Friday, July 31, 2015

July

You guys. This month has been crazy busy.

I know that I haven't blogged about it a whole heck of a lot. But I will. ... Eventually. I promise. (Read: hope.)

For now, let me show you what I did every day.



At the beginning of the month, I started writing down the highlights of the day every night. And... would ya look at that? I've been busy.

It's been a great month.

I went back to work. I had an old-fashioned sleepover with Jo and her girls when Dean was at scout camp. I went home for the 4th of July. I lit the freaking anvil. I got to sit with Jennifer O and talk for hours. I went on a roadtrip with Judy. I had lunch in Flag with Brett and Karen and Natalie. I drove over Cedar Mountain. I had a sleepover at the Cameron Trading Post. I got to spend a whole day with Cindy and Amy and Holli. I got to eat squeaky cheese. I drank an absolutely ridiculous amount of caffeinated beverages. I stayed up late with Rachel, and then again with Spence and Brea. I had breakfast and lunch and dinner with some of my favorite Utah County peeps. I got to have a sleepover with Mich. I ate almond paste cookies for the first time. (I'm here to tell you, it will NOT be the last time!) I got to hang out with my Solomon girls: Luana, Victoria Lynn, Cathy, Christine, Camille, Rachel and Patty. I got some more real chicken eggs.I ditched Sunday School with Lisa G. I got to see a whole bunch of cousins when I was in Utah: Amy, Holli, Shelly, Rachel, Julie, Everett, Lisa, Christie, Dr. Doug, Nate, Brooke, Lindsay, Klancie, Randy and Nikki. I had some sleepovers at Spencer's house. I tried bacon & maple potato chips. (Surprisingly, not awesome.) I got to hear Seth play the guitar and the ukelele. I got to have a perfect day at Fiiz with Conman. I had the distinct privilege of referreeing Kirk and Russell play a game of Twister. I read books. I saw Top Gun in the theater for the first time. (I wasn't allowed to see it when it came out. But now I'm 40 and can see whatever movie I want.) I took a ton of selfies in the car with Hilly. I was strong enough to let both Hazy and Monson sit on my lap. I taught my family about the joy of homemade pineapple ice cream, and Spencer and I made up a recipe for homemade almond joy ice cream. I got to sleep in Grammy and Grandad's house. I took Julie's girls to see Inside Out. (Loooooved it!) I was able to stay up late and wake up early for a solid week while I was on the road. I ate at Cheesecake Factory. (Twice. Once, I even had cheesecake.) I decided to cater my funeral dinner. I did some research and discovered that one bag of Sun Chips (the small size from the gas station) is over 20% of my daily recommend fiber intake. I ate a crap ton of salmon. (And it was awesome. Every time.) I worked from the Camelback office one day this month. I watched all of Covert Affairs and the first four seasons of The Good Wife. (Again.) I had a heart to heart with Dr. H - and he complimented me on my new hairdo. (Three times in five minutes.) I went to the movies and I ate a lot of theater popcorn. I got stuck in multiple rainstorms. I grew almost an inch of hair on my head. I got matching pink mani/pedis with Hillary. I laughed and I cried. I told a bunch of people that I love them, and I meant it every time. I got to hold a hedgehog. I drove my car to Utah and I flew home on an airplane.

And there's a whole bunch of other stuff that's written on the calendar that I didn't mention.

Like I said, it's been a great month.

I am tired, but I am happy.

And (maybe) next month I'll get around to posting pics of all (or at least some of) that awesomeness. For now, just know that I am doing my level best to live. Every day.

Project Chia Pet - Week 6

Remember how salt-n-pepper last week's Chia Pet selfie was?

Well...


My intent was to take today's selfie outside, too, so ya'll could see how much more gray I have, even from last week, but... it's monsoon season. Thus, the sky has been overcast much of the afternoon and it looks more like a patch of gray than... uh... almost completely gray.

I can't really tell that the length has grown much in the last week, but I can FOR SURE tell you that I've had another round of follicles wake up. My skin has been itchy as all get out for the last several days and my hair is officially at the "bushy, bushy bon hairdo" phase. I'm hoping it starts to lie down again on its own, otherwise I may be forced to start putting product in it to make it behave. (My current method is to pull a knit cap over my wet hair so it dries with  pressure added to flatten it. It's an effective method of hair taming... until it starts to rain and my hair gets wet and poofs out again. Ha!)

