Friday, December 31, 2010

New Years Eve morning

Woke up feeling fine - no nausea.  I didn't have the same waves go thru me last night as I did with the first treatment.  My knees do feel a bit swollen as the first time.

I took both the Emend and the steroids as instructed.  I ate a bit of oatmeal to help alleviate the constipation along with water, water, water!! It helps the dry mouth I'm getting as a result of one of the drugs - I think it's the Emend.  We'll see.

Off to the office with Sarah for a few hours. Have to meet with Lynn for some end of year business and then back to Dyson for the Neulasta injection to increase the white blood cells in preparation for next week's drop.

Thursday, December 30, 2010

Lather, Rinse, Repeat

Today was my 2nd Chemotherapy treatment at the Dyson Center.  It was very much like the last one, except all my blood work was done a day before and my scheduled time was moved to the morning.  They are closing early tomorrow for the Holiday and I have to get my neulasta shot in before then.

Sarah and Bob drove me in.  I was mentally ready for it and the day started out pretty good.  As I signed in, Sarah got a text from Meg that Steph was in the ER!!! We were just with them last night!  Sarah went to see them while I got setup in the Infusion Room.  I was hungry so, they gave me box breakfast - why not???

Anyway, Wanda checked my vitals and pulled in the infusion pump.  The implanted port worked perfectly with no adjustments.  Nice to not get stuck in the arm for a change.  She started off with the usual mix - Saline, Pepcid, Benedryl, Decadron & Zofran.  Fluids, stomach, reaction, nausea & nausea. With each bag, I felt more and more woozy and lightheaded.  Finally, giving in and closing my eyes sooner than the first time.  Done with the premeds and onto the biggie - Adriamycin.  The 2 damn syringes that made my hair fall out!!! But, this time, with Wanda by my side pushing and returning, it seemed to go much quicker.  Onto the Taxitere for an hour and another hour for the Cytoxin.  I slept or drifted off thru most of it.  I was done by 2pm. 

During the time I was there, Barbara flew in for a few hours to join Bob & Sarah - followed by Alex and Melissa.  Then, Meg & Sara came over from the ER.  It was a big relief to hear my friend Steph's problem was not as severe as first reported and she was being sent home .... at points I was incoherent and non-responsive to them, to everyone!!! Not a very good host - but they all understood.  Its nice to have such caring friends and family!  I don't know how to express my gratitude for all they say and do. 

Afterward, Bob, Sarah and I went down to Wappingers to see Mark.  For some reason this time, I was starving!! Chowed down a pizza slice in 15 seconds... done.  Within 10 minutes, I said to Bob 'let's go' - I was beginning to crash.  So home we went and I immediately layed down for a couple of hours.   I needed it.  I awoke hungry again! More pizza and Sarah made her infamous crepes -  I could even taste them a little!  Sarah also made some chicken wings using the fryer Bob got... yum!

I think the best part of my day was going to the boutique at Dyson.  I had sent Sarah upstairs to pick up some more of the eyebrow gel to try to save my brow and lashes.  It's not a guarantee, but I'm gonna try.  While she was up there, she saw a red wig and liked it.  She took me up there and I tried it on and I have to say it is as close to my color as I'll ever get!!!  It's the style I wore in 1984 - we have engagement pictures to prove it.  Called  Bob up and now had confirmation from him and all the rest.  It was a go!  It was much more comfortable for me too.  I walked in as a blonde and left as a redhead!!

Redheaded Mary

One complaint today and yesterday - my scalp hurts!  Even though Bob shaved my head, all the hair left on my scalp is just small little pieces - stubble.  Sarah and I are plucking them out - nice kid that will do that for her Mom!!!  Ok, now she's using a lint roller!!! And it's working too!! How funny is that????

Finished my night hanging with my family, surfing, blogging and chatting with the girls... just as I do every night.  Lather, rinse, repeat!

Been a while

I haven't updated my blog in a few days... I wondered why myself!  I've really found writing here very cathartic for me, so it came as a surprise to me that it didn't cross my mind to do it. 

There are a few reasons why - because of the holidays, I have clients that want to get work done because it's a 'slow' time for them.  I am short a technician, so I have to fill in for him if necessary.  It's also Year End and the last payroll.  Monday's snow.  Needless to say, I have been very busy at First Direct!

Sarah's friend Katie gave her a cookbook for Xmas and they chose a few recipes to make for us on Tuesday night.  I helped out a little, but mostly I loved seeing the 2 of them having such a good time doing this!  They really enjoyed working in the kitchen and really enjoyed eating their creations! 

Angela organized the Yanarella Holiday Party on Wednesday night sandwiched between Christmas and New Years.  The perfect time to relax and chat with my fellow teachers at one of my favorite restaurants, Brother's.  And, who walked in while we were eating??? Denise and Bill!!! What a surprise they came across the river to have dinner with their friends at the same restaurant!  I had a great time with them - as I knew I would.  I took advantage of being down in Beacon with Sarah and connected with Steph and Meg over at Chill for a glass of wine afterward. 

