Thursday, September 30, 2010

don't chemo and type


Yesterday was my 3rd round of chemo. Today I received my booster shot and am beginning to have intense bone pain. I feel like I have been partying for days and just got slammed by a Mac truck. I am drinking glasses and glasses of water and peeing every 5 minutes. My cell phone alarms are all full due to having too many meds to take during the day. When I am not sleeping I am rambling on and on.... My whole body is slower, walking, creating sentences, speaking, connecting thoughts, being forgetful.....chemo just knocks you plain on your ass.

Let's just say there is no way I could pass a sobriety tests, hell I can barely walk down the hallway.

My mom arrived today to help. Scott has Mondays/Tuesdays off so we have one good day together, then chemo day, then Scott goes back to work and mom comes over to be my new nurse. It is a great system and I am so thankful to have all the support I do. And my sisters live in the area as well--it is great. And to top it all off a pretty great group of friends!

3 down, 3 to go.

Monday, September 27, 2010

we meet again chemo eve.........3rd times a charm

Scott and I on our way to our 3rd chemo eve day date

Tomorrow is my 3rd round of chemo. I am already prepared that tonight won't get the luxury that is sleep...I get weary, I am tired, my feet are tingly, I am not afraid of chemo......but tonight I no I will get no rest. This seems to be the habit......but maybe 3rd times a charm....

I had acupuncture today, fantastic! For those of you who know me you know that I am an advocate of holistic a professional and on a personal level. I really like my acupuncturist, and she is an oncology nurse on top of everything holistic. A little massage, acupuncture, aromatherapy and reiki---a great way to start the day. The blood draw following didn't even damper my spirits, neither did the fact that my appointment began at 8AM---which is early when sleep hasn't been your friend lately. It probably helps that I did get some sleep last night--more than 6 hours.......which is more sleep than I have had in the past week or so.

Scott is going to chemo with me solo tomorrow. It will be nice just the two of us--a twisted version of date, two meals and everything. I am sure he will be fine, he does like the food after all...And considering I sleep a majority of the time he will have 100% control of the TV, the internet and no naggy wife...

When I met Scott I was about half my size, had by old breasts pushed together, in the midst of college partying and needed to be leveled out a was perfect, he was perfect. Then I got sick, (a habit I had a majority of my life), a few years later they finally put together that my gall bladder was full of stones.......FULL. So I had it removed. After surgery I felt better, I didn't feel guilty that he married someone broken. I was fixed, I felt better---here we go! It didn't really work out that well. I began to get tired again, I was having gastrointestinal issues like before, and it would come out of no where. I sought treatment with holistic therapies and felt better.........then a few years later...........cancer. Broken again. When we first met we were the cute happy couple. My friends loved him and his friends didn't want to strangle me and my loud opinions so I will take that as a plus.

Now I wonder how many people feel sorry for him. Scott, the sweet amazing guy who gets stuck with a broken wife---a wife that now has cancer. It isn't fair, no one deserves this. It is scary. Despite the feelings they have for us, it is fair and understanding that people give us the head tilt of feeling sorry for you, people are thanking whatever deity they worship that it isn't them, let's be honest--I know I would. I would be there to do whatever was necessary, but I would be thankful that my lady parts hadn't turned against me, hadn't tried to kill me, I was still one piece--me. This is something I wouldn't wish on anyone, especially the person I am spending my life with. Someone who has to help me walk now because my feet are numb, helps me remember appointments because I can't now, holds my hand when I cry, opens gatorade and the occasional bottle of wine because I can't feel my fingers, has to live with the fact that I have a ticking time bomb inside....days are numbered--I just wish we knew how many were left.

On my 3rd chemo eve I am glad I felt well enough to do dinner and a movie with Scott. We went during the day and on a Monday so there wasn't a lot of people--5 others actually, not a big crowd on Monday afternoons. I was normal for a little while, even though I had to keep putting on and taking off layers to help adjust to the hot flashes. Let's talk about hot flashes for a second. Those of you under the age of menopause will have no idea what I am talking about. There aren't really words because you have no control over it at feel it coming on but that is about it. You brace for it, ride the wave, and then do it again--glad I can look forward to this again later in life.......chemo or hormones, either way the hot flashes are miserable. Getting sweaty during the summer has nothing on hot flashes. I just sit there, it gets harder to breathe, and sweat pours from the top of my head. It is like water being dumped, the sweat comes down and all over my face, I peel off whatever layers I have on, take off my hat and sit in front of the fan. In bed I throw off the covers and drink water...I lay on my sweat soaked side of the bed and wait. Then I freeze when it subsides, I layer back up and wipe off the sweat. I then wait for the next one, and the next, and the beats the hell out of cancer though.

Here's hoping that 3rd times a charm. And if it's not, at least it's the half way point.

My new meds for mouth sores...........mix the two colors together, only 7 times a day...

Saturday, September 25, 2010

it was my birthday, I can cry if I want to

I am no longer a 26 year old with cancer, I am a 27 year old.......and that damn cancer is still hanging around........and so is some of my hair. My hair is thinned and buzzed....Scott tells me I look like a soldier. I find that fitting I guess, I am sort of fighting cancer for my life--I will take soer, I will also take SURVIVOR.

