Search This Blog

Monday, August 31, 2009

New hat

Diana B, an internet friend, made and sent this hat to me. It just happens to be some of my favorite colors:) When I opened the box today, I was actually saddened that I'd have to wait for a while before it got cold enough to wear it, but tonight, after sundown, it was actually chilly enough to wear it! I know it's still August and normally it's sweltering right now, but we are having a cold snap. I'm hoping to be able to wear Marti's hat tomorrow night for my evening walk with Katie and Mosa (the cutest puppy this side of town).

Henna Tatt on Head

Amy did henna on my head this afternoon.

I sort of combined two different symbols...the spiral and the Triskele. I've always been drawn toward spirals. I find them very symbolic of life...we keep passing the same places but in different spaces. The Triskele is a symbol of Female Power--Maiden, Mother, Crone--ripped off by the early Christians and morphed into the Trinity, stripping the power from women and indiginous beliefs as well. As I'm in the third phase of womanhood at this point, I find it quite a meaningful symbol.

According to (the name makes me shudder):
The patterns of life are like the spiral, starting at the center and moving ever outward. Our lives wind back around our center, yet never return to exactly the same place. It can represent serenity, with fluid, gentle lines; or it can represent chaos and madness with dizzying, confusing linear patterns.

The Triskele

Courtesy ofBradley W. Schenck The triskele, otherwise known as the triskelion, is a three-pronged spiral, and is often used as a basis for more complex spirals. Some suggest ancient Celtic triskeles represented the Triple Goddess of the three ages of womanhood. It later came to represent the Holy Trinity in Christianity - God the Father, Son and Holy Spirit. Whatever its meaning, it is interesting that the motif is based around the number 3 - regarded as a highly sacred number in many ancient cultures.
The Spiral of LifeThe tri-spiral, otherwise known as the "Spiral of Life", is found on many ancient Irish stone carvings - the most famous of which is Newgrange, found in County Meath, Ireland, which dates back to 2500 BC.
Most scholars believe the spiral of life represents the cycle of life, death, and rebirth. Others say this deeply mystical symbol represents the male, female, and child on the path of life. Another interpretation is that it also represents the Triple Goddess.
...belief that the triple spiral of life represents the Eternal Truth, that the meaning of life is to find harmony between the three dimensions of our existence.

Sunday, August 30, 2009

Scarves and Hats

I'm really not clothing conscious much at all. Perhaps slightly moreso now that I had to replace the bulk of my wardrobe in recent weeks, but really I don't put much energy into dressing myself or accessorizing. In fact, I had to look up how to spell accessorize.

However, I am enjoying building a collection of headwear. I'm having almost as much fun as I did building wardrobes for my babies. And, I'm finding I'm having to be careful not to over spend, which would be easy to do. The chemo-headwear industry is much larger than I'd ever imagined. Truthfully, I'd never really imagined it, so that statement is somewhat false. But it is a large industry and there's some cool stuff out there to be had.

One of my favorite head coverings so far, is the t-shirt wrap. It's simple, easy, stays on, and breathes (a quality I'm finding very important). Here's a picture of the wraps I've made so far out of the bottom 2/3 of soft t-shirts. I'd like a more brightly colored tie-dyed one, but fear I'll have to wait until a child makes me one at the Black Swamp Arts Festival. I haven't been lucky finding any the correct size (adult M) at Goodwill. The only problem with this style wrap is that all the good pictures or writing on shirts is up too high and wouldn't show up on my head. For instance, Aidan has a tshirt that says "Jamaican Bobsled Team." I'd enjoy wearing that across my head, but it wouldn't show up. Or we have all these old "Bombers" shirts that I'd wear to games, if the logo would actually end up on my head. Alas, 'tis not to be.

Then there are the actual scarves. Fun. Very colorful. So far, all I have are rectangular ones, which I've learned to tie, but which have their own weaknesses as well as strengths. Unique and classy is a definite strength. They can be tied tightly, which is another strength. But they tend to be bulky or tricky to get on. Weakness. The larger ones are bulky. And the smaller ones don't get good coverage. Worn together, they look awesome.