Why is it these people just make me so comfortable and happy?  Friendship is such a strong bond.

Back to the question - why didn't I update my blog?  Because I felt NORMAL!!! Working, being with my family, seeing friends - and not feeling the least bit tired.  I went to sleep at my normal hour without a nap during the day and didn't even feel tired at mid afternoon.  I ate at normal times.  I was busy, I was myself and loved it. 

That was the end of the three week span between treatments and know what I can plan for next time.  Today, it starts all over again.  I am told that I 'may' experience the same things, but it's not a guarantee. 

I'm off to Dyson to start my 2nd Chemotherapy treatment - stay tuned!!!

Monday, December 27, 2010


I've been wearing a lovely cap all weekend trying to keep my hair from falling all over the place during the day. Emily sent it to me to protect my scalp for when I lost my hair, but I've been using it to keep it all together.  It's been 3 days since the hair started to come out, but today was really bad.  Bob's been wanting me to shave my head so it wouldn't feel so devastating and to take control of it.  Because of the snow, we worked from home today. so I went one more day before I had to make a decision.  I tried to ignore it today, but it was too much even under the hat.  I couldn't imagine going to the office tomorrow picking off literally hundreds of hairs off my face and shoulders all day - I have (or had) a lot of hair! So I gave Bob the go ahead.  He was pretty excited about it, ran upstairs to get the shaver and I thought he was just preparing the razor.  I turned the corner and he was already bald!!! I laughed and cried at the same time - what an incredible thing to do!  He made it easier for me to just do it.  So I closed my eyes, covered my face and relented.  Bob talked me through the whole thing building up my confidence for the big reveal...

Hair is one of those things that makes the woman (or man).  For me, my hair was my nemesis growing up.  Being redheaded, I was ridiculed and teased for a good portion of my childhood.  I had bright red hair and was commonly referred to as carrot top.  Back then, red hair was not something everyone envied - it made me 'different' and I had to adjust my personality to it.  It really gave me the resilience against the teasing to survive and flourish.  I believe it's because of my hair that I am the way I am today.

I think I was about 16 when I was sitting in the chair at the hair salon when someone actually complimented me on the color of my hair.  It was an 'over the top' compliment - you know the kind when they call all the others hairdressers to look and marvel and question if you color it or not.  That's when I started to really appreciate my hair.  It went on like that for years and years.  Really became my signature.

I turned 40 and my color started to change.  My hair was filled with many different shades of red, blonde, light brunette.  When it started to change, the red was the first to go.  It started to turn white - like my Uncle Rudy's - one of the other Italian red head's in the family.  But the white actually looked blonde among the other colors, so most people just saw me as a blonde. 

I was helping at Sarah's play when she was in high school at Arlington a few years ago.  I was fitting kids in the costume room when someone referred to the blonde lady... and I realized it was me!  I was no longer the red head, but the blonde lady. 

Why didn't I color it?  Honestly, I didn't have the time or energy to keep it up. I never wanted to look like a dyed red head and the only way to do it was to spend an inordinate amount of time and money to make it look natural - not my style at all!  So, I finally gave up and I became a blonde full-time.

The irony is - when I was little, I always wished I was a blonde to be like everyone else. Then my wish came true... and now, I have no hair red or blonde!  All this is so bizarre and unreal for me.  But, it's all a part of the process.  Now my defining feature is not the hair on my head, but the LACK of hair on my head!!

Bob wanted to take our picture to mark the day... and he posted it on facebook!  At first I was nervous, but I don't mind revealing my new look that way - it's safer for me.  The comments come flooding in... all so kind and supportive.  My dancer 'girlfriends' made me a fabulous video to remind me to 'Let My Freak Flag Wave' and they are right!  Thanks J, L and A!!!

Most of all, I realize I am who I am - hair or not!!

Bald and Happy!

Oh the weather outside is frightful

This is when it sucks to be good at what I do!! I can connect to my office from home and also connect to my client's offices any time.  Which is a good thing today since we are snowed in and I have an installation with a client who is out in Arizona and won't really understand the 6 foot drifts outside.  So, I have to work today despite the snow.... gotta pay for the iPad's!!!

Sunday, December 26, 2010

Snowy Day

We all had a snow day today.  Watched a few games, made a nice dinner, sat around watching my hair fall out... oh well.  It will grow back eventually!