I haven't posted for awhile, I haven't been sleeping. I know I have wrote about that a lot, but I haven't slept AT ALL. I guess it is for about 30 minutes at a time and that spreads out through all 24 hours. It had been about 3 days of no sleep and as a result I am unable to type a sentence that made any sense. Last night my body finally gave in and I slept. Scott and I had a date planned...he had a Friday night off--very, very rare. We were going to go dinner and a movie=picture perfect. That night never happened. I was able to make it to my pre-chemo appointment and then home, still exhausted. I tried all day to sleep, with no luck. Scott said he was tired and wanted to take a nap and joined me. He fell asleep within seconds (lucky, lucky boy) and I was also able to fall asleep! And even though our date nights are very very rare, Scott let me sleep. He brought me dinner, watched TV in bed and let me sleep.........I woke up for a bit, and then was able to fall asleep again too.....for a majority of the night. I felt like I won the lottery! I was somewhat rested when I woke up this morning, a feeling I had almost forgot about. Best date night EVER.

I am enjoying today's sunny day from bed. I can't feel my feet, they are numb....again. Not only have I been tired for the last few days, I haven't been able to feel my fingers.......difficult when typing. Today they are a little better, but my feet are numb, except for the I walk funny and not very far. Lucky for me I have two dogs who are super lazy and they enjoy when I am in bed all day.....that means they get to be too.

My home town had a spaghetti feed last night to raise money for my medical expenses. I come from a very small town. Growing up you knew everyone, they knew you, your parents, your grandparents and quite possibly your great grandparents. My parents are both from there, as well as their parents. The spaghetti feed was at the high school. I wish I could have been there, but germs, nausea, and my inability to walk prohibited me from the drive over. I have received such amazing support from Okanogan I don't know how I will repay and express enough gratitude, there really aren't enough words. I was unappreciative in high school (yes I am aware that most high school kids are). At the time I didn't realize how important community I couldn't live without it. Everyone knowing me, my parents, my grandparents, etc... is what has motivated donations, fund raisers, supporters, prayers, postitive thoughts and love from my small town. THANK YOU. THANK YOU. THANK YOU. THANK YOU. THANK YOU. THANK YOU. Many, many times over.

My 3rd round of chemo is Tuesday...that marks my half way point with this particular treatment. I will have to continue Herceptin for another 6 months, but it won't be as rough as the chemo. Then the estrogen pill for 5 years. If all goes as planned I will then have my treatment complete. I am looking forward to those 5 years. It gives Scott and I a cushion of time to be together, save money, and make up for this chemo experience. We were trying to get pregnant when this whole thing started, now we know we can't go the old-fashioned route and we have to wait 5 years. Then we can look forward to another birthday, a very, very special birthday.

As for my 28th birthday next's going to be one hell of a party!

Tuesday, September 21, 2010

helmet anyone?

Fooled you with the last post, thought I would be so tired and worn out that I would just melt into my pillow and fall fast wrong I was. Maybe it's the episodes of Veronica Mars that I watch ad nauseam on-demand and I am being angsty about my younger hell-raising days. At least it isn't the fear that I feel work it's way up from my tonight is different. What I am feeling is anxiety. Nightly I experience this, but it isn't usually this bad. Minds are crazy, I had such a great day, of course mine would have to fuck with me when I try to get some much needed rest. Every night I try to figure out where it comes from, hell most of the days I spend in bed anyway, what is so different at night?

You know what is different?

It is just me. It is quiet. It is dark. It is unknown. And it means that when I wake up in the morning it is a new day. "New day" usually is tied to something positive, but apparently I have warped it into something terrifying. Tomorrow means I could feel worse. Tomorrow could be a bad day. Tomorrow I could be depressed like I was a few days ago, I could be sick, I could be in pain, it could just be worse......I don't want it to be worse. Thus........anxiety.

Anxiety and panic feel about the same to me. I know I am a bit of a worrier and after my stint in the hospital it has increased some. I have a new rash on my leg, my stomach and part of my arm. I don't have a fever and I have to pee every 5 minutes. I pee when I am nervous, or when it is the most inconvenient. When I am about to leave on a trip somewhere I pee at least 5 times, when I am tired and trying to sleep...I have to pee. So in reality the rash is probably from the new hotflashes, the pee is because I am anxious and both have a harmonious relationship with keeping me up at night.

So what do I do? Meds don't really work, so I ride it out. I try to sleep, I watch TV, I read, I blog and wait until my body just can't find me anymore and my brain runs out of steam and shuts down............then I sleep until noon which just increases the likelihood of me not going to bed again until late...viscous cycle.

My oncologist suggested that I join a support group.....I disagree wholeheartedly. I am a huge fan of groups, I run them as a professional and for many people they are what carries them through hardships. I know myself well enough to know that I won't have a benefit, I am a one-on-one type of person...if it is talking, I want it face to face. And as we have all found out I am a lay-it-all-out on the internet type of gal. I say fuck a lot and write about having to pee...apparently this is me, dealing with it. I don't think that "it" is cancer...."it" is everything that comes with having cancer.

So I find myself sitting on the bathroom floor crying. Debating in my head whether or not I should get the computer, plug it in and if I can keep my crying to a minimum to let Scott sleep. I pee a few more times, then get the laptop out. I scratch my head, which is raw now...I still have mini-hairs hanging on but large scabs of sensitive scalp.........some of which are now bleeding.