What a lot of women wear are "faux scarves." I don't remember what the catalogs call them, but they are things designed to look like scarves, but they really are just fancy do-rags. They are probably more comfortable than real scarves, and clearly are more convenient. This is where the market/industry for headwear is exploding. Gazillions of places to buy stuff like this. So far, my faves are some a friend sent me, very simple things, with a little elastic in the back and gathers with small tails that don't necessarily need to be tied. Very light weight and comfortable. I bought a few more expensive ones and, wow, they seem bulky in comparison. Supposedly, the extra bulk makes it look like the wearer has hair...but we all know the truth. With the exception of the religiously conservative, who would wear this if they had hair?

Then there are hats. I have the ultimate bucket hat...with so much head coverage that I can barely see when I wear it. I need a broach or something to pin back the brim, or I'll spend my days walking into things. And the newsboy style. My friend Mary gave me those, remnants from her hair-free chemo days. Tynan loves them and I have to fight him for them. Clearly an awesome option for jeans and tshirt days (which is my typical uniform).

Finally, the toboggan hat style. There are lots of options for sale, and oddly, most have three seams. I tried one of those yesterday and felt each individual seam rubbing on my head. Perhaps when I'm more used to being hair-free I won't? Meanwhile, I'm excited for the two knit ones I have. One, knit by Marti, is of the softest, most awesome hand spun yarn. I can't wait until it is chillier to wear it (actually, it'd probably be cool enough today in the shade). I've never enjoyed this particular style of hat, because I hate how it interacts with my hair. No hair; problem solved!!!
So, now, off to mix some henna so it can sit for 24 of that tomorrow...

Starting to get psyched for next week...round 2

Have some fun; click on the links:)

I am a warrior.

I am not my hair.

I am a superhero.

I am strong like an ocean.

I am mad as hell and not going to take it.

I am beating this.

I am a survivor.

I will be alright.

Saturday, August 29, 2009

Trying out Casey

Hair Today; Gone Today

Day 15 post infusion #1, I mentioned on Facebook that I was surprised my hair was hanging in there...the chemo nurse said it would start falling out on Day 10. I wondered if the fall would cooperate and happen over a weekend so I'd have some time to get used to it before I had to teach.

Yesterday, Day 16, I noticed, when I scrunched it up after my shower, that I had a few hairs on my hands. Later in the day, sitting outside Meijer with Amy, I gave it a gentle tug and got more than a few hairs. I knew the fall was beginning. This morning...well....I posted a picture of what I got when I gave it a tug....quite a few hairs in my hand.

This afternoon, Amy came over and first used the clippers, then used a razor and took it all off. It was fun, and I know she loves me because she can't stand unattached hair any more than I can.

Oddly, it is quite liberating. My scalp feels smooth and sort of numb...I think because I don't feel the hair when I rub my head.

I have a modest collection of scarves and hats, and I'm anxious to wear them. I can't wait to collect more. I'm also thinking that I'll be going out in public without anything on. It just feels so good.

Hair in Hand

Don't know if you'll be able to see this's a handful of hair

Saturday, August 22, 2009


It's awkward to know what to say to people who don't know of the recent turn of events in my life (how's that for euphemistic?).

For instance, at a soccer game Thursday, no one immediately noticed my short hair because I was wearing my not-so-cool-not-very-soccer-mom hat. Finally, one mom noticed and then asked me why I'd decided to cut it now. Talk about a bucket of ice water when I answered. Fortunately, what could have been a very, very awkward situation ended up being quite a supportive conversation. Still, with all the gossipy people in my life, the soccer sideline is probably the least gossipy place, and it would just be easier if everyone already knew.

Then, today, I was doing some homeschool assessments at the BG (s)mall. I only see these people once a year, for an hour at the most. My appearance has changed since I last saw these two families. In fact, I'm looking good right now. I've lost quite a bit of weight (maybe 20-25 lbs), of course my hair is different, which I think makes me look younger, at least it has in the recent good days. The one woman today kept raving about how good I look, how I make her feel like doing a make over, how I was inspiring her...there was really nothing good to say to all of that but "Thank you."

I mean, "Well, cancer does wonders..." seems a little heartless and rude. And really, I won't see this person until this time next year. Won't communicate with her at all, in all likelihood.

