Friday, July 7

Woah Nelly...

Well, my second treatment was a bit harder than the first. We've been spending a lot of tome up at the cottage just to get away from the city and the heat (which I can't abide any longer, I need to be indoors between 11 and 3 at least), so we had come back from the country to go to my treatment and then scoot back up the next day. The wait was shorter this time only half an hour compared to the 3 hour delay last time. And it was quiet. Holiday Monday is the day to be at the Hospital! Anyway it went off without a hitch, the nurse was excellent and I've only got a small nickle sized bruise on the top of my hand from the IV. Chemo drugs are notoriously hard on your veins and in fact can damage them and collapse them permanently, that is why, often with longer treatments there are options for a semi permanent way to administer them. I decided I didn't want either option if I didn't have to, since I have a three year old climbing all over me most of the day, I just didn't want to risk injury to the site or damage, or hinder my ability to give my child the type of affection he is used to. So far so good. Six treatments seems like a lot but it's actually the shortest way to go, so I'm holding on to that. I need to hold on to something. Mentally this treatment(#2) has been more difficult all around. About day 17 my hair started to fall out, and I cut it down to 1 inch, then this week at the cottage I had a shower and lots and lots came out and it ended up looking a bit patchy and weird, so we drove into town and went to the old school Barber and had it buzzed off. That was a relief but my scalp feels prickly and sore when I wear a hat so I'm waiting until it's all gone to do that I think. Jake thinks it's funny that I have no hair which is a relief. The nausea was worse this time around, I did end up taking some of my in case of barfing extra meds they give you. Fortunately everyone piled into the car and went to the berry farm for the day and left me and B alone to watch movies and lie around. I really didn't have much energy and the heat during the day doesn't help. What sucks about the nausea is that while you don't want to barf, you are ravenous and want to eat all the things. I try and eat small amounts, but I feel like I'm constantly snacking. Sort of feeling full but slightly sick and still hungry. The oncologist did tell me that most women do gain weight while going through chemo, as the drugs make you feel hungry. Sigh. and then Jake saw me changing and said what's that? pointing at my belly, and I replied, that's mammas belly. Jake said nooooooo, it's not... too much food!!! From the mouth of babes right? Anyway, enough of that. The next day was a little better, and today much better. I was able to help wrangle all the kids and get the kitchen cleaned up and make dinner.
I'm not one for cheesy memes about self care, but I do like this one.

The thing that happened to me this time around, that didn't happen the first time, was the mental journey I took. It got scary. It got dark. real dark. I cried like someone had died. I felt helpless, and sick and scared and just so fucking worried about everything. It is really quiet up here when there aren't kids running around, and the nature here is so lovely, the breeze off the lake, the dappled sunlight on the wooden deck, the oversized chairs covered in cushions. It's an easy and gentle place to be, and when you are battling something so internally you really have no where to hide, you just have to sit in your perfect chair , on your perfect deck and drink your weird spur of the moment anti nausea concoction and think. Think about all the things. About being a child, about past abuses, about mistakes, about how sick you feel, about how much you'd give just to have a normal day to complain about anything other than the fact that you have something in your body that could kill you. And the fear. my god. fear like this would shrivel the testicles off a buffalo in a heartbeat. Just the fear of the unknown. Trying to look forward to the future and just feeling like it's a long tunnel, with, yes, a tiny light at the end but so so far away at this point. I had an expression I used to say when things went sideways or took an unexpected turn "Shit got real now, Dog". And it used to be funny. So yeah, that was a bad day. B held me while I sobbed and then I was really tired and slept deep. But I woke up feeling much better today, brighter, more myself and I hung out on the dock with my baby and sat in the shade and watched the others fish.

And I guess it will just go this way. Days of feeling bad, feeling afraid. Days of feeling good, strong determined. I absolutely believe in the treatment I have chosen, and I feel I am in the best hands possible for this fight. So there's that. The next treatment is July 24th and I'll be HALFWAY!!!!!!!!!! I can't wait....actually yes I can, I feel nauseous just thinking about going back to the hospital right now....But I want to reiterate I couldn't do this with as much strength and dignity without all of you messaging me and telling me you care. It really, really helps. seriously. P.M me on messenger or whatsappp if you'd like my snail mail as I love hanging my cards and notes up on the wall. Here's the sexy bald girl I see in my head.
Take care of each other. We are all we've got. Until next time. J.

