Archive for the ‘{16} May Updates’ Category

Pure.

June 1, 2009

A series of images in a waiting room book inspired this spontaneous (self-timer/tripod) photo shoot today.

Sweet.  Simple.  Pure.

053109-2

053109-5

Advertisements

The Heist

May 28, 2009

For the past week I’ve been sporting my slowly growing “new do” all around town and it’s beginning to feel more comfortable, with only the occasional wide-eyed stares from little kids or the curious second glances from adults. But each week I brush out my wig and slip it on while I spend the afternoon with my Grandma who has mid-level Alzheimers.

Early on I had a heart felt conversation with her, but I’m fairly certain she has long forgotten that discussion, and it’s just easier to pretend that the wig is my natural hair than to go into the repeated details of my diagnosis, details that would only make her feel terrible that she could not remember.  Normally, I put on the wig when I leave the house, but today I wanted it off for as long as possible, so as I pulled up in front of her care home, I scanned the sidewalks for any pedestrians and then quickly slipped my wig on as if I was about to commit a grand bank heist.  I laughed out loud at how ridiculous this was looking.

Just as soon as my hair is long enough to look like an intentional style, I’ll ditch the wig all together and just tell her that I decided to do something radical for summer, but in the meantime, I’ll be donning my “mask” every Wednesday afternoon.

My $400 Hat

May 26, 2009

Donations have continued to come in for me and Saundra, and I’m proud to say that I’ve surpassed the $2200 mark which means I will receive the Champion Fundraiser Avon baseball cap, a reward given to those who have exceeded the minimum fund-raising goal by $400+. Thanks again for your support!!

p.s.  Saundra has almost reached her goal, with a mere $325 left to raise!

fundraiser-hat750

Is it my imagination or did I just pee?

May 24, 2009

Mammograms get a bad rap for being unpleasant, but I think the breast MRI should get the dreaded award.  Of course I don’t won’t to plant any unnecessary fear into anyone because it is an important machine, but I could really do without another for awhile.

Last week marked 6 months since my first MRI, so I happily tootled into the office for my scheduled second MRI appointment.  Apparently the chemo drugs had nearly wiped out any memory of this experience because I might not have been so chipper.  All was going as I vaguely recalled, until the nurse mentioned starting my IV.  First thing I didn’t remember.  Once that was completed, I eased my bare self into the crazy face-down contraption on the table all while trying not to use my IV’d left arm.  With earplugs inserted and earmuffs over that, the nurse instructed me to lay perfectly still, breath normally and not to take any deep breaths.  It’s kind of like someone saying, “Don’t think of a big grey elephant.”  Well, just as the image of an elephant shoots into your head, the same went for my instant need to take deep cleansing breaths.

The table slid my body into the giant tube, the nurse told me this first imagery will last 2 minutes and the very loud clanking began.  All in all, I had somewhere around 7 different “images” taken, one of which lasted 15 minutes straight.  For nearly 45 minutes total, with short 30 second breaks in between, I attempted to meditate myself through the clanking and pulsing of the machine, all while trying to dismiss the thoughts of grey elephants and deep breaths.

And two more interesting experiences while on the table; 1) She tested my IV line with a saline solution to ensure it was inserted into my vein correctly.  As the solution squirted into the little vial attached to my arm, a weird taste filled my mouth, a side effect which she warned me about.  Rhetorically speaking, how does something in my arm go instantly into my taste buds??  2)The other side effect that happened midway through is unpleasantly odd and the only saving grace was that I had read about this phenomenon months back, otherwise I might have panicked since the nurse did not warn me.  I’m not even sure how to explain this other than the IV concoction sent a very warm flushed feeling to my “who-who” and it felt as if I was peeing uncontrollably; like the flood gates had opened up all over myself.  Why would a drug make that sensation and why has this oddity gone unfixed!?

I’ll wrap up with the whole reason I’m writing today; my MRI images all came back normal and whatever they were “keeping an eye on” has gone away.  All is good!

Ask.

May 21, 2009

The topic of what not to say has been discussed in months past, but I think it’s also important to share my perspective of what is ok to say. (Thank you Jenny for reminding me of this topic!)

Last weekend I braved a crowd of hundreds of semi-familiar faces, some of whom I know by face, some by name and many are good friends.  I was once again branching out into new territory with only a small safety net of a little hat plunked onto my head and it was kind of scary.  The day was full of smiles, conversations and hugs and I survived my initial insecurity just fine, but a thought struck me on the way home.  Out of the 600+ people that passed by me, not one asked me why I was bald.  In one sense, I was thankful that everyone went about their business without giving me any noticeable second look, but the other half of me kind of felt like many were pretending that the “pink elephant” wasn’t in the room. My dear Vicki said it best when Mike and I came back from a quick zip in her beautiful convertible Mercedes; “Mike drove so fast it blew Megan’s hair off!”  Her witty comment accomplished 3 things; 1) it was really funny, 2) she acknowledged “the elephant” and 3) she let the small crowd of people gathered around know that my topic was not taboo.

