2 down, 4 to go!

2 down, 4 to go!

When I was pregnant with my son, I had major food aversions during the first trimester. The thought of many foods made me sick, even foods that were my favorites. I read that it is best not to eat any favorite foods during treatment because they may make me sick or they may not taste the same. This seems to be true for most foods right now. The thought of food in general is not very appealing. I’ve been sticking mostly to plain cereal, bananas and popsicles this weekend. And lots of water, despite the metallic taste.

The fatigue hit faster this time than the first round of treatment. I spent the entire weekend glued to the couch and my bed. I’ve been up for a little while this morning and as soon as I’m done typing this, I’m heading back to bed. The heartburn wasn’t as bad this time around, thankfully. I had it a little on Saturday but it didn’t last.

The overall “hungover” feeling was worse this time around. This feeling is hard to describe. Generally speaking, I just felt bad. My stomach was in knots, I had slight headaches, was incredibly thirsty and completely exhausted. I envision the treatment drugs attacking my cancer cells and fighting hard to kill them off. Battling for my life.  That helps explain the way my body feels.

My cousin shared an idea to help track the treatments. When she battled brain cancer a few years ago, she hung ribbons from the wall and took one down after each treatment. I love this idea! It helps to put into perspective how many treatments remain – and how many are done. Last week, I printed out the Red Phoenix symbol and hung them up on the wall in my command center, where I keep my life organized. As I hung them, I realized something. I have now completed 2 rounds of the aggressive treatment. 2 ROUNDS ARE DONE! That means I have just 4 more to go. That means that after the next round, I will be halfway done! Isn’t that exciting?!

I will beat this!

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Day 2 – DONE!

Start of the day:

Beginning of day meds

End of the day:

End of day meds

Today went well. It was about an hour and a half shorter than the first treatment round, though still a long day. I was prepared for the liquid Benadryl this time and was able to take a few short naps. I didn’t sleep quite as long as the first time. It was a little hard to shut my mind off.

The first step after arriving is to attach my port to the needle that they’ll use for the day. Before leaving the house for the day, I cover the skin of my port area with lidocaine cream to numb it for the needle placement. The nurse and I both wear masks while she cleans the entire area. Then she locates the port hole, I take a deep breath, and the needle goes in. It didn’t hurt at all today, thanks to the swelling going down and the lidocaine cream.

Next, they flush my port and then draw my blood to check my counts. Although my platelets, white and red blood cell and hemoglobin counts are declining, they seem to be declining at a slow rate and are still in a good (normal) range. This is great!

Then I received a hydration, a steroid, liquid Benadryl and anti-nausea medicine before beginning the chemotherapy. I am still doing the 4 separate chemotherapy drugs but was able to do the Herceptin in 60 minutes instead of 90 because I didn’t have any adverse reactions to the initial treatment. All of these things are done one at a time. Once all of the medicines are done, I received a little more hydration, my port is flushed out and the needle is removed for the day. I do have the option to keep the needle in until tomorrow but I opt not to because it worries me with little man (even being wrapped up) and I wouldn’t be able to shower until after tomorrow’s follow up appointment.

My lymph nodes are rather painful since I left treatment. They have hurt a little here and there over the last few weeks but not consistently like tonight. I take that as a sign that the treatment is working hard already – KILL THAT CANCER!!!

Aside from that, I am tired. I felt pretty good the last week or so and forgot how exhausting the treatment is for me. I’m going to lay down, put my feet up and snuggle my husband and little man. Thank you all for your kind words today!

Setting aside the 1 drug I’ll continue to get for a year, we are 2 down – 4 to go! Yay!

Thank you.

I officially moved from my home state of New York to Florida when I was 20.  I found a college that I loved, transferred down and started a new life with my now-husband. The majority of my rather large family (some of my husband’s included) is spread across the northeast, along with a few other states (and countries!).  My friends span states as well, as people I have met throughout life relocate to follow their dreams.  I am blessed to have made many new friends here in Florida, along with my husband’s wonderful family as well.

While I don’t speak to everyone daily, they all fill my thoughts and prayers regularly as we move through life.  As I head to my treatment this morning, I continue to be humbled.  Every day, I check my mail and smile.  There is always a card or a letter from one of these wonderful people in my life.  I can’t help but smile knowing that they have taken the time to think of me and my family and the journey that we are on.  Knowing that there are so many people in my corner, cheering me on, makes my heart swell.

I am so grateful for each and every one of you. Your sweet cards, meals, wearing green, thoughtful gifts, kind words, thoughts, prayers…everything that you have done (and continue to do) to support us…is incredibly heartwarming.  I continue to be amazed.  I don’t think I can ever thank you all enough for the love that you have shown my family.

Thank you.  I love you all!