Well I can check blogging off my list of things I do when I can't sleep.

Life is tough, guess I should look into buying a helmet.

Monday, September 20, 2010

'S' on my chest, let me get my cape

After feeling like a hot steaming pile a few days ago, yesterday afternoon and today were a pleasant surprise. Today I felt semi-okay so Scott and I went to the aquarium, had lunch and went to a movie. A real movie, in a theater, with people and all their germs! And to top the day off I danced my already super tired and achy ass off in the shower--splendid.

I am tired........mixed with chemo brain I can't really put sentences together so here are some pictures:

Hiley, Me, Jessica

On our way!

looks like ovaries!!!


I found myself some new hair

3D movie to top off the day

Saturday, September 18, 2010

thanks for the hot flashes chemo

Today was rough.......a bad day. I am almost two weeks out from chemo but you couldn't tell my body seems to be holding fast to feeling like shit. Nausea hasn't been that bad......but my stomach looks like I could give birth any day now, I have mucositis, which according to wikipedia:

is the painful inflammation and ulceration of the mucous membranes lining the digestive tract, usually as an adverse effect of chemotherapy and radiotherapy treatment for cancer.[1] Mucositis can occur anywhere along the gastrointestinal (GI) tract, but oral mucositis refers to the particular inflammation and ulceration that occurs in the mouth. Oral mucositis is a common and often debilitating complication of cancer treatment.[2]

So lucky me, only 5-15% of "cancer patients" gets mucositis, and my oncologist calls me the "poster child" for it. "Anywhere along the gastrointestinal tract", yep I have that too..........and as you can imagine it isn't pleasant. She also told me that I look beautiful many people do you think she has told that to?! A bad one liner....

So my bad chemo days now extend to many more days of mucositis. So we will treat the symptoms and add another medication next time prior to chemo hoping that it will lessen the mucositis.

Today was a bad one..........I was hoping when I woke up I would feel better, that not being the case--makes it difficult to put on a happy face. So I stay in bed.............which may sound nice, but after two weeks your body hurts, you feel lazy, unmotivated--like I should be doing something, able to do something....but I can't so that remains the problem. Pain medication helps...takes the edge off of both feeling lazy and the pain, but I remain frustrated.

Lucy pooped all over in her kennel last night. Scott had a race this morning and I wasn't able to go. So he came home and Lucy had did a number on her after getting up at like 5 am and running a race he had to come home, literally clean up shit, then do house stuff, then get ready and go to work..........I barely made it out of bed to get water........what a bitch.

So my day consisted of laying in bed and feeling sorry for myself.....a big "poor me" cry over spilled milk type of day. Then I got the mail, there was a care package, a wonderful card and DVD, and a birthday present from my aunt. Life doesn't get better than cards and care packages. I have gotten so many and they are all wonderful. But when the delivery falls on a day like today they are gifts of happiness and laughter. It gets pretty lonely being sick all the time--pity party table for 1. Thank you Tiffany, Madonna and Aunt Betty......tonight you made all the difference.

Thursday, September 16, 2010

powering through is circumstantial

I will be turning 27 in less than a week. Someone had posted my blog to their facebook and said something to the effect of "you should be worrying about turning 30, not worrying if you are going to see 30" which puts the totality of breast cancer in perspective. I am aware that I will be a survivor for life--there isn't a lucky 5 year mark, or an "all clear" celebration--cells can continue to mutate and breast cancer can sneak into other parts of the body. I already had the scare where they thought it was in my femur, which would have put me at Stage 4 instead of 3...scary stuff. But it is a reality and all I can do is be proactive and vigilant--the rest is out of my hands. I refuse to live scared, not now and not in the future. I have never been one to back down from a fight, and cancer is no exception.

So with my 27th birthday approaching I am aware of my own mortality--I have never thought of birthdays as "one year closer to death" though this cynical approach has encroached more lately than ever before. My birthday is one more year that I have lived, that I have been loved and that I was able to grow as a human being. Scott and I have accomplished a lot this past year even though lately it has been tough to remain positive because I have been so sick. It is hard to see the other side when you are forced to look fear in the face and make a choice. I chose to say "fuck you cancer" and power through--dragging Scott and you all along for the ride.

Powering through is circumstantial. I have had break downs where I wanted to hit the nice nurse because she had to take my height again for the 5th day in a row, a panic attack when my conscious sedation didn't work when I was getting my port inserted, not receiving care following my bilateral mastectomy until 45 minutes after I was brought to a room alone, where I was stubborn and refused to go to the ER because I didn't want to face a blood clot, where all I can do is scream and yell and cry because there just aren't words to express my frustration, I've stumbled into walls from exhaustion and meds, I've sat in bed and cried for hours because it just feels necessary, I've smashed watermelons and drank wine, I've withheld feelings and pain, I am terrified of hospitals and had to make one my home for 5 days. I power through nightmares, cold sweats, loneliness, lab tests, nurses who forget their manners, that bitch at the Fred Meyer customer service, walking to the mail box bald in my neighborhood for the first time, being weak and unable to get out of bed and fists full of pills to help minimize side effects of chemo.

