Who Am I?

Well, inquisitive reader, let me answer. I am a wife, a mom and I have chronic bad hair. I like made uppy words and Unnecessary Capitalization. If you know who the guy in the bottom right picture is, you're probably my best friend. Also, I own several Edward dolls which I write about HERE. No, I don't use drugs. By the way, if your love canned tomatoes, visit my stash HERE.

Monday, August 15, 2011

Chemo. The gift that keeps on giving.

So, since so many of you were clamoring for an update on Kearsie Healthwatch 2011, I thought I'd jot down a quick bloggyblog.  Ok, so there was only really one of you clamoring, but I aim to please.  So.

Chemo has begun.  I'm having my "good" week.  Which basically means that this week, all my side effects go away and I feel normal for just long enough to forget how lousy chemo is before I have to start the vicious cycle all over again.  I know.  It's kind of like menstruation.

Chemo is absolutely, 100% no fun.  I've only had one cycle thus far.  My next will be the 23rd.

Here's a quick rundown on what I went through whilst doing chemo:

*I am strapped up to the IV.  Two different nurses have to tackle this because apparently I have super strong veins that don't like to be pierced and as a result of their poking, I still have a bruise.  But that's ok because the other option is to get a port.  Poke away, nurses.  Bruises fade.

*I don't have allergic reaction to the two different chemo drugs selected for my torture:  Taxotere and Cytoxan.  But they go super slow at first, watching to see if I turn bright red or quit breathing.  This means that I sat with an IV for four hours.  No, I'm really not exaggerating.  I am glad I brought a book.

*My mouth tastes funny.  I try chewing gum and sucking on Jolly Ranchers but no dice.  Yep, this is my first side effect- my taste buds rebel against me.  This I will have to endure for 1 and 1/2 weeks.

*I am super tired.  Enter second side effect- extreme fatigue.  I go home and sleep the rest of the day.  And then half of the next day.  I will feel tired for many days.

*Nausea.  Because my name is Kearsie and this is how I roll.  Lots of nausea.  No vomiting, but many days of popping any and all nausea meds given to me in hopes that the stomach roiling goes away.  I will endure this for a week.  But I expected this, so I am not surprised.

*FIERCE HEADACHE.  It feels like ice picks are being driven through my temples.  No pain reliever completely takes it away, but thankfully, the headache fades around day 5 following chemo.  I am tough, I can take this, oh man thiskillswhereisthetylenol.....

*Hunger despite no taste.  Because of the steroids, I am starving.  I am nauseas, and have no taste buds, but I want to eat everything in sight.  Because of this, I gain 5 pounds.  I was told this could happen.  So therefore, I let myself eat ice cream straight from the carton.  The streroids are to keep me from getting a nasty rash on my arms and face.

*I break out all over my face.  It's not the rash.  It's just the regular hormones coursing through my body doing their monthly thing, only I seem to be super sensitive and respond by getting fierce acne.  Nice.  I feel 15 again.

*Joint pain, specifically in my lower back and pelvis.  This is because the day after chemo, I get a shot to boost my white blood cell count and it manifests the pain where the most bone marrow is.  I no longer feel 15, instead I feel 85.

And then, by around day 6, I feel better.  Not great, but better.  Soon, the nausea and headache and joint pain become a faded memory, and I do things like put on make up again, and clean my bathroom.  I even begin to cook again.  My face no longer holds my "I feel sick to my stomach" expression and I start walking upright again, not clutching my lower back whilst hobbling around the house.

I feel normal again.

Normal is very nice.

I'm very pleased that my phase of normal fell in the month coinciding with my two girls returning to school.  Today was their first day.  I still have my hair.  I did not stand out amongst the eighty bazillion other mothers there at school today dropping off their kids, meeting their teachers.  I feel very proud of my ability to blend in.

I will lose my hair this week.  It takes somewhere between 10-21 days to lose your hair following chemo.  And both of the medicines I have to take have hair loss as a side effect.  So I bought a hat.  No wig, because I've yet to find a place that my insurance pays for.  But it's hot outside, so maybe I won't want a wig anyway.

I also had a big talk with my girls, explaining to them that some kids might ask them questions why I am bald, or even make fun of me.  I tried to help them know what to think and say.  Here's hoping that was just a precautionary measure that won't be needed.

I was also very pleased that Emma's teacher is a two year cancer survivor, that she understands what our family is going through and will be a source of help for Emma, should she need it.

Survivors?  Are everywhere.  This is pretty cool.

