Cancer Journal

March 2006

March 7

I picked up my long wig from the salon just an hour ago. Again, Armani took a photo of me wearing the long wig. She says she likes this wig better than the shorter wig. I guess either wig looks better than my every day, au naturale look! Actually, I am really bald now. That au naturale photo shows me with HAIR. I don't have hair anymore, unless you want to call the stubble on my head "hair." Bald is beautiful, at least that's what I've heard. Yeah, yeah, bald on a woman? you ask. Maybe not. But bald on a man can be very sexy -- that is, if the guy who's bald is sexy.


March 8

I slept throughout my 6-hour infusion at OPIS, but when I got home around 3:30 p.m., I ate a late lunch / early dinner as I didn't eat any lunch at OPIS except for four saltine crackers and a few spoonfuls of veggie soup. Hospital food isn't tasty. Could not even stand the smell of the "salisbury steak" I ordered from the kitchen. Yeck. LOL.

Got home around 3:30 p.m. After I ate lunch, I took off my wig, washed my face, brushed my teeth, replaced my contact lenses with my brand new frameless glasses, changed into my PJs and hopped into bed. Whew! All that activity got me a bit tired. And my body ached.

Some more new side effects I have experienced within the past two weeks include:

  • Numbness at the site of my two top front teeth and the gums surrounding those teeth.
  • Numbness of my fingertips and toe tips.
  • Severe eye pain when watery -- this started when I was on my 9th treatment. It feels like ice cubes pressing on my eyeballs! Not that I've ever done that to myself, but that's what I'm ASSUMING it would feel.

I took a thirty-minute cat nap around 8pm, woke up around 8:30pm and read a few magazine articles until it was time to watch the new FX series Black White. Ehhhh. Black man with a major chip on his shoulders. When the white-man-turned-black ("WMTB") explained that his experiences so far have been great and rather indifferent despite his color change, black-man-turned-white ("BMTW") was highly upset. I believe self-confidence, good speaking skills, and a positive attitude will get you most anything, but you can't do this with a chip on your shoulders, regardless of the color of your skin. Period. Enough said on my part.

Went back upstairs to our bedroom around midnight after having a nice chat with my mother-in-law who is here until tomorrow afternoon to help out with caring for Andrew. Couldn't sleep. Read more magazines in bed and almost fell asleep around 2 a.m. when we got a drunk-dial call from one of David's colleagues who happens to be out in Hawaii. Uh, Dave, somehow the plane got stolen, so we won't be able to get back to Pax River for another couple of weeks. Hahaha! Yeah, right. Paradise struck again! Took another good hour till I got back to my almost-asleep state prior to the call. No worries. David got a good laugh from it and so did I since I was still somewhat awake. Love ya, Mark! Hahaha! P.S. How good were those Mai Tais?!


March 9

I am full of energy today! Weird having any energy at all, especially during chemo day! Took full advantage of the energy. Cooked my own breakfast, made lunch for Andrew, read books to him, and just finished making a batch of homemade chili with fresh cilantro, parsley, and juice from one lime. Those are my secret ingredients, among several others which, of course, I cannot reveal (grin).

So, here I am at my desktop and typing away! I am, however, starting to feel a bit tired, so I think I will hop into bed just to relax for a little while. Signing off at 3:31 p.m. Will write again soon!

I'm tired, but can't fall asleep. Let me add yet another new side effect I am experiencing right now:

  • Itching all over my body -- could be an allergic reaction to chemo. I'm hooked up to my pump that is infusing 5FU until tomorrow.

I think I'll take a Benadryl pill to 1) combat my sleeplessness and 2) get rid of this itching feeling. Not a good feeling at all, as if my skin needs anymore abuse.from all this scratching I'm doing even as I'm typing this entry!


March 10

I cannot stay awake for too long . . . am entirely too exhausted today. Will write more tomorrow, energy willing. Owww . . . my eyes just teared up, and it is hurting me profusely!


March 11

I'm awake, but still too tired to do much of anything besides lie my head back down on the pillow to sleep yet some more. Will write again tomorrow.