So as I near my 27th birthday I fight fire with fire. I will go and get pumped full of chemo--let it ravage my body, dehydrate me, knock out my white cells, leave me as a lump on the bathroom floor, a pill popper, bed ridden, voiceless, hospitalized, bald, sore and in pain. I will embrace the rhythm of chemo and the cycles--I will continue to mentally remain healthy though physically my body is deteriorating. All this so that on my 28th birthday, I will have earned the title 'survivor.'

Each day is one more day closer to the end of my chemo and the beginning of overall health. It is hard to feel healthy when I am receiving chemo so I have framed it internally as something I have to go through prior to changing other things in my life. It is a detox of sorts.....getting rid of the cancer cells. (Yes I know it is killing good cells as well--but mentally I am working on positivity....however it is still a work in progress)

I am getting a chance to really focus on what I want my life to be, and how I want things to change once I finish with chemo and have my strength back. It is fascinating to think of how much I have changed already, having been diagnosed only a few short months ago. I am looking forward to taking care of myself better and adapting a healthier and more fit lifestyle. (Scott is super excited--for those of you who don't know he has turned into a crazy runner type and would love for my fat ass to join him).

Scott and I were trying to get pregnant when all of this started. My tumors were HER2positive which means when I finish my 6 cycles of chemo I will continue to have Herceptin (given in an IV) every 3 weeks for 6 more months (so a total of one year) and because my tumors were estrogen positive I will take a pill to block estrogen for a total of 5 years. Then after the 5 years we can revisit having a baby. We had embryos frozen because it's a crap-shoot on what chemo does to the ovaries of a 26 year old. As a result Scott and I were handed another 5 years together before having children. The decision was taken out of our hands in regards to starting a family, so we are forced to make other plans. At first I was very upset, but have adapted--5 years gives us more time to strengthen who we are both individually and as a couple. We both have changed so much since my diagnosis and really have re prioritized our time and our relationship.

When I feel like this is all too much, Scott is there to catch me before I fall............literally.

So there you have it. My plan. I will write all about chemo and cancer and recovery and surviving and then when treatment is finished I will write about getting back to a normal lifestyle, incorporating activities I couldn't do before, transforming physically from the bloated/depleted me of now to someone healthy and proud of their body, write about getting healthy and what that looks like, write about having embryos frozen/hormone treatments and having a high-risk pregnancy as a result, write about and train people to be Cancer Doulas, write for magazines, write on my blog, write, write and write some more. Cancer has brought me back to writing, something I have always been passionate about but never seemed to have the time to sit down and write.......hell, that is really all I have now. I spend a lot of time in bed, and my lap top is right there next to me just in case I have the energy to throw something together.

The best part? Knowing that when I do write, when I reach out and express something so raw, personal, and gritty that there are people crying just as hard when they read it as I am when I write it....

"You walk through the darkness with us, not because you are ill and have to, but because you choose to. We were drafted, but you enlisted. We recognize and appreciate the difference more than words can ever say." -V. Girard

Wednesday, September 15, 2010

Spaghetti Feed

Attention Okanogan County Supporters:

Spaghetti Benefit Dinner for Dori

@ the Okanogan High School cafeteria

Friday, September 24

5:00-7:30 pm!

Thanks to all who are organizing and participating, Scott and I appreciate everything so much! I am hoping my health sustains and I will be able to make it over for the dinner.

3 years ago there was a wedding...

September 15th is our 3rd wedding anniversary! I have added a few snapshots from our wedding.

I am still pretty sick, but my counts were okay today which is great news. I will be getting them checked again on Friday to be sure they maintain. I was given more pain meds for my throat and some other numbing solution stuff to use--magic mouthwash isn't so magic anymore. Other than my appointment, I spent a majority of my day going from the bed to the bathroom. More miserable is that I could never stay in bed enough to fall asleep before heading to the bathroom again. This pattern is ruthless....tonight I am hoping a mixture of pure exhaustion and pain meds well grant me some sleep.

September is a big month for me. Tomorrow (15th) is my three year wedding anniversary. In our vows I swore to Scott that "I would be his bra in life, lifting and supporting him, providing comfort...." At least I swore I would just be a bra, if I had promised breasts we may have a problem. Every time I think of our wedding I smile......I had a great time! We were engaged plenty long enough to have things come together pretty smoothly. The amount of "challenges" we have endured in our relationship seem unreal at my age. We grieved the loss of my dad, my family dog, planned a wedding, bought a house, my Master's degree, me being constantly sick and in and out of the ER, my gall bladder removed, and now cancer.

As I have mention before Scott is my rock. I am sarcasm, grit, and loud--Scott keeps me together......or at least somewhere close to center. We agree that he is the nice one-I wasn't even a qualifier. How do you express the insurmountable gratitude I have for him? Hallmark doesn't make "thank you for not freaking out and taking care of me with no breasts, empty my blood drains, while I am bald, fat, sweaty, with mouth sores and diarrhea." I don't think it would be a top seller, but it would come in handy. He sacrifices daily because he has to, I can't keep up my end of chores--our system we had in place is failing because I can't hold up my end. He manages to do the work of 2 (I have luckily let go a little with my rigid cleanliness standards in this regard) and then takes care of me, attends my appointments, and keeps me company when I am in bed all day and just can't get out--he sits, even though I know it makes him feel lazy.

So as I continue to become more of a hot mess, Scott continues to impress me with his patience and love. If I could only get him to remember to clean the bathroom mirror he may be damn near perfect.