Saturday, December 25, 2010

It's an iPad kind of Xmas

Last weekend, while confined to my house, I was browsing the Internet when I realized I was not OK with little or no gifts for the kids this year.  They told me countless times that they were OK with it, it didn't matter, they understood.  But, it wasn't that I didn't believe them, I did.  I was missing the joy it brings me to give a gift to someone.  I knew I couldn't go out to the store then and didn't know if I could make it later in the week even.  Off my fingers went to and 2 iPad's were ordered up for Alex and Sarah within minutes.  Bob and I were pretty excited about the surprise because we hadn't hinted at it at all and it's so much fun to surprise someone with a really cool, unexpected gift.

I tracked them all week... I knew they were in Newark, NJ on Wednesday.  I figured - no problem, they'll be here by Friday.  Thursday we got the door tag for delivery on Friday, so I signed it all excited.  What shows up on Friday??? The cases for the iPad's but NOT the iPad's!!!! I quickly go online to track them once again and find out they are at the Newburgh distribution center, but didn't make it on the truck for delivery!!! Knowing we are heading to my brother's in Beacon, Bob and I jumped and gathered the troops to head out.  We simply said 'Gotta make a stop'!!!  It was 4:45p and the FedX closed at 5:30... the clock was ticking!

We made it there by 5:20p.  I ran in and left the others in the car.  There were about 10 others standing in the room waiting.  The lady behind the counter took my tracking information and told me it would be 30-45 minutes.  I thought OMG!!! But, I didn't care.  I was there and they were almost in my grips!  So, I texted Bob to tell him it would be 'a few minutes' for them to find them... I didn't tell him HOW many minutes!!! But to my surprise, 2 minutes later a man walks out and announces my name!! My hand shot into the air - I was so excited!! At the same time, I was apologizing to the others that were waiting much longer than I was... I signed for my packages and ran out the door smiling all the way to the car!!  From the agony of defeat to the thrill of victory in an hour and a half.  I had trouble containing my excitement and it drove the kids crazy...

Originally, we were going to wait until we got back from my sister's for our own gifts, but Bob was ready to get the ball rolling early this morning!! So I gathered all the gifts under the tree, woke everyone up and we were off and unwrapping!  Shirts and sweaters, video camera, candy and of course, iPad's!!! Alex and Sarah loved them - as Bob says "unexpected gift, unexpected time".  Ok, Christmas is pretty expected, but not this year.  It was a lot of fun springing that surprise.

Off to Mass with my mother and to my sister's family for lunch.  Great group of people all giving me tons of love and support.  The great niece's and nephew's were lots of fun playing and opening gifts.  I met a few new 'in-law's to be' and ate and ate and ate.  Bob insists I'm going to gain weight during this whole cancer thing.  We'll see... still a great afternoon with them. More blessings.

We finished the day by going to Shelly and Chris's for dessert.  They are heading to Aruba tomorrow before the snow, so I won't see them for 2 whole weeks!!! I'll miss them... This is the trip we were to take and meet up with them on Jan 1st.  I'm not prepared to be out of the country and feel like crap - I think that anyone can understand that! Cancelled for this year - hopefully next year!

Have I mentioned that I've lost about half my hair?  Yeah.  I guess I'm not ready to talk about that yet.

Count Your Blessings

It's Xmas Eve and I'm watching White Christmas for the 3rd time this season.  This movie has given me so many happy memories over the years - Kathy and I singing Sisters, the feeling of White Christmas and the reminder to Count Your Blessings.  Hard to deny how special this movie is to me.

The rest of my day consisted of shopping, cooking and visiting with Bobby and Debbie and their family to make my 'eve complete. 

Blessings?  I have so many.  Family, friends, people I barely know and those I don't know at all have shown such generosity to me.  Today, I sat at a table with my brother and his family laughing and talking and celebrating the holiday just as we always have.  They are my blessing.  In the mail, I received an angel pin from a perfect stranger and handmade knitted cap from an aquaintance all to give me support.  Blessings. Sarah and I did some shopping together today.  She's my blessing.  Alex did some cooking with me today. He's my blessing.  Bob made sure I felt beautiful when I described the feeling of my hair washing down my body in the shower.  He's my blessing....

I'll sleep well tonight.

Friday, December 24, 2010

Pillow talk

Every time I turned my head last night I thought I could feel something on my face. I was right.  When I woke up this morning, there was the evidence staring back at me from my pillow.  The beginning of something big.  I just want to get thru Xmas with it intact.  I'm curious how fast this is all gonna happen.  We'll see how much I leave on the shower/bathroom floor.  Stay tuned...

Thursday, December 23, 2010

Always in the back of my mind...

Office party at the Junction 52 was not quite how we expected it to be... lousy food, no heat, no other people.  It didn't seem to matter, though.  We just decided we'd make the best of it and never go back!  Afterward, Alex and I went to see Elisa for another acupuncture session.  She was as excited as we were that my wbc counts were up so high!  As usual, we both felt very good leaving.

Sarah made a delicious dinner for us tonight.  How lucky are we??? While I was enjoying dessert, I scratched my head a bit and in my hand was a bunch of hair.  I do believe it's beginning.... scary.