It's awkward situations like this that make me dread the first week or two of school.

Friday, August 21, 2009

Seeing the world through...

One of the common side effects of chemo is sensitivity to light. I've never been one to wear sunglasses. Since getting contacts last winter, I've noticed that the sun, or rather glare, bothers me more. In fact, I've bought several pairs of sunglasses, yet haven't worn any pair more than a handful of times before losing or breaking them. I have a pair in each car, but they are always so filthy that I don't want to wear them. However, I noticed Monday, when I was out and still feeling chemo fuzzy, that the sunlight was brutal. I could feel each UVA and UVB ray penetrating my skin, and it felt like needles were piercing my eyeballs.
Hmmmm....that's a little exaggeration. But I definitely felt (traditionally) vampirish.
So, when I was in WalMart (being stalked by the incredible puking child), I snatched a pair of sunglasses. Due to previously mentioned child and day-before-school-starts WalMart madness, I didn't try them on. I just grabbed a pair marked $5, figuring that I could always find something I liked better when I felt better, and headed home to the couch.
I'd slept incredibly poorly Monday night and was really dragging Tuesday afternoon, but following the advice of friends, I forced myself to do something. I rode my bike to Kroger. It was unnaturally quiet in the neighborhood. The sun was high. The atmosphere was heavy. I felt weak and hot flashy. Add it all together and reality just seemed different than "before." To top if all off, I realized my vision was different. Things were just not quite focused. Colors seemed unnatural. At one point, I thought, "I feel like I'm in an episode of Twilight Zone."
I did my little bit of shopping, and I did think to notice that, while I still felt weary and sort of fuzzy in the head, things seemed to be normally colored, if out of focus, which made me think perhaps I needed protein enzyme for my contacts, which I picked up.
Outside of Kroger, I load my bike bags with my produce, situate my water bottle and Bagallini in my front basket, preparing for the ride home and notice that it's not quite so Twilight Zone-ish.
However, putting on my sunglasses, things suddenly changed.
Yep, those sunglasses? They were amber tinted. Everything did look different because it was all amber tinted. It was the cheap glasses, not me at all.
And the protein enzyme has fixed the focus problem.
At least I can laugh at myself.

Thursday, August 20, 2009

The Meaning of 20

All of us who teach at BGSU, especially those of us whose salary never seems to be quite enough to get us through the month, are always well aware of the 20th of any given month. That's when we get paid. Yes, we only get paid once a month. You'd think my family would handle this situation better, seeing as it's been part of our lives for 21 years now. But still, the 20th of the month still makes me feel like a kid getting an allowance. Therefore, in general, the 20th of any given month should be auspicious. It should be a happy day. And, for the most part, it is. And we are all alway aware that it's the 20th.
Yet is seems statistically improbable that the 20th should also have garnered so much attention from me for other reasons as well.
Tynan's birthday is on the 20th. That's a good thing.
On that day I got the homebirth that I'd wanted and worked so hard for. Good Thing.
That good thing was tempered by the fact that 6 years prior to Tynan's birth, his sister was stillborn on the exact same day (for those of you for whom numbers cause confusion, that would also be the 20th). On the bright side, the birth experience was good and was a vbac. So, good mixed with horrible.
My mother called me to tell me she had incurable heart disease that would most likely kill her on the 20th (and while it did, she survived for three time longer than ever suspected).
We got the results of our first still born son's autopsy on the 20th and the memorial service for him was on the 20th of a different month. And we also met with the geneticist who reviewed his case on the 20th. Neither good nor bad, but quite emotional, all three.
I was initially diagnosed with cancer on the 20th. I suppose that's both good and bad...while it wasn't fun to hear, better diagnosed than not.
Yet, I hereby declare that the 20th be saved for pay day only for a long time.

Wednesday, August 19, 2009

Changes on the Molecular Level

Chemotherapy works, in short, by short circuiting the life cycle of cancer (and other rapidly dividing) cells. One type of chemo drug works by confusing the DNA of cells, making them do the "wrong" thing, and die.

In essence, the recipient is being changed at the molecular level.

In the last few days, I've noticed ways I'm changing/changed. For instance, my eyes are way more sensitive to light. I certainly notice the beginnings of cognitive changes.