September also holds my 27th birthday on the 22nd. September is also the first month that I will have 2 chemo treatments.......last Tuesday and again on the 28th. Looks like chemo better take a back seat to celebration, or at least relinquish the wheel.

Monday, September 13, 2010

you don't always get what you want

I am sick of being sick. I am short tempered and feel wounded--my body is achy, my tongue raw, my stomach hurts and I have diarrhea. Today and tomorrow are Scott's days off--inevitably he ends up taking care of me. He is stressed, I can tell. He knows that my mouth is much worse than last time and he is worried. I am in pain and worried. As a result we bicker. My emotions are all out of whack, I cry, then get resentful because he doesn't have to be in bed. Then he feels guilty for not being sick. I have a hard time making sentences or my point (chemo brain) so I get frustrated when I don't get the results I want. I cry because I don't know what else to do. Even with pain meds, my THC pill, and magic mouthwash I am getting little relief. I see oncology tomorrow afternoon so hopefully we can figure something out.

I am at the point where I want to disconnect. I am frayed and impatient. I am so sick of being sick--knowing it will get worse before it gets better. Frustrated just begins to describe it, I want to kick and scream. I want to feel better. But I know that feeling better is months away. I have been pretty sick all day, my bleeding tongue is just the tip of the iceberg. As I sit in bed typing I weigh the pros and cons in my head of going to the ER tonight. I am not in any serious danger but I know I am dehydrated and my stomach pain is unbelievable--I have no idea where my counts are and going to the ER may cause more harm that good (lots of germs and exposure to illness). I am hoping I can hold out until tomorrow at 1:00pm when I meet with oncology--they can assess me there, give me fluids and check my counts and then determine the next course of action.

I want a cocoon made of silk, equipped with down pillows, pain meds, white wine, jelly bellies, netflix on demand and chocolate. I want to remain there until this battle is over, I want my illness on the back burner and for comfort to be the lead. 'Comfort' and 'cancer' don't mix--like my sister Kerri and tequila, no matter how you try they won't go together.

I feel helpless, lifeless, and angry. I want out of bed. I want my head to not hurt so much, I want a sealant for my open sores that make them disappear, to calm them. I don't want cancer and I sure as hell don't want chemo........

You don't always get what you want.

I just hope that I get what I need.

Sunday, September 12, 2010

side effects and more

Kerri, Dori, Kristi

It has been almost a week since my 2nd round of chemo. My scalp is so tender it feels like an open sore, I am nauseated, have extreme vertigo and once again open sores on my tongue, back of my throat, top of my mouth and my lips......I look as though I am deteriorating--my face is lifeless and sad. My belly is hard and swollen, my eyes are tired and my mouth is so dry I feel as though I have to peel my tongue off the roof of my mouth. Movement hurts, my joints and bones ache, bursts of sweat, shakes, and pain--I sleep around the clock--waking for meds, water or to try and get out of bed to use the bathroom. Dreams are vivid and relaxation is little--I am unable to connect time of day and what day it is.....I am in my own little chemo world.

2 down, 4 more to go......... I wasn't as tired this time (trust me I am tired, exhausted, completely wiped, but I am not comatose which is how I felt last time) but I feel sicker this time. My body has adjusted to the side effects of the meds I am taking to ward off the side effects from chemo therapy................I know... but now I am experiencing more side effects with another combination of meds.

I have my follow-up labs on Tuesday to see where my counts are. I am hoping that because I was given the booster when appropriate, this time, my counts will dip, but remain safe. I plan to get them checked later in the week as well--now I am a bit neurotic about the whole thing considering the fuck up from last time.

I like to think that my adjustments and attitude toward my diagnosis come from my dad. My dad instilled the drive and determination into me that I am channeling to become a survivor. With each tragedy in life there must be a lesson (if not, then I want out STAT). When my dad passed away it brought me, my mom and my sisters unbelievably close together. It is a bond that needs no words, but it's there and it's undeniable. Now we are being forced to face a different tyrant--one that picks on us specifically for being related women.........that undeniable bond extends to something unpleasant. The fear of the unknown, the fear of "what ifs?", the fear that it will come back, that treatments won't work, that it's too aggressive, that something will go wrong.........

My mom came to help take care of me after chemo again. We joke she only gets to visit me when I am sick, and she takes off once I start to feel better. I am pretty bitchy when I am sick, so she really gets the grunt of it all. But I couldn't do it without her. My mom has a silent strength that grants her the ability to make others feel comfortable with just her presence--which is what she does for me. I am able to sleep and lay in bed, knowing that she is there. It is just like when you were a kid and you get the flu--your mom can't fix it, but she sure makes you feel better. She takes care of me when I can't take care of myself.

Today my mom went home and my sisters came to take over. No one wants to leave me alone after chemo because I am on some pretty good drugs, tired as hell, and don't lift my feet up when I walk very well (a hot mess of disaster really). So they took over making me food, bringing me water, and being sure I don't get stuck between the toilet and the wall. My sisters are the "best emergency alert" buttons. We have grieved and grown together, leaving a forever etched surface on our hearts.

But I am also bonded with a disease that is ravaging my body. My own cells turned against me, mutated, became aggressive, killing me from the inside. I only recognize the fire in by belly, the urge to fight, and the determination to be a survivor. When I feel this shitty I hold on to the hope that I will be given some "good" days.

