5 more months..

I met with my oncologist for the first time in about a month and a half today before chemo. Normally I see my nurse practitioner who is great, but I should probably see my onc, the chief of oncology, every once in awhile. Turns out that I will need the full 8 months of chemo. I had expected it, but allowed myself to hope too much that I would only have 6 months. There is a second PET scan scheduled at the end of this month which my onc expects to be clean, but because my disease was so widespread, I will need the maximum course of treatment.

Silver lining: no radiation which means no radiation tattoos all over my chest and less of a chance of secondary breast cancer.

That’s about the only good thing I can say at the moment. I’m not particularly pleased.

Posted in Treatment

Meetings and Meanderings

I haven’t written in awhile because things, frankly, have been tough. At first I was pretty ashamed that dealing with a breakup felt much more difficult than living day to day life with cancer, then I came to a kind of acceptance with myself that a) I have always had a touch of “the crazy” after breakups, so why should this be any different?, b) sometimes all it takes is one more thing, and c) I really, really need to be gentler with myself.

Over the past 2 weeks I’ve started a few blog posts – notably on chemo brain, body image, and Susan Sontag’s Illness as a Metaphor – but the past few days have actually been really good and I’d rather talk about places where I am progressing in my life rather than places where I feel kind of stuck.

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Posted in Personal Stuff


Noug dumped me on Monday.

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Posted in Personal Stuff

What do chemo weekends feel like?

There are all kinds of misconceptions about what you feel like after a treatment. I can only speak for my specific treatment (ABVD) and the way that my body handles it, however, I do think there are some universals in chemotherapy. This is mostly for my new friend Michelle, a fellow young alumna, who is starting chemo (cytoxan – if anyone out there was on cytoxan and wouldn’t mind talking about specific side effects with someone, let me know!) for non-cancer related kidney disease.

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Posted in Treatment

Mid-Treatment PET Scan

I had a PET scan on Tuesday and have been waiting on pins and needles for the results. Today was chemo day so I drove myself down to the hospital after spending the night at the Noug’s place (which has become my pre-chemo jitters ritual). I stopped on the way down to eat and hydrate before chemo (in the form of a McDonald’s McMuffin and orange juice because fake food is just what I should be putting into my body before dumping it with poison), then got distracted by the new McDonalds coffee creations. Word of advice: McDonald’s iced mocha is pretty gross. But it also amped me up in a way that was probably not helpful before going to hear my scan results.

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Posted in Personal Stuff, Treatment

1/3 Done!

I had my 4th chemo today, which marks the end of my 2nd cycle (each cycle is a month long) with my blood counts still good and hair still intact. After a bit of a freak out in the doctor’s office, Natalie (my nurse practitioner) literally put both of her hands on my shoulders and told me that it was fine to freak out and be in a really panicked mindset, but that I will be fine. She also told me to stop apologizing for asking questions. Generally this attitude is not my experience with the medical community so it was relieving.

Natalie doesn’t feel any palpable lymph nodes any more and scheduled me for a chest CT/PET scan in the coming 2weeks. If it is clear, I will be declared NED or no evidence of disease. If I’m not, it won’t really matter anyway because regardless I have 4 months of chemo left. When you have as widespread lymph node involvement as I do, protocol states at least 6 months of chemo. Honestly, I’d rather put up with the extra  time to know that cancer has gotten the hell out of my life than go on a shorter schedule.

Still, 1/3 done! Woo!

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Posted in Treatment

On Blogging

I love to hear that people read my blog, but I am even more happy when I hear that people are getting something out of it. I know at least one person has been made aware of the lack of institutional support for young adults with cancer (and really, any chronic disease). Others have just learned more about cancer, chemo, and treatment in general. Most importantly, I was told recently on one of my support forums that my blog was the first a woman found when she was looking for experiences on bone marrow biopsies. She told me that my blog made her not so afraid. What a relief! I think if I had read my description of a BMB, I would have demanded my doctor knock me out- with a brick if necessary.

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Posted in Personal Stuff

The Waiting, by David Rakoff

From the New York Times Magazine.

I am nothing if not compliant. I held still as I was shuttled back and forth through the wondrous high-tech doughnut, inhaling and holding my breath when instructed. Less than three minutes later, I hopped off the narrow table and put my sweater back on.

“Have a fantastic day,” the technician said as I left.

“Fantastic”? Fantastic days are what you wish upon those who have so few sunrises left, those whose lungs are so lesion-spangled with new cancer that they should be embracing as much life as they can. Time’s a-wasting, go out and have yourself a fantastic day!

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Posted in News

Hair is Gone! And everything else I haven’t updated on lately

I haven’t forgotten about blogging! I’ve felt more tired lately (the beginnings of chemo fatigue?) and haven’t been in a blogging mood.

I do have some good news! My blood work is so good that I don’t need to go back every week- I just have to go every other week for chemo and get my bloodwork done then. My tumor on my collar bone is gone and the one in my armpit has drastically shrunk- as in right now, my armpit is still swollen but I can’t feel a mass anymore. I could have my mid-treatment scan as early as May! A clean PET scan can mean only 2 more months of chemo, so this would be excellent of course. Radiation is still up in the air.

Last week I chopped off all of my hair. Or, rather, my friend Meaux chopped off my hair. A bunch of friends all came over to Geekhaus (my boyfriend’s apartment) and brought craft beer with them. After some liquid courage, I let Meaux cut it and then trim it short with buzzers. I have about an inch of hair so at least as it falls out, it looks more akin to my cat shedding than losing foot long strands of hair everywhere.

Leave it to me to have a party before I do something potentially traumatic.

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Posted in Personal Stuff, Treatment

I promise I’ll have a real update soon…

But for right now I’m too tired.

Three things:

1) The hair is gone. Well, mostly gone. I have about a half inch left and must say I am rocking it. I’m pleasantly surprised by how I look with short hair. There will be a real post (with pictures!) coming soon.

2) My blood counts have been so good that I only have to go back to the doctor’s for chemo weeks, not the “off” weeks! This is hugely beneficially to my lifestyle so I’m not running back and forth quite so much to the doctors- not to mention a really great thing for my health. I can worry a little less (but still worry!) about being so immunosupressed.

3) I need a ride home from chemo on Friday. Say around 1ish? It’s from Newton-Wellesley to Somerville- maybe a half hour drive? OR you could come early (11ish) and hang out with me and get to partake in cupcakes from Cupcakory. They’re delivering me cupcakes after I requested they come on Twitter. The owner is fantastic! Plus om noms cupcakes.

Posted in Uncategorized

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