March 12

OK, I'm up. My little boy Andrew told us that the sun is up and it's breakfast time for him. He wasn't able to make it down to help Daddy make pancakes because I was too busy hugging and kissing on him, tickling him, and wrestling with him as he eats his imaginary "spinach" like popeye. Andrew pretends to hold up to his mouth two cans of spinach, one in each hand, and he crushes them with his bare hands and makes a "gop, gop, gop" sound, as if he is actually eating his spinach and gaining strength from it. Then he breaks into his best Popeye ferociousness and fights his way out of my huge hugs! Hahaha! He does end up helping Daddy finish making pancakes for all of us.

Since it was a very warm day (80), Andrew played outside most of the afternoon. It was all I could do to look out of my bedroom window and watch him run around with his neighborhood friends, all at least 5 years older than him, and most of them girls! Go Andrew! Hahaha! I only wish I could have been outside with Andrew today, for I would have taken him to the park.

I am officially done with my 10th round of chemo. Two more to go, and hopefully, if all goes well, I will be able to put cancer and chemo out of my mind and out of my life. However, I don't think it will be possible for me to just toss out all of what I am experiencing, especially with all of the horrible chemo side effects. I believe I'll end up being a hypochondriac, always thinking "it" is cancer again.

I think I have learned to realize that there is more to life than looks alone; that being physically fit does not mean a cancer-free life; that love -- true, unconditional love -- means loving someone for who they are on the inside and not letting the outside change one's feelings toward the other; that bald can mean freedom from bad hair days (lol) and less use of shampoo and conditioner; that lotion with Paraffin is the best feeling on cracking skin; that the best feeling in the world is not being hooked up to a portable chemo pump and finding myself literally tangled up in the tubes first thing in the morning. And most importantly, that energy -- every day energy -- is a blessing!

I CANNOT WAIT to be productive once again to play with my little boy; to work out at the gym; to diet and lose all of the weight I have gained since I was diagnosed with cancer; to walk up and down stairs without feeling exhausted; to be frisky with my husband EVERY DAY he is home (not just on "off chemo week"); to take my daughter to and fro like a chauffeur and attend her cheerleading competitions; to clean the house, cook, and garden without even a thought to the amount of energy I must put forth for those activities alone. To breathe easily without pretense. To live life. To love life.


March 13
(Happy Birthday, Gina!)

Andrew and I started our day bright and early. We went to OPIS around 8:30 a.m. to drop off my chemo pump and also to get my Neulasta shot. I'd like to reiterate the fact that Neulasta really burns. It's a very painful shot to receive. On top of that, my bones and joints ache for at least a day or so afterward. This is quite common among Neulasta recipients.

My hips and lower back started hurting as I got home and walked up and down our stairways throughout the day. My shoulders and neck feel very tight even as I type this journal entry. It didn't help that I was lugging new lawn chair cushions down to the mud room and lugging the old ones up to get thrown away with the rest of the garbage.

I still find myself breathing heavily after each trip up or down the stairs. I have energy today, but not much. I was able to dust in the computer room and mop the foyer and kitchen floors, but that was the extent of housework for me. I'll have to continue dusting a room or two a day throughout the week. We have a cookout scheduled for Saturday at 4pm. There will be about 20 people here, so I will be busy preparing everything also throughout the week, perhaps one or two items to deal with one day at a time this week.

Tonight, dinner consisted of a trip to Taco Bell for the family and me. Fast food is NOT my favorite way to go for dinner. I love to cook, but I just don't have the energy for it right now. Tomorrow night will be dinner at Outback (Armani's suggestion). I'm all for it. These next 3 weeks before my last chemo treatment will be the only time I will allow myself to indulge in high calorie foods. I'm trying to think "clean" [diet] again so I can be ready for my diet and weight loss just as soon as I can after my last chemo treatment [April 5-7]!! I plan to get my hair back and my physique back SOON! Yay!


March 15
(Happy Birthday, Dad!)

My hips and lower back hurt every time I start cleaning the house -- vacuuming, in particular. I seem to only be able to vacuum one room at a time before my back and hips start to hurt. I have to lie down for several minutes before I can get up without any pain and start to vacuum another room. I also notice that I am still quite short of breath after just walking up a flight of stairs. And I am still feeling a bit lethargic, though there's no time for lying around. If I don't do all of these chores, it won't get least to my satisfaction. I used to be able to clean the house from top to bottom in hours. Now it takes me days! I'm very irritated by my shortcomings as of lately! I can only surmise it's the damn chemo's cumulative effects. I'll add these side effects to the "Side Effects of FOLFOX" page.

