Friday, May 31, 2013

You only hurt the ones you love - Chemo Farts

I am not the most lady-like woman you will ever meet. I eat. I drink. I watch football. I love hockey. I love MMA. I love wrestling (especially the Miz and CM Punk). I shit. I piss. I fart.

 

Apparently, in the things they should tell you, they should also warn you about the gas you are going to have.

 

So the first time I ever had chemo and every time after,  I have the most outstanding farts. You know those farts you get that you cannot believe just came out of you so you wallow in your stink and wait for everyone else to notice? Yeah, it’s those. And not only do I have the worst gas ever, I lock the windows on the way home. This leaves Radlad scratching at the windows. It’s pretty awesome. I also chase Radlad around with my butt and call them butt kisses. “I want to give you a kiss! Why are you running away?” It’s pretty awesome.

 

And the best part is the look that people give you. You just sit there and grin while everyone gives you the ‘Oh my God! You might want to check your pants.”, “Did something die in your ass?”. My favorite so far was from RadLad, “if you do that at _____ ‘s house. I’ll marry you!”.

 

Or you can choose to strafe a while area. Walk slowly through people while letting it loose and watch them all look at each other accusingly.

 

My favorite thing is to open the freezer doors in the grocery store. Especially where something is on sale (so you know people are opening the door frequently) let one go and then watch someone open the door.

 

Chemo farts, a blessing. A curse. And fucking hilarious.

 

*poot*

Thursday, May 30, 2013

She shoots! She scores! - How to defeat the cancer demons


SO I have told you how I feel.

 

So how does Chemo Girl defeat these demons?

 

1.       I have the best support system ever. I have all of you reading my blog: laughing, crying and cheering for me. There is always an encouraging word and the want to hug me.

2.       Believe the chemo will work. I know it’s working, I have proof it is working. Now I have to believe it will kill it all and my cancer won’t come back. These things take time. I won’t lie. It’s completely overwhelming. I’m terrified of my future more than my current situation.

3.       Make time for a bath or some other alone time. Fighting cancer and my demons, I have to talk myself through the stupid steps of it. Keep breathing. This is worth it. I am worth it.

4.       Believe your friends aren’t tired of hearing you. I get the inside feeling that you all are sick of me and you’re going to go away. But there are few of you who just want to know the chemo girl should she die… See? Bad thoughts. But I know that there are plenty of you (at least five) who would listen to every word I said until I couldn’t talk anymore. I keep sharing and knowing that someone is listening and hearing my words.

5.       I live for other people. On days like today when I want to cry and quit chemo, I live for someone else. I might not want to live till tomorrow but Radlad would be mad. My mother would be devastated. My employees would kill me J. And SAPA would fire me out of the cannon just because I asked not to. And everyone would call me a fucker. (It’s what we do when people die in our group)

6.       I talk it out or I write it down. See this whole blog entry? Makes me feel better just writing it down.

7.       I put on music and dance. Give me my good ole Pan mix and some make up. I’ll put makeup on and dance while I do it.

8.       I go thrifting or ‘pop some tags’. I love hunting great finds and it’s something I am good at. The hunt is sometimes better than the finds

9.       I think about someone who has it worse than I do. Shit, I have cancer. And what? Other people have it and are dying from it. I will live to see tomorrow (just don’t think about the what ifs. There are what ifs to anything)

10.   I pet my dog. Mr. Squish, my pug of awesome, always knows when there is something wrong. I can just lay on the floor or in the Lovesac and just pet my pooch. His face is wonderful and I think he understands me. I know he doesn’t but the pug head tilt is amazing.

11.   I think about my future. Did you know I want to go back to school and be a therapist for cancer patients? Did you know I want to run a 5k every month? Did you know I want to buy a house? Did you know I want to adopt a child? Did you know I want to go back to faire next year ? Did you know I WANT to be at faire anymore? Did you know I am enjoying faire?

 

When I get sad, I stop being sad and be AWESOME instead – TRUE STORY.