But most surprisingly is that my DNA must be getting messed with, because I swear I'm becoming male. Yep, you read that correctly. Physically, I'm as female as I've ever been. I'm neither losing nor gaining body parts. It's a very stereotypical male trait, but one I've observed nonetheless:

I've developed Male Refrigerator Blindness.

I can be absolutely starving, but find nothing to eat in a full fridge. By the time I prepare something, it no longer appeals to me. The thought of preparing even the simplest of food can throw me off my appetite. But if someone else fixes the food, it's fine and I eat with gusto. If I throw a few handfuls of greens in a bowl, it becomes a bowl of green stuff to choke down. If Tynan tosses greens in a bowl, it's the best salad I've had in days. If I slice up a tomato, it tastes like sand. If I pick at the tomato Aidan has removed from his sandwich and left on the cutting board, it is delectable.

Don't get me wrong, my boys are perfectly capable of feeding themselves. They can cook. Two of them have won awards at the county level for 4H cooking projects. But, ideally, they'd be most happy having food magically appear in front of them. And they don't have a lot of patience with fending for themselves. As one whined the other night (really, I was sure he was going to cry), "I have to cut it off the bone to get something to eat!" when confronted with a roasted chicken. Meanwhile, with containers of red skinned potatoes, fried rice, fruit salad, orange slices, and plums sitting on the kitchen counter, another one of my sons was whining, "But there's nothing to eat..." and "You mean it has to be microwaved?!?!?"

They'd rather drive to Taco Hell than put food on a plate and punch buttons on the microwave.

During two-a-days for soccer, I buy the boys the huge subs you can get at Wal*Mart. One sub lasts each kid 4-5 days. Each morning, he'll cut a portion off, wrap it up, pop it in his lunch box. (We don't even need to discuss the nutritional and health issues with this food, but it works for us.) However, what they would prefer would be an individual sub per day so they don't have to do the minimal work of slicing, wrapping, and replacing back in the fridge.

Until this week, I found that so weird. Yet lately, that makes perfect sense to me, too. I find the idea of eating a "new" sandwich every day, at much greater expense, much more appealing than going through three steps to get my food (if I ate sandwiches).

I have a punnet of plums on my counter right now, a basket of pluots, and a container of strawberries in the fridge, yet I swear on all that is edible there is nothing to snack on in the house right now. At least nothing that sounds good. I was craving a Turkey burger all morning. As I was riding my bike home from campus, I could taste it. I could smell it. I came home, and in the process of fixing it, lost all desire for it.

I did eat it (or most of it) and a huge salad, so it's not like I'm not eating. I do my super uber protein smoothies every morning and every night, so I'm not starving.

People are bringing in wonderful meals and I'm all over those like white on rice.

But the idea of doing even the most minimal of preparation of food, or making a decision about food for that matter, simply rains on my appitite parade.

And in that sense, I'm becoming stereotypically male.

Saturday, August 15, 2009

Wig shopping

I mentioned earlier that wig shopping was a rather squicky experience for me. I have issues with all things girly as well as with hair that is not attached to heads. And those two

things rather define "wig shop." Add to that the horror movies
I've seen where mannequins come to life, and a little room full of odd faces topped by hair that doesn't look quite right is precisely a place where Dawn finds herself uncomfortable. Put the little room in a cancer survivor store, and it's even more uncomfortable.

Initially, two weeks ago, when Pattie and I went in, choosing a wig was hard. First, I have an oddly shaped and large head. Second, the generic styles are just that, generic, and waaaay too poofy (I think the girly term is "thick"). And, as we all know, I rarely do anything with my hair that requires any sort of attention or work, let alone light or mirror. I was just thinking today as I was putting gel in my hair after my shower that doing so was quite a bit of work!

Since I've decided to do my best to make this as fun a journey as possible, I decided that I'd not try to match my natural color(s) and instead go with a color I'd always rather wanted, was able to achieve briefly before I got too much sort of aubourn. With my large cranium, there is really only one design of wig cap that fits me, so my choices were limited, and I had to choose from colors that didn't really appeal to me, and then imagine it in the color I wanted. Oh, there was help in choosing the color...a drawer full of hair the goose bumps on Dawn's arms at the thought of a drawer of hunks of hair.