Friday, September 10, 2010

chemo brain

1 of my 3 bags of chemo solution

I just wanted to say thank you to everyone who is sending me positive thoughts and lots of love. I am somewhat more alert than after my last treatment which is good news! I am taking my temperature on a set schedule with my meds. So far no fever, or too much bone pain, my tastebuds are gone and things taste funny. My chemo brain is in tired....

Thursday, September 9, 2010

Chemo Round 2

Chemo Round 2 (7 hour day)

Kerri & Scott (my support team........who may just come for the meals)

Well I survived Round 2 of chemo! I am pretty tired and it takes awhile for me to form sentences. I was able to shower took me almost 5 days after my last chemo to get to that point. Yesterday I went in and got my white blood cell booster shot (so hopefully we avoid another 5 day stay in the hospital). Chemo went well and my nurse was splendid. It was still a hot mess regarding who should have given me the shot last time, etc.... Also my platelets are low so it looks like I will need to get blood in the near future. My next appointment is my one week follow-up next Tuesday with my oncologist. Any changes that I notice I am off to the hospital. I had a rock hard lymph node on the right side of my neck and took a Z-pack of antibiotics but my counts were still a little off--my doc okayed me for chemo but my numbers weren't where they would like them to be. Overall this tired, weak, nauseated feeling I have is my reassurance that my body is kicking cancer's ass!

Tuesday, September 7, 2010

Mike Meyerdirk Photography: Dori Fights Like a WOMAN

Mike Meyerdirk Photography: Dori Fights Like a WOMAN: "Hello faithful blog fans,  I am taking this opportunity to introduce the 'other' brain behind Mike Meyerdirk Photography.  I am his busi..."

Monday, September 6, 2010

My 2nd Chemo Eve

Tomorrow is round 2 of chemo. I wish there was some sort of celebratory dinner or ritual that would make tonight easier. Scott gets a little of a break, he gets to drink.........not that he is a big boozer but I am sure it takes the edge off. I have pills, specifically for nights like tonight, but my body fights them, specifically on nights like tonight.

But I danced my ever growing ass off in the shower. It makes it easier not having hair--it adds at least 7 more minutes to dancing....not having to shampoo and condition. I danced until my fingers were pruney and the hot water was gone. This ritual I enjoy...and am thankful I had the energy to do it. In the shower I still find solitude. I find the old me.

This post is short and sweet....I am tired and writing about tomorrow just increases the anticipation...which inevitably aides in my body fighting the pills I took to sleep.

Tomorrow is a long day, tomorrow I fight cancer.

Sunday, September 5, 2010

I didn't break

I didn't break. I thought I would after my hair was gone....I was waiting for the other shoe to hasn't yet. I have had a fit full of tears today but it was because I was sick, not because I don't have hair. I feel like shit today, lay in bed-no urge to make food sick. I must have put my body through too much the last few days, I was just so excited that I was feeling good after being in the hospital---I should have pulled the reins back a bit, I am surely paying for it now.

But I didn't break.

I have chemo on Tuesday. I am angry because I spent the day in bed and was supposed to feel good. These are my "good" days, the ones right before chemo. Today was not a "good" day. I know I will spend at least the next week in bed after chemo, I literally lose a week of my life (my memory is blurry and I don't know what day it is). I guess losing one week out of every 4 in life beats losing my life....sometimes it doesn't feel that way.

But I didn't break.

I am fucking bald and have stage 3 cancer. I cry randomly and sometimes I give myself permission to hate the world (not for very long, but I do). I lay in bed some nights and shake uncontrollably and muffle my cries so my husband and get a full nights rest--afterall he has to take care of me in the morning...

But I didn't break.

I lost my breasts, my body-type, my ability to fight infection, and my god-damn hair. I walk by a mirror and barely recognize the reflection. My dogs barked uncontrollably today when I finally emerged from the bedroom...they didn't recognize me.

But I didn't.....

And haven't been broken and I won't be........because I have the hands of many holding me together.

And chocolate.

Saturday, September 4, 2010

hair today, gone tomorrow

The chest pains I had yesterday intensified last night and I ended up going to the ER. My blood work came back looking likely for a clot (apparently there is a blood test they can run and mine came back high) so we did a CT and waited. I was given pain and nausea medication (like vitamins to me at this point--needed on a daily basis) and the CT came back clear!!! So it was a quick and effective visit--I had great nurses and Scott and Kristi to keep me company. We weren't there very long but we took a few pictures:

Scott & I

Wahooo....1st time!!!!

Kristi was there with us.......#2 time in the ER

Done and done. Today began with a "buzz brunch" which, if you are curious, includes drinking mimosas, eating bagels/cream cheese and fruit...........and shaving someones head. And damn it......I drew the short straw! (We have pictures coming of the actual shaving)

So my hair is gone..........gone. I have a little bit (a buzz cut) but even it is falling out in portions so soon I will be a cue ball.......I am actually looking forward to that because this "short" hair thing feels weird. But mission accomplished, I look like a cancer patient. (read that again) Yep, I said LOOK........not FEEL. I may look like I have cancer, the bags under my eyes and the lack of hair, but I don't feel like one. I actually feel better...the anticipation is gone and now I get to wear all the scarves and hats people have given to me---I am really excited. And when I am sweaty and tired and exhausted from chemo showers will be a piece of cake--I have already given my shampoo and conditioner to Kristi and Kerri.

