore couple left at 3 am! I guess I'm just feeling bitter. I need the doctor how this could go SO wrong for someone who doesn't have a fertility problem. It just costs SO much (even with my cancer discount) and that was my only shot. I don't have another month to try again. Can you imagine if they didn't get any?

Chemo starts tomorrow. I bought sandwich stuff to bring sandwiches tomorrow for lunch plus all my special chemo things like sensodyne toothpaste and biotene mouthwash and unscented lotion and more hand sanitizer. I have my blanket that Michele's mom hand made for me packed and I'm bringing my iPad and I'm sure George will bring his kindle. We'll pack our lunch and some snacks since I'll be there for about 6 hours starting at 10:15. They have a fridge full of drinks for chemo patients so I think we'll be all set. Maybe I'll even get a nap in!

I'm not really nervous about tomorrows appointment but I'm a little anxious about how I'll feel the days after. I'm a little nervous about using my port. They gave me a numbing lotion to put on it before I go but the port still is so gross to me. It actually feels better since my mom nicely pulled the steri-strips off for me on Monday (thanks Mom!). But the thought of walking around with an iv coming out of my chest is gross!

I don't usually ask for any help but I set up an account with Meal Train which is a website that friends can sign up for days to bring us meals. If you have time and can bring us something we would really appreciate it. I added dates that I know I'll chemo and the 2 days after. I don't know how I'll feel or if I'll want to eat but I know George and Mackenzie still need to eat! Let me knowing you're interested and I'll forward you the link. It has my address attached so I don't want to give it out on here (not that I think I'll have crazy cancer stackers but still!). 

Monday, November 12, 2012


This weekend I celebrated my 29th birthday. And by weekend I mean since November 1 and until November 30th! On Saturday my mom and I went to Charles Town, WV to do a little gambling! I actually won $150! It was so exciting! We also watched the horse race and I bet on 3 different horses; the 2 I bet to win had odds of like 50-1 which would have paid awesome if they won! I made a safe bet too and he came in 2nd so I won $1.50 on my $5 bet.
My friend Michele and her husband met us there and I also ran into my friend from high school and college Kerrianne! It was great to see them. It was such a relaxing night and I slept in until about 8 which is a nice change!

On our way home Sunday we stopped at the Leesburg Outlets and picked up a couple things then I headed home to see George and Mackenzie. Sunday night we had a great family dinner and then today since its Veteran's Day and we have the day off we slept in a little too. I had to get up to go to the plastic surgeon at 9. I'm getting to where I want to be finally. I think maybe 1 or 2 more expansions should be it.

Tomorrow is my egg retrieval finally. I'm so ready for that process to be over with. My poor left arm is so tired of daily blood draws I think all the blood migrated from my left arm to other parts of my body. One day I was stuck 4 times trying to get blood. We have to be in Rockville at 7 am. Its not going to be a fun morning but I'm looking forward to not having to think about eggs for awhile. Unless its the kind I can have for breakfast. All these injections have made me so exhausted. It feels like when you are first pregnant and you can't keep your eyes open. After all these shots and blood draws I'm really glad I have the port and hopefully my poor arm can get some rest!

I scheduled my first chemo for Thursday. I am so happy that they could start me this week. I didn't know how it would go if I was to start next week because its Thanksgiving. Also next week puts me on the 3 week schedule that I didn't want, not only with Thanksgiving week but also one treatment falls on Mackenzie's birthday. But now it works out. Also I *think* I will be finished with chemo on February 28th so I'll have all of March off and then start Radiation in April and then in May I should be finished with treatments. Then I wait 6 months until I can have my next plastic surgery and then I'll really be done!

I feel more mentally prepared for chemo then I did for my surgery. I think mostly I was just scared about being under anesthesia for so long. I know chemo has side effects and I know that no one can predict how I will react to each drug but they have so many advances in this so I feel pretty comfortable that I will be okay. I know it will be hard and I know I'll have some bad days but in a way it will be good to feel my body fighting hard to kill this cancer. My oncologists office is just so supportive and I all ready have 6 prescriptions to fight against side effects. They want you to call at the first sign of any side effect so they can help you battle it. It definitely isn't a time to try to fight through side effects yourself. I don't usually use medication for headaches or pain unless its REALLY bad. But I'm all for taking something to fight nausea or any other discomfort.

I'm starting to get really annoyed with my hair and in my head I can't wait to get rid of it. I know I will be a crying mess when it actually happens but I keep thinking about how quick my mornings will be and how I won't have to use a straightener or a brush! Well I'll have to wash and brush my wig but I can't straighten it and once its brushed its pretty much set. I think Mackenzie will be the saddest about my hair. She loves to touch and brush my hair but she can always play with my wig if she wants to play with my hair. It makes me laugh a little to think about coming home and changing into comfy clothes and hanging up my wig for the night! I all ready have 3 hats to wear that I got for free but I need to get some cute ones too!

This is a big week for me and I'm actually looking forward to it. The best part will be my first free house cleaning on Wednesday!

Tuesday, November 6, 2012


***I've been writing this post for the last 5 days. For some reason my brain is so scattered and I start writing a post and then forget to finish and publish and then I have to change it because days have passed when I remember to go back to it!...I blame cancer!***

I usually LOVE October. Its fall, my anniversary month and more importantly its SO close to November which is my favorite month of all! But this year October reminded me every.single.minute that I have breast cancer because pink was every where and it was harder than I thought. I get that people want to support cancer but I'm not sure the gimmicks of "Breast Cancer Awareness Month" are helping cancer as much as you might think. Yes its better than $1 from your $50 purchase goes to cancer then NOTHING but using cancer to promote your product or your business disgusts me. I started to write a whole post on this topic but I never finished it or published it because I don't want people to not donate. We NEED awareness and money for early detection and research.

But now its finally over (along with one of my least favorite holidays...Halloween!) and its November. Speaking of Halloween, I have to show pictures of my beautiful Snow White! This was the first time we took her trick or treating and she loved it. She also loved handing out candy.
Bailey supervising Mackenzie and George

November means voting (one of my favorite rights), my birthday MONTH and Thanksgiving (my favorite holiday). I love this time of year. Its colder, the leaves are beautiful and everything is orange and brown and so cozy feeling.

My birthday plans have been up in the air because I didn't know when egg retrieval/ chemo starting would be. I was thinking about having my head shaving party that day because I was thinking chemo would start last week but since its not my mom and I are going to go away on a little R&R trip! Last year we went to Atlantic City and Ocean City, MD for my birthday and I'm glad we did because those areas have been absolutely devastated by Hurricane Sandy.

I've had a ton of doctors appointments recently because of the fertility stuff and I'm getting pretty tired of going. I seriously can't wait for chemo to start. Such a weird thing to say. I know I'm going to have a lot of appointments with chemo too but at least I'll be getting treatment instead of being in this weird state of limbo.

I finally started my injections this weekend and its terrible/not as terrible as I was expecting. My poor husband spent Saturday night waiting for me to get enough courage to get the shot. I tried to do it myself twice but I just couldn't. I kept thinking...If I was at the doctor, they would come in and just do it, why can't you just do it. But something about being at your own house and getting an injection from your husband who has no training is daunting! He should have come to the injection class with me! I am so lucky to have all this medication donated to me by LiveStrong/Fertile Hope but it still sucks to have to do it. Twice when he was about to inject me I broke down in tears about how unfair all of this is.

Tonight will be my 4th night of injections. Tonight will be 2 separate injections (of 3 medications). Then tomorrow morning I start one in the morning and one at night. I really wish I did this right after my mastectomy because the medication makes me so tired and I would have slept so much better!