Pattie and I did our best and the woman who helped us did her best, but it really was just a guess, a hope, and a prayer that when the wig came in, it wouldn't make me look like Bozo the Clown.

Since I was told my hair should start to come out starting next weekend, I've decided (I think...I really quit making decisions because every time I do, something just comes along to bollux them up) that I'm going to just start teaching with my wig, instead of switching mid-stream. Of course, as soon as I made that decision, I got the offers for two other brunette and one blonde, so maybe I'll just do whatever. In fact, I don't anticipate wearing the wig much. It certainly is a lot of work and is way more uncomfortable than anything I've worn before. I'd rank it right up there with a poorly fitting, inexpensive bike helmet bred with on old lady swim cap.
I know I won't wear it outside of teaching. I even envision yanking it off my head as soon as I get in the car to drive home. On the bright side, I'm already amassing quite the collection of cool hats and scarf things. Splurged on a new one today, even. Won a pattern on Ebay to make some more (or to have someone make some more, because I don't really see me doing it...Pattie's mom sews). Amy and I have some plans to make some scarves.
So, working to keep a positive spin on this whole thing...Amy, Pattie and I headed off to pick up my new do today. I wasn't quite as upbeat as I was when I picked it out. I'm 2 days post-chemo, I haven't slept more than a handful of hours any night since last Saturday, I've been taking steroids which I've never handled well when I've had to take them in the past, and I've been an emotional wreck for the last 24 hours, basically. I'm tired, weepy, and achey. One a positive note, I did get a script for sleeping pills finally and can not wait to sleep tonight.

The wig's name is Casey, by the way. All wigs have names.
Tired Dawn with her new short hair:

And the primping, prodding, and quaffing began. It seemed to be never ending.

Finally, after special scissors, weird tucks, special expensive wig mousse, the end product. Meet Casey.

And, to do something fun and different, Pattie also bought a wig!

Wednesday, August 12, 2009

Infusion #1, part 2

1 down, 5 to go. It was odd to change my thinking that poison is good for me. But that's what my focus was. I was told I did well. It was a long day. Probably longer for Amy who spent most of it in her car, reading. I spent a lot of my time snoozing and listening to an audio book, checking email, playing with facebook, listening to music. Pad Thai for lunch was great. The soda that Amy brought me when I had the worst dry mouth of my life was awesome, absolutely awesome! Fantastic!

Debbie delivered an awesome meal of fresh fruits and veggies and her wonderful chicken and noodles. Zoned out watching The Golden Girls for awhile, and then Amy and I went to a movie.

The only glitch in the day is that both big boys' school schedules are messed up...Nathan's first high school class starts 11 minutes after his last university class (assuming he drops the one class he wants to drop, otherwise there is a direct conflict) and Aidan has no English class. Tynan was late to soccer camp and got punished, or so he says. He hates soccer camp.

I'm cranked on steroids (I've never reacted well to them), but pleased that I've got the option to take them and the other anti-nausea drugs. It's very weird for me to be popping so many pills, that's for sure.

Thanks for all the good wishes. I go back for my Neulasta tomorrow (Thursday). That has me more worked up than the whole chemo thing did.

I think I'm going to make a chemo shirt, black with pink boxing glove. Anyone else in?

Tuesday, August 11, 2009

Infusion #1

These are few of my relaxing things...

Until recently, I never realized that I defined "relax" as "non-chaotic." But they really aren't the same. So, here's a list of tonight's relaxing things:

1. massage
2. new scent wicks in family room (new as of Friday)
3. finally putting the pictures of the boys out
4. a relatively tidy public area of the house
5. the top of my dresser cleaned off and all my clothes put away (and Louis' out of my line of sight....must work on that closet on tht side of the room)
6. All clean bedding, including my favorite quilt.
7. Mr. Spots delivered
8. Wooden Wicks burning
9. Duggers on tv (something incredibly relaxing knowing all those creepy kids are stuck inside the tv and will never come out into my life)
10. Little bit of time at soccer fields, watching camp
11. All 3 boys ready for bed by 9:30 after 6 hours each of soccer today
12. All 3 boys have lunches packed, uniforms ready, bags organized, water bottles cleaned, lids with bottles
13. Clean kitchen counters and dirty dishes in dishwasher.
14. Awesomely comfortably soft, cool colored, new pajama pants that only cost $2.
15. Central air conditioning.

