You know that feeling you get when you KNOW something is coming up that you’re not looking forward to. A root canal, a BIG test in a subject you’re not comfortable with (MATH..BLAH!!), a business trip away from your family… well take that feeling and magnify it by like a billion, and that’s how much I WAS NOT looking forward to my second round of chemo. As July 29th approached, I tried my best to just cram in as much fun and GOOD times as I possibly could before I knew I would be out for the count again!
Unfortunately, because of my crazy chemo and doctor schedule, we had to cancel our previously planned week long beach vacation, but FORTUNATELY, we were able to take a 3 day trip to the same beach, which was absolutely what me and my family needed after this crazy 8 weeks! The kids had a BLAST playing on the beach all day long and I relished in every single solitary second of that trip; soaking up the sun, watching my babies squeal with delight as the waves splashed on them, feeling the ocean breeze on my face — things I would have taken for granted before this, but now, these little moments of God’s beauty meant so much more. It was a fantastic trip filled with many memories I will cherish forever – all except one….losing my hair.
You read that right! Two weeks to the day of my first chemo infusion my hair started REALLY falling out (and it was the first day of our vacation and I was NOT prepared!) It started early on Tuesday morning when I took a shower before we left for the beach. I was shampooing my hair like normal when I looked down and saw a HUGE clump fall to the ground. I immediately stopped shampooing and looked at my hands, which were covered in hair. YIKES- scary – I was paralyzed!! What do I DO?? Do I continue? Will I be bald when I get out of the shower? I had no idea!
Over the course of the next two days my hair continued to fall out in clumps! I couldn’t go under the water because I feared I would come out bald; I couldn’t brush my hair because when I did it CLUMPS of hair would be on the brush; I couldn’t shampoo my hair or even run my fingers through it because CLUMPS would come out! I spent those three days with Jeremy picking hundreds of hairs off of my dress when we went out to eat, with Sadie pulling chunks out while I was putting on her shoes, and with myself feeling the angst of what this meant! SUUUURRRREEE This was a good thing because it meant the chemo was working and killing those son of a bitch cancer cells, but killing my hair cells was just one of the terrible side affects of the potent drugs I did NOT like!
The night before I shaved my head I made up my mind when I was in the shower and the water wouldn’t go down the drain because there was just so much hair on the ground. It was a humbling and traumatic shower to say the least….and I cried! I knew I couldn’t continue to go on like this —seeing my hair in clumps and worrying about it falling out was just too much, so I made up my mind to shave it the following day!
We drove back from vacation, I ran to the hospital to get my weekly blood test and headed home to find Jeremy had the back porch already set up for my shave fest. As I sat down on the chair and felt the first CHOP of the scissors (had to cut my hair first before I could shave it) I felt the tears start to well up and I just couldn’t hold them back. OMG, was this FOR REAL??? Was I really losing my hair?? I tried to talk myself down, “Jess, it’s JUST hair and will grow back!!” But all of the emotions of this were far too much and I just started crying hysterically. Poor Jeremy should never had to do what he did, but he was strong, like usual, for us both and I’m grateful for how he did it. He was so collected even though I saw him choking back tears, and he tried his best to make me laugh in typical Jeremy fashion. When the cutting was done it was time for the shaving. By this point I was in complete meltdown mode, but sat there as the hair fell on my lap, my shoulders, my face….there it goes – it was done. There really aren’t words to describe how I felt the first time I looked in the mirror! “Who is that sick, bald girl looking back at me?” “What happened to that long beautiful hair I used to have?” “Why do I have pointy ears? haha!! I spent the first few days not looking in a mirror (I’m over that now!) But there are still times I catch a glimpse of myself in the mirror and think that I look like an alien troll (which Jeremy has assured me I do not, and continues to say that I have a really nice, round head!)
I was worried what the kids would think! Brody was prepared since we had talked to him about this many times over the past few weeks. He saw me, touched my head, and said, “Mommy- now you, me, and daddy are the THREE AMIGOS since we all have shaved head!” Talk about making me feel good! It didn’t phase him at all… although that night when I was putting him to sleep he did say, “mommy, I wish you could have long hair again!” But he was over it in a few minutes! Sadie on the other hand was a bit hesitant when she first saw me. She didn’t want to come near me actually…it took her about an hour before she realized it was me and has been ok ever since. They are just awesome!
