Take the Ow Out of Now…

Take the Ow Out of Now…

The holidays, overall, were really good. Got to see some folks I really love, got to spend time with them. But the holidays were also right smack still in the midst of this most intense first portion of chemo/treatment, so it meant that:

  1. I was actively losing the last of my hair — goodbye, little buzzcut!
  2. A few of the support/extra programs that would normally be available to someone going through this portion of treatment weren’t really offered ’til mid/late January. I mean, I guess if it’s taken me 30+ years to care at all about how to use an eyebrow pencil, a few weeks without that knowledge (or fullish eyebrows) isn’t exactly a disaster…
  3. Treatment could either be right before Christmas Eve Day or right before New Year’s — I went with before New Year’s and amazingly was able to rally enough to have a good early-evening NYE with some great friends and their kiddos

I am thankful for a new year, though I’ve never really been someone to be all “screw that last year!” on New Year’s or birthdays — the way I’ve always seen it, time just keeps going, and even if it’s fun or useful to mark it off, in the past it’s seemed a bit arbitrary to celebrate Jan 1.

Time and life seem to just involve a lot of different cycles — sometimes you are aware of them and sometimes you aren’t until you are smack dab IN them. I’m aware of a lot of cycles right now. I’m at a good place in this cycle, even if I have a little cold.

Next week I’ll have the last of the “AC” cycles that comprise the first part of my treatment. I’m thankful that our original notes were wrong and that I only need 4 (not 8) of those. I’m not exactly looking forward to it, but some adjustments in medication as well as acupuncture made round #3 more deal-with-able than round #2. They helped take the “ow” out of that now. After 3 weeks to recover from the AC, I’ll be on to the second portion of chemo — twelve weekly sessions of Taxol.

Even when I’m in the midst of a considerable amount of ow, I just need to remember to do one thing at a time — the next moment, breath or step could be better, and eventually, it probably will be. Again, these are cycles, and now that I have a sense of that, it seems more doable to ride each one through.

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photo: detail of a great illustration from the AMAZING catalog for the Walker Art Center's Hippie Modernism exhibition, which will be on view at Cranbrook in June, and at the Berkeley Art Museum/Pacific Film Archive after that

 

 

Sunshine, Jams, Good News!

Sunshine, Jams, Good News!

It’s sunny and beautiful in Michigan today, but it also finally got around to getting cold. Might snow tonight, which I’m actually kinda excited for (don’t get annoyed at me!). It is almost Thanksgiving after all!

We got some mostly-good news as a follow-up to last week’s surgery!

Still waiting on some puzzle pieces (mostly genetic information that will influence chance of recurrence/consideration of additional surgery), but here’s the breakdown so far —

The biggest significant thumbs-up is that the surgeon achieved “clear margins,” which basically just means they have proof through pathology that they were able to get the whole tumor out with a small bit of regular tissue around. Awesome.

Although the growth was slightly larger than they initially thought, it has not spread to the surrounding lymph nodes. Hooray! This is a BIG relief! This likely puts me at Stage 2, but stage 2a, rather than 2b. We will double-check this distinction with the Drs in a big ol’ follow-up appointment on Monday.

The type of cancer that I have (we’ve known this since initial biopsy/diagnosis) is called triple-negative (TNBC), and cells can still spread via the bloodstream, so of course it’s important to follow surgery with full chemo and radiation. But, chemo and radiation were in the plan already, we just didn’t know exactly what types of chemo.

the_ronettes
dream hair

Now taking favorite wig-shop recommendations. If I’m gonna lose my hair, I may as well have a sweet Ronettes ‘do or at least Pleasure Seekers-style bangs/long hair for a little bit!

The good news about triple-negative is that although this type used to be one of the scarier breast cancer diagnoses, research on it has come exceptionally far in the last ten years, and it looks like it sometimes actually responds better to chemotherapy than other types. Its lack of extra hormone receptors also helped me feel more OK doing all the fertility-preservation stuff, and it’s especially lucky that I caught it early, as that improves my prognosis greatly!

So, all-in-all, I’m feeling good (with occasional pangs of nervousness, I mean I’m human), about the outlook and the 6-8 months ahead. It will still be a long haul, but after our introduction to the medical oncologist (chemo expert doc) on Monday, we’ll have a better idea of what things will look like ahead.

My friend Tori and I have had a long history of swapping music and mix CDs (even if we haven’t done it as much the last couple years), and she’s always had great taste.

In fact, she was the very person who introduced me to Chandra’s Transportation EP waaay back when, so it seemed especially perfect timing that a few other friends on tour this last week actually got to catch Chandra perform! File that under things I never thought would happen but am totally psyched did/do. Life, man!

So, in honor of today’s sunshine and good news, I’m sharing a mix she made for me to get me through this last month or so. ❤

Positive Vibrations for your Friday!

*Regular Spotify disclaimer — if you hear something you like on here, think about buying the record or an actual download o’ the song. Art and music are important and deserve your support, financial and otherwise!

All’s Well…

…or as well as things are right now. Had a minor surgical procedure today.

brb, gonna go rollerblade!
brb, gonna go rollerblade!

Still groggy, really sore, but everything went really well. I’ve been back home recovering most of this pm with the aid of my dude Jeremy, Sparky the wonderpup, and drop-offs from a few other friends & family (the ones who understand when all I have in me is a bleary “ughhhh” as a momentary hello from the couch).

Last week, I planned on being at work all day tomorrow, but then some very kind coworkers gently pointed out that I might be temporarily INSANE, and from the way I feel at the moment, I am extra thankful for their intervention.

Still planning on being at work Tuesday, though. Have a few loose ends and some Normal Life Stuff™ I wanna fit in before things get entirely bizarre.

SPEAKING OF BIZARRE, Wednesday afternoon/evening, I get RADIOACTIVE DYE injected into MY NIPPLE, which is — as my friend Amy pointed out — a possible super-hero origin story. Then, Thursday is my real-deal surgery, here at U of M’s Cancer Center.

In general life, I don’t really talk that much in detail about my anatomy (maybe in a zine/but not too much on the interwebs), but it also feels like total honesty is best in this situation, for a lot of reasons.

Tip-toeing around certain things can be exhausting, especially when you don’t feel those things should be stigmatized to begin with. But typing about my temporarily radioactivity still stirs an odd feeling that’s both uncomfortable and maybe a little exhilarating?

But really, guys, lbr — we all know about nipples! In fact a LOT of us HAVE THEM!

Ok, ok, despite finally being awake for a few hours in a row, I’m obvs. still kinda loopy — time for more sleep.

G’night, friends.