Enough "rest." Time to eat lunch while Andrew's napping (it's 1:15pm right now) and then back to more household chores.


March 20

My nailbeds are completely numb and my fatigue level dropped yesterday after a wonderfully energetic weekend. I even hosted a chicken and steak dinner for 20 people on Saturday and thoroughly enjoyed every moment that night. I plan on having dinner and cocktail parties more often once I finish my chemo treatments. I do have chemo this Wed., March 22-24. Then, I'll only have one treatment left! YAY!!!

Have I told y'all that I absolutely CANNOT WAIT to start regaining my strength and energy so I can start dieting and workingout at the gym once again???!!! Yeah, I am probably boring y'all to death about working out and dieting. I just can't wait to be ME again! The only problem is that I know I will not be able to put the thought of recurrence of cancer out of my mind -- ever. I think it's only natural to have those thoughts, but I just hope it doesn't get in the way of living my life to the fullest.

My goals are to get back to being physically fit, eating clean, entering a figure competition next year, spending more fun time with my children, going out on dates with my husband on a regular basis, exploring the Washington, DC area, practicing my acoustic guitar, visiting my friends and family in FL more often, traveling overseas next year to Greece and Italy, and perhaps taking lessons in photography and acrylic painting on canvas.


March 21:

Aside from cancer, I also recently found out from my opthalmologist that I might -- MIGHT -- have the start of glaucoma. My eye pressures are normal, but the doc just wants to make certain that I don't have glaucoma. What alerted him to possible glaucoma? My retinas are thinning.

I have had about four eye exams since last month. My last exam was just this past Tuesday, March 21st, for an MRI. My next, and hopefully last, eye exam will be next Thurs., March 30th. I believe the doc just wants to take some photos, if you will, of my retinas.

I have been hooked up to my portable chemo pump since yesterday afternoon. I slept all day and night and woke up this morning around 7am when David and Andrew came to give me goodbye kisses -- David dropped off Andrew at Ms. Luz's -- his daycare provider who lives just six houses down -- before going to work.

By 8am, I was hungry, so I made myself some breakfast. I'm surprised I have this much energy to make breakfast and get on the computer today! It's past noon right now, so I think I'll get some lunch before heading upstairs for more sleep.

By the way, I added a music video below -- one of my most favorite musicians. Enjoy!


March 22:

Chemo today. My 11th treatment of 12!!! Yay! I just cannot wait to regain my strength and energy within the next 3-6 months, according to my doctor. And I definitely cannot wait to shed all of these unwanted pounds. Doc says it's from the steroids in my pre-meds and all the sleep/rest I get whenever I'm on chemo. I have never had a weight problem in my entire life. I've been between 100-105 pounds since high school. Exceptions: pregnancies. During my first pregnancy with Armani, who will be 16 at the end of this year, I gained a total of 35 pounds. I was back in my pre-pregnancy jeans within two months! And with Andrew -- well, he is our little blessing because I lost two other pregnancies before having a viable pregnancy with Andrew -- I gained a total of (GASP!) 60 pounds which put me at 160 exactly. Today, during my weigh-in at OPIS, I am now at 150. That's a lot of weight for someone that's 5'1" and not pregnant!

Andrew, who's only 3 years old, grabbed some "love" around my waist and told me I need to go to the gym and exercise because I am getting chubby. Those are exact words! Honestly! Hahahaha! I told him that soon enough, he'll be able to go with me to the gym and play with his friends in the Kids' Room while I workout and lose the "love." That's what my husband and I call those wonderful love handles which we normally don't have at all! Gross! Hahaha!

I'm feeling quite fine today, despite learning how much I've gained and the fact that I'm hooked up to my chemo pump. I was able to cook dinner for the family tonight and eat with them. Yay! It's nice to eat a meal along with the rest of the family rather than being stuck upstairs in bed -- alone with my food tray and dinner.

One new thing I've noticed: my fingernail beds are numb. It's the oddest sensation to have a lack of sensation, if that makes sense! One more side effect to add to the list!

I'm tired now, so I will go upstairs and get some rest -- more than likely, I'll sleep through the night and not wake up until sometime tomorrow. Till then . . .


