Saturday, September 28, 2013

CHEMO Round 2...check


Oh man, chemo round 2 wasn't easy!  I feel battled and bruised, but I still won.  This time I opted to try just the chemotherapy without going in the next day for the Neulasta shot.  The Neulasta shot is something they do the day after to help boost your white blood count.  My white count levels were at 11 and I just wanted to see if I could do it without the @#$ shot.  That shot is the devil...but it works.  I have never been in more pain in my entire life then Round 1 with the Neulasta.

Neulasta® works as a white cell booster. Neulasta® works similarly to a protein that is made in the body. It acts on the cells in our bone marrow to increase the number of new white blood cells that are formed.

  • An improvement in your white blood cell counts will show that Neulasta® is working

  • Neulasta® helps protect your natural defenses with just 1 injection per cycle of chemo. It is given approximately 24 hours after you receive chemo...And then you want to lay in the road and wait for the next car to hit you, because it would feel better.  Okay I added that last part.

With the Neulasta, your bones ACHE and ACHE!  I thought ALL my pain from CHEMO Round 1 were because of the affects of the Neulasta.  I figured, my levels are where they need to be, I'm young sort of young, let's just try this without the shot this time.  Chemo=joint and muscle pain... Neulasta=bone pain.

What I learned this round...
  • The pain from the chemotherapy DEFINITELY contributed to Round 1 pain.  Joint and muscle pain galore!  I could no longer blame the Neulasta shot entirely.  (Although that shot is still the devil.  The bone pain associated with it is indescribable.  Some people have been known to use Morphine to help with the pain.)
  • My white count dropped from 11 to 4, and now I have a cold.  They had to put me on an antibiotic to ensure no infection.
  • Lucky me...I will probably have to do the shot Round 3.
A week and two days later, I am still achy, tired, and moving slowly.  Only I think I am a little more tired as I wasn't completely back from Round 1.  I think each round will build and build without ever fully recovering.  Sounds a little scary.

What I ALSO learned this round...
  • There are so many good people out there!
  1. Phone calls/texts/emails of encouragement
  2. Cards
  3. Gifts
  4. DINNERS brought in by ANGELS!  I can't imagine cooking dinner right after chemo. UGH!
  5. Helpers around every corner!  One morning I was in bed and I could hear someone banging on my door.  I could tell that the person was persistent and was not going to go away.  As I neared my front door I could see my sister Monica's face pressed up near the glass.  I opened the door and she flew by me, into the kitchen.  She opened the dishwasher and said, "Clean or dirty?"  She unloaded and reloaded the dishwasher, swept and mopped the floor, vacuumed the upstairs, cleaned a bathroom, and cleaned 2 bedrooms.  She would have stayed longer, but had a child to pick up.
Makes me cry just thinking about all the support I have been receiving.  What a blessing!!  I couldn't do it without it! 

Monday, September 16, 2013

Courage


Thursday, September 12th, I had an appointment with a hairdresser to get help with my wig.  When she had me sit in the chair and put the wig on, I just started to cry.  I had times I could keep it together in the chair, and then I would start tearing up again.  Every time she would run her brush through my real hair, large amounts of hair would come out.  I told her I needed to shave it, and she agreed.  But, my kids wanted to be the ones to shave it.

She trimmed the wig and thinned it out, making it look less like a wig, and more like real hair (if a wig can look like real hair).  My real hair kept getting in the way and making the wig slide around.  Vicki ended up cutting parts of my real hair to get it out of the way.  Vicki and her daughter Hallie were so good to console me, and they tried to help me feel better.

I left the shop with the wig on and wore it home, crying the whole way.  I felt like every car that pulled up next to me, could see that I was wearing a wig. 

When I got home, I decided it was time RIGHT THEN to shave my head.  Each one of my kids and John took a couple of swipes with the clippers through my hair.  We started with a large attachment and finished with a small one.  When they were all done, I had a very short butch hair cut.  I had envisioned the time of shaving my head.  I thought that we would try shaving some crazy styles and getting a laugh out of it.  But, it was very much the opposite.  The room was quiet except for my silent sobs.  It was so much harder than I thought it would be.