 

Tomorrow is chemo. Trip 5 out of 12. I got this. Hold my hand. Be my friend. Support me. I love you all. It’s what gets me through.

How to lose against cancer - The losing mindset

Lately, I have been having some self esteem issues.

 

I had gastric bypass back in 2011 because I was morbidly obese. I got down to 124 pounds. Now this is not the healthiest weight for me and I admit I was appalled by my ribs sticking out. I was a size 8 and my pants were falling off of me. So the oncologist put me on an ant nausea medication with a steroid in it. Since starting chemo I have gained 11 pounds. Now this isn’t a huge deal for most people but my body image is so fucked up that the 11 pounds makes me feel like I weigh 300 pounds again. I can’t even button my size 8 pants I wore 3 weeks ago.

 

So I start to downward spiral, harshly.

 

My hair is gone. Now I made the choice to shave my head when my chemo hawk started to fall out. It’s growing back but it will fall out again… I have a rash on my head, either from heat or an allergic reaction to my sunscreen. I can’t wear my wigs cause HOLY SHIT they itch.

 

So I want to eat all the bad things.

 

Then I start to think about the life I used to live… It was pretty boring. I’d come home from work and do normal people things. Cook, clean, watch something useless on tv with my dog, quilt, Go to the gym downstairs and run.. and this has all changed.

 

I can’t run because of chemo. I can’t get my heart rate up so I am forced to just walk. And I don’t want to walk, I want to run.

 

I don’t want to cook when I get home. I’m too tired from just working. Last night I came home and could barely walk to the chair. And once I sat, I had to be helped to the other chair to sit and eat the dinner Rad Lad had cooked. And nothing sounded appealing except girl scout cookies and tortilla chips. I ate until I was full. What I ate was amazing (he cooks really well) but I just wasn’t hungry. (Later on I ate carrots, mushrooms and sweet peppers with salsa – so I did eat finally).

 

Then I decided to weigh myself at the end of the night.. bad idea. (Good news is I weighed myself this morning and it’s exactly where I was yesterday). I made the choice to only weigh myself once a week from now on.

 

Then I started to think about everything cancer has taken away from me

1.       I’m tired all the time – Fatigue – I don’t or can’t be as active as I was. I’m so tired today from working like I used to that I can barely function. I want to just sleep. I put my head down in the middle of writing this and just passed out.

2.       I decided I wanted children about a month before I was diagnosed. It’s something I never wanted or dreamed of in the past. Suddenly I decided having a child wouldn’t be the worst thing that ever happened to me. Hell, it even sounded like fun. Possible side effect of chemo: being sterile. And I want to make sure I am cancer free before trying or attempting a child. So by that time, I’ll be too old. So adoption is the option I am looking at. And even then that makes me cry. Sure it would be my baby but it’s not the same.

3.       I can’t exercise (run) like I used to. Luckily RadLad is getting the treadmill back so I can walk/wog in the house. I have decided I’ll do 30 minutes every day on the hamster wheel (treadmill) but it’s not the same as putting on some VNV Nation and just running. I don’t get the same high and I don’t feel as exhausted/fufilled. I have also decided I will go to the pool down the road when it’s nice and swim.  Or Head to a friend’s house and swim there where I feel safe.

4.       My energy is gone. I feel like I am not helpful around the house. This makes me feel like a lazy ass who is taking advantage of those around me. I try. I cleaned up dinner and the kitchen. I put away the dishes, put dishes in and restarted the dishwasher. But I am soooooo tired. I feel lazy.

5.       My self esteem. I feel fat and ugly. And the mask makes me feel like a monster. And you think I weigh 300 pounds again. I have always picked on myself. But when other people say, “hey looks like you’ve gained a few pounds. That’s great!! You’ll need it when you don’t feel like eating”. All I hear is “hey! Look! You’re getting fat again and Radlad is going to leave you. And your friends will point and laugh at you because you failed at something else you big giant loser!! Look at your life crashing around you!! HAHAHAH!”