So here I am, two weeks of being bald, and I can honestly say that aside from not liking the way I look without hair, being bald certainly has some benefits! Showering and getting ready is a BREEZE, it’s super cool and I sweat a hell of a lot less, and the hair doesn’t grow anywhere on my body – PEACE OUT SHICK INTUTiON RAZOR – see you in a few months!
Ok so THAT happened on a Friday and then chemo came on Tuesday…talk about ANXIETY!! My dad was set to be my chemo buddy for the day and he arrived promptly at 7:30 to take me to the infusion center! By 8:30 I was hooked up to my premeds, by 9:30 the Benaedryl had kicked in and I was sleepy, by 10:30 the chemo had started, by 12 I was eating a yummy Panera sandwich and mac & cheese (my last full meal for a few days!), and by 2:45 we were OUT OF THERE!
Aside from hanging out and laughing with my dad, the highlight of my day was meeting and talking with a woman named Briketta (from Norway!) She came in for her chemo after I did and I noticed she had a beautiful head wrap on that I wanted!! Yes head wraps to me nowadays are like shoes or purses used to be! When she was on her way out of chemo I stopped her to ask where she got it and we wound up talking for a good hour! She was beautiful, awesome, and strong! Briketta had stage 3 grade 3 breast cancer and was on her fourth round of 6 chemo treatments she was scheduled for to shrink her cancer cells BEFORE she had her double mastectomy and then she was going to have 12 more rounds AT LEAST of chemo after that. She spoke with such strength and grace and I really was moved by her. She was in her late 40s of early 50’s and had three daughters – she was a grandma – she was someone who exuded inner strength, and she really moved me that day. She had FAR more going on with her cancer story than I do and the fact that she was so positive really spoke to me. I pray for her every night, and I know that her positive outlook and attitude will help her fight her cancer!! She will be a warrior….
After my chemo I was good for the rest of the day! I even stayed awake late enough to finish some headbands for my business!! Days 2-5 were the worst days for me again with the absolute WORST day being DAY 4! Although I think I was more tired this time around, I feel as though I recovered faster than the first time. I did notice a hell of a lot more pain in my bones this time – OMG this pain is like fire deep down in the core of your bones making it impossible to get comfortable or do simple tasks without pain. I was so, so nauseous as well, but I now have some tricks to help with that as well! Live and learn I suppose…
My next round of chemo is scheduled for August 19th…just 9 days from now, but I’m trying to not have anxiety about it. I recovered well TWICE now and will again and again until I’m done! So far all of my bloodwork levels have been great and show no signs of chemo negatively affecting anything, which is good….
now for some REALLY great news…
FIRST- my CA 125 (bloodwork for a potential cancer count) went from 332 the day I found out I had cancer to 42 (before I had my first round of chemo- lowered that much just by removing the tumor) down to 22.5 after ONE round of chemo!! WOOT WOOT!! Anything under 30 is considered a “normal” read so there I am, back to normal haha!
SECOND- My BRCA 1 & 2 genetic tests both came back NEGATIVE!! HOLLER! Do YOU know what this means?!?!
- I will not have to have a double mastectomy (if I was positive for this genetic marker it would increase my chances of getting breast cancer significantly especially since I already had ovarian cancer)
- No need to get tested like crazy to assure the cancer doesn’t come back
- Most importantly- My babies, especially SAdie, will not have to worry or undergo a ridiculous regimen of cancer screenings, genetic testing, and other forms of testing!
NO SO GOOD NEWS: The blood that is collected over my kidney area from my internal bleeding episode (which is why I have a stent in) is still there and is still pretty large, so I can’t have my stent removed like I was supposed to, but hey, I guess it’s better to wait anyway to assure I have no issues with my kidney while undergoing chemo!
So I’m 1/3 of the way done with chemo….. although I only had two rounds, I sort of feel like “I go this” now! I’ve already gone through so much and have been able to pick myself up each time, that I know the next four rounds will be just fine 😉 Someone sent my a shirt that reads “Sorry cancer, I fight dirty”… and I must say, so far, cancer is getting it’s A** kicked 🙂
To everyone who has helped support me and my family during this time, words can’t describe how grateful and thankful we are. My amazing friends have set up a fundraiser to help us get through these months…