Meet Portia

Hardly worth the whinging I did...still kinda squicky to think of some artificial thing under my skin. Yet, I know she will become a close and appreciated friend.

Monday, August 10, 2009

Post Port

Although I was all freaked out, it was really a simple thing that was over before I knew it. The most difficult challenge was the "Who's on First" conversation I had with the surgeon:

Dr. Not-so-bad-looking-in-scrubs: "So, you want this on your right side?"
Me: "Yes."
Dr. Nsblis: "We did the biopsy on the left?"
Me: "Right."
Dr. Nsblis: "Correct?"
Me: "Left."
Dr. Nsblis: "biopsy on left so port on right, correct?"
Me: "Do NOT play these games with me after giving me meds..."

This biggest surprise? After waking up and seriously contemplating sucking on the IV bag I was so thirsty, I was given a dixie cup of crushed ice (the best damn ice I've ever eaten, by the way). That wasn't the surprise. What surprised me was that when they then offered me something to drink, the first option mentioned was Coke and Pepsi. Really? There are no other healthier options?

After being warned that I was officially "under the influence" so I was not to make any important decisions nor was I to sign any contracts for 24 hours, oh, and I probably shouldn't drive, Amy and I left the hospital, Vicodin in hand, and soon found out why I was not to make decisions. Both places I suggested for lunch were closed. Not good at making decisions. The Chinese food we had was good, though.

Then we came home and watched Gran Torino, which was great. And I found Vicodin removes any desire I have to move.

As if spending 7 hours outside at soccer practice today, the older boys decided they needed to go to the fair for one last time, and they headed out just around the time Louis got home from work. So, kid-free at dinner time, we decided on sushi, which Amy and I ate while watching Fired Up. I don't know if it is because I have low brow humor, the Vicodin, the overall stress of the last few weeks, or the fact that Amy and I just laugh a lot when we are together, but it had us laughing out loud. I'm sure that the movie itself deserves no credit, because it was pretty crappy, in retrospect.

So, port in. We shall call her Portia, which derives from the latin "offering" or "something that is given" which seems to work well....

Just for the record...

Once again I have been remiss in my adult responsibilities. I have no living will, no health care power of attorney....and tomorrow, Monday, Aug. 10, 2009, I am having a port put in, requireing general anesthesia, cutting, aortas, chests, all that scary shit.

So,I just want to make a public the event that something goes wrong and my quality of life will be such that i'm not aware of my quality of life or that I'm unable to make my wishes known, I do not want to be kept alive by artificial means. REally, brain dead is brain dead and my family would be better off not having to deal with "mama in a coma" for a decade or so.

This may not be legally binding, but someone take this to court and let my family and closest friends make the decisions they all know I'd want made.

Dignity. That's all I ask for. Dignity for me and for my family.

And I promise, cross my heart, swear not to die, that I'll take care of those adult responsibilities ASAP this coming week. Really, I promise.

hair today, gone tomorrow

Back in the day, I wore my hair short. WAAAAY back in the day, when I swam and was a life guard, I wore my hair quite short (I also did some odd perms that were designed to be curled and feathered-- and rarely were-- so ended up like fros....the '70s and high school age girls were certainly NOT a good mix). In college, I did the asymmetrical cut, went new-agey and punkish, toyed briefly with a mohawk...but generally, have never managed to sustain any hair style that has required even the most minimal of care. Nothing has really changed since I began growing my hair long 14 years's gone longer (to my waist), bobbed, somewhere in the middle...but always long enough to wear in a pony tail. My beauty regime involved washing, using cheap conditioner to lubricate it so I could comb it, pull it back and go. I get it cut once, maybe twice a year. When I wore bangs, I'd whack them off in the middle of grading when they were long enough to get in my way.