I thought there would be tears. Just laughs and champagne! I wouldn't have had it any other way, the one thing missing was my mom....but she is coming soon to nurse me back to health after my next round of chemo and we recorded everything (I will put a video together at some point and put on the blog). So here is what you have been waiting for, a few photos:

Luke came to visit! (Yes ladies, he is single)

Hair.........I don't need no stinkin' hair!

Friday, September 3, 2010

errands and chest pains...all in a days work

here is a picture of all my meds.........welcome to my world.

Last night was a blast! It felt good to be me again, not me with a diagnosis, not me being treated, but me with my sister banging her hands on the table and shouting "CHEMO, CHEMO" wanting us to put a request up so that I would have to sit on a piano and have a clever song made up.............not sure chemo and losing your hair is a celebration Chopstix would be used to. I feel that my sense of humor and that my humor is tied to the bonds I have with friendship and family is what saves me daily and throughout my diagnosis and treatment thus far.... I wallow and have pity parties--but you all aren't always invited. But when you can throw out a cancer joke and everyone around you laughs (and doesn't feel awkward or look at you funny) you know you are in the right place.

I went for my pre-chemo appointment today and everything went well. Watch out world--I am going to be on even more drugs. THC......yep, you read that right. For those of you who don't know, that is the lovely ingredient in marijuana. So instead of smoking it I get to take little round capsules of straight, liquid THC that I keep in my fridge--no tin box here folks, just right next to the string cheese. This should help with the nausea and also the massive amount of dehydrating diarrhea (you get it all with chemo folks, I go through it=you have to read about it) with a little euphoria to boot. I have been instructed to try it out before chemo, so they can tell the difference between me being high and me having a reaction to medication.........I will keep you posted when I do that experiment on Sunday or Monday.

From my appointment I went to the pharmacy to get my meds filled. They weren't going to be able to fill them, so they sent me to the hospital pharmacy, they too weren't going to be able to fill them. GRRRRRR So I went to another hospital pharmacy where they were able to fill them. When explaining the meds to me the woman kept saying "the patient" or "Dori"....I said "I am Dori, I AM the patient" and she looked at me, looked down at the meds she was holding, obvious cancer patient meds.....looked back at me and said "oh you want me to go over those again?" "Nope, I am fine, I just have cancer......" (she didn't laugh, probably wouldn't be an attendee for "my first wig night out")

I went to Fred Meyer to cash a check I had received from a cancer fund to help purchase groceries. I had to go to the customer service department and then they were to give me a gift card in said amount. I thought it would be a piece of cake. I handed the check and instructions to the woman and she groaned...."well hell I don't know how to do this, fuck" she consulted another woman behind the counter, then continued to tap her nails like I was really taking sweet time out of her day. She read "patient cancer fund" and did a roll your eye/groan thing that was obviously contempt, and continued to be very obvious that she was upset she had to do this and didn't know how (by the way, NO she didn't ask me how my day was, or be nice to me in any way, shape, or form--no "customer service" at this customer service counter). She had me leave the counter and go get a gift card (the one she had wasn't working) and when I stepped out of line the lady behind me moved up and asked if I was done "psh, I wish, but it will be awhile for this one" was her response. I came back and she was able to finally do whatever it was that was so hard (not like she was climbing Everest here people) and THREW the gift card to me. When I stepped away she motioned for the next person and said "bout time I am done with that one."

let me give you a second to have that set in...

YEP. I kept my mouth shut and was biting my tongue so hard it began to bleed to keep myself from crying, and saying something like "so sorry my cancer and lack of funds made your day (by the way you are getting paid, and I am pretty sure this is your job) more difficult. Here let me take that back....I am sure I can live without food, I mean chemo makes you have less of an appetite anyway........."

So by the end of my errands I was crushed and defeated. The high I had left over from last night (no, no, not the THC pills) had faded and I was broken. The rudeness that from the pharmacy lady to this bitch at Fred Meyer, I was done.

So I managed to get everything done and come home. Only to begin to have chest pains.........I know, are you fucking kidding me here?! I took an ativan thinking it would do the trick...waited an hour--no change. I called my oncologist (who I just saw this morning) and updated them.....they are a bit concerned that there was no change with meds, that means it probably isn't stress induced. So now I wait until it either #1 gets better (everyone cheers) or #2 gets worse (cheer and I will punch you). So we are hoping that it isn't the beginning of a mild heart attack or swelling of the heart--both that begin with "annoying" chest pain and then gradually get worse. I am supposed to call the on-call doc if things really puts a cramp in my drinking a bottle of wine and watching DVR'd TV shows for my Friday night, nothing to say about it except, cancer fucking sucks. And even worse than the cancer is the unknown (they don't know what is wrong, and they don't want to jump the gun and send me to the ER too soon, just for me to go back later and they don't want to freak me out in case it is anxiety based).

So life short changes people. Everyone gets their turn. Looks like it is my time to break open the piggy bank.