Most acquaintances now know of my diagnosis and treatments but some still don’t and for those that don’t I just wanted them to come up to me and say, “Hey, do you mind me asking why you don’t have any hair?” I would have welcomed that question. By no means am I saying that the focus is always on me and my situation, but what I am trying to say is that I think it’s ok to ask someone about their situation, whether you are getting to know them at a party or standing behind them in a grocery line.  I’m fairly certain that all of the women in my BC group would agree.

But I feel the need to empower you with just a little bit more if you decide to take that question out into the world, because if they say “cancer/chemo treatments” than what are you going to say to that response.  Please don’t say, “Oh.” and then stand there awkwardly.  Don’t say “Oh, my ____ died of that same cancer but I’m sure you’ll be fine.”

Just come up with something short, sincere and with a smile, “My ___  just finished with chemo and I’ve learned a lot through her experience.” Or “You look beautiful bald.” Or say, “I had cancer too and I’m proud of you for being so strong in the face of something new.”

{Me & baby Luke last wknd.  I could nibble on his cuteness all day long!}

me and luke

I dream of…

May 19, 2009

I dream of hair…literally.  This morning I awoke practically euphoric from last nights dream, the second I’ve had in recent days.  My hair although very short was thick and cute and I can still recall how it felt to squirt a big glob of gel into my hands and spread it through my hair.  I even had enough length near my ears to mold a subtle flip with the gel holding it in place.  It was a wonderful dream!

As blissful and clear as it was to me, it’s even more exciting to know that I’m gradually getting closer to that actual day.  Each morning I survey my head in the mirror and study the faint blonde hairs that cover my head, and every evening as I sit on the couch or type at the computer I find that I always have one hand incessantly running over my head, a strange habit that many times I’m not even aware of.  I’m surprised Mike hasn’t subtly suggested that I keep my hands folded on my lap to give my hair a rest from the stroking, but he knows how excited I am for it to return.

And I’ve been slowly braving the great outdoors with my noggin!  Margarita and chips were calling my name last Friday and I just couldn’t bear to put on any head covering so I forced a confident smile and went for it.  As we walked down the sidewalk nearing the entrance, I actually noticed my body slowing and beginning to fall in behind Mike’s stride instead of walking beside him.  I clearly wanted to hide.  So I picked up the pace alongside him, broadened my smile even more to mime confidence and as he opened the restaurant door for me, all of the happy-hour patrons turned in unison and gave me a good long look.

Even though I obviously look different, I used my smile as a way to convey to them that I was perfectly healthy and normal and that I had no idea what they could possibly be looking at.  And just in case, I kept a small bit of defense up to protect my fragile and exposed vulnerability, by purposely never locking eyes with anyone as we passed through the restaurant on our way to our table.  But once I was seated, I completely forgot about my obvious missing female accessory and it seemed that everyone else around me did as well.

Reporting for Duty

May 15, 2009

Today marked a small milestone, minute in the grand scheme of life, but still an important step for me.  Thanks to the constant reassurance from Mike and the compliments from so many of you after I posted my recent photos, I decided that today’s outfit didn’t need an extra scarf, hat or wig so I embarked on my daily trip to Rohnert Park with just me, myself and I, giving Lucy and Norma the day off to lounge around on their wig stands.

The finishing touch to today’s outfit was my favorite new necklace, it paired perfectly with my crisp white tee.  I stood in the mirror smiling, mostly trying to convince myself to just go for it today!  But my necklace kept distracting me, and after multiple glances into the mirror, I realized the cute necklace did not quite go with my fuzzy, nearly bald head.  You see, the necklace chain is the same style of chain that is used for military dog-tags.  The chain paired with my white head made me look like I was ready to report for duty; not quite the look I was going for.  Off went the necklace and on went very small hoop earrings instead.  Much better.

Military looking necklaces aren’t the only culprit which can turn my look into a half attempt of a Halloween costume.  I also have to be careful with hoop earrings, because if paired with my typical bandanna than I quickly look like an extra from Pirates of the Caribbean 4.