It look me a LONG time to be able to look in the mirror at myself.  It was pretty painful to look in the mirror the first time.  The first thing I thought of when I saw my reflection was Curly off of the 3 Stooges.  Good HECK! 

Friday, I almost felt like I was in mourning.  I spent a lot of time lying on the couch with tears in my eyes.  It is hard to come to grips with all your hair being shaved off.  I also had a major headache and didn't feel all that great.

My head has still been feeling sore and tender (from the chemo not the haircut).  I haven't even worn the wig yet.  Yesterday I wore a hat to church.  I think once my hair all falls out and my head feels a little less tender, I can wear the wig.

I don't think it will be long before all my hair is gone.  I keep finding lots of little hairs in my hats, and every time I touch my head.  My friend's mom has cancer and she was happy when her hair started falling out, because she knew the chemo was working.  I think that is a good way to look at it.  I am happy that the chemo is working and hopefully doing it's job.  I'm glad that there is such a thing as chemotherapy.  It's not fun, but necessary.  I can do this.

Thursday, September 12, 2013

Wiggy

So, I ordered a wig and came in the mail the day before yesterday.  I feel like I look atrocious in it.  It looks like an animal just crawled up on my head and died.  For some reason, I can't seem to get it to fit right.  Maybe it's too small...who knows.  My KIDS all look cute in it, but that doesn't help me. 

I have an appointment today to have a hairdresser look at it.  She said she can cut it, thin it out a little, and help me fit it on my fat head.  I just don't think I'm much of a "wig person".  I have a lot of great hats, thanks to some wonderful friends and sisters.  The picture on the right shows my wig (only mine is blonde).  It is called the "Shannon" wig.  I think I will rename it.  I shall call it, "You gotta be freaking kidding me". 

When Brynn and I were online shopping for a wig, we had to laugh out loud at a lot of them.  They looked SO "wiggy".  I just kept thinking about mama on the show "Mama's Family".  Oh gracious! 

I think I need to order a wig for each month of the year.  My January wig can be white like the snow.  February can be red for Valentine's day.  March, luck of the Irish green.  You get the picture.


How come Riley
can pull the wig-look off?
Not fair!?
I am in a group on Facebook for people with cancer.  I have asked the group questions about hair loss.  Oh my!  I could be losing much more than the hair on my head!  Good freakin' heck!  One lady said she lost all of her nose hairs!  I'm okay with the loss of armpit and leg hair...and that is it.  No eyebrows and eyelashes?  I'm not sure I can pull off that look!  And to be honest, it makes me want to bawl.  Everyone is different in the hair-loss department.  It's just all up in the air right now for me.  Yikes!

Yesterday and today, after my shower, I combed MAJOR amounts of hairs out of my head.  Yes, I cried.  My head is sore and I'm just getting really tired of it.  My next step is to shave my head, and it will be soon.  It's too devastating to comb that much hair out, every morning.  My kids can hardly wait to shave my head.  I guess we will have a little head shaving party.  Although, it doesn't sound like much of a party to me.  I'm grateful that the weather is changing and getting a little cooler.  With cooler weather comes more hats.  Maybe I won't stick out so much.

I had an appointment this morning for lab work.  Everything looked good and I will be going in next Thursday for chemo, Round 2.  They also told me about a class (I can't remember the name of it), "Feel good, look good" or something along those lines.   In the class they teach you how to put on make up and about wigs and such.  I am grateful that they offer a class!  When I think about painting eyebrows on my face I think of Mr. Rogers make believe, Lady Elaine.  Now that is one pretty lady!  I'm sure I will be just gorgeous (said in the most sarcastic way possible).

Exactly 3 years ago today, I lost my dad to cancer.  Stupid cancer.  I miss him a lot, and know that he is probably helping me every step of the way through this little battle.  I think back to when he would tell us about chemo and all the side effects.  Now, I'm right in the thick of it.   Sure love and miss my dad!

