Tag Archives: Chemo

Last week, as I realized that my hair shedding was accelerating at an alarming rate, I got real with myself about my new wig. I didn’t like it. The cut is dead on for my hair cut, but the color was all wrong. It was a far darker shade than my hair has ever been and I was not looking to become a brunette.

Like any rational person would do, I started freaking out.

Finally on Thursday, days later, I realized that I should seek help. I placed a call to a salon at “home”, told my sob story, and asked if they could help. Not only was I asking for a major color change, I was asking for next day service from the owner of a very busy salon, but he was the only person who I trusted to do this because, in my mind, it was a one-shot deal. After a few short phone calls, we decided that I would overnight the wig to them to be highlighted on Friday.

I carefully tracked the package on Friday morning, to see that it arrived ok. After it was delivered, I felt so relieved to know that I was going to have a wig that somewhat resembles my hair color and I excitedly awaited its arrival back in Indiana on Monday.

Monday morning, I obsessively tracked the package until 9:16 AM when it finally showed up as “Delivered” on the FedEx website. At noon, when I arrived home to check it out, I couldn’t find any package at my door.

I walked the whole way around my house. It was not at any door.

My heart started racing. Have I mentioned that I ordered a custom made wig from New York? It took almost two weeks for it to arrive. I wasn’t exactly feeling like I had another two weeks to work with.

I immediately called FedEx. The problem is, that you can’t call your local FedEx office directly. The woman I spoke to at the national number said that my local office would call me back later. Wait, what? I need to know what happened to it now!

An hour later, my local FedEx office called me to tell me that the package was likely delivered to my house number on a different street. Well can you go get it? All of the couriers were busy. I was told that they would investigate the next morning. This didn’t sit well with me. The longer my package went missing, the less likely that it would turn up.

I frantically called the national FedEx number back. They were not able to offer much help. Within a few hours, I decided to drive over to my local FedEx office and make another appeal for help. Nothing.

In a desperate maneuver, I put the other address into my GPS and headed out to a country road southwest of town to retrieve the package myself. I counted down the house numbers as I got close, then I realized that the address didn’t exist. What?

If my heart was racing earlier when I realized the package was missing, it was all but leaping out of my chest now. For some reason, instead of a rational maneuver like crying about it, I decided to keep searching for my package.

I checked up and down that street before deciding to head to my own street to look just in case. I’m sure that my neighbors now know me as the crazy lady who creeps down the street, neck craned out the window, staring at thier houses…

… but it doesn’t matter. On the sixth porch in my neighborhood, I found my package. Luckily it was our friends’ porch; I would have gotten my package anyway if I had been more patient, but I did not know that when I started my search.

Now this whole thing seems silly, but it was a hugely traumatic event at the time.

In case you’re wondering: IThe wig color looks fantastic, but I have not shaved my head yet.

I still owe an update on the ducks. Coming soon!

Yesterday I promised that we would talk about ducks next, but I changed my mind. I want to talk about the Indy Women’s Half Marathon instead. If you have followed my blog comments extremely closely (Seriously, you don’t?) for the past few months, you might recall that I was egged on to sign up for the Indy Women’s Half Marathon on September 1. If you don’t recall that, now you know.

I had mostly forgotten about it until yesterday. Somehow, as I thought about the fact that I have not run in a week, the race sprang to the forefront of my mind. At first, I dismissed it. After all, I’ll never be able to PR considering the circumstances.

A few hours later, I got to thinking about it again. No, I didn’t develop some delusion that I could PR. I’m not even sure if I will be able to run the whole thing, but I did decide that I should run it. Or as much of it as possible anyway. I think it will be good for me to have a training goal, even if it is just to finish the 13.1 miles, and really, 13.1 miles is not all that far anyway. This should be totally doable.

So, there it is, I’ve put it out there and I’ve made up a very conservative training plan running three to four days per week. I think that four runs per week is an attainable goal, even on ‘aftermath of chemo’ weeks.

As for this week of non-running, I think I just need to write it off and regroup this weekend. This week my hair has been playing games with me and, in an effort to preserve it until Chris gets home, I have been trying not to stress it at all. This means that running was out because my bouncing ponytail would rip it out unnecessarily before he got home. I was also nervous that the extra shower that running precipitates would cause even more hair loss. In an effort to regain control of my life and resume normal activities, I have determined that the hair has to go. In fact, I have decided that less hair should actually enhance my ability to run as I won’t have to deal with washing and drying it each time.

Ahhh, the silver lining. I knew there was a silver lining.

According to Runner’s World, here’s the plan for the next 10 days or so.

It is kind of a low ball plan, in the back of my mind I intend to be an overachiever and go a bit beyond this. I’ll let you know how that works out for me. Up until the hair loss thing stopped my running dead in its tracks, I was running quite a bit more than this plan calls for. In theory, one week off shouldn’t be a game changer.

For real, a duck update coming soon.

So my second round of chemo comes with mixed reviews.

On a very positive note, I did not experience the extreme exhaustion that I did with the first round. The Sunday and Monday after round one it seemed like too much effort even to lay in bed. This time around I was an active participant in garage clean out day on Sunday and I was a productive member of the workforce on Monday.