Thursday, September 2, 2010

small victories

Tonight I don't have cancer..............shhhhh don't tell my oncologist! My counts have been up since I left the hospital and I am feeling alright, I still feel like I have a cold and a sore throat, but no fever and my white blood cell count today was 6.7 (couldn't ask for a better number). On the downside my house is beginning to be a forensics's best friend--DNA all over the place. hair is falling out all over the place! Though there hasn't been a large chunk yet, my already fine hair is becoming pretty thin. So tonight I am going out, my last night out with hair! Don't fret....I will have my "first night out with wig" to come!

I was having trouble sleeping and went through my facebook photos---wow they go back. All I was focusing on was my hair and breasts.........cancer picks away at insecurities--which at this point have changed more than I have. I can't believe I used to worry about a bad fucking hair day--or if I gained a few pounds. My hair is falling out, I lost my breasts, my belly is swollen and bloated and I have bags under my eyes that are big enough to sell as an overnight bag. As women, as girls we are placed in a society that puts more demands on us than we can carry alone. But not to worry......wait, you should worry! Because it isn't that women help each other carry the burden--no, no, we are much worse than that. We pick on each other, turning friend to foe. Wow, what a world.

But that isn't my world anymore. Not that I would wish cancer on anyone, ever. BUT what if we had to go through a period of time where things were just different, where you were forced to appreciate the ability you have inside and that body parts are just that---parts. Parts can be changed--when a part in your car isn't' working you get it replaced=new boobs, new cells, (insert your own changed parts here). The internal change I have had since being diagnosed is something I wish I would have experienced 10 years ago.....

I have my next round of chemo on Tuesday. Two of the three drugs I get during chemo compound on each other, meaning they are more effective each time, building on the last dose. Great in theory, but that means I feel shittier and shittier after each chemo. As a result I celebrate the fact that today I even feel up to curling what's remaining of my hair! Small victories people, it is my new should try it.

So tonight I am going to lint roll the dog hair off my the ass of my black pants, and lint roll my own hair off the back of my shirt and celebrate feeling well enough to..............well, celebrate to begin with.

Wednesday, September 1, 2010

dropped the fork reaching for more kleenex

My own bed should be a cushion of safety, something I lacked while in the hospital. It holds my favorite blanket and my pillow (the pillow I know is missing in my stack when the sheets get changed and it is put on Scott's side, the pillow that gives me sweet dreams, it holds my husband who I wouldn't be me without, it holds a quilt given to me by a breast cancer survivor, a quilt she took with her to each chemo cycle. It holds me while I shake with fear, anxiety and the nighttime panic that occasionally sneaks into bed and makes itself at home, stripping me of the comfort and safety....tonight it decided to make a grand entrance.

I have said before that nights are the hardest, it is not always the case but when it rains, it pours. I sit up in bed next to my husband who is sleeping through my tears, the TV on, my bedside light glowing in his face while he habitually covers it with a pillow, me eating mac and cheese in bed and spilling some milk on the floor and my saying "fuck" loudly when I dropped the fork reaching for more kleenex. He would sit and cry with me in a heartbeat if he woke up, or if I chose to wake him up. I find his mere presence comforting and for god sakes he needs his sleep. He no longer has to worry about his wife in the hospital, the least I can do is let him have sweet dreams and a full nights sleep.

I have been hyper-emotional today as is, I really should have seen tonight coming and combated it with meds earlier, but at this point the attempt would be futile. And honestly it would have to be a horse size pill and I think you can only by those in Mexico and I am not up to the trip.

It's amazing how it sneaks up on me. I just lay in bed, relaxed and ready to fall asleep......and I wait, and wait some more. I then feel the anxiety begin to work its way up my body, my legs tingle and then my heart beats faster in anticipation--my stomach tightens and begin to get that choked up feeling right before you cry in my throat........then a tear rolls down my cheek, followed by another and another until it is a steady stream down both cheeks onto my favorite blanket and they are soaked up by my pillow that has stolen those sweet dreams from me for the night. My arms and legs tingle and I lose the feeling in my right hand (as a result from surgery it happens occasionally, but always when my body tightens with anxiety). It feels as though I am waiting for something bad to happen--a heightened since of awareness, like watching a horror movie and you know the killer is on the other side of the door---you are just waiting to jump and throw your popcorn in the air. I hold my breath, breathe deep, try in through mouth out through nose, everything in my bag of tricks---but I remain primed, waiting for the killer coming through the door...

I think that writing about it will maybe help, write the burden out, it gets lifted, I drift to off to sleep--insomnia gets put away, packaged up for another night with a nice little bow. It helps because the tears slow down because if they don't I can't see through my steamed up glasses to type. I work on deep breathing to keep from hyperventilating and try conscious relaxation except my body works itself into such a knot even at my most meditative state I couldn't untie it with all the breathing and visualization in the world.

So I wait for exhaustion to set in. I ran lots of errands today with Scott, more walking than I have done in the past 5 days in the hospital and with bone pain on top of it. I know it will becomes a waiting game--exhaustion vs your bets. So I close my laptop and hope the money I put on heavy eyelids and sweet dreams pays off...double or nothing.

"...when night fell, everything changed. The nightmares of childhood could not compete with the horrors of those nights when survival seemed only a very slim possibility. With everyone in our household sound asleep and not a sound to be heard anywhere, I would bolt upright in bed, my heart pounding, envisioning things I feared would come to pass. I would start to tremble all over, pull the blankets tighter around me, and lie there shivering and sobbing for what seemed like hours."
-Kathy Cawthon