Of course, no one wants 8" long strands of hair falling out in clumps, especially not me. I have few things that squick me out, but this whole cancer journey seems to be touching on most if not alll of them: needles (yeh, I need valium to get a shot, and even then I'm fully capable of puking just thinking about an injection; oddly, IVs and blood draws don't bother me at all); and hair not attached to heads. Seriously, I can NOT clean up hair...looking at the floor of the Wal*Mart hair place, with the hairs stuck in the wax turns my stomach, a hair on a wash basin can ruin my day.

Therefore, to mitigate part of the hair falling out trauma (which is less hair falling out trauma and more the trauma of dealing with unattached hair), I decided to cut my hair short-short before I'd start losing it. Originally (oh, I also like to plan and pretend I have control over my life, and clearly right now I don't), I'd intended to start the semester with short hair in an attempt to ease my newbie, first year students into the idea of a bald teacher. It appears that I don't even have that much control right now...I should lose my hair on our around the 22nd or 23rd, 10 days after my first infusion. The weekend before classes start. It would probably be more traumatic for my students to have my hair fall out every time I touch my head (and I've noticed I do that a lot) on their first day of class than for me to show up bald....or with an appropriate head covering, which really won't fool anyone. Do they ever?

Today was hair cutting day. To be honest, I've been looking forward to this. Seriously. For probably 5 years now, I've been saying that I want to cut my hair short, but I have always wanted to be sure that I really wanted it short for the rest of my life, because I never, ever want to go through that horribly awkward "growing it out" stage ever again. And, I always thought I was too fat to wear really short hair. Now, it doesn't matter. This is my chance.

And I took it today. My sister-in-law, an awesome hair stylist, came today to cut my hair. I should have sucked it up and done it sooner. I love it. I'm thinking the wig I bought isn't going to work now because I like my hair this short so much. Right now, I have absolutely no plans to ever have it much longer. Just think, at this length, I can decide I want purple hair and, NIKE, just do it and when I'm tired of it, cut it off and start again. I totally see why Nathan is so happy with his extremely short hair. Wash your face all the way to your crown, and voila, go about your day. I'm pretty sad it's going away in a couple of weeks.

But speaking of that, as you can tell, hair is not a high priority for me, so the whole "loss of hair" struggle that seems to be so very important to a lot of women going through chemo just hasn't been a big deal. I really don't want to be bald. I think a lot of women can pull it off, looking graceful, sexy, powerful, and inspired. I think I'll look....bald. But then, once I get used to it, I'm not sure I'll care. And if me bald bothers the rest of you, oh well. That's your problem. I have enough of my own right now. I have no beauty regime, and it's not because i think I'm so infused with natural beauty that I can't benefit from a little artificial help. It's just that I simply don't give a damn, don't enjoy spending the time or money on such regimes, and can't be bothered.
I'd like to say that it's a feminist statement, and it probably was when I decided to stop wearing make up and shaving (around the same time I stopped wearing my wedding rings). But it all boils down, ultimately, to being lazy. Probably the same reason I just don't decorate my house. We are all about function and ease. Heck, our drinking glasses are canning jars.
This hair is function and ease. Seems a pity to look for a wig with so little hair. I'm calling it my Tyne look. Here's what I was going for, and here's what I got

Saturday, August 8, 2009

buddhist meditations on my prayer flags...

I am safe.
I trust more; I fear less.
I am centered and grounded.

I feel my emotions and my pain.
I reawaken my passion.
I surrender t this moment.

I am courageous.
I am whole.
I stand in my power.

I am loved; I let love in.
I am kind to myself.
I live in peace and gratitude.

I play in my imagination.
I create my reality.
I know and shae my truth.

I honor my intuition.
I accept my path.
I am healing: body, mind, and spirit.

I connect with Spirit.
I invite sacred transformation.
I embrace the unity of all beings.

Friday, August 7, 2009


"Go Placidly....amid the noise and confusion."

Seriously, there is nothing very placid about a cancer diagnosis; there certainly is a lot of noise and confusion once you've got the diagnosic code for "abnormal and uncontrolled cell division."