I put that thought behind me as best as I could and Bob and I went off to do a little shopping for the first time this year!  I didn't last long, about an hour.  It was good to get out though.  I bought myself another hat - just in case.  Back on my mind.  Merry Christmas to me.

Bob wants us to both shave our heads before I actually lose it - a solidarity thing.  It's really hard for me to face that reality.  Once Christmas is over, I'll consider it.  I've already cut it, but having it be very very short may be easier when it starts to fall out.  I don't know - maybe a crew cut...

Not just another day at the office

Had my meeting with Dr. Rubin this morning and got a good report on my wbc counts - 11,000!!!! Let's recap - I started out at 6,000, dropped to 900 last week and now up to 11,000.  Normal is between 4 and 10 thousand.  That's really good news!  This means I can see my family this weekend without feeling too nervous about getting sick and it also means I'm pretty sure I'll get my 2nd Chemo treatment on time and on schedule next week.  The sooner we get this over with, the better.

Afterward, Bob and I went to the office.  Lot's going on here too - Bob has pressured our landlord to replace a wall and carpeting that could have mold and mildew in it.  Wall replaced last weekend, carpet replaced tomorrow.  So we have to clear out a good portion of the office to get ready for them.  Soon, we'll be leaving for our office holiday luncheon and then we'll call it a day and the start of a long weekend. 

Me - I'm happy as a clam right now....

Wednesday, December 22, 2010

Use Your Foot!

Went to the studio last night feeling just fine!  I was able to get to the 3rd week with no incidents of illness or fatigue.  Very glad about that.  With my intermediates we did the usual - warm-up, around the room, dance - stuff.  But I sprinkled in a few party games like a one shoe relay race.  Each contestant has to run down take off one shoe and tag the next person, and so on.  When the last person returns, they all hop back put their shoe back on and run back to starting position.  The best part at dance class is - they all have on the same shoes!!! They did another race with a hula hoop and I had them make an Xmas scene by drawing the picture on a piece of construction paper their head - all good fun!  Finally, they had to guess the number of items (jelly beans and such) in a jar and win the jar!  The best was Sadie who used some sort of mathematical equation to get to her answer and she was closest ... LOVE IT! 

For Workshop, I did the same relay races... and you would of thought THEY were the 12 year olds!! Strategizing their moves, planning routes - hysterical!  That was after my workout - the last before the holiday eating frenzy.  Let's just say I sent them off with bang!  We reviewed the 2 dances we are working on while Sarah prepared my latkas.  After we set up to eat a little, drink a little and play some more.  Finally, the night culminated with the screw your friend swap and the Diving Dice game.  Hat's were flying, duct tape between teeth and finally my favorite line of the night - "USE YOUR FEET"!!! Another classic party accomplished!

By the time I got home my body tingled from the sheer weight of the day, but somehow couldn't wind down to fall asleep.  I happily sat with Sarah, chatting on facebook and recounting the fun we had.  Eventually, I would sleep some...

Alex comes home today too!! Plus, Sarah goes to pick up Jordan at the airport.  Maybe Melissa later this week?  The house is full once again. Did I mention the overwhelming number of animals that are at the house when the kids are there??  They each have 2 dogs now.  Alex - Cowboy and Rory.  Sarah - Angel and Pickles.  They are their father's children in that respect!!!

Today, yup - I'm tired!  Body is tingling from lack of rest.  I'll sleep well tonight.  Still have this rash on my hands.  Had my blood drawn today, so hoping to hear the wbc's are up tomorrow when I go see Dr. Rubin.  Still have my hair... I know the count down is on for that...

Gotta get what little shopping I'm doing this year done.  Office party tomorrow.

Tuesday, December 21, 2010

Prepping for tonight

Last dance night before the holiday break means our traditional party with goofy games and gift swap.  We all get a little crazed during the party and it just cracks me up.  I end up leaving with my face hurting so bad from smiling so much! Sarah is counting and wrapping stuff for me.  I'm bringing latkas as my food contribution and dreidels too.  I feel less stressed this year for some reason.... feels good!

Working a few hours more... it's been a good day.  A few appointments and lots of emails done.  I must be on an upward swing - Day 12 AC#1.  I'm beginning to think of days in groups of 21 - that works for me.

Monday, December 20, 2010

With A Little Help From My Friends

It's been truly humbling to receive the support that I have over the past month and a half.  I've received cards and notes and messages all containing wonderful words to help me through my days.

This came to me today from a high school friend Allison and I asked her if I could share it here.  (Notice I didn't call either of us old?)  It covered me like a blanket - I particularly like the ending!!!  Thanks A...

