Archive for the ‘{15} April Updates’ Category

Elephant Hair

April 28, 2009

Things are brewing under my wig/scarf/hat, but nothing to get too excited over yet.  My fuzz is growing but I’ve got plenty of time before I’m ready to go “bare” around town.  As I’ve studied my sprout-filled head, the reflection in the mirror kept reminding me of something and I finally realized what it was… my hair (I use that term loosely)  kind of resembles baby elephant hair!   Although, the elephant gets more credit than I do at this point because his hair is a little thicker and longer (or should I say taller) than mine, and it looks like he could use a good dose of the sesame oil that I use every morning to smooth my hair down flat.

Oh well, at least something is happening!

On a side note:  The baby elephant in this photo is only 8 days old and he so cute I can hardly stand it!  I want a real baby elephant, pretty please, I promise to take care of him and pick up after him, and I have plenty of room in the backyard, so please, please, please can I get one?!

elephant-8-days-old

Walk, Walk and More Walk

April 26, 2009

Walking has been on my mind lately and clearly it was for these musicians too.  Johnny Cash Walked the Line, Frankie Vallie Walked Like a Man, Run DMC Walked This Way, Marc Cohn likes to Walk in Memphis and The Police are Walking in Your Footsteps.  And for me, I’m just plain ‘ol walking.

The slightly sadistic Training Plan from Page 45 of my Avon Walk booklet has been torn out and it sits on my desk within an arms reach so I can plan each day around my walking schedule, which I’d like to add needs the time equivalent of a part time job.  I just completed week 2 of training and logged 31.5 miles in 10 days!  Not too shabby!  And on that note I’d like to say thank you again because, I’ve exceeded my $2,000 Avon walking goal, and Saundra is getting closer to her goal each day; as I type this she’s only $405 away from her goal!

Well, enough chatting, I have to lace up my shoes and head out.  There’s more walking that needs to be done!

De Plane, De Plane!

April 23, 2009

It’s official… I now have four little tattoos!

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Ha, I think that’s so funny!!  And if you don’t get the joke than you were probably born in the 80’s or later and I don’t have the energy (in my old 1971 age) to explain the joke.

Ok, in all seriousness, I had my “dry run” radiation appointment today so everything is set for my first appointment on May 4th.  First, I changed into my unisex “waist up, open in the front” hospital gown which I’d like to add has two ties on the front which do absolutely nothing to hide the naked bits underneath.  So all of us male and female patients are walking around from the radiation room to the changing rooms wearing this slightly uncomfortable half smile with our hands clutching the gown while simultaneously crossing our arms over our chest.  I mean really, has no one thought of a gown with a zipper or snaps!?  I’m not going to go through this gown fidgeting nonsense for six weeks, so I’ve already found an old sash-like scarf that I’ll keep on hand so I can tie my gown up nice and tight.

Next, I was ushered into the radiation room which is different than the CAT scan room and I got situated onto the table into my custom form which is used to keep me perfectly still and in place.  The two technicians spoke foreign radiation gibberish, used their sharpie markers to make ink marks all over my chest, took measurements to the mm with a special ruler and then snapped images of my breast with a digital camera.  At one point the camera concerned me a little, but I quickly dismissed the paranoia because I realized it’s highly unlikely that he would be secretly uploading the shots to a mastectomy/scar fetish website for a small profit.

After all of this, he dabbed a little ink onto each of the four designated areas, got out a sterile needle, and within a few minutes I had officially received my first tattoo.  Kind of unceremonious and frankly if I pointed out the tiny dots out to you, you’d have to squint, look closer, and say “oh yea, I can kind of see it now”.

{If they allow me, I’ll get an actual image of the room at my next appointment. In the meantime, here’s a close replica of my experience.}

guided-radiation-therapy

Secure About Insecurities

April 21, 2009

Yesterday started off like most Mondays with a list of responsibilities, errands and work, however with one phone call from Mike, the day quickly morphed into an ideal day to play hooky and to push aside all of our adult tasks into the remaining days of the week on the calendar.  So Mike and I threw a few essentials into an over-sized beach bag, slathered on sunscreen onto our Spring colored bodies and rushed off to Stinson Beach which had forecasts reporting of a rare 90 degree day!