 

 

Tomorrow is a chemo day. So I am going to spend the rest of the afternoon writing about the winning mindset. This is in no means me waiving my white flag or asking for pity. This is just how I feel. I’m not always a warrior princess. Sometimes I’m the damsel in distress :D.  I’ll kick this depression and move on.

 

Much love and thank you for reading <3

 

Wednesday, May 29, 2013

BJ Mouth - PUlmonary test, same thing, right?


So after two stages of chemo (there are 6 stages total of mine – 12 treatments) they send you off to get your heart and lung tested. As stated in the all about chemo blog, the first two poisons they give you to kill the cancer, also hurt your heart and lungs. Since I have the hugest tumor in my lungs, they want to make sure I can survive the chemo.

 

So, the doc sends you for a pulmonary test. This test involves you sitting in a box, putting a plug onto your nose, wrapping your mouth around this round device that sticks out, with your lips only,  and moving your tongue out of the way.

 
 

It’s TOTALLY BJ Mouth!! Doc is helping me with my technique??  I mean, look at the guy in the pic. Really? Except they told me to put the whole tube in. ...REALLY

 

Anyway, you sit in front of this machine. And you cannot help but to place your hands on it…In an awkward manner to make sure the machine goes right where you want and you can puff/suck as needed in the most comfortable way possible.

 

So there I am puffing and sucking air into this machine, in front of my mom and the male attendant, trying not to think about exactly what is happening. I don’t want to start laughing and this test is super important.

 

So there are four stages to this test

 

1)breathe normally a lot, then inhale and PUSH the air out. Do this three times in a row and try not to pass out

 

2) breathe normally, then pant (no really), then they close off the air (keep panting and try not to think about the fact you are sucking on this tube in your mouth) then inhale and PUSH until you can’t push anymore

 

3) breathe normally, pant, exhale all the air out.. wait 6 seconds, suck all the gas in your mouth, hold then PUSH it all out… and finally SUCK

 

4) I don’t remember the test. I think by then I was trying to block out the head helper machine and focus on the breathing portion.

 

So.. here’s the good news folks. Chemo girl is getting better. My diffusion rate is still abnormal but I have a TUMOR in my lungs.

 

So the chemo is working. And my adventures will still be around for a while.

 

 

Friday, May 24, 2013

OMG what do I wear? (You got this)


Feeling pretty when having cancer is nearly impossible.

 

I feel tired, yellow, weak. Not to mention, I am bald.

 

Tonight, I have a couple of dear friends of mine getting married. I am super excited for them. I spent a great deal of time picking out the perfect dress, shoes and handbag. I got them for a STEAL of course. But the real question comes when I look at myself in the mirror.

 

Do I wear a wig? Which wig do I wear? Should I bring a scarf as backup? Should I care and just go bald? How are people going to react to my mask? Which mask do I wear? 

 

Face it. I have cancer. I am going to get the looks. No matter how much makeup I have on and how pretty I look… how ‘normal’ I look. I still have cancer.

 

But you know what? I’m kicking this cancer’s ass. So who cares?

 

That’s what I am saying on the outside.

 

Inside I feel ugly, broken and sad. Wigs will cover up my head but if it flies off while I am dancing, I think I would cry. My make up makes my eyes look pretty but why the hell do I even bother with lipstick? No one sees it and only I know it's there.

 

So I think I will hold my head up high, wear my mask and my bald head.. put a fascinator on and go. I’ll bring a scarf just in case I get cold. Reapply my lipstick when it comes off and be alive. Celebrate life and two people you love who are joining themselves. They invited me. They support me. They have been true friends to me before cancer and especially now. So brush it off.

 

Quite honestly, this wedding is not about my head. It’s not even about me. If people are going to look at me and stare, I’ll say something about staring at my beauty… not even make mention of my mask.

 

Hold your head up, girl. You are beautiful. You are worth it. Believe it. Own it.  

Thursday, May 23, 2013

Get mah hur did, gurl - Custom wig? Not so much

As discussed in previous episodes with chemo girl, I shaved my head. I had a killer purple chemo-hawk. Then it started to fall out in chunks (BOO!). So I shaved the damn thing. Screw you cancer. I won’t let you take my hair on your terms. It’s my terms, bitch.

