Next Phase …

radiation-day-1-11-18-16Whew! Well, it’s been a long wait. After a series of minor complications, I’m finally moving into the next phase of post-chemo, post-lumpectomy care — radiation.

I took this picture as I was walking in, Day 1, Nov 18.

It will be daily, for seven weeks, so it’ll go on throughout the holidays and will take me through the new year.

But the good news is that the treatments are super-duper fast (about 15 mins max). And the side effects are supposed to be minimal — maybe some fatigue as time goes on, plus maybe some sunburned feeling.

But I’m ready to do this and just get it over with! Here we go …

Post-Chemo Hair

14462846_10207564052075945_8098908718771189890_nWell, my post-chemo hair is slowly coming in. (At the amazing rate of about 1/4 inch per month … sheesh.)

It’s a little distressing how slow it’s growing.

And, of course, how grey it is. (I mean, I knew it was a little grey under my usual color, but c’mon!!)

But then I became so happy that I had hair at all — and that I didn’t have to wear hats on hot days — that I just kind of shrugged my shoulders and went with it. I figure it’s probably just as well to have easy-peasy hair when you’re still racing around to doctor’s appointments and have to constantly be changing clothes in doctor’s offices or lying down on tables. And now I’m quite liking the ridiculous ease of it all. (Basically wash, run a towel through, and you’re good to go.)

When a friend of mine called it “silver” the other day instead of “grey,” I even started to come to peace with the color.

I’ll still probably color it and grow it out eventually. (I mean, I did just turn 50. I’m already sensitive.) But for now it’s so easy and convenient that I’m going to leave it while I finish my treatments.

And I do have a bit to go.

I’ve been lying low since my surgery in July, but for whatever reason my incisions just didn’t heal. Continue reading

My True Hero

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Many people scoff at romance novels (and romance novelists) and say they create unrealistic views of love and men.

But you know what?

I don’t think we do.

Sure, romance writers idealize/ romanticize many settings, scenes and lines of dialogue – what novelist doesn’t? – but I don’t think I’m coming out of left field with the fact that there are many, many good men out there who love unconditionally and truly, and who know how to love well.

Case in point – my husband.

Yep.

I’ve always called him “Superman” on this blog, since I started it in 2009, (and here’s why), but he’s raised the bar considerably in recent months as he’s come to my rescue during cancer.

Here’s what a real-life hero looks like:

  • Within about 2 days of our hearing my cancer diagnosis at the Breast Cancer Center, a package came from Amazon with a little bell in it. It was from my husband. He said it was for me to ring anytime I needed anything. It was a beautiful, symbolic gift. So, so sweet. I stare at the bell (which is on my nightstand now) and feel appreciative at the gesture more than I ever actually ring it.
  • He has done ALL the cooking and ALL the grocery shopping and ALL the kitchen chores/cleaning for a long time now (since I’ve been on writing deadlines, which has been about 2 years), but he’s really stepped it up with the cancer diagnosis. This is especially important because we still have a teenager at home who still needs that consistency – that life is still on a regular, expected schedule.
  • He basically goes to the store any time I need something. Like RIGHT THEN. He picks up all my prescriptions, shops for all toiletries, basically rushes across the street to the store any time I vaguely hint that I might want or like or need an item. In about 15 minutes, it’s right in front of me.
  • He got me a housecleaning service! Twice a month. A godsend!
  • On my “down” days during chemo (two days after chemo day, usually Saturday and Sunday), I never feel very social or chatty, so he would always leave me alone exactly when I need it. I would camp out in our bedroom and he would give me full control of the remote/TV all day, or leave me alone with my stack of books.
  • He would make me a healthy protein breakfast every morning (when I could handle it) — eggs/spinach usually. He would bring it upstairs to me and I would eat it while I was getting ready for work. Now I’m mostly drinking “Ensure” shakes because they’re more tolerable, but I appreciated the egg effort so much.
  • He came to any appointment I asked him to.
  • He buys me little things for comfort whenever I express that I want something. Examples: my port incision hurt really bad when I’d use my seatbelt, so he RUSHED out and got me one of those furry things to cover the belt strap; my mouth hurt one weekend and I said other patients seem to use Biotene, so he RUSHED out to find it and brought me home two different products; I had a really bad headache at first after chemo and he RUSHED out to get me one of those frozen masks you put on your face; I felt sad that my Kindle cord wasn’t long enough to read in bed all day so he immediately ordered on Amazon FOUR different 30-foot-long cords!

That’s a true hero.

They’re truly out there.

 

Health Update

Last chemo

I’m so excited that I had my last chemo session yesterday — No. 16 out of 16! I’m a little beat up — I’m tired, bald, have no eyebrows, no eyelashes, I have mild neuropathy in my fingertips and frustrating “chemo fog” in my brain, my fingernails look like someone took a hammer to them, my muscles can’t even seem to open my car hatch, I can’t walk up the stairs without gripping the rail, my purse looks like a grandma’s purse with Kleenexes and pill bottles, but ….

I’m DONE!

And my doctor assures me that all these side effects (and there are more!) will go away.

So that’s why even though I have all those side effects, I still have a smile.

The smile is for my gratitude toward God, my doctor, my husband who took care of me, my parents and sis-in-law and so many friends who came with me to chemo and helped me out, all the wonderful friends who texted and sent cards and sent Facebook love and Instagram love and cheered me along, my lovely readers who sent emails and notes to check in on me — just SO MANY people. I’ll be writing more posts for all of you throughout May, to thank you all!

I’ll also be sharing more of my experiences — what chemo is really like, my hat parade, a wonderful surprise hat party that my friends threw for me, what it’s like to be bald, and things that surprised me (the good, the bad, and things in between).

Next up is surgery, planned for the end of May. But before then I need to get my red blood cells and white blood cells (always depleted by chemo) back up, which means that throughout May, I get to relax, rest, and recharge.

(And, because I am who I am, write!)

I love you all! I hope you join me here on the blog through May. …

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