Once there and unpacked and with me happily poised in my beach chair with my toes digging into the already warm sand, I had to recite my own mantra (more than once); “Showing insecurity is more unattractive than the body part perceived flawed”. Because 12 weeks of chemo, abundant couch time, a bald head, a reconstructed right breast and with visible black X’s strangely marking my body (which did get many second glances) tested my fortitude.  I reminded myself that everyone has some sort of physical insecurity, even those perfectly proportioned, drop dead gorgeous models we see in magazines.  So the message that I was so clearly reminded of yesterday and which I am trying to convey today, is that beauty does not come in the form of a perfect body; beauty comes from many, many attributes including, confidence despite any self-induced insecurity.

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X Marks the Spot

April 14, 2009

With chemo now behind me, I’m moving onto the next phase of “to be super duper sure we got it all” treatments which is radiation.  It will be a pain free procedure where a beam of radiation will cover a portion of my chest and the beam will send the sound free energy into my skin for about 12 minutes each day, Monday-Friday for 5 to 6 weeks.

Yesterday I had my preliminary appointment and the technician used the “1001 uses” Sharpie black marker to make X’s all over my chest and side to get me perfectly lined up with the machine.  The black X’s were then covered with a thin clear sticker and it is now my job to make sure these stickers and marks do not get washed off in the shower before next weeks appointment.  I can shower regularly, but just no scrub-a-dub-dubbing on the areas.

Once all of my marks were measured, photographed and noted in my chart I was then rolled into the CAT Scan machine.   The scan was quick and no big deal, but I do want to share this funny insight.  As I stayed motionless on the table and the machine began to slowly start its process, I was instantly taken to that scene in Contact when Jodi Foster is about to travel through time and space in that contraption.  The CAT Scan machine began to whir louder and louder and the spinning ring moved faster and faster and I chuckled to myself; I hope I don’t travel into another dimension because just like the movie, they’ll never believe me!

Next week will be my second “dry run” appointment and are you ready for this… I will be getting my first tattoo!  They will remove my black Sharpie X’s and make a perfect little permanent tattoo; a blue-black dot about the size of a freckle on 3 different areas on my chest which will line up with the radiation machine.  The tattoos are important for the next 6 weeks worth of procedures as well as important markers in case I ever needed more radiation in 20 or 40 years.  It’s not what I envisioned for my first tattoo, but it will have a story none the less!

So, having radiation beamed into my body is just one more thing I’d rather not partake in, but it is effective.  The side effects will be nothing like chemo but I can expect some fatigue, which I’ve been living with for the last 12 weeks anyway so that is nothing new, and I’ll probably be sporting a very, very tan/slightly burned 8″ x 8″ square on my chest for months.   I’ve been instructed to keep that area out of the sun for next year because it’s basically 300 days worth of tanning squeezed into 6 weeks!  I’ll be mindful this summer, but next year… yea, that’s unlikely!

I won’t be radioactive, unlike some patients actually are for other cancer treatments and they cannot be near babies and pregnant women, but since I will not be, you can spare me from the Radioactive song by The Firm.  Lastly, the daily sessions will begin early May and this will mean the drive from Sonoma to Rohnert Park will get old very quick, but I’ll probably buzz down to the library this week and find a good book on CD to keep me entertained.  Maybe I’ll look for Contact.

{A CT Machine}

ct-scan

2,000 Units of Love

April 13, 2009

Even though I was continually reassured by many that I could do it, I still had doubts that little ‘ol me could raise $2,000 for my Avon walk, but I am so proud to say, thanks to so many friends and family, I have reached my goal!!

If you’ve been meaning to donate but just haven’t gotten around to it, I’m still rallying for support, but this time I’m asking for donations for my dear friend Saundra who has happily committed to being my walking buddy.  I couldn’t do this daily training and big walk without some physical support so I’m thankful she will be by my side every step of the way.  So donating to her is directly supporting me!  Here’s her donation link or you can contact me if you want to send a check.