 

ANYWAY, part of my insurance coverage is that I am allowed one wig (head prosthesis, really) every 4 years. Insurance covers a wig?! Sweet. So I make an appointment with a specialty boutique dealing specifically with cancer patients. I walk in and there are head covers, a salon area with a lady getting her wig trimmed to fit her face, head mannequins with wigs and a complete room full of bras with breasts already in them. The ladies are very nice.

 

I go back for my scheduled appointment time and start trying on some wigs. I am thinking they are going to fit my head with a special wig. Surely they are going to do something different than any of the 30 beauty supply shops I have purchased wigs from. So she sits me in the chair, puts the hair protector on my head (for sanitary purposes only) and plops the wig on. And of course, I love it. Since I am painfully familiar with my coloring and what colors look good on me, the first wig is perfect. So I ask her to go ahead and fit this one to my head because I like it. So she takes the wig off and adjusts the straps.. O.O. I thought this wig was going to customized for my head. This is what we talked about… That’s not a service they offer. WHAT?! I took 3 hours off of work for a beauty supply store for cancer patients? Not even a custom wig fitting? So I’m a little pissed. So I say, ‘Fine. I’ll take this one’. She says ok and starts to write up the order for it. And says my portion will be $100. WHAT?!?!? $100? Honey, you aren’t dealing with an amateur here. I go to beauty supply stores. I have 10 wigs and you want to charge me what?! Apparently the wig is $300 but my insurance will only cover $200 so I would have to pay the extra $100.

 

WHAT?

 

Beauty supply stores have real lace front wigs made with REAL HAIR for $200. The MOST I have paid for a synthetic wig is $60. Needless to say, I left the store empty handed and disappointed.

 

In my opinion, this store is taking advantage of cancer patients. Most people with cancer aren’t sure where to turn. AND AGAIN MY OPINION, Most of the people in that area would probably never step foot in a beauty supply place or even know that beauty supply stores carry wigs. I can get 8 wigs for what they were charging my insurance company for just one. I can get the SAME service at one of the stores I go to in Lewisville.

 

I didn’t buy a wig from that store. I didn’t buy anything from that store. Not even a support pin. I didn’t donate a dime. I won’t. I find it sick that they are taking advantage of cancer patients. I don’t know about most people but even with my insurance covering a lot of my expenses, I still don’t have $300 laying around for a wig. I cried when I spent $100 for 4 wigs.

 

Needless to say, I will be continuing to purchase my wigs from the beauty supply stores and online. Right now, I am fortunate and have a variety to choose from. But wigs will lose their shape and when it is time, I’ll just spend $30 and get another. Not be taken advantage of because I am sick.

 

 

 

Wednesday, May 22, 2013

DO you have the plague? No.. I have CANCER.. The mask and how people react to it.

As discussed in yesterday’s adventure with me, I have Neutropenia. My white blood cell count is extremely low and I can get sick very easily. So I have to wear a mask at all times.

 

I have many masks ranging from the regular ones you get at the hospital

 

 

to goofy ones my friends have bought me

 

to my favorites from vogmask.com. I have added some decorations to the masks from vogmask.com.

 

What I find disturbing are the stares I get from people. Whatever happened to it not being polite to stare? More than once I have had to stop what I am doing and say, “I have stage four cancer. I am not contagious. I am wearing the mask so you don’t get me sick. Please stop staring at me”.  This is usually met with embarrassment and apologies. I have had people hang their head and walk briskly away. I even had one person almost cry because they were so embarrassed.

 

I have even been kicked out of a beauty salon for refusing to take off my mask because it made their other patrons uncomfortable. Even after I explained I had cancer. (Dear readers, please don’t talk about mass boycotts. I promise none of you have or will ever shop there. They are a small mom and pop place. I just refuse to spend my money there anymore).