Friday, September 6, 2013

Friday Flashback...What did she say?!


We always get a good laugh when we talk about a cookout at my mom's house a couple of years ago.  It makes me laugh to hear my girls quote Grandma (my mom) when we talk about it. 

We were roasting hot dogs in the backyard...or according to my mom having a "wiener roast" or "weenie roast".  My kids just think these terms are a little scandalous and hilarious--especially coming from Grandma's sweet mouth.

During our roast, a stray neighborhood dog joined the family party and was trying to partake of some of the kids hot dogs/wieners.  My mom kept shouting, "Hey, that dog is trying to get those kids wieners!"

She didn't notice all the laughter coming from all the teenage grandkids.  They were thoroughly entertained by grandma.

We now like to tease grandma about having a "Weenie Roast" in our "Thongs" (aka flip flops).

Oh Grandma, how we love you!

Wednesday, September 4, 2013

2nd day of School

This morning I hit the ground running.  Haley woke me up at 7:30 to help her and she needs to be to school by 8:00.  Hello panic button!  How are you this morning!?  I was able to get the lunches made and kids out the door on time.  Miracle. 

Before Riley left for school, I had to take her picture.  After all, it is her first day of school.  She didn't have to go yesterday.  Only the Freshmen went on the first day to the high school.  She made sure to rub it in to all my kids.  Older siblings are the best!
On a side note...feeling much better today than yesterday.  Yeah me!  I may actually get something done today!

Tuesday, September 3, 2013

Boobs and Bills

Boobs and Bills have been the only thing on my brain lately--along with a few other words that start with "B", such as bawling, baldness, barfing, blues, and bed-ridden.  There are some days that this breast cancer is kickin' my butt.  It can be all consuming (probably because most of the time I feel like a piece of crap).

Thursday I was FINALLY able to get through my first round of chemotherapy without having an allergic reaction.  My mom drove me to the doctor's office for chemo and John met us over there later.  When my mom and I got out of the car at the doctor's office, I asked her if we could slip back in the car and offer a prayer before going in for chemo.  I was HOPING and PRAYING that this chemo drug would work.

When we got in the office, the nurses were ready for me.  They were trying to be very optimistic that TODAY was going to be the day that the chemo would work!  They knew that I didn't want to sit in the same chair that I had sat in the last 2 times when I had my reactions.  I was grateful that "that chair" was already taken and they had no plans to sit me there anyway.  This time they were prepared with oxygen and anything I would possibly need in the event of a reaction.  When they took my vitals they were shocked at how high my blood pressure was.  I was beyond nervous and hoping that today would work.

I was over-joyed when they told me I was 10 minutes into the chemotherapy, with NO reaction.  When the I.V. bag was finally empty, I shot my arm up in the air in VICTORY!  I don't think anyone has left the office THAT HAPPY after chemo before!  AND...I was able to walk out on my own two feet (no wheel chair this time)!

Friday I had to go back to the doctor's office for a Neulasta shot.  The shot helps in boost my white blood count.  I have come to learn that it is the devil.  I have NEVER been in so much pain in my life.  EVERY SINGLE BONE IN MY BODY is killing me.  The only way I can describe it is shin splints X 100 all-over-every-bone-in-my-body.  My legs hurt, back, fingers, hips, pelvic bone...Even my teeth hurt.
A friend posted this picture on Facebook to show how cancer feels.
Days later and I am still very, very achy and can hardly type this blog post.  I don't want to get behind on my journaling, so I am forcing myself to do this, and then I am going back to bed.  Now I just feel like I have a bad case of the stomach flu.  My head has been throbbing, and I can't imagine that I will have hair much longer.

School started today for Brynn, Jace, and Haley, so I feel like my focus needs to shift from the "B's".  Haley was a little late for her first day at a new school.  She started to cry when I was walking her in because she was feeling nervous (first day at her new school), and wanted to go back to her old school.  I started crying too because I didn't feel good.  Riley starts tomorrow and we will be back in full swing.  Crazy way to start the year, and I pray it gets easier.