Wednesday, February 23, 2011

Patience - Day 269

Patience is a virtue ... something I’ve always tried to live by – something I preach to Mike all the time. But let me tell you, it’s not always so easy – and this is coming from someone who typically has an obscene amount of patience.

Cancer treatment is like a tornado – or more timely, an earthquake – things are broken down in the blink of an eye and recovery takes a lifetime, and nothing will ever really be as it was before the storm. There will always be some remaining trace of “what happened here” – some fracture in the foundation, that was repaired but is still visible to those who really look, or know it’s there. It’s the caveat in the story ... “the original structure was built in 1981, but after the earthquake of 2010, what you see now is a replica of the upper architecture on the original support structure.”

But I’m happy to say that I’m getting better and accepting the new me, and this new era of my life. I’m being as patient as I can with my hair re-growth (much credit is due to my husband for that) – I haven’t (yet) jumped off the deep end in an effort to control the schedule of Mother Nature. My hair is coming back, and every week it looks a little thicker, a little longer – Just this morning I almost got the top into a faux hawk. My eyelashes are in, they’re just short still, but they’re long enough for mascara, so that’s good. The multivitamin I ordered arrived from New Zealand and I’ve been taking it for 2 weeks now. I feel great on it, I’m noticing my skin is looking better, more balanced, hydrated and soft again. Another two weeks and I think my nails will be completely free of the damage from chemo. My cycle is semi-regular at least thus far, 5 weeks instead of 4 – we’ll have to see how that goes as this year progresses. Sun sensitivity – none that I can tell. I’ve been indoor tanning the last two weeks – and before we start down the path of tanning beds can cause skin cancer, haven’t I already had enough of cancer - I’d like to throw in the bag that Tamoxifen can cause uterine cancer, so it really is mixed opinion on all accounts. Plus, the color has done wonders for my self-esteem. I grew up in sunny San Diego remember? I’m accustomed to having some color in my skin – and since I was unable to catch any rays last summer, I was especially ghostly this winter. We’re also headed to San Diego for my 30th and I’d like not to glow. We’ve also booked our 2nd honeymoon (hooray!) and everything is set. We’re going to be staying at Aventura Spa Palace in Puerto Aventuras, across from Cozumel, and a little pre-tanning is necessary so as not to burn while we’re away. I can’t wait!

We celebrated our first Valentine’s as a married couple on Saturday the 12th. It was lovely – a slight comedy of errors, but lovely nonetheless. (And the restaurant more than made up for it by sending us a generous gift certificate to return and have a better experience.) It was also the first time I ventured out without a hat, hood or scarf. It took me almost two hours to figure out an outfit that I felt confident enough in to do so, but I was determined to get that first appearance out of the way. As you can see, the martini helped.

And now, a week and a half later, you can see my hair has some more growth.

Things are on the up and up ... I just need to keep my patience going. I have my 3 month follow up appointments with both my Onc and my plastic surgeon in early March. Physically, I’m dropping some of the weight that I put on during treatment and am feeling better about it every week- like I’m getting back to my old self. I have a phone interview, today actually, with Be Bright Pink for the Colorado Ambassador role. It will be their first Colorado ambassador and first Colorado Chapter of the non-profit. Hopefully, regardless of their selection, we can keep spreading the word and educating young women about their risk.

Oh, and I went out for my first real ladies night last Friday. It was super fun. We went out for sushi and then went dancing. I was approached by a few people about my “edgy hairstyle” ... the comments were all really sweet, along the lines of “not everyone can pull that off”, evidently the perception was it was my choice to buzz my hair, but – it would have been tough to yell over the music “IT’S FROM CHEMO” ... so I just nodded, smiled and said thank you. It made me feel good to know that I don’t look like a cancer patient, because I never did identify with that image anyway.

Wednesday, February 9, 2011

February 2011

So it's February 2011 ... it's winter ... it's cold ... there's a good amount of snow on the ground. I'm about 1.5 months into the Tamoxifen treatment. I think my doc thought I might have just been complaining when I sent her that email because she hasn't yet responded. She is usually very prompt. I'm fine without a response however - because after reading it over a few times, it really did sound like I was complaining.

So how are things going thus far? Well - the hot flashes are flickering less, you could say. It's been a few weeks where I've slept through the night without waking up in a sweat. They aren't happening at work either, so I'm thankful for that. I'm still experiencing acne across my forehead - which I'm attributing to the hormone imbalance, or rather the lack of hormone absorption by my body. I ordered a multi-vitamin that is suppose to help correct the imbalance - or at least, I believe it's suppose to help level things out, in addition to helping my hair grow and counteracting the tamoxifen effects on my skin. We'll see how it goes once it gets here.

The chemo damage is almost out of my nails completely. There's only 1 ring left at the top of each nail. That's exciting. The nail bed below it is nice and pink and healthy looking. Now if only my hair would come in in such a way that I could track it! No such luck. Each day, I look in the mirror and unfortunately sigh - wishing my hair would come in faster. It went away so quickly, I guess I somehow believed it would come back just as quick - like it was a joke that it fell out in the first place. Again, no such luck. Ah well. I'll just be the boy in the back who looks curiously like a girl.

The only other issue on my radar screen right now is my cycle. I have a feeling it's not going to follow a nice 4 week pattern while I'm on tamoxifen. I have a feeling it's going to slow down and maybe even stop altogether. Not that I would complain about not having a monthly cycle -- it's just, I don't have any other way of knowing that things are OK other than a regular, reliable cycle. And since I don't have any other mechanism for tracking, it puts me a little on edge -- a little worrisome.

Overall though, things are good. Mike and I are planning our 2nd honeymoon/spring vacation somewhere sunny, warm and for two weeks. Neither of us has taken a two week vacation before, so this will be the first time. I feel somewhat guilty leaving the office for that long -- but the more I think about the sun and the ocean, the less guilty I feel. Because truthfully - we've had one HECK of a year in 2010 and I can honestly say we deserve two weeks away. But again - I'll be the boy on the beach. At least my head won't get hot. I might even have to put sunscreen on my scalp!

And finally my 30th ... my "Flirty Thirty" will be held at my mom's house in just a few weeks. I'm super excited to be home and to see my family and play with the kiddos. I miss them a lot and every day they just get bigger and smarter and sassier. Pre-BC I would have been sad about turning 30 ... but now ... I'm actually really happy.