Razor Day!

I had it all (shaved? shaven?) off.

I called my friend Ilona and left a message asking her to come up and shave it for me. But as I left the message, I got that choky-emotional hitch in my voice. So I decided to just go and walk into a hair salon and do it.

The stylist started by trying to convince me there were other options and I didn’t have to shave my hair off.

“I came HERE because I do NOT want to discuss my decision making. I can just go now and have a friend do it if you can’t handle it.” I use my deep, dark, meany voice.

Leave it to me to pick a stylist who is a young mother of a 3 1/3 year old AND who just finished a year of weekly chemo-like treatments for Hepatitis C. Apparently the treatments she went through didn’t work and she has to do it all again.

Holy crap.

But when the tears come to both her and her receptionist’s eyes as I’m paying the bill, I get a surge of MEAN BREAST CANCER CHEMO WOMAN. I can feel my face settling into that stern don’t-fuck-with-me-don’t-even-talk-to-me defensive barrier.

I’m not ready to go home.

So I walk around the mall a bit. And then I go to a bakery. And to Starbuck’s for a pumpkin spice latte. Then I come home and almost bite my husband when he tries to tell me I look good and wants to kiss me.

Then, I get over it.

We all got over it. Delphine gave a small sigh at the crew cut, but she thinks the hat is OK. Paul still wants hugs.

And I feel really really different — but I still feel like I know the older looking, powerful, tall, athletic woman looking back at me in the mirror. She’s definitely part of me — and she deserves her turn as the physical representation of self.


Chapped lips

If you’re not interested in gory, intimate body details, then stop reading.

The canary tuft of dark hair on my knee is hanging on.

But apparently I picked one tough canary, because the miners up on my scalp are falling fast. It’s like watching the gentle start of an incoming snow storm.

I made a small sclupture out of the hair that has fallen on the desk, here, in front of my computer. The hair is rather sticky and naturally wants to weave together, so you can mold it into different forms.

I’ll have Ilona shave my head tomorrow, after Delphine’s class party. No need to shock the poor girl in front of her classmates.

I did a bit of shaving myself tonight. See, those mucuous membranes that get damaged by chemo? They are causing my mouth and lips to be quite dry. I’m suddenly in need of chapstick every five minutes. The reflux now hits the back of my throat a bit if I eat something too spicy.

The medical staff at the cancer center warned me about that.

But what they didn’t warn me about?

Chapped lips.

And I’m not talking about the lips on my face.

I’m not sure if it’s because of the chemo, steriods, or instant menopause, but the environment has changed dramatically down south and, well, things are…hmmm…SLICKER.

But chapped in spots.

And that’s, uh, not very comfortable.

So when I saw the snow was falling a bit down there as well, I decided it was time to take action.

I do have to admit there’s a bit of the mole rat look going on already. There’s an eerie erasure of my sexuality. My sexual markers are so blurred out and vague I could be approved by Mattel as a children’s toy.

But it’s a bit exciting too. This is my final metamorphosis. I’m taking the form of she who will march this thing through to the end.

p.s. My white cell and red cell blood counts were normal yesterday. My platelets were low. So, I’m not anemic or at risk for infection!

I’m 56.1 years old!!

So yesterday I keep having these squeezy tight chest pains when I run or walk up stairs. For some reason walking up hills doesn’t do it to me. I feel better when I drink a huge mug of chicken broth, so I’m theorizing I must not have enough blood and the fluid helps up my blood pressure. I have severe anemia. My heart is starving for oxygen. And yet, my body is feeling impatient — it wants to go work out.

So I’m thinking, eh, something to ask my oncologist at my appointment today.

But then, at a Campfire leaders’ meeting last night, I stand up to sing the “Mmm Hmm I wanna linger” song with everyone and get a wave of chest pain so severe it releases one of those internal “Oh fuck” reactions.

So when I get home I call my oncologist. I babble something about not-wanting-anything-nor-to-see-her-before-our-scheduled-appt-but-the-oh-fuck-chest-pain-is-that-ok-or-what-and-I’m-really-not-worried.

“A bit more than a week into your chemo? It’s not your heart Suzy,” she says, “Have you ever had reflux? You’ve got reflux.”

I’ve never had reflux. How FUNNY.

Now that I feel I can eat and drink regularly, I’ve been trying to tea, fiber and probiotic-yogurt myself off of stool softeners. (I wasn’t really planning to share that with everyone, but there it is.)

Yeah. Reflux.

I didn’t even have to take a single antacid. I just stopped eating so wierd and, uh, yeah, the ‘starving heart’ symptoms stopped.

So here’s the funny coda. My parents have both had early onset heart problems. Both of them have been told they had reflux when they were really dealing with multiple heart attacks and angina attacks. I comment to Francois “But mom was 56 years old.”

So last night I take that ‘What’s your real age?’ test they have on the web? (How to waste time when you don’t have a TV.) And this morning they provide me with my results.

I’m 56.1 years old.

Yeah? Well who cares.

I look damn good. 🙂

The canary is still healthy. In fact, I can’t find a single hair that wants to come out, anywhere.

The canary is still breathing

Knees are still dark and fuzzy.