Today, I am humbled

There are times in life when you need to take a step back and appreciate the moment. In the middle of a typically busy work day, I was surprised with a gift by a group of my friends. They each picked out items especially for me, wrote sweet cards and shipped everything out just in time for my next treatment. The thoughtfulness and sincerity of what they did brought me to tears.

After opening all of the lovely gifts, one of my sweet friends looked at me and said, “You are so loved.”

I know that I’ve said it before but there are many times in life that I get caught up in the day to day activities. The last week and half or so, where I felt pretty good, have been a whirlwind as I try to get into a (new) normal routine, catch up on life and prepare for the upcoming treatment. At times, the hustle and bustle of life pushes aside the emotions of what is happening.

Today is a day that, amidst the chaos, I am granted a moment. A moment to pause and look around. A moment to let the good, happy emotions wash over me. A moment to see the people that surround me with love, support and kindness. A moment to be reminded that I am loved, through and through.

Today, I am humbled.

My happy place

Beach Storm

There was a day, after our son was born, that my husband and I escaped to the beach – just the two of us. We went to one of our favorite spots, where Ponce Inlet meets the open ocean.

The sun was out but it was overcast and the skies all around showed signs of rain. The wind was strong, blowing the sand against our legs as we walked. We set up next to the jetties, where the waves crashed against the rocks. I laid on a beach chair, wrapped in a towel, staring at the waves. My husband stood in the ocean, amongst the white caps, and cast his fishing line.

As the temperature dropped and the skies darkened, the misty rain began to fall. The nearby lighthouse lens shone brightly against the darkness, something I have not witnessed in person before that day. We stayed despite the rain and watched the rough surf as it fought against itself amidst the brewing storm. The day was wonderful.

As cliché as it may sound, the beach is my happy place. It washes away all the worries of the world, breathes new, clean life into my lungs and cleanses my soul. No matter what battle I face, what struggles lie ahead – the ocean grounds me. Even on a dreary, rainy day, it centers me. It allows me the opportunity to start fresh on this journey of life.

Where is your happy place?

Wig-a-licious

Wig-a-licious

When getting ready for work this morning, I debated on whether or not I wanted to wear a wig, a scarf or go bald. It was a bit freeing to go bald all day yesterday but I thought it might be nice get a little dressed up today so I opted to wear a wig. While the color is darker than my hair normally is, the style is similar to the short cut I’ve had recently. It lacks my normal curls but prior to my recent cut, I had been straightening my hair pretty consistently anyway. So the style and the feel of the hair felt relatively normal.

The wearing of the wig itself was a bit odd throughout the day. I could feel the elastic, which was a little bothersome but I imagine it is something that I will eventually get used to feeling. I had a bit of a challenge trying to figure out how to wear my glasses. I tried under the wig at first, but that put too much pressure on my head. Wearing them outside of the wig and resting them on my ears was more comfortable but didn’t feel quite as secure. I adjusted them more than usual to reassure myself that they were staying put.

My head definitely didn’t get cold like it did yesterday, but wearing a wig didn’t help my hot flashes either. It was a little warm under there a few times throughout the day. Thankfully, the heat of summer is quickly disappearing. I am not looking forward to sporting a wig on a hot summer day in Florida! (Does anyone else recall the Sex & the City episode with Samantha giving a speech in her wig?)

All in all, I’d say my first wig wearing experience while being out of the house was a success. I will admit that I took it off the moment that I walked into the house and felt relief – and a bit of coolness too.

And then she was bald

During swimming lessons this summer, my son had a few days in the water where he kept grabbing his hair as it floated around his little head. Little man doesn’t have a whole lot of hair but he had some growing in around that time. The instructor told us that he was grabbing at it because the sensation felt new – and odd – on his head. This is how I felt last night. The air on my head, rubbing my hands through over it and leaning it against the pillow were strange, new experiences. It was a little weird and a lot different. Mostly though, it was a relief. I don’t have to worry about when it will all fall out – because it is all gone.

Today in the shower I stared at the shampoo bottle, not really sure what to do. It seemed silly to lather my head but bar soap didn’t seem like the best option either. I opted for a loofah and body soap – which came as part of an incredibly thoughtful gift from the wonderful teachers at my son’s daycare! I lathered up the loofah and then I lathered up my head. I’m not going to lie, it felt amazing. You know when you go for a haircut and the hairdresser massages your head while the shampoo settles into your hair? It felt slightly more awesome than that.

I hope to master some pretty cool ways to wrap a scarf on my head in the coming weeks and I know I will get good use out of my wigs. I also have some cool pre-tied scarves and fashionable hats already, thanks to some amazing friends and family. I spent the evening and today bald though. I want to get used to the feeling and seeing myself without hair. Who’s ready for some pictures?!

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