Thursday, November 27, 2008

I am thankful for....HAIR!!!!

Check it out - I have hair! Enough for me to venture out into the world sans wig! The side by side photo you see above shows you the extent of the growth. My bald shot was taken 9/1/08. The newly blonde 'do was photographed this fine Thanksgiving morning! The return to normalcy has begun. In fact, this week was the first without a physician appointment since early April. My body is still sporting evidence of my radiation treatment but I anticipate that it may begin to fade this week. I am so looking forward to 2009!

Sunday, November 23, 2008

Baby, It's Cold Outside!

The fire is roaring, my wine glass is empty and my Christmas cards are done. A perfect Sunday!

I awoke to a morning too cold to run. I went shopping with my mom instead followed by a vist to my aunt's for tea. I arrived home in time to assist Greg with clearing our yard of the many leaves that had finally all fallen from the trees.

So, as you may have surmised, I am feeling good. Really good. I am able to see the beginnings of eyebrows and eyelashes when I look in the mirror. My bald head is almost covered - my hair may be grey but it is hair! The only lasting side effect from my radiaiton is a rash of a sort, almost a mottled bruising of the skin, but that too is fading. The holidays approach and I am thrilled to feel like myself again!

My oncologist appointment went well; everything "looks great". I do have a few more tests in front of me: a bone density scan, a final echocardiogram, an ultrasound, more blood work and yes, a mammogram. I inquired about a full body scan. Since I had one after my surgery that was clear, my doctors feel the above list of scans,etc. is quite sufficient! I do not need to go back for three months! Hooray! There is quite enough to keep me busy, like deciding what color my hair should be...

Tuesday, November 18, 2008

Happy Tuesday

I sit and type this Tuesday am, November 18th. Why is this significant? It is because I AM DONE WITH TREATMENT!!! Can you hear the joy in my keystrokes? I am sitting in my very own kitchen after putting in a good morning run (THANKS AMY!). I even laughed about the snow; yes that four letter word - it is a crisp morning and I feel good! At the risk of sounding incredibly cheesy, I am filled with energy and happiness as I HAVE MADE IT THROUGH the dark side. I look back at the blur the past few months have been and realize I am finally at my finish line. While I still face the race for my life throughout the next five years until I can be deemed "cured", I feel as if I made through the trials and qualified for the winning round. The credit goes to my support network:

It goes to all of you who have read this blog and posted a comment, sent me note, picked up the phone, sent a card, shot me an IM, passed along a message through a friend. It goes to those of you who made Greg and I wonderful dinners, provided rides, understood when I had a meltdown, who understood when I had to say "no, I can't do that", to those who walked with me and for me, ran with me and prayed for me. It goes to all of you for you have all touched my life in someway and made it worth living, worth fighting for, worth not giving into the disease and its possibility of despair or depression. I cannot thank you all enough, my family and my friends. When I am asked if this experience has changed me, I honestly can say yes - I mean check out my head! No, seriously, I have realized how wonderfully blessed I am to have so many incredible people in my life and I will be doing my best to always remember to tell you all just how incredible you are. Without all of you I never would be sitting here feeling as good as I do even though I am still somewhat bald, eyebrow and eyelashless!

I still face a round of physician visits and scans in the few months but this Thanksgiving I will give many thanks for how far in my journey I have come thus far. I will give thanks for all I have learned about myself and those in my life. I will say an extra thank you for the wonderful doctors, pharmacists, and medical institutions I have interacted with during the past year. I will also say thank you for the technology of 21st century and for those pursuing the cure for cancer so that women of the future may continue to thrive even when faced with a diagnosis like mine. I guess I best start saying my thanks now as this could take a while!

So now what? I visit my oncologist later this week, I'll let you know!

Sunday, November 16, 2008

Sprinting towards the finish line!

November winds have been carrying winter air to NJ. All of the trees around my house have shed their leaves and point bare limbs towards the sky. The night starts early now, making me want to hibernate until the warm weather returns.