Sunday, July 2

Another Sunday...

The last few days have been kind of up and down. I had a good check up on Friday and the Doctor was glad I haven't had too many side effects nor too much of a reaction to the chemo.  After my appointments we braved the weekend traffic to make it up to the cottage and arrived around 8:30. It's been really nice to be around family and to watch Jake with his cousins, he adores them and they love him right back. There was a huge trampoline purchase and set up yesterday that has kept all of the kids amused and exhausted. So, me...I put the picture up of Zoe Washburn from Firefly today because I love the show Firefly, and in the beginning, I identified with Zoe the most, she is strong, she is wise, she is nobody's fool and in love, she is just as strong as when sh is alone. In fact, I won a prize in an essay contest on the podcast The Signal a few years back. It was called "Why Zoe Washburn is my Han Solo" and I talked about relating more to male heroes as a child and how I didn't want to be the girl next to the hero, I wanted to BE the hero, like when me and my girlfriends played Star Wars, I was always Han Solo, and I would watch the others argue about who was Princess Leia, and be like "can we JUST get in the Milennium Falcon already?!!". Don't get me wrong Leia rocked, and she was, besides Wonder Woman, one of the few Women heroes(and dolls) I had. But, as I have changed over the years and in particular light of my journey right now, I have been feeling a bit more like this Gal
She is wild, and strong, and vulnerable. Her strength lies in her intuition and emotional landscape. She feels crazy and misunderstood and a little bit lost. (I don't feel misunderstood but the other two, sometimes yes). I feel like the strength I am drawing from River is about her ability to keep going despite all the things. The strength she seems to draw out of the very air, to fight and to keep going.
Anyway, we went to Giant Tiger to find some fun summer clothes and I made the mistake of going into the change room to try something on. Now, this is not a rant about body image or fat shaming yourself or whatever, most of the time I love myself, but you know what? sometimes, you just don't. And since I've been shedding like a huskie trapped in Florida, I've been a bit more sensitive to what the rest of my body looks like. I had taken  off my top, and stood there in my leggings and sports bra and I just sighed a huge sigh and said to myself "what the fuck happened to you?". Oh yeah, I had a baby and then  three years later I got cancer, that's what the fuck happened. I know now is the time to be the most kind I can possibly be to myself, and that now is not the time to really be worrying about weight, and I need to be kind and gentle to my psyche. But MAN not looking in a full length mirror for years at a time and eating carbs like it's the last noodle you'll ever eat, really changes your body, and it's insidious, because it's slow, and then one day you're in the change room at GT looking at a person you don't recognize that you are supposed to love, who is sick and looks nothing like the person you imagine in your head that is you.
Anyway, I got dressed and I forced myself to buy the slinky red cotton summer dress, that felt good when I put it on, and said "fuck that mirror". I felt sad for a few hours but hugs and a chat(thanks B) and a really hot bath in a clawfoot tub with salt water really did the trick. I washed my "hair" and it felt really nice to do that 'cause most of the time my scalp feels weird. I don't want to shave my head down just yet. I have registered for a class at Princess Margeret called "Healthy Eating Through Breast Cancer"  which is taught by a diatician/nutritionist, so I'm looking forward to learning how to eat a little better
To end on a positive note, I am feeling good today. I think that's the thing to try and remember, it really is day by day, and take the good when you have it. This morning when I opened my email there was a kind message from my friend Rosalind(@rosalindr ), she suffers from a form of EDS (Ehlers Danlos Syndrome) which in a nutshell means chronic pain, and ligament tissue issues which cause her to have things happen like dislocating her shoulder just by putting on her coat(!!). But she has been a wonderful support to me reaching out to talk about self care, pain management, energy conservation and #hospitalglam. What is hospital glam you say? It is this amazing movement by women who suffer from long term illnesses and not so long term, that spend and inordinate amount of time in waiting rooms or doctors offices, or hospitals that take "glam" selfies while they wait and post them on instagram with the hashtag "hospitalglam" I have joined the ranks. Bring it on. Here is an article about it. Here is Rosalinds Tumblr if you would like to learn more about her, she makes amazing jewlery and clothing, has a cheeky lovely cat and is truly awe inspiring! (hope it's ok to shamelessly promote you!!). Home today for chemo tomorrow, and then back up to the cottage for rest time. Take care of eachother and I will do my best to take care of me. Until then J.