A Hoofer's Day

Pick up the beat, join in the dance
Pick up my feet, taking my chance
Just working my way though the rhythm of the day
Counting my steps to the next moment
Keeping the time for the time,

Tapping through life, finding my way,
Twirling and spinning, getting through the day
Sweating in the spotlight
Ball change, keep my balance,

Spotlight widens, line is forming
Solo ending, bring in the chorus
Arms linked, in love and support,


Another day at the office, sure!

The day started off pretty well - meeting with a client went pretty smooth.  Answered a few emails.  Did my usual Monday morning time billing, accounting review, employees, schedules for the week, etc.  Then it hit me - it was 1pm and it might as well could have been midnight!  Out of the blue, I was fried.  My mental capacity totally slowed to a creep.  Decided lunch might be a good idea, but it was not much help.  The 'sales boys' came to my desk to discuss an issue with a client and Bob could tell I was not myself.  "Tired?" he asked.  I just shook my head.  I called for Sarah to take me home so I could setup for my afternoon appointments from there. 

Maybe the change in scenery helped?  I seemed to perk up a bit when I got home.  As I've reported before, I seem to be clearer at the end of the day. 

Maybe it was Sarah?  Could have been... it's nice to have her home. 

So I finished my day at the office - at home.  I think this is the way it's going to be.  Not bad.

Sunday, December 19, 2010

A Better Sunday

Things seem to be evening out now.  I can almost predict when I'm going to be tired the past few days which allows me to plan for events and stuff.  But, I'm hoping this gets better as the week progresses because my wbc count will begin to rebound just in time for Xmas!!

Alex and I went to our 2nd acupuncture appointment today with Elisa - who I lovingly refer to as my 'witch doctor'.  She is really incredible.  Elisa has done tons of research on my condition over the past week and today she worked on the specific points that will increase my white blood cells and fatigue.  Alex and I walked out of there feeling refreshed and renewed once again.

Last night, not so refreshed.  At the dinner table, it was difficult for me to even lift my arms.  I was to go to the Nejame's for their Xmas party, but I was just not physically going to make it.  Bob went with his date, Sarah ... I stayed home with my date - Alex - and we watched a movie.  Weird, but necessary. 

Came home today to dinner ala Sarah - chicken panini's with homemade pesto and sweet potato fries!!! yummmm!!  The in-law's even made it for dinner and stayed for a little entertainment following.  It was a good day.

This is how I see it - a day and a half of kind of normal energy, then crash for a night.  Let's see if it continues this way.

Saturday, December 18, 2010

Gotta do

Took a shower today kind of on the late side.  While washing my hair, I realized my scalp is feeling almost numb.  Wondering if that's a sign.

Feeling very tired this afternoon.  My body is tingling, lightheaded and the inside of my mouth also feels numb.  Gotta lay down.


No, I'm not talking about a round of golf.  We don't play golf, that's for sure, but we've done a lot of other things together!!! I'm talking about my family, BMAS - Bobby, Mary, Alex and Sarah. 

Long before the digital age, we would use a camera with actual film!!! oooooo Then came disposable camera's - we were so far ahead of our time! While I was very good at buying the film and the camera's and talking the pictures, I wasn't always so good at developing them.  Always getting another roll of film when we needed it and putting the old in a place 'I'd get back to' in order to develop them and finish the job.  As you can tell from my tone, they've accumulated over the years.  I'd move them around the house to try to motivate me into filling out all those damn envelopes.  Eventually they sat in a grocery bag, waiting.

Until a few weeks ago....

Over Thanksgiving weekend, Bob and I ran all over to tell our families about my diagnosis.  I wanted them to see me and my face when I told them.  That I wasn't scared.  That I wasn't sickly.  That I had a new and different job to do now - get through the treatments, surgery, etc. and get on with my life.  During this epically long weekend, our families stepped up with a general broadcast of WHAT CAN WE DO TO HELP???  It was so hard to comprehend needing any help yet, but we welcomed the uncompromising support offer.  Bob realized much more than me the urgency to 'sanitize' my surroundings and asked for help to clean out the garage and basement. 

Penney family to the rescue!!! I had an army show up the following weekend to divvy up or remove the rest of my mother's things that  had been sitting in my garage for far too long.  All their hard work along with Alex, Melissa, Sarah and, of course, their fearless leader Bob resulted in the ability to park my car in the garage!!! WOO HOO!!!

In the middle of all that was a revelation!!! The elusive grocery bag filled with film was discovered in the pantry!  It was Bob who turned to Sarah and asked her to develop them as his gift for Hanukkah. 

And so she did!! Sarah did all this work to develop them while back in Pittsburgh studying for finals.  It was just wonderful to see these last night when she got home.  Fantastic memories of people, places and things come flooding back.  Here's my foursome - then and now!!! I love you guys... let's get ready to play a few more rounds!
Florida 2005

Washington DC 1990

Friday, December 17, 2010

Crept up on me

Yesterday had an interesting, boring, finish...