So, for those of you just joining the journey, on July 20, I found out I most likely had breast cancer. Onward to biopsies on the 21st and diagnostic mammo on the 23. Just a word of advice: If you find yourself in this position, attempt to have the mammo done PRIOR to the biopsies. While they bill a regular mammo as "uncomfortable but not painful" one done on an already bruised, swollen, stitched, and cored ta-ta really goes beyond "uncomfortable." Same is true for the ultrasound. Just sayin'.... However, if you ever are in this position, Theresa at Wood County Women's Care is the person you want in your corner. She's amazing at getting done what needs to get done, and fast.

So, the 20th was a Monday and that Friday, while at a soccer tournament, I got the "your pathology is back, do you want to come in and I can read it to you or would you rather do this over the phone." Gee. It is what it is. If I leave the tournament, I'll lose my good parking space, and I'll have to haul this stupid chair all the way back to the car and then back to the next let's just do it here. No surprises, really. Got a script for Xanax out of the deal. Almost made it worth it (except that Kroger didn't check their answering machine for over 5 hours so the script wasn't ready when I went to pick it up...that wasn't a public moment I'm particularly proud of and it involved me saying things like, "Do you realize what that prescription is for??? I'm on the verge of totally losing it here and once I do, putting the pieces back together won't be easy..." and other things involving words young children shouldn't hear...I did get applause from a couple of other people in line, one who also had had a prescription called in before noon and it also wasn't ready at 6:00, and his were for pain meds).

At that point, Xanax became my bff. That was Friday. Told two close friends over the weekend.

Then MRI on Tuesday and met with oncologist on Wednesday.

And at that point, the worst 1.5 weeks of my life were over. The meeting with the oncologist was actually a relief and I walked out feeling 20 lbs lighter. Just knowing something was great. Told the kids that night. Not so great, but I was very light hearted. For over a week, I'd pictured the worst. After the meeting and hearing the words "garden variety" and "totally treatable" I was almost giddy.

More tests.

MUGA (nothing so comforting as having the attendant say, "Here, carry this letter with you forthe next 48 hours because you now are more radioactive than what is allowable under the Homeland Security Act--otherwise, that was my favorite test because it was, in essence, a 20 minute nap in a darkened room), and CT scan.

I could write a whole entry on the whole "pick out a wig" ordeal. Probably 100$ wasted, but it is my opportunity to be a red head:)

This weekend, my sister-in-law is going to cut my hair really short. I'll have about two weeks to enjoy it. My hair will begin to fall out the day before classes start. I'm not really looking forward to the wig, but I'll give it a try. I am excited about accumulating scarves, hats, and turbans. 18 weeks of chemo; treatments every three weeks. That's about a semester. As I always tell myself, "I can do anything for one semester." Usually, that means teaching at 8:00 am and then again at 7:00 pm or facing one of those classes whose chemistry makes it hate me to the depths of my soul, but this is no different. After that, I'll continue with one drug for an entire year, but life will improve greatly at that point. So I decree, anyway.

Noise and confusion...Monday I get a port surgically implanted in my chest, and Wednesday I have my first round of chemo. I'm actually looking forward to 5 or so hours of nothing to do but sit around. The infusion nurse I met with yesterday said my biggest problem on chemo days will be boredom and urged me to have a friend bring in a great lunch to break up the time. OK, I can do that.

I hate to say I'm looking forward to all that is to come, but I believe Nike has said it best, "Just Do It."

Cancer is a word, not a sentence. A wise friend told me early on to assign cancer an emotion, any emotion but fear, and that's what I'm doing. I, along with the help of my awesome friends, am going to kick its ass. If that means eating 'effing kale every damn day, so be it. Putting green powdered shit in the Magic Bullet along with green leafy shit and calling it tasty, whatever.

You picked the wrong bitch, cancer. Seriously.

Wednesday, August 5, 2009


When I first heard I had breast cancer, I immediately vowed to fight the fight of my life, to make cancer a word, not a sentence. I have a fairly strong personality, but I'm not real clear on what kind of "fighter" I am. I tend to be hot headed, but hot headedness burns out. I'm in this for my life, literally and figuratively. I can't afford to burn out any time soon.

And then, when I was thinking of what music to put on my itouch to take with me to chemo, I remembered one of my favorite pieces from childhood, the poem "Desiderata" by Max Ehrmann, after which I have named this blog...the chronicle of my life with breast cancer.