March 24:

Mom-in-law won't be here until later today to care for Andrew. In the meantime, David took Andrew to Ms. Luz's earlier this morning and will have his mother pick him up from Ms. Luz's place later this afternoon. I just finished making breakfast for myself, but am really exhausted now. Once I'm done eating my food and checking my emails, I'm going to head upstairs once again to hit the sack. The cumulative effects of all my side effects are really knocking me down in a physical sense. The fatigue I feel is very, very disheartening not only for me, but for my whole family, I believe. I am especially hurt to know I can't care for Andrew while I'm on chemo. Thank goodness I have a wonderful family -- both my nucleus and extended families!

I started reading the book Memoirs of a Geisha on Wed. and have just finished reading it. Wonderfully insightful and beautifully written. I recommend this book for your reading pleasure.


March 25:
(Happy Birthday, Rodell and Dad P.!)

I've slept almost all day, non-stop, except when hubby wakes me up to eat my meals. My little boy is lying in bed with me as I use David's laptop to type this entry. It's around 8:30pm and he is sound asleep, right thumb in mouth. I can't resist kissing him as he sleeps! :-) David puts him in our bed to fall asleep whenever I'm on chemo, because it's the only real quality "cuddle time" I get with my son at that point! Then, when David's ready for bed, he'll put Andrew into his own room for the rest of the night. I stare at my son many nights and am simply amazed at how beautifully perfect he is!

Happy Birthday to my brother, Rodell, and also to Dad Perrin!


March 26:

I'm still very fatigued, but am not sleepy. However, I stayed in bed all day -- once again. I read the Sunday paper pretty much in its entirety, and I'm sure I dozed off here and there. I did have enough energy to venture downstairs into the basement to watch about an hour of The New Scooby Doo with Andrew cuddled up right next to me and Armani sitting beside us. But of course, fatigue always wins out. I was up in bed before closing credits showed up on the screen.


March 27:

I'm up and about! Yay! I was able to do three loads of laundry -- linens and towels -- and make our bed and Andrew's too! But after walking up and down the two flights of stairs all morning, I was beat tired. So here I am writing this part of the entry, taking a little break before having to bathe Andrew and shower myself so we can head out to OPIS where I have to drop off my portable chemo pump and get another dreadful shot of Neulasta to boost my white blood cell count.

When I got to OPIS, I dropped off the pump and waited to get my Neulasta shot. But after Nurse Sherry received the results to my bloodwork, I was told I am again slightly anemic, just as I had been the first couple of times I had chemo treatments. I dread the Procrit shot. It takes two full minutes to administer it s-l-o-w-l-y, and it hurts like you would not believe -- more so than even the Neulasta shot, that's for sure!! Since I was just a TAD bit low with my red blood cell count, Sherry left it up to me as to whether or not I had enough energy to pass up the Procrit. Hell yeah I was going to pass on Procrit! Are you kidding me? Hahaha! Anywho, all the while Andrew and I were waiting for my bloodwork results, Ms. Sherry gave Andrew some apple juice and some of her homemade brownies topped with purple frosting and multi-colored hearts. Yum. Andrew ate half of mine after he finished his share! And he finished my apple juice to boot! And we also had time to play with his Thomas the Tank Engine friends and part of a bridge.

By the time we got home from OPIS, it was already 2:45pm. Andrew fell asleep in the car on the way home, so I took him upstairs to his room. Then I started dinner. Thank goodness I did so, because David invited one of his colleagues over for dinner at the last minute. That's OK by me -- what's one more mouth to feed? Besides, he's a single guy and I'm sure he didn't mind getting a good, home-cooked meal by yours truly (smirk). What'd we have for dinner? Roasted chicken, Jasmine rice, and buttered peas.
Mmmmm-Mmmmm DE-LICIOSO!

After dinner, David and I went to the movie theater and watched V for Vendetta. Entertaining -- lots of symbolism -- but quite gory at times. I'm tired now and my hips are absolutely killing me -- more than likely from the Neulasta shot which makes my bones and joints ache like crazy -- so I think I'll end my journal entry for now.

P.S. Feel free to email me ANY TIME about your story with cancer and how it has affected or is affecting your life. And if you just want to say hello, please don't hesitate to do so! Your emails make me smile and feel privileged to learn more about you.