Sunday, July 26, 2015
It's not so much the thought of losing it that gets to me; it's just another marker of what I'm going through. Another reality check. A stone on the path. I'm actually kind of looking forward to the fun of wearing different wigs and scarves, decorating my bald head, etc. I have a few things already, waiting for the time to come to be used. People asked for pics of me modeling the wigs, and I might take some or I might make you wait until I actually wear them. I'll think about it. I know my hair will grow back eventually and I can't help but be a little sad that it will be gone for a while, but that's OK.
I sometimes think about the changes my body will go through. Although there are certainly things I'd like to change about my body (mostly the amount of fat on it), for the most part it's been good to me all these years and I've been pretty happy with how it functions. Some of those things will change, some temporarily and some permanently. My hair will be different when it comes back--better or worse, it's hard to say. Not that I have great hair now, but it's mine and I'm used to it.
Chemo will likely throw me into a menopausal state, which may or may not continue after I'm done. That brings changes as well. I just can't help but be a little sad about it. Change is sad. Sure, I'll be fine. Sure, women go through menopause all the time and have very happy lives and I will, too. But I'm sad that this change is happening now. That one of my breasts and possibly both will be gone. Yes, I'll have them replaced and the new ones will probably look nicer, but they won't feel the same--in fact, they'll be numb. I may not ever return to the great physical strength I used to enjoy. I may lose range of motion in my right arm. I don't know yet all the changes that will happen, and to what extent and for how long. I don't dwell too much on this stuff; I grieve a little and move on.
Having cancer has made the prospect of aging and all that goes with it all the more real. I'm a youthful 42, physically and mentally. I've always been scared at the idea of being old, but I tried not to think about it. Now I think about it more keenly. Soberly. With much trepidation. Some readers will tell me I have a lot of years before I will be old and feeble, and they're right. I probably have at least 30 years or more, and I know plenty of people in their 60s and 70s who are active and healthy and youthful. But suddenly 30 years doesn't seem as long as it used to. I wanted to go see the movie Mr. Holmes, but I think it would be just too sad for me right now. Instead we'll see Trainwreck. There's some great cinema for you.
Despite the morose ramblings above, I am largely in good spirits. I feel good, my appetite is good, and I laugh a lot. I can help out a little around the house (the little Michael will let me, which is not much), go out to a movie (matinees aren't too crowded), etc. and still feel good. I do run out of energy, but then I just feel sleepy, not weak and exhausted.
My mouth feels much better today. I don't know if it's because I had been slacking on my rinses for a couple days before the sores started and then I got better about it and that's helping, or if it's normal for them to show up and go away. In all the literature, it talks about side effects being a possibility and how to deal with them, but it never talks about when they show up or how long they stick around. I guess it's because everyone's different, so I can understand that.
I hate being in the dark. I hate not knowing what to expect or how things will happen. I grill my survivor friends about their chemo experiences. Mine may not be exactly the same, but the more I hear what others went through, the more I feel prepared for what I face. At least it's not so unknown, even if I don't know exactly how my body will react. Just knowing that most people only have the nausea and fatigue for a few days after treatment (maybe a little longer the further in you get) was news to me and a great comfort. That's one thing I hope this blog does for the next person--to help you know what to expect.
Some of my friends are chipping in to pay for our house to be cleaned every few weeks while I'm in chemo. What a wonderful, thoughtful gift! I have decided to stop thanking people by name in public. Partly because I will forget someone and I don't want to hurt anyone's feelings or make them feel unappreciated, partly because I think some people might feel weird about it. So, you know who you are, and know that I love you and appreciate you! I love the cards, texts, comments, private messages...knowing that you are thinking of me makes me smile, and the distraction of a conversation that is not about cancer is always welcome.
Next treatment is Wednesday, just three days away. I'm armed with a huge pile of ginger and peppermint in various forms, so I'm ready to go. I already see changes in the affected breast--less fluid (although it's still definitely swollen), almost no pain except a little tenderness and the occasional twinge. There was a huge bruised-looking area on the bottom that was swollen and puckered (hard to describe and no I didn't take a picture), and that is now very small. I can sleep on my right side much more comfortably now. I'm looking forward to seeing how the next cycle affects it.