So there you have it.  I'll be doing this chemo biz until mid October and then I'm done.  My IV bruises will fade.  My hair and nails will go back to growing normally.  I'll drink copious amounts of water to flush my kidneys.  I'll be ok.


Anonymous said...

You will be ok. Your inner strength oozes through your blog. (oozes is such a gross word...I will try to think of a better one!).

At any rate, I applaud you for your honesty, for your outlook, and your command.

I hope you feel the support that's running rampant through the blogesphere and I can only assume in the word of reality as well!

Insanitykim said...

I can't fully express what I am thinking or feeling, but if you ever had any doubt that God was using you for good in the world, doubt no more. You will beat this, and this test obviously gives you the most awesome testimony. Sap.

robin said...

you are doing great kearsie! i truely appreciate your transparency and am praying for you constantly every day. that is so cool about emma's teacher! god is totally all over this! i feel for you on the tastebud thing specifically......ugh. LOOOOVES :)

Miss Fit said...

Your amazing me every day. Love you and praying with out ceasing.

Lemonade Makin' Mama said...

Now I'm singing, "I'm a survivor, I'm gonna make it...." Keep on keepin on girl. You GO GIRL!

Connie said...

I was so glad to read about Emma's teacher being a survivor. You didn't mention Lance's cooking skills, but I assume when he needs to "bring home the bacon," he does an adequate job? I'm already wondering what your hair will look like when it grows back. Thanks so much for this update. Your family continues to be in our prayers.

xoxoxo said...

I have been looking forward to an update--I love your honesty.
Halloween will be here in no time!
Maybe you can incorporate bald into an outfit (not to be harsh!!)

Heather said...

A lady I know found out in 2009 that she had stage four breast cancer that had metastasized and had nodules in her lungs, even. She made a full recovery after several months of chemo, and then a double mastectomy, followed by more chemo. You can read Robin's journal here: http://www.caringbridge.org/visit/robinpage. Robin had an obviously amazing recovery partially due to partially to a drug called Herceptin. Perhaps you could look into it and/or ask your doctors about it. I wish you success of a full recovery and pray for your continued resolve, courage, strength, great positive attitude, and patience. Don't let the evil C get you down.

Andrea @ The Creative Junkie said...


Seriously, I am just blown away by your strength and your humor in the face of adversity.

Sending you warm and fuzzy thoughts of comfort.

Trixie Bang Bang said...

Thinking of you.

Clemson Girl said...

You are badass. The end.

Beth Zimmerman said...

Hi Kearsie!

I've been kind of stuck in my own little world lately but I think of you often and lift you before the Father at night as I lie awake waiting for sleep to take me away. I am so glad to see that Cancer has not stolen one BIT of your indomitable spirit! of course if it could ... you wouldn't be indomitable! You are amazing dear girl! I am honored to be able to be one of your prayer warriors!

Aunt Melissa said...

I never did get the headache, although the shots to raise your white blood cell count is absolutely not fun and burns like (well a lot). I am reliving this time in reading your post and am so sorry. I am sure you are the youngest person in that chemo chair the day you come (I was) - and that is not a pleasant thought either. I remember the tinny taste and malaise afterwards. I believe the pre-meds they are giving you are the cause of your tiredness - I got to where I just told them to skip them because the Benedryl didn't help anyway and it just makes the chemo rounds longer. I knitted and read and watched the people come and go next to me. I watched people puke as they poked for a vein. I watched the band-aids appear on their arms as they tried to find a vein. Oh yes, I remember those days.

I would have Bill drop me off and tell him to come back in 5 hours. I didn't want him to suffer watching me. I wanted him to do something fun, but it was hard to get someone to watch Elly for that time back then. Since we have no family here, it was a challenge - but God was good and provided a way. The chemo chairs are as comfortable as they can be and dragging the IV pole into the bathroom is no fun either. At least you are not having the Adriomyacin (sp?) - the red death, pumped into your veins - that made me extremely nauceous...

It was interesting to watch the nurses (saints walking here on this earth) and other victims of cancer get their chemo. I once saw a guy getting this bright blue chemo drug administered. I always wondered what that was for.

Just knowing I was going to get another chemo round put me into a nauceous state on the way to the oncologist's office. I remember the effort it took to continue with the treatments. I still ran though, everyday, it helped me to keep some normalcy in my life.

Keep blogging about this, I believe it helps you survive this ugly thing called "cancer." You are already a survivor! I love you immensely.

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