Hey, I realized I’m actually looking forward to losing all of my hair now. It’s, well, the last BIG CHANGE. After that, it will be one long tiring walk through to the end. If I do radiation, that might be interesting enough to write about. But honestly, I’m getting bored with my cancer. My best friend Serena was here one weekend and asking all sorts of questions about upcoming cancer treatments. They were really good questions. Interesting questions. Not only did I not know the answers to her questions… I didn’t care! That’s pretty big coming from someone as self-absorbed as I am.

I’ll probably stop blogging after my hair comes out and I make that whole fashion shift. I’m thinking there will be some funny stories to tell about living as a bald woman.

But then I predict boredom.

Boredom is perfectly fine.

But I don’t think I’ll blog it.



Tired Navel-Gazing

I took this glorious long walk on Thursday up to Delphine’s school to help out in her class mask making party. It’s a good solid 1 1/2 hour hike there. Takes about an hour to get back (downhill).

Friday I woke up feeling, well, wrung out. DeNova and I took eight Campfire girls to a corn maze after work. I felt good. It was great being outside and walking with DeNova. The girls were amazing. They found all of the stamps and earned a tiny pumpkin each.

In a mere ten minutes I cooked up a dinner, fed the kids, applied costume make-up and got them into the car for Boo-Bingo at our swim club. That’s, like, my all-time best.

Boo-Bingo ended with some pretty strong cramps (and, uh, embarrassing FARTS) so I grabbed Francois in mid-conversation with our friend Peter, dragged the kids to the car and beat it out of there.

I was WORN OUT Friday evening.

Saturday I woke up feeling, just, lousy tired. An hour later, I felt great! I helped the kids with their pumpkins, made lunches — and crashed at 1pm for a three hour nap.

I have this wierd cold where I suddenly have tons of symptoms and then, viola, I’m clear.

For awhile I thought I was allergic to this wonderful lotion I’ve been using to massage my arm and chest. (Thanks Melissa!!) So I stopped the lotion massage — and my arm tightened up! ARrrrgghhh.

I’m an energy yo-yo. It’s like my cell counts go down in spurts and fight their way back up, only to be slammed down again. I have no idea if that is what is really going on, of course. I’m probably just a whuss and using a few tired moments as an excuse to indulge in some navel-gazing.

I feel great. I can’t wait to go on a long walk with Ilona tomorrow morning.

Have I mentioned that Diet Coke is the very best tasting drink I can find now?

When I get self-indulgent like this, I like to google cancer sites and read about myself. Seriously. There’s no hope for me!!

So tonight for some reason I kept running into ‘Survivor Profiles’. These are, well, like the super-athletes of cancer. These are the men, women and children who work full time, manage a young family, develop an interest in competitive ice-skating and write inspirational profiles all while dealing with nasty 12 month chemo treatments for stage III and IV cancers.

I think I’m very happy staring at my hairy knee, thank you. I love being a slacker.

And a big thank you to everyone around me who lets me just be a slacker. My life is very good because of all of you.

Emotional Billiards

Great day today, but long and tiring. Came home VERY TIRED after grading, updating my online site, swimming (YEAH!! I can actually SWIM now! I can do a modified front crawl, a full breaststroke, kick with the kick board, backstroke a bit — but I tire way too easily.), teaching, conferencing and physical therapy to find… Francois and 3-year-old Paul at the front door.

Francois’s car quit on him at BCC while he was picking up Paul. So he and Paul walked home. It’s a 1 1/2 hour hike. Paul was tired and hungry. Francois was tired and stressed — about his car and about his daughter, who was supposed to be delivered to us at 4pm.

Feed kid 1, track down and retrieve kid 2, find tow truck, retrieve car, husband now stuck at cardealership, call home for ride, kid 1 constipated on the toilet, order up neighborhood teenager to babysit pooping child, retrieve husband at dealership, walk teenager home, come home to 100 questions and comments from kid 2, snap at kid 2, kid 2 snaps at kid 1, kid 1 cries unconsolably — probably because the cat isn’t around to kick.

And all this while the friggin telephone is ringing OFF THE HOOK. TWELVE FRIGGIN MESSAGES??!!!


Yank cord out of wall.

I’m done.

(But did you hear? I can SWIM now! I can move my arm almost all the way up!)

But I don’t want to talk about it.


(That’s a big raspberry aimed right at you.)

Gnomes on my bones

Neulasta is a drug I take the Monday after Friday chemo treatments. It’s supposed to keep my white blood cell count up. The side effect is bone pain.

The bone pain isn’t that bad. But it’s irritating.

It feels like very tiny gnomes are walking around on the surface of my bones with itsy-bitsy axes. Every once in awhile they just stop and slam their miniscule axe into the bone they happen to be standing on. Then they go on their way and find another spot. Tiny spots of pain that are constantly on the move.

For the most part, it’s not too bad. The facial bones can smart. And then last night a whole group of them decided to have a party among the small bones in my feet.

My right ovary is a battleground. I’m thinking there must be some serious cell killin’ going on down there. The microscopic infantrymen fighting it out down there have rifles. They’re bloody noisy and messy. It makes for an
interesting mittelschmerz, that’s for sure.

I still find I feel better if i keep moving. I’ve been walking, running, swimming and teaching. That all feels good. But sitting at the computer in longer than five minute spells is a bit uncomfortable. Not bad. Just uncomfortable.