 

My experience has also been that the more bling/jewelry I have, the less scary it is. I found this especially true at faire. The more accessorized the mask is, the more people think it’s a costume piece. I also get a LOT more questions about the reason for the mask. When I explain, people still apologize and run away. But at least I get to talk to them first?
 

 

I also try not to go out on Sundays. I have a few places I feel safe. They know me at my Sunday morning cafĂ© and I’ve heard her say, ‘She has cancer. She just wants to eat like you’.  My mother jumped in someone’s face for staring at me and making a rude comment. So far the worst comments and stares have come from people groups of people just leaving church. You would not believe the nasty comments. (Freak, attention whore, why is she wearing that?) Now I am basing them coming from church being on what they are wearing on a Sunday. and the fact that I ask them, 'Did you just come from church?'. I have been known to stand up, walk over to the table, tell them my story, tell them I’d ‘pray for them’ ,then walk away. Do they not teach tolerance in church. What about praying for the sick? Is this lost? I was taught not to stare. I was taught to assume the best in people.

 

Then there is the exact opposite: The overly touchy. Now, I admit I am a hugger but it’s usually with people I know. But I have had an extreme amount of people want to lay their hands on my cancer. I had someone do it once after asking if they could touch me. It was very uncomfortable. Now I ask people why they want to touch me, first. Most of my friends know to ask me first. I have a stunt hugger with me when I am in public places. RadLad and the Mom are my stand ins. There are very few people I will touch or hug anymore.

 

So here are the lessons I want you to walk away with:

1)      Stop staring at people who are handicapped/sick. It’s rude. They know they are sick/handicapped and just want to live, eat, socialize, like you.

2)      If you have a question about the sickness, ASK.

3)      You will know if I can hug you by me holding my arms out. Otherwise, deflect your hug to my stunt hugger.
 
I love you all. Thanks for reading my semi-rant.

 

 

Tuesday, May 21, 2013

ABDV The new dance sensation OR what it’s really like to go through Chemo


Chemotherapy is a mystery to most people. Since I LOVE to share my story and what it’s like to be me, I’ll share what a chemotherapy treatment is like for a stage four Hodgkins Lymphoma patient.

 

So every two weeks I go see the oncologist. Friday afternoons are my day. They give you a time to get there. So like most doctor’s visits you get there on time and you WAIT.

 

First they call you in to get blood work done. This is my favorite part. I love Leucretia. I don’t have to tell her a thing. She doesn’t say , “1, 2, 3” anymore. She just pokes me, covers me with the coolest bandages (usually dinosaurs or pink hearts. I had to settle for plain purple this past week. BOO!)

 

Next you go back out to the lobby. Guess what happens? You wait.  This is usually the part where Rad Lad and I visit Miss Leslie (the  most helpful person ever who has the same thing I do) and entertain the people also waiting in the lobby. Most people in that lobby are older. I am young and purple Mohawk or bald and full of smiles. Even under my mask. I SMILE. Screw you cancer!

 

So you keep waiting and eventually they call you back to see the doctor. The doctor tells me the same thing every week. Kari, your white blood cell count is low. This is called Neutropenia.( Neutrophils usually make up 50-70% of circulating white blood cells and serve as the primary defense against infections by destroying bacteria in the blood. Hence, patients with neutropenia are more susceptible to bacterial infections and, without prompt medical attention, the condition may become life-threatening (neutropenic sepsis). You have to be really careful. Wear your mask. Temperature above 100 degrees, give us a call. Blah blah blah. It’s actually REALLY f’n serious. I have epic masks that I have blinged out. But that’s a story for another blog.

 

SOOOOO then they send you to the chemo room. Luckily my chemo room is bright! There is light and the nurses are super friendly. I sit in the same chair neat the corner. I have dubbed it the throne. Normally when I sit and start talking, people want to come sit near me. So I get to hold court and share cancer stories. And you WAIT…


 

Even though you have an appointment, they don’t call for the drugs until you get there and are in your chair.