Well I survived my outing in public!  Of course I use the word public lightly because I only drove straight to the radiation center and everyone there is used to seeing men and women bald.  No one batted an eye and I know that’s what I needed for my “first time”.  As I made my way back home I was careful not to look at the cars idling to my left or right when I was stopped at an intersection, and when I remembered a couple items I planned to pick up at the store, I convinced myself that the trip could wait another day.  I’m just not quite ready for that next step yet.

The Fly

May 14, 2009

Previous radiation patients warned me before I began my treatments that “the machine” has somewhat frequent breakdowns and that I should expect last minute phone cancellations as I’m seconds from arriving, or worse be in my gown waiting my turn when someone hands me an unabridged copy of Tolstoy’s War & Peace, something to keep me content as the technicians scramble to solve the complexity of its parts.  It’s really not that surprising considering that the radiation machine probably had 85 MIT graduates mastermind its birth and has about as many moving parts as one of those unmanned satellites that can navigate itself around Mars and return back home on schedule.

So yesterday as I made my way up Hwy 101 I wasn’t that surprised when my phone rang and it was a familiar voice with a very regrettable tone.  First the message was ‘there’s hope it might be fixed soon’.  Then a second message of, ‘don’t bother coming in, even though you’re probably 100 yards from the parking lot, because the machine is down for the day, possibly two’.  Well, I was already there and suited up for my daily walk so I took the lag time and cruised the streets to complete my 3 miles of training for the day.

With my walk complete, I stopped in to see if there was any hope that the machine was working.  It’s not that I want to get my daily dose of radiation, but as exciting as a snow day is for a school kid, there’s always that dreaded realization that any day off now means one more day is tagged onto the end, and that I did not want! The tech, said with about 50% uncertainty, “Yea, I think it might be working; we can give it a try.”  Not the most reassuring answer I want when I’m the one on the table.  I quickly followed up with a somewhat joking, somewhat not question, “It’s not going to turn me into The Fly or something is it?”  He sensed my unease and over repeated his promise that the machine has many, many safety mechanisms.  Of course my next thought was, well if it’s broken what’s not to say that the safety mechanism is broken, but instead of pushing the matter I took his word and happily got my daily dose.

Now as I scan the mirror for the much anticipated hair on my head, I might just give a quick look on my backside too, just to be sure there’s no mysterious course black hairs poking through my shirt.

Strike A Pose

May 12, 2009

Over time I’ve become quite comfortable with my bald-beautiness, walking around the house thinking nothing of it.  You can even spot me on occasion in a restaurant or grocery store with just my bandanna and baseball cap while the safety of my wig stays at home.  I feel totally normal bee-bopping around until I notice someone giving me a second glance and then I remember that my look is a bit out of the norm.

But with all of that said, my comfort is being tested by unveiling myself to those of you outside the safety of my walls; the safety of my husband who kisses my bald head every day and confesses that he’s going to miss it when its gone because it’s “so cute”.

The premise of the photo shoot is fairly simple.  I wanted to feel beautiful, yet the clothing and location needed to evoke some of the more difficult adjectives that I’ve felt in the last few months; barren, cold and desolate.  The story will then continue in a year or so, with another photo shoot at an opposing location, with a full head of hair and adjectives that will tell the story of perseverance, vitality and victory.

Giving a pose other than a camera-facing-smile was difficult, so I channeled every last bit of America’s Next Top Model that I’ve viewed while plopped on my couch, then paired it with Doug’s creative direction and before we knew it, we had our selves some beautiful photos.

Megan-0010

Megan-0021bw

Megan-0036bw

Megan-0200bw

Megan-0195
Lastly, many heart-felt thanks once again to Douglas Thompson, who helped bring this idea to life!

The Human Race

May 10, 2009

A quick walking update…

Today Mike and I walked in the Human Race, which is a light-hearted 10k that meanders through Howarth Park and Spring Lake.  However we are now practically professional walkers, so we scoffed at the thought of a mere 10k, we turned our noses to the feeble mortals around us, and as we neared the finish line, we took a quick detour and repeated a modified version of the same route to add another 3.5 miles to meet my recommended training distance for today.  Our added mileage meant we returned to the finish line and bevy of fun booths at the precise moment when all of the fun freebie pens and catchy brochures were all packed away, so we took our pompous selves to scrounge for a souvenir t-shirt in the back of a Uhaul van and then we hobbled to our truck, where I promptly took an Advil to ease my seizing muscles.  Ok, so perhaps I’m not the walking goddess I envisioned just quite yet.

Mike was going to snap a picture of me at the finish line, but I completely forgot, so all I have to share is this snapshot I took in one of the ladies restrooms at the park.  Let me just say I’ve never peed so fast in my life!

toilets