On an equally negative note, I’m pretty sure that my hair is falling out, although it is not nearly as spectacular as I expected it to be. I imagined that it would leap off of my head en mass, maybe all at once under the pressure of the shower head or perhaps I would just wake up one morning with no hair. Instead, it seems to be taking its time, which is almost torturous and has left me torn between buzzing it all off to get it over with and holding out as long as possible to see if I don’t end up losing that much. I’m sure I’ll keep you posted, as I know that the world is dying to know the fate of my hair.

In all seriousness, I am trying to hold out until Friday to shave my head because Chris is off travelling the world again and I prefer to have him do it for me. We’ll see if my hair cooperates. If not, I’ll have to call in a substitute to wield the clippers because I don’t think I can bring myself to shave my own head. Not so surprisingly, the realization that my hair is falling out is equally, or even more distressing than hearing about the diagnosis in the first place.

Gross but true: I have been Googling ‘ABVD hair loss’ like it is my job and nearly all of the other victims seem to be disgusted by the massive shedding that typically ensues after the second treatment. Now for the gross part – I think Duke and our blue shag rug shed enough each day that I can’t even notice my hair adding to their daily dust bunnies. [Kai, if you read this someday, please know that I do put forth a huge effort to keep the floor that you roll around on clean.]

In other exciting news, it turns out that I am not super human as was evidenced by my white blood cell count on Friday. I was surprised as well. Seriously, I was. I assumed that they would check it and be amazed that my white blood cell count was practically normal. I figured the whole team of nurses would be totally in awe of my abundant neutrophils, but that’s not exactly how things went down.

Part of this whole chemo deal is getting your white blood cells (WBC) checked once per week. Unfortunately, mine have been trending downward even more than expected. Most people have between 4,000 and 10,000 per cubic millimeter. Two and a half weeks ago when I went in for my first treatment mine were over 8,000. One and a half weeks ago, on my off week, I was down to 4,000. When I went in for treatment on Friday, I was more in the neighborhood of 2,000; low enough that the nurses told me that they were surprised that the doctor let me do my treatment.

The upside of my crazy low WBC count is that I’m getting plenty of extra attention. I even scored a Sunday afternoon appointment for a Neupogen injection. Neupogen is a drug that can be used to help boost WBC production and I am lucky enough to get four of them this week. [Have I mentioned that I’m not a fan of needles?] On Friday I get to go back and find out how it worked. In the meantime I’m pretty nervous about this daycare drop off/pick up thing. That place has to be crawling with germs just waiting to wreak havoc on my nonexistent immune system.

As you might have gathered by now, I have been spending a lot of time in this place labeled ‘Cancer Center’. It is still pretty strange to me to be hanging around with cancer patients. I guess I am technically one of them, but I don’t really identify with that group. After all, cancer is something that happens to old people, sick people, other people, I don’t know, just not me. So, instead of including myself in that category, I will continue to attend treatment at the cancer center and I will continue to feel bad for all of those unfortunate people who got dealt a bad hand, but I won’t feel bad for me because I’m not one of them. I just happen to stop in there like six times per week.

All in all, aside from the hair issue, I suppose that things are going pretty well. I’m impressed with myself that I did not have any down days and just generally delighted that I did not feel exhausted in the same way that I did after the first round.

An update on the ducks is coming soon!

Going into this week, I had very low expectations running wise some delusions that I would keep running as if nothing happened. After all, I managed to trudge through three miles last Saturday, the day after chemo, without a notable effort.

Come Sunday, things had changed. We planned to walk the same three miles with Kai and Bob and I didn’t even make it a quarter of the way around the loop walking before asking to turn back. I was wiped out. Wow.

Monday morning I thought that I should make an attempt to go to work. After struggling to make it through the getting ready process, I dragged myself to the car and went in. My ‘work day’ lasted about an hour, at which point I concluded that it was too much effort to sit in the chair and headed home.

I was exhausted and just all around crummy feeling. I felt an awful lot like I imagine that I would if I had stayed out drinking all weekend without any sleep. My brother, who once pledged a fraternity, can probably understand what I’m talking about. I gather from his stories that freshman year at Penn State was not as kind to him as it was to me.

By the time I made it home, I was freezing to death. No exaggeration. Anyway, my not even close to warm enough bed awaited me. I crawled in, with that chilled to the bone feeling that I can usually only achieve by night skiing in the bitter cold temperatures and unrelenting winds of Upstate New York while wearing clothing that is still damp with sweat from a day of riding. This was not a fulfilling experience at all.

I determined that I was far too cold and exhausted even to lay in bed. Unfortunately, I could not come up with a less energy intense alternative. Ugh. To be honest, I might have cried about it if that would not have required me to expend additional effort.

Somehow, I finally got to sleep. Six or seven hours later, I awoke from a deep sleep feeling kind of normal. I tested the waters by doing some chores, then decided to attempt a run.

I use that term very loosely. My ‘run’ was probably 60% run, 40% walk, but somehow, afterwards, I felt more normal than I had in days. In fact, it led to two subsequent, more legitimate, running attempts on Tuesday and Wednesday.

Thursday I planned to run also, but when I discovered that we could do this instead, all plans went out the window.
I think the thing that I am most impressed with myself about is that I got up an hour early on Friday morning to squeeze a run in. It made me remember why I like to run in the morning. Going to work on Friday is so much nicer when you know that you are off the hook and free to do as you please on Friday night. It was such a relief not to have a run looming over me all day. In fact, I just might try the same thing on Monday morning as well!