Wednesday, November 7, 2012

One Last Thing

On Friday, Nov 9th, I will finally have the last procedure I need to complete my cancer treatments.

Sure, I will still be taking my hormone-blocking pills for the next 5 years, but, that's just a tiny little pill I take in the morning.

And, yes, I suppose I will have many many followup visits with various health care providers throughout the rest of my life. Perhaps more frequent in the next couple of years than later.

But the point is, those things are incidental.

I'm going to get my port removed.

That odd little lump on the left side of my chest, sometimes visible to one and all. That bizarre, annoying purple plastic gizmo, with a tube attached to it. A tube that goes directly into my left jugular. The thought of which would, on occasion, creep me out a bit.

It's coming out on Friday.

And then, it's time to party.

Tuesday, August 7, 2012

last treatment, a no-hair day

This morning I went to my last radiation treatment.

Going in, I felt that it was going to feel rather anti-climactic, because hey, all I did for radiation was go in and lie on a table for 5 min or so every day, and really, that wasn't hard. My skin didn't even suffer very much. Chemo, now, that was hard. But at the end of that, you've just had a 3 hour treatment, you feel dippy, and you know the crappy days are ahead, so finishing doesn't feel like something to celebrate, even though that was the hard part.

I got up a little earlier than usual to be sure I'd have enough time to finish all my make-up, lashes included, so I could go without a wig. I dressed in my hot-pink shirt, and wore my sparkly sequined shoes to mark the occasion.

When I got there, they're playing my usual mix of alternative music. I get on the table, they get me into position, put the gel-pack on my chest (really thin, flat - I hear it helps to keep the skin irritation to a minimum), and then, as they leave the room to start the treatment, the music changes to "Celebration"!
This has me almost laughing, which would probably not be good for the radiation field they just lined up, so I hold myself in check while the machine buzzes and delivers my last dose of radiation.

When it's done, they all come in to congratulate me, hugs all around. I get a bottle of sparkling cider and a certificate of completion (so cute!).

And, man, I am so glad to be done!

When I go in to change out of the hospital gown, I peel off all the stickers and slather lotion on any which way I want to, smearing the ink that I'll get to completely wash off later.

It felt AWESOME.

After that, I went to work.
Just like that.

Thursday, August 2, 2012

not quite ready

For the past few weeks or so, I've been brave enough to occasionally step outside the house without anything on my head.
Most days, when I get home, my wig is the first thing to come off. Even before I take off my shoes. I'm just more comfortable that way. You know, with the heat and all.

I'm just not quite ready to make it my look for every day.

Wednesday, August 1, 2012

counting down

My radiation treatments are coming to a close.

Only 4 more left.

I'm not sure if it's gone by faster than I expected, or slower.

I won't know what to do with myself when I don't have to see a doctor every time I turn around.

Thursday, July 26, 2012

on the left

Way back in January, when I had my mammogram and they biopsied the lump on the right, they also saw some small spots on the left.
Spots are normal, especially if they're small, so nobody was concerned about it.
My surgeon wanted a second look, just to be sure, so I went back over and had another scan done on the left side. Again, nothing to worry about.
Given my family history, and the fact that I was about to start cancer treatment, they decided we should have another look in about six months.

Monday was the day.

(It's cute how careful and kind all the technicians are when they know you're not there for your average every-day annual scan.)

Because this was specifically to check up on previous images, they had to be sure to position me exactly as they had before. They also had the images from January up on the screen to compare it to in real time.

They made me wait while they discussed what they could see.

Everything looks just like it did before. No changes.

The images were sent to my surgeon so she could have a look as well. She agrees with the folks at UVRMC - nothing has changed.

We'll take another look in six months. Can't be too careful about stuff like this.

I am so grateful to have so many excellent care-givers on my team.

Wednesday, July 25, 2012

like art, but not

As a preparation for my final radiation treatments, this morning the docs and techs took turns drawing on my chest.
ain't it perty?

Saturday, July 14, 2012


My lashes had been thinning a bit over the last month or so.
As of about two weeks ago, they were pretty much gone, so I started wearing false lashes (just the drugstore variety, nothing too expensive).*
Since I had absolutely no clue how to go about putting these things on, I searched the web for some basic lash-application tutorials. Nerdygirlmakeup was my favorite.

Andrea 53 lash
I sorta thrashed my first pair (getting off the old adhesive isn't the easiest thing I've ever done) and my second didn't fair much better. When I went back for a third set, they were all out of the usual kind in the style I wanted, but they had a set of the "self adhesive" variety. These come with a strip of adhesive already on the lash, and another in a little groove in the package. The adhesive is different from the kind you apply yourself, in that it remains a bit sticky instead of drying after a few minutes.
I loved how easy they were to put on (and reposition), but then I spent a good portion of the day unsticking the bangs of the brunette wig from my lashes. If that wasn't enough, every time I sneezed, (and it was a sneezy sort of day) my eyelids would stick shut, and I'd have to pry them apart. By the end of the day, I wasn't sure if I'd use that second strip. Ever.
Thankfully, they can be glued on in the usual way as well, or I'd have tossed them.

I've gotten skilled enough with the glue that it's no longer a thick messy line (or glopped onto the lashes), and I can get them both on within about 5 minutes.

However, unless there is some trick with the glue I haven't learned yet (possible) it seems that your average strip lash is not meant to be worn for an entire day. Most days, I end up touching up the glue about halfway through the day. At first, I'd take them off, reapply glue, and put them back on. Now I just get a little glue on a toothpick, run it under the loose portions of the lash strip, and stick that bit back on my eyelid. Probably not the recommended method, as I suppose I could accidentally poke myself in the eye (with a sharp stick), but I'm careful. Promise.

As I've gotten used to these fussy little bits of pretty, I've started to have a little fun with them, try new styles. At first, I was going for "realistic, but better". Now, I'm happy to try the more dramatic lengths.
Andrea 45 lash

I would never have applied enough mascara to get this effect with my own lashes (mostly because it all has to come off at some point), but I have to admit, I like the look. Enough that I will probably continue to use false lashes whenever the mood suits.

(notice the lack of lower lashes. sad, isn't it? not much I can do about that)

Side note: If you look closely at the second photo, you might notice that my eyebrows are filling back in. I still brush on a little brow powder so they don't look sparse (the hairs are about half their usual length), but now I don't have to guess at where my brows should be. I was just starting to get the hang of penciling them on, and now I don't need to so much.

*for anyone thinking, "why don't you just get those 'permanent' ones they can do at a salon?" Those kind are glued to your existing lashes. Of which I have very few. Also, there is a risk of infection for those of us with compromised immune systems, and infections, at any stage of cancer treatment, are bad news. Even if they're nowhere near the treatment areas. Point of fact: they don't recommend wearing any false lashes due to risk of infection. I just choose to live dangerously in the interest of not frightening strangers. (You're welcome.)