And just because you won’t be walking beside me doesn’t mean you can’t be there in spirit because as I promised, I’m bringing all of my supporters along with me in a unique way, with their names written on a bright pink scarf. I’m adding names daily and I’d love to add your name to the team!  I have to say, that sometimes I won’t give any money because I’m embarrassed of the small amount I have to offer, but all money adds up and I’m so grateful whether it is $10 or $200.  So be a part of something big, be a part of the walking team and get your name on the scarf!!

avon-walk-scarf(note:  many names have been added since this photo was taken)

Chemo-Schmeno!

April 10, 2009

Let us all take a moment to do a little happy dance because the last chemo is behind me! As you read this at your computer of choice, tap the keyboard to a snappy beat, swivel in your chair and wiggle your arms over your head because having this treatment completed is a victory for all of us!

The side effects of the last chemo were pretty much like the other three; some aspects were a little worse, some better. I was able to enjoy tap water this time, but the chemical accumulation started stock piling in my body and the physical fatigue was astounding. I pretty much spent Saturday-Tuesday on the couch. Day and night blurred together with little differentiating qualities. Daytime was spent curled up on the couch with me laying on my left side, snugly tucked under a big blanket with the tv remote in my hand and a ridiculous array of beverages neatly placed in a row, all trying to appease my fickle pallet; water, apple with prune juice and grapefruit juice. The evening was nearly identical with an ever slight change; same big blanket and scrunched up down pillow but now my back faced the exhausted television which was probably grateful for some “shut-eye” as well, all the while my dreams would take me to weird toxic induced places.

My resting heart worked hard just to pump to my extremities and walking to the refrigerator made it thump as if I just climbed a flight of stairs. For a couple days my legs were so weak I literally stood in the shower with my winter-white knees slightly bent like a little old lady and my calf muscles would begin to burn just from standing. Not from repetitive squats with a sadistic personal trainer or a mountainous stage in the Tour de France, they would burn just from standing!! Luckily the ridiculousness was quickly replaced with compounding endurance each day and now with those Old Mother Hubbard shower moments just a few days passed, I was able to walk a decently paced 3 mile walk today, and with no nap needed afterward thank you very much!

If you need to find me in the coming weeks check the bathroom first because I’ll most likely be there standing quietly with my hand-held magnifying mirror looking for promising sprouts of hair fighting to make a comeback.  Oh how I look forward to that day!!

Sedated Joy

April 2, 2009

After weeks and weeks of faith and endurance, it is with sedated joy that I will walk into the infusion center for my last chemo tomorrow!  A day that I have been waiting for, a day that I expected to be full of joy and celebration, however this happy and momentous day has been diluted with tears because my beloved Kirby Sheepdog’s health took a sudden turn for the worse this week.  Her silly and lovely spirit has been squelched practically overnight by a large tumor which has left her listless and ill.  My overall gratitude has been smothered with sorrow and my smile has been washed away with tears these last couple of days.  Instead of planning a chemo party, my thoughts have been focused on the thought of having to put her down; something that I did not plan on for several more years.

Just as quickly as I fill my body with glasses of water which will help to plump up my veins for tomorrow’s needle, the water exits out my eyes into a damp and crumpled tissue.  And these last couple of days that would normally be devoted to my ‘to do list’ has shifted to eeking out every bit of time with her; sitting beside her; just petting her and telling her what a wonderful dog she is.

Today we said goodbye to her.  After these 4 days of unrest, she seemed ready and she went peacefully.  She was such a wonderful dog and every quirky moment of hers brought us laughter and joy.  She became a part of our family over 10 years ago.  She watched the school kids go by in Napa, she spent endless hours of exploring in Hooper Meadows, and she aged gracefully in Sonoma.  I know her spirit is currently lounging on a big piece of cool carpet and she has a buffet of all you can eat popcorn.  I love you Kirby.

napa-porch

snow

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