Did anyone read the article about GMA's Robin Roberts in the Most Beautiful People issue (Matt Damon is on the cover)? She's battling breast cancer and shared her story about losing her hair, her emotional ups and downs and returning to work etc. In the story it mentions that her sister has nicknamed her "Chemo Sobby (Kemo Sabe) because of all of the whining and tears. I thought that was really cute and could relate.
Today I had a Chemo Sobby day. First of all, I have to tell you that going to chemo today was the last thing that I wanted to do today. Or ever for that matter. I just couldn't put my heart and soul into it and go in guns ablazing and cape waving, wearing my smiley face like I had always done in the past. I was without my chemo battle armor. My game gear. My kryptonite. I actually went into work last night at 10pm to finish up a project and considered pulling a Marie Osmand and just driving down I-5 and disappearing for awhile. But the horrible storm made for terrible driving conditions and the lack of funds in my checking account to get a hotel and pay for skyrocketing gas prices and food, knocked some sense into me. This decision to do chemo has been haunting me. So much harder to accept, acknoweledge and attack with my full self as the first time around. I guess it's because now I kind of know what to expect. Although the side effects could be different. I've been through it before, so I'm depleted physcially, emotionally and mentally. Along with my support system. It's like getting the wind knocked out of you. Again. Just when we caught our breath and found a new normal that was working for us.
I'm afraid. I'm scared to death. I have to pull myself out of my pretend world where I was for the last 3 months pretending that I was someone normal again and I really didn't have cancer and accept that I do and it's back and I have to deal with it. Scared of making the wrong decision to do it. Should I try alternative stuff only to save the toll on my body and the risk of affecting my quality of life? Can I really take that chance? I have 2 kids that need me. I want to live as long as I can to see them through as much of their life's journey as I can. What would give me the better odds of that? Is there a happy medium between the two? Eradicate the cancer cells in there that we know are there with chemo asap, and then rebuild and nourish and supplement with the alternatives suff? But then with all of the chemo cocktail drugs and premeds and anti- constipation, anti-anxiety, anti-nausea, anti-diarreah, anti-vomiting meds and meds for pain control, there has to be a risk of mixing the supplements with them. That just seems like a lot of toxins in the body that can react with the herbs etc in the supplements. And it seems like they'd cancel each other out. I mean, you want to poison and kill the cancer cells, not give them the good stuff to become superhealthy strong cells. The whole idea of chemo is to kill the cells, and unfortunately the problem is that you kill all of the good cells that you need for health along with them. The chemo doesn't differentiate. It's hard to find a balance with that. So much to think about and consider and worry about. Too much for this overloaded chemo brain to handle.
So as you can imagine, I was a mess this morning, on the verge of tears for a lot of it. I think what really is bugging me is that with this one shot of chemo, my hair and all the hair on my body and face, will be gone in about 14 days. With this one infusion today. And it's done. I can't turn back the clock and change it. That's it. And yes, I know it's just hair. But it's a loss nonetheless. And what I find so hard, is that I'm now going to look like a cancer patient. With my first round of chemo on the folfox (5FU, oxciliplaten, avastin), my hair got thin, but I still had some and I had my eyebrows and my eyelashes etc. I could go in and distance myself and tell myself that I'm not like everyone else in there (the chemo suite/infusion room). That I look great and am doing great and that I'm not going to be like them. I'm going to beat this and go back to life as I knew it, with some positive adjustments of course. I don't want to look like a cancer patient anymore than I alreay do. Because that just means I really am one now. There will be no mistaking it. No more "oh you can't have cancer you look so good and healthy! " No more "YOU have cancer? This is the best you've ever looked!" and "you look too good to have cancer". Now what will they say? "Beauty is within", "you're still beaufiul inside". But most of all, what will my 8 year old daughter, who is brutally honest, say? Will she be afraid of me? Think I'm ugly? Afraid to touch me? She already thinks I gave our dog Rafiki (who we put down last month due to cancer complications) cancer. Will she and my son be embarrassed by me? That scares me. So as Lance Armstrong says, "it's not about the bike" in his book titled the same (great book by the way!), well, it's really not about the hair either. but it's a big part of being and feeling normal, as well as looking normal. Another loss to add to the list of what cancer robs - the safe, comfortable place of normal that we've established. Let's face it, I'll NEVER be normal again. Not the normal that I know and love anyways. And that's a scary thought.
So that takes me to my first infusion appointment. 8:30am Monday, Dec. 3: I was a fragile mess when I started. Especially since I was running on less than 4 hours of sleep. They gave me a decadron (antinausea) and benedryl IV as pre meds and I didn't react well to it. I felt like I was going to faint and I got all fuzzy and dizzy and just didn't feel right and I got very very scared and began to freak out a bit. I guess the benydryl makes you sleepy and can have those effects like panic. I think I was having a panic attack on top of it. I felt like I was standing on the edge of a cliff, looking over and that any moment I was going to fall into darkness. They gave me ativan (an antianxiety drug) and that calmed me down and the benydryl finished it's drip and I felt like I stepped away from the ledge of the cliff and the fog cleared a bit. They started the carbo and i handled that well. I slept alot. I had planned on addressing Christmas cards and doing crossword puzzles and taking care of paperwork etc. but I was so tired and they had put me in a room with a bed (if you're a new patient infusing for the first time, like I am with this type of chemo med, they put you in a private room where you get closely monitored etc. and you have a hospital bed instead of a big recliner chair in the chemo suite with everyone else). I then got the taxol and handled that as well. No more incidents or issues like with the benedryl. They are going to try something else next time. So far I am experiencing some tingling in my hands and especially my feet (naropathy), and I came home and slept for quite awhile. I've had two bouts of stomach cramping so far, but they didn't last long. I was able to eat the yummy broccoli cheese soup and sourdough bread that my friend paris brought over (we ate the delectible cookies she baked last night! and blueberry muffins for breakie! Thanks Paris!!!!) I've been drinking lots of water and my mom made me a couple of cups of the herbal tea I like. Now that she works at Stash Tea, we are spoiled! I was told that it could take a couple of days before it hits me. This is more of a gradual onset than the other chemo cocktail I experienced before. I actually feel really really good right now. I'm shocked. I'm a little leary for what's to come, but I'm good now. I'll take it!! Gotta be thankful for the little things too you know. And the big things - like all of you out there loving and supporting me, praying and thinking about me. Thank you!!!