You see, yesterday Dr. Rubin talked to me about all these side effects I was feeling - heart palpitations, exhaustion walking up the stairs, need to close my eyes, etc.  I guess it's because I've never actually experienced 'fatigue' but I didn't put the name on it.  I just kept doing and pushing and feeling these things. Well, yesterday after my appt with him and a few hours of work, I had to just lay down.  A few hours later I pushed the vacuum and the pain in my back was terrible!  So, back to resting again!  Something so unusual and rare for me, but necessary.  I awoke this morning feeling good again.

This is the hardest part for me.  I'm an unusually healthy person other than this cancer thing, so the thought that my body can't do what it always did is new to me.  I'm trying to know when I need to rest in order to be successful for the balance of the day.  Today is an example.  It takes me longer to get moving in the morning now, so coffee and the Journal gets some more time.  I've actually been eating breakfast!  I worked for about 3 hours and realized I was yawning way too much, so I layed down for an hour.  And here I am!  Feeling good again... for now.

Thursday, December 16, 2010

Home again

Went to see Dr. Rubin, my incredibly talented Oncologist! (I know he and his mother are reading this!!!) Seriously, I think he's great - so, if you ever need a good Oncologist.... (said in my best yiddish accent!!) Oy vey!

Anyway, the news is white blood cell (wbc) count dropped dramatically to 900 or .9.  As a point of reference, before I had chemo last week, they were 6,000 or 6.0.  Right now, they didn't have the results that breaks down the different types of wbc's yet.  They will let me know those numbers when they are available.  With this low a wbc count, it makes me very susceptible to infection.  A condition called Neutropenia.  No big crowds, no mall shopping, no holiday craziness for me! 

Bob took one look at me and said "You are going home!" So - here we are.  I'm setting up to work from home more often then I thought we'd need to.  Currently we are sitting at the dining room table with our laptops, cell phones, etc.  I'll get office phones and other stuff more organized soon.  There are a few pluses to being home - I actually cooked dinner last night!  I can't remember the last time I cooked on a Wednesday... still thinking...

Better get to work.

Wednesday, December 15, 2010

DD Day - Day after Dance Day

Can I tell you how good I felt at the studio last night??? I don't know if it was because I was totally distracted from my everyday or what, but I don't care! I felt great!  I stretched and danced and felt like myself again. 

I have a new group of intermediate girls.  I know it's only week #2, but I think they are a really nice group.  They are listening to me and working very hard.  Trying to make adjustments in what they do to get better and better.  Having fun with the dances I'm teaching them.  They are very lucky because they have 3 teachers in classroom, so they get it from all angles!  I've seen improvement in them already and can only imagine what we'll accomplish all year.  I hope it continues this way. I know there will be ups and downs, but I'm still hoping for the ups!

And then there's Workshop.  A 2 hour class that flies by.  We did the usual workout to start - I thought my legs were going to rebel if I did one more plie/squat!  Still, a pain we all love and welcome!  This year we have a really cool mix of young and 'older' that makes my job fun and interesting.  The whole class dynamic is changed for the better and I believe we all can feel the excitement of it.  We worked a bit on the 2 dances we started.  Review, add, review, add - challenging for all.  So much enthusiasm makes it all worth it - can't wait until next week!!!

I brought Taylor home (our new little ritual!!) and onto a bowl of oatmeal, the end of The Good Wife (one of my favs) and a shower.... just like I always do. Here's the difference - I actually slept last night!!!  Usually sleep after a dance night doesn't happen for me, but not this time.  Must have been really tired!

I had a blood test today to see what my white blood cell count is.  They've predicted it to go down around today - approximately a week after Chemo.  If it's way down, then I'm much more susceptible to infection.  I've done everything I was supposed to do - neulasta injection, sleep, eat, wash, don't touch, etc.  I felt too good last night and today for it to be low - I just know I'm going to have good results!  Fingers crossed....

Tuesday, December 14, 2010

normal as normal can be

Its Tuesday - Dance night!  I'm feeling pretty good today, so I expect things to go smoothly tonight.  I'm glad.  I could use a bit of normalcy right about now.

Over the past 2 days I've noticed that I'm not very functional in the morning.  Feeling very lightheaded and disoriented for a few hours.  Yesterday it was a longer time period.  Today lasted until about 11am, but afterward was really clearheaded.  I did the most of my work with customers then.  It's good to be distracted from it for a while.  I find my every waking moment can revolve around BC unless I do my normal activities to circumvent it.  I am being very cautious as I've been told to do - not eating raw foods, not touching my face, wash my hands, slept well, etc.  Everything I can do to get through these treatments on schedule.  A little exercise is good for all of us - that's for sure!  I won't over do it.  I promise.

Heading out... pretty excited about it....

Monday, December 13, 2010

Jay to the rescue!!!