 

First they numb the area with a special canned air. Then they stab me in the port. OMG scary big needle. I still have to have my hand held and try not to cry. Then they clean out the port. This leaves this HORRIBLE taste in your mouth BUT I have these awesome lozenges I suck on that help that horrible taste.

 

Then they start administering the nausea meds. There are three nausea meds (for now. There will soon be more). This takes about an hour and a half. They are done via drip into my port. With each change I get to taste the meds. It’s a strange and gross.

Next starts the chemotherapy rounds. For Hodgkin’s Lymphoma they do ABDV chemotherapy. It’s fairly typical and there are six cycles or two treatments of each cycle.. 12 treatments total.
 
 

 

First is A. It looks like a giant needle. It bypasses the drip and goes directly into the port. This drug is hard on your heart. This is why I should not get my heart rate above 130. Apparently this is a bad thing.. AND ANOTHER THING THEY SHOULD HAVE TOLD ME.  It causes nausea and can cause heart damage. This is the red drug. It’s nicknamed “red devil” or “red death”. I call it, ‘the stuff that makes my pee red’… it makes pee red. Pretty entertaining in chemo when you hear a first timer say, ‘why is my pee red?’. I giggle. It’s administered very, very slowly. It takes 30-45 minutes of a nurse slowly and patiently administering the drug. Thank goodness I like my nurse. I even told her what colors look good on her and she’s worn them ever since. She helps me live, I help her get laid. Fair trade off, I say.

 




Then there’s a bit of a break, more saline drip. Wait wait wait.

 

Then B (Bleomycin) comes about. It’s a nice little bag. Takes about 45 minutes for it to drip into me. This one is hard on the lungs. Also another reason I shouldn’t be running (AGAIN SHIT THEY SHOULD HAVE TOLD ME). Anyway, I don’t think I’ll be scuba diving anytime soon so I should be safe for a while. So you wait..

 

Then there’s another break. More saline drip..

 

Then V (Vinblastine) is next. She’s another lovely little needle that goes right into the port. Administered by the nurse.. very slowly. This is the one that gives me the poops and makes me lose my hair. Stupid hair killing bitch. As long as she kills the cancer.. I’ll be bald.

 
 


Then last but not least is Dacarbazine. She also makes me poop and might make me sterile. This is an IV Drip bag. Takes about an hour and a half.

 

Then she’s empty.. and you wait (unless it’s late on Friday and the nurses want out). So they come disconnect you. Clean out your port (EW EW EW). Pull out the needle. Put a band-aid over it. Slap you on the ass and send you on your way. Sometimes even with Girl Scout cookies!!
 

Friday, May 17, 2013

Shit they could have(Should have) told me about chemo


1.       No sex after chemo

This is probably the most important step they missed telling me. In fact, I read it in three different books but not one person told me that I can’t have sex 2-3 days after chemo because my body should be soughing out the cancer in any fluid possible. So.. any fluids.. Do they think that cancer patients will no longer continue to have sex? Am I not pretty anymore or do they think I’m not desirable?  Well I am pretty.  I am desirable… and darn it.. I wanna has the sex!!

 

So fellow cancer patients. After chemo – 3 days no sex. BOO

 

2.       Constipation is not always the outcome, sometimes it’s the sharts (stunt panties)

The doctors and nurses spend a LOT Of time recommending stool softeners and drinking fluids to help your body flush out the bad. And keep your bowels from backing up so you don’t end up in the hospital with a plumbing back up. Oh it happens. Being put in the hospital because you are full of shit is a great story but you can totally die from it. So don’t do that. But they forget to tell you that you might have diarrhea and that’s just as bad. Even better, you get the sharts.

 

So fellow cancer patients, stunt panties and stunt clothes are necessary in your vehicle. Don’t forget to replace them when you use them!

 

3.       Nausea all the time

So they tell you will be nauseated. And you take 3 different anti-nausea pills per day. But you are still nauseated. You still feel gross. And you still want to puke or poop all the time. Soon they up your nausea fluid before chemo but you still feel like shit. But you HAVE to keep taking your meds and drinking fluids. If it gets too bad you HAVE to call the doc and they will give you more meds and fluids.

