Kicking Breast Cancer's Butt

Monthly Archives: June 2013

Some of you already know that I gave in to the inevitable and shaved what was left of my hair about 10 days ago.  It was a relief, as I was starting to look like Gollum from The Lord of the Rings.  It’s true what you hear – a bald head feels a lot colder than a head covered by hair.  It’s been warm here lately, so I was grateful for no hair, at least while the kid was at school.  I could go around the house without my little cap, and it was refreshingly cool.  In fact, I wondered how I would have survived our heat wave if I had hair.  A few days ago, the kid caught me without it.  She’d gone to bed, and I thought she was asleep.  She asked me something, and we were chatting for a minute, when she asked me “Mom, are you wearing your hat?”  I’d completely forgotten I’d taken the hat off.  I tried frantically to cover my head, when she said “You know, it’s not so bad.  You have kind of a cute head.”  She is still worried about letting her friends at school see it, but apparently not concerned with telling our favorite checker at Safeway “My mom had her head shaved.”  I didn’t mind.  It’s common for us to share life events with this particular checker, and she with us.

I had my head shaved about two weeks ago, at Shine, SCCA’s volunteer staffed services shop.  It wasn’t a smooth bald head like I expected, but I’ve since learned that an electric razor doesn’t give you a smooth, close shave.   I had sort of an uber crew cut, which left a nice stubble poking through my scarf like Beatrix Potter’s Mrs. Tiggy Winkle.

So when we talked about chemotherapy with the medical oncologist, we talked about losing the hair on my head, and on a different timeline, possibly my eyelashes and eyebrows.  I thought, hey, maybe leg and armpit hair, too!  No shaving!  But no such luck.  I was seriously bummed about this, as I’m not allowed to use a regular razor.  Because they had to remove a pad of lymph nodes, I’m at risk for lymphedema. And I haven’t shaved since two days before the surgery.  You are advised that to cut down on infection, you should refrain from shaving any where on your body for 48 hours prior to the surgery.  Well, I cheated a little, and shaved everywhere but the affected arm.  While it’s not as thick as I feared, I was still dismayed about the length and curliness of what is there.

Here’s a funny thing, though.  The underarm I did shave doesn’t appear to have any hair growing back.  And my legs?  There is still some hair, but it’s not growing back quickly at all.  I noticed it is very light colored, and not at all heavy.  I still buzzed it off with the little $10 shaver Ken got for me (thanks, babe!), and I was able to rid myself of that pesky underarm stuff.  Whew!  You have no idea what a relief that was.  He’s so good to me.

It’s been a while since I’ve written.  Been getting on with life and our new normal.  The moments, hours, or days when I don’t feel like poop, I’m trying to catch up on dishes and vacuuming, taking out the trash and recycling, or more importantly, catching up on my PD James reading, and my knitting projects.

My final infusion of the Adriamycin/cytoxan dose dense cocktail is Thursday.  I’m looking forward to it, in that I will have it behind me.  Not looking forward to the funky feeling that follows for the week after the infusion.  We meet with the doctor before the infusion to learn how the next round of chemotherapy will go.  Nausea and funkiness aside, I really do tolerate this dose dense chemotherapy pretty well.  Each time is a little different.  Seemed like I was nauseated the full two weeks between infusions.  This time was about 10 days, as yesterday was pretty good, and so far today is going well, from a nausea standpoint.  Having a little swelling of the ankles and feet, but the nurse I spoke to at SCCA said it was normal, and she wasn’t overly concerned based on looking at my labs done on my last blood draw.  Suggested I mention it to the doctor on Thursday, and gave me advice on some exercises to do to help move the fluid out of my feet.  Don’t you just LOVE medical professionals, particularly nurses?  It was a Sunday, and while most folks are relaxing or catching up on projects at home, she’s taking a shift on the triage line, dedicated to her patients health and well-being, and setting my mind at ease.  You’re the best, Pam!