So today I ventured into the office.  I had a few meetings lined up and with my usual effort would not have been a problem.  There was nothing 'usual' about today.  What I quickly realized was during my first appt at 9:30am that I couldn't think straight enough to help my customer!!  I'm so used to doing 10 things at once, that the effort to talk on the phone, connect to their machine and navigate ANYTHING was too much for me.... Thank god for Jay!

I turned to my left and said 'I need help' - Jay was on it.  I graciously explained to my customer that I was having 'issues' without really explaining my issues... and passed them to Jay.  Jay and I worked as a tag team - the only way I could have gotten through it.  I find my mind is foggy and my thoughts are way too scattered to do any really heavy duty consulting right now.  Hopefully, that will get better.  I do notice I get clearer throughout the day.  Note to self - book yourself in the afternoon - at least for now...

Sunday, December 12, 2010

Sunday - sleep day

Yup, that's about the size of it... sleep and lots of it.  I managed to eat plenty in between.  The good news? No nausea!!! No lightheadedness!! So, by my calculation, 3 days of feeling loopy, 1 day of sleep, means 17 days of semi-normalcy??? sure...

Feeling the after effects

The neulasta injection kicked in last night... at least I think that's what it was.  Neulasta is the stuff to increase the while blood cell count in my body.  Since this is all new to me, I'm not really sure what to expect on a minute by minute basis.  I was watching a movie with a friend last night and not until it was finished did I realize that a good portion of my back was sore.  I was told to expect arthritis symptoms but not knowing what they are, these surprised me.  It felt more like a muscle soreness almost flu-like feeling.  But just something else for me to get used to, I guess.

Alex had an ingenious plan for us to go to an Acupuncturist to help alleviate the fatigue and soreness and to promote general well being.  He contacted  Elisa - one of my former Yanarella students.  It was just a lovely experience for all of us.  Elisa is extremely knowledgeable and confident and brings a world of compassion to her practice.  Alex and I both had a session - me for my symptoms, Alex for stress and relaxation.  We both walked out of there feeling relaxed, refreshed and ready.  My back soreness is gone!!! I'm hoping it lasts...

Saturday, December 11, 2010

A close shave???

The thought occurred to me while in the shower today - "I should shave my legs".  Then I thought about enjoying the hair on my legs 'cause I won't have it much longer... then I thought about how gross it will be until that happens... ok.  I decided on one more day and I'll shave tomorrow! 
TMI - get used to it!!!!

Figuring it all out..

Today I took just the eMend to stop the nausea and THAT is what is causing me to feel lightheaded and woozy!  That's good to know.  So, if this post makes NO sense, you all know why!  By late yesterday afternoon/evening I was feeling a bit clearer headed.  I was able to get some work done for a client during the night.  Just have to shift my hours a bit.  I'm feeling a little like my vampire friend Lauren!  Just kidding...

Neulasta injection came at the end of the day yesterday.  That is to increase my white blood cell count while the Chemo drugs are killing off the cancer cells and some of the good white blood cells.  Just trying to get as many cells in me as possible before next week when the big white blood cell drop happens... Doctor warned me of symptoms of arthritis while it churns and my knees are what's bothering me more than anything today.  Otherwise, I'm happy to be moving forward.  I know it's a long road ahead, but there is an 'end' to look forward to.

Alex and Melissa are here cooking for me.  Although I know it's not, it feels like it's just for me!  I am getting more and more spoiled... Sarah will be home again in no time and will be here for a few weeks.  More spoilage!  And of course, there's Bob.  The ever-present, ever-optimistic, ever-attentive Bob.  Love him.

Tomorrow, Alex and I are going to Acupuncture.  His idea. We are seeing one of my former students from Yanarella!  I love that Elisa is going to help me ease my pain and help me through all this.  More on that tomorrow...

Friday, December 10, 2010

The Morning After

Here I am the day after my first Chemo treatment.  I'm at the office!!! A little groggy still, so Bob and I drove in together.  Can't guarantee I'll stay very long.  Why did I bother coming in?  Well, I have been working on a big data project for months now all culminating to this day.  Who knew breast cancer would jump into the middle of it?  I just was hoping to do it and get it over with.  But I'm lacking a very big thing today - Focus Factor - I need that most of all.  I was happy to see the email with the postponement.

The question I'm getting most - How am I feeling?
- no nausea
- no fatigue
- a little drunk... like I drank heavily last night and am still feeling it this morning!! For the young ones reading this, not that that has ever happened to me in real life!  I've heard about it from other people.... ;)
- a little mouth numbness - which I can equate to another drug, but I think those of you who know it get it!!!

I woke up during the night a few times feeling a wave of something go thru my body.  I rolled over to see if it was going to last long or if it would dissipate quickly and that's exactly what it did.  Each time it was a little different - nausea, stomach pain, tingling.  Here and gone.  Back to sleep.  I slept so well, Bob got up, went to the gym and I didn't even know he left!