 

So, you’ll feel like shit but you have to keep feeling like shit. It doesn’t stop. Just keep going. Let the docs know if it gets too bad.

 

4.       Food is gross. EAT ALL THE THINGS.

So they tell you that food tastes odd and you won’t feel like eating anything. I, dear readers, want to EAT EVERYTHING. I haven’t had this not eating issue. I eat, I feel sick, I vomit. But not wanting to eat, not the problem. Most people experience the, fuck you I don’t want to eat. I developed the put it all in my mouth and puke. This is not a good thing and I’m not saying it’s the best thing ever.. It’s what happened to me. Last night it was a delicious strawberry cake that I decided to eat after dinner. My body gave me the huge middle finger and rejected it. Plus all my dinner.

 

So what I am saying is you have to make better food choices. Don’t do what I am doing. I’m trying to get better but I’m full of the fuckitall right now. This is unhealthy. I am working on it.

5.       You cannot always be super woman.

It’s ok to cry. I don’t know WHY I am thinking I have to be strong for everyone else around me. I’m fucking sick. I have CANCER. I have STAGE 4 CANCER. I’m allowed to cry and sob. I’m allowed to throw things. What I am NOT allowed to do is wallow and feel sorry for myself for long periods of time.

 

So cry when you want. It’s ok.

 

6.       Hair falls out not in chunks but 5-10 strands at a time.

As you all are aware, I shaved my head into a Mohawk. And with chemo, you get hair loss. Well it apparently comes out in chunks when you have a full head of hair. When you have a Mohawk you get 5-10 hairs lost when you brush, shampoo or otherwise anytime you touch your head. And you will never be prepared for the loss of hair. You feel horrible and like a hideous monster. Even if you are as prepared as you can be the hair loss is terrifying. Be prepared with wigs, scarfs and a should to cry on. You’ll need them.

 

Find an understanding beauty supply store and a shoulder to cry on.

 

7.       You have to believe it will work

Medical practice is just that.. a practice. It’s not a proven science. They are still perfecting the art of their craft. But when the doctors tell you that this will cure what you have, you HAVE to BELIEVE it will work. I don’t have a lot of faith in a higher power but this is the one thing you HAVE to have faith in.

 

Trust your doctors. Hopefully they have been practicing for a while. Get a second opinion and BELIEVE in the treatment. 90% of the fight is a mental battle.

 

8.       SKIN CARE – including your scalp

You are going to start to look like hammered dog ass. There’s nothing you can do. You are pumping poison into your system on a weekly, bi-weekly basis. It takes a toll on your skin. You start to look sick. But you MUST take care of your skin, including your scalp. Go to your trusted cosmetics counter and spend a bit of money.  You get one shot at this life and you might as well take care of your skin. You might be prepared to say eff it and not take care of your face/scalp. This is a bad plan especially if you are trying to avoid people feeling sorry for you. Take a bit of time. Buy the right products for you. I recommend LUSH. They are patient, understanding and SUPER helpful.. And the samples they give you to try out are awesome. You must condition your scalp and sunscreen is mandatory!! ALL OVER.

 

Take care of your skin. It’s not replaceable.

 

9.       Makeup

Remember what I said about looking like hammered dog ass? Well, I recommend a bit of makeup for this. It is a tiny bit of pampering for yourself and it prevents people from asking if you are ok constantly. I HIGHLY recommend some under eye concealer, eyeliner and mascara at the bare minimum. If you have time or a want to do the whole makeup regimen, then do it. You will feel better about yourself and you will not look ‘sick’.  Go to Sephora or Ulta. Find a minion and have them pamper you. Let them recommend some products. Sometimes they even give you sample.

 

Put your best face forward and hold your head up high. You are beautiful.