I face my very last week of treatment. Suffice to say I really cannot believe it. I will be zapped for the last time, see my surgeon for my six month follow-up and my oncologist for my one month follow-up. (I still can't get used to the fact that I have an oncologist...)

I am waiting for my hair to fill in. I can deal with the color, or should I say lack of color. What I am having issues with right now are my eyelashes. Correction, my lack of eyelashes. The lashes that are returning are white. Very white and very spiky. When they get some length, they curl and not in a good way. I find myself unable to keep some one's eye which in turn makes me feel uncomfortable almost as if I no longer have any confidence. I find it strange as I was fine with sporting a buzz cut, even a bald head. I know I just need to give it time but I never realized how much of "me" I identified with how I looked.

Ah time for "True Blood" - my newest televised fetish. Last episode of the season, guess will need to get my vamp fix else where. Guess I'll need to get in line to see "Twilight"!

Monday, November 10, 2008

7 More Days...!!!

This morning I was granted a brief reprieve from my jaunts to NYC as the NYU Cancer Center is undergoing a software upgrade. Only 7 days from now I will be facing my very last "zapping" and moving on to the next phase of my treatment which I hope does not entail weekly physician visits. It has been over six months since I have gone a full week without seeing some kind of doctor. Don't get me wrong, I truly appreciate all my docs, even really like them, but I just want to have a week without being scanned, 'scoped, zapped, or sitting in a waiting room!

The weekend was good - I was able to get my trail run in on Sunday and it was a beautiful morning to do so. Feeling some tightness on my left side; not sure if it is from the daily position I receive my treatment from or if it is from the treatment itself. I see the doctor tomorrow so will talk to her then about it. Spent Saturday helping my mom and aunts Lorna and Karen clean up my grandfather's house followed by dinner out. Greg and I also enjoyed dinner at my mom's Sunday evening too - it was nice to have a weekend spent with family.

Friday, November 7, 2008

Week #2 Completed

WHAT A WEEK!!! Obama has been elected our next President, I filled my car for under $50 and I have made it through another five days of trips to NYC to be zapped. Starting to feel a bit "tender" and realizing I need to be a bit smarter about my choice of attire! I get a brief reprieve Monday as the Cancer Center radiation department is closed for a software upgrade!

I am still experiencing weird side effects from chemo. My eyebrows continue to disappear with no signs of regrowth. I feel like Divine every time I use an eyebrow pencil. My lip gloss and mascara days are over! Also my fingernails look like I have some bizarre disease - white stripes (called Beau's lines for those of you who may be wondering!)showing each chemo treatment I received are clearly evident. Thankfully it is fall and I can carry off some dark polish.

No wild plans for the weekend although I do have a trail run planned that has me itching to put my running shoes on!

Sunday, November 2, 2008

Week 1 of Radiation Done...2 to Go!

We turned the clocks back last night and at 8:30 am the sun is shining brilliantly through our windows. I am watching on television the runners line up in Staten Island for the ING NY Marathon with feelings of jealously (I wish I was able to run that far) to happiness (they all look COLD!) and reflecting on the race I am nearing the finish line on - this fight that has taken over my life for the past six months and made 2008 fly by in a blur of physician appointments, drug names I had only heard of at work, and daily "hair growth checks" - I am rounding the corner now and can see the balloon arch floating above that glorious finish tape....

Week one of radiation is behind me. I really cannot complain as the staff at the Cancer Center has been incredible and the treatments themselves not bad. Greg found the website about the machine I am strapped to everyday: It is actually very cool - laser beams and moving into the exact positions every day.

Halloween was fun but we didn't have that many Trick or Treaters. My niece and nephews came over for a pizza dinner and we accompanied them to a few houses in the neighborhood. My sister-in-law was definitely in the spirit and was dressed as my brother's greatest fantasy: a Starbucks barista! ;-) My 17 year old cousin Kristen was dressed as what she called "punk", I cringed as saw her photo and realized her costume was pretty much what I sported daily back in the late 80's! Shelly made my day by sending me the link to Ministry's "Everyday is Halloween"; making me once again ask - "Why didn't we get on that tour bus? Oh yeah, final exams!" (That's for you Shell!)