Today I had to take an anti-nausea and a steroid.  That's what I think is keeping me in this stupor... although I'm feeling much clearer as it gets later.  Coffee is helping tremendously!!!

Work awaits...

Thursday, December 9, 2010

Drugs - my body was not made for them...

On Monday, December 6th, I had a port-a-cath put into my chest in order to accept the chemo drug cocktail.  Quite a birthday present!!! They told me it would take 1.5 hours - 5 hours later I was on my way home.  Lesson I should have learned?  Book out the whole day for any hospital procedure!!  Luckily, Sarah was with me and even that made it special.  It went well, no problems.  They put a sizable dressing on it for 48 hours, but after that I could shower and drive as normal.  This port area was still a little sore but ready for today.

After a bunch of papers to go through and waivers to sign, we are ready to start.  Start what?  I get a tray of hospital food - like I really feel like eating!!! But I try - and it's terrible!  Bob and I had picked up sandwiches from the Provision beforehand. Had a little of that.  Wanda is the RN in charge of me.  She's very nice and really focused on me.  It was important to her that I be comfortable, so I was glad to oblige!  It started with a bag of saline, anti-nausea, appetite control, pepcid for antacid and benedryl for allergic reactions. But by the time the pepcid hit, I was im'ing with Kathy thru fb and realized nothing was coming out right and I couldn't even see the screen!  Sorry Kath!!!  I just had massive amounts of 'stuff' pumped into my body and my body flipped out.  I stopped typing and talking and tried to just got with it and not fight it.  This is still not the chemo.

Wanda, who has a name Wanda?  I've heard of a fish called Wanda, but a human? It seemed to suit her and it definitely helped me to remember her name!  Anyway, Wanda came and sat next to me to administer the Adriamycin, the main drug of the Cocktail.  Its these 2 syringes filled with red fluid that will cause my hair to fallout.  Wanda carefully checks the connection to the port to be sure its clear and she gets a 'blood return' as they say.  She then pushes the bottom of the syringe to put the drug in... I feel woozy, maybe a little more than before.  Wanda is talking to me all the time about what I do, admiring my necklace and how appropriate it is for me, informing me of the drug and what its doing, anything to test me and my tolerance to this drug.  It is very dangerous and had to be sure it was going exactly to the place she wanted it to go.  She was great.  After that was Taxotere followed by Cytoxan to finish the cocktail. 

I napped for about an hour I think, I just couldn't keep my eyes open.  I was incoherent and realized I just needed to listen and close my eyes.  During this time, I had several visitors ala Barbara - Dr. Keleher, my breast surgeon, Sara her nurse practitioner, the head of Oncology at Vassar, etc.  All stopping to say hi and see how I was doing...  it's good to have friends in high places!! I finished the day at 6:00p.  Lesson:  still don't believe the time they estimate.  They said it would be about 3-4 hours; it took me 6+.  Book out the whole day.  Not complaining, just trying to plan for next time!

Shelly brought me home while Bob picked up Thai for dinner, again, and also Chris.  Didn't taste the same, the Thai that is - I kind of expected that.  We sat around the table and talked while my head cleared a little.  Bob and my best friends on a day like today... priceless.  They left early knowing I just needed to settle down and chill or sleep. Which is exactly what I did - chilling writing in my blog!

That was my day, how was yours???

Lounge Chair

Sitting in my lounge chair... woozy.  It's a feeling I'm not used to since I never take anything more than my Advil!!! I can feel it more now... so not sure how much sense this will make.

It's like we are having a party! Shelly, Barbara and Bob are talking and I'm just trying to focus and pitch in when I can...  Its nice they came along.

Days like these are 3 weeks apart - thank god!

Wednesday, December 8, 2010

Goal: New Hair!!

Shelly and I went to pick out a wig last week.  We found one very close to my color NOW, but not until  trying on a few options.  Some were long, short, punky, funky, attached to a hat, all kinds of things!  It was fun.  But, we all agreed on the short blondish one.  Shelly convinced Jennifer to cut it right then and there.  So, she cut my hair to match my wig and it's pretty damn close!!!  Bob loves it, but he secretly wished for a brunette!!

Check out the wig in the back... ready and waiting!

It begins

Well, tomorrow, 12/9/2010 is my first Chemo treatment.  Scared?  Nah.  Just want to get started.  2 weeks of test after test feels like a month of Sunday's.  In a way, I want to know what I'm in for!  The 'unknown' side effects are the worst part.  Yes, I know I'll lose my hair and lose my appetite.  My worst fear is nausea!!! But my doctor has assured me he can control that and I believe him - that's a good sign!  There are plenty of other side effects listed for Chemo, but each person is different and I'm hoping I'm the one that gets the fewest.  I'll find out soon!!

This became my first post .... I will follow up with a more descriptive one.  One that recants how I got here.  I've started it, it's just taking me a while to finish...