 

10.   Take time for yourself and SLOW DOWN

This is the HARDEST thing for me to understand. I’m sick. I don’t want to be. They are pumpng POISON into my body and I think I can still work at New Jersey Kari speed. The fact is, you can. But you are not allowing your body to heal. So you are essentially doing everything you can to let the cancer win. You MUST rest. Give yourself the day after to REST and RELAX. You HAVE to believe the chemo will work and you HAVE to give it a chance to work. It’s ok! Your minutia petty bullshit laundry will still be there tomorrow. Phone a friend and have them come help you. Watch a movie at home. Everything will get done. Cancer is temporary and a minor setback in your life. But if you don’t let it work, then it will be worse.

 

So REST BITCH. PHONE A FRIEND. And listen to your own advice (Kari)

Thursday, May 16, 2013

When I decided to give cancer the middle finger...


 
And then you discover that Cancer/chemo controls everything about your life. Food tastes weird (if you even want to eat). If you keep it down, you’re lucky. Then sometimes you get the squirts.. EVEN BETTER. Sometimes you want to eat ALL THE THINGS. Most days you just want to live. Sex can’t happen a few days after chemo. So that’s screwed up too (or not screwed at all hahah). And you get the false sense you’re ok and then the sickness hits you. Then you discover you take more pills than your grandparents combined; ALL FOUR OF THEM. And work is a mess. You feel bad and you want to keep working. So you push yourself harder. This makes you look stupid in front of your employees. Because THEY all know you should be resting but LAWD FORBID you take a rest…

 

So I said FUCK THIS. It was the week of the Boston Marathon and West disasters when I realized that *I* had control of this life and cancer wasn’t going to take everything from me. So before cancer could take my hair I decided to shave my head.

 

WAIT! Let me explain. I am fairly conservative when it comes to how I dress. My mouth and attitude are anything but conservative. I had a lovely swing bob. Short in the back and went to long in the front. I dyed it black (black black black number ooonnnnee)  to cover my grey. And I was religious about getting it done.



I got up in front of 150 of my closest friends and explained how they were an inspiration to me and how each of them has made an impact on my life and they do the same for every person they meet. I explained that in that terribly tragic week, people needed to escape. Each of them had the power to help me escape. To hold my hand through my own tragedy and they could do the same thing for the tens of thousands of people they were going to see.

 

So.. I then shaved my head…

 

INTO A MOHAWK.

 


 

AND THEN

 

I DYED IT PURPLE.

 


 
I have ALWAYS wanted a purple mohawk. Mom told me ‘not while in my house’. Then life passes you by and then.. You get cancer and discover wigs and think, “well fuck. If I’m going to lose it anyway. Why not?”.

 

Best part of it is.

 

Mom loves it.

Wednesday, May 15, 2013

The Bone Marrow Biopsy or Why I am a Genuine Badass


Part of getting chemo started is making sure that the cancer has not spread into your marrow. This requires a special procedure .. the biopsy.

 

So they wheel my happy ass down to the place where it is going to happen. First they are going to give me a sedative to calm me down. Then they are going to numb the area so I feel pressure but not the pain. Next, they are going to stick a needle into my pelvis/tail bone and pull some marrow out. Finally,  they will send it off to the lab for the results.

 

This is all fine with me. I have to get it done.. Chemo is in two days. It’s do or die time. So they start to take my vitals.. My blood pressure is REALLY LOW. They cannot do the procedure without the medication. It’s super painful I am told. So they give me a quarter of the medication and then wait five minutes. They give me a quarter more of the medication and wait five more minutes… y blood pressure drops more. So they tell me, we cannot give you any more medication. We will have to reschedule or you can hold my hand and we get this done.

 

Readers, I have chemo in two days. This MUST get done.

 

So I inhale, hold the anesthesiologist’s hand and say ‘DO  it’.

 

So they go in… to my tailbone… with half anesthesia.. and half numbing….

 

WORST.PAIN. EVER.

 

I hold her hand. She wipes my tears. And I get it done.

 

And I actually get the title ‘Genuine Badass’ from the doctor performing the procedure.

 

The next day when I go in for the port… the anesthesiologist gives me a high five.

 

I am a badass. I remember this day every time I feel like I just don’t wanna and I keep going.