Sunday, July 26, 2015

Project Chia Pet - Week 5

So... I'm sorry about the 24+ hour delay on what is usually a Friday post.

Here is what happened: I forgot to take the weekly update pic outside, in the light of day, on Friday. I've seen a lot of friends and family this week (on my Utah pilgrimage), and one thing I've heard over and over again is that my hair looks SO DIFFERENT in real life,  than it does in the Chia Pet updates. (Something about how ya'll can't see how gray it is, or that it truly is long enough to comb, in the pics that had been taken inside with crappy lighting.)

So, here is a pic with natural light. Enjoy the crap out of my "silver highlights". 


I say that like I don't love the gray.

I actually do. A lot. (And not just because I grew it myself out of my own head.) I think the steely gray is pretty sweet.

Also, as an added bonus... I thought it would be a good time to include a six week time lapse to show how much my hair has grown since I took the first Friday pic when we were in Houston last month.


It was about four weeks in that I could start combing, pulling, pushing, patting and/or by putting a hat on my head while my hair dried to force it to stay down, to give the illusion of a part and/or actual hairdo. But look! I'm there!

It's been coming in pretty fast. Not as fast as I thought it would, based on how quickly it used to grow (about an inch a month), but considering the effect chemo has had just about everywhere else... I'll take it.

Friday, July 17, 2015

Project Chia Pet - Week 4

Iiiiiiiiiiiit's Friday! ... And we all know what that means around here!


Let's not compare how last week's pic was taken at 10 PM (man alive, I look exhausted!), against this morning's 7 AM shot (but seriously, doesn't my skin look great? not even 1% sallow!).

You can't really SEE that there has been growth, but I promise that there has been. Last week, I could sort of (barely) get the top combed over to the side. Now, I live in a place where the top hairs are totally long enough to stay "done".

Yesterday, I had a coworker comment on how much she likes the style of my short hair. I just laughed and then thanked her, telling her it's just the way it's grown back in. She seemed shocked. On the one hand, this is hilarious to me. On the other, I'm pretty stoked that the hair is starting to look like an intentional, stylish, thing... and not so much like a science experiment.

I measured it this morning, just for kicks, and it's just over 1 cm. (I tried to take a pic to prove it, but the angle of the camera over my hand having to hold this super short hair against a measuring tape wasn't working for me. So, you'll just have to trust me.)

Wednesday, July 15, 2015

Different, not less

For those of you who aren't aware, I'll just tell you point-blank... Judy is a big fan of Book TV.

I mean, huge.

Judy may even be Book TV's #1 fan. I'm not kidding you. She loves it. ... Has for years.

She stores up a lot of knowledge, watching/listening to authors talk about their non-fiction books. And, every once in a while, she'll latch onto a certain author or topic and go all in.

This spring, that author was Temple Grandin.

For real.

I'm here to tell you, as the daughter (and part time prisoner) of the woman who loves Temple Grandin, I've watched a lot of Temple YouTube videos and TED talks in the last few months.

Aaaaand... Judy is right. Temple is awesome.

A few weeks ago, we watched this awesome biopic that HBO did on the early life/education of Temple Grandin.


It's so good, you guys.

I mean, so good.

And it's free with Amazon Prime.

Check it out. It'll be two hours well spent, I promise.

The woman is truly amazing. And it's the fact that her mind works differently that's allowed her to progress so far in her chosen field. I super duper love that this woman with Autism is such an advocate for children  who also live on the spectrum.

"Different, not less." - Beautiful.

Tuesday, July 14, 2015

I'm such a rebel

So, my doctors have told me that it's okay for me to still drink my beloved Coke (now Diet Coke, because one of the worst things cancer has done to my body... and yes, I understand the irony, considering that I have an inoperable tumor winding its way though my guts and threatening to kill me, but still, this is right up there with the worst things cancer has done to my body... is that regular soda is now sticky sweet and it makes me gaggy, so I've been relegated to the diet soda. I figure it's all good about the aspartame, since I already have the cancer.)

Anyway, as I was saying... My doctors have said that it's okay for me to still drink the soda, as long as I'm drinking a minimum of 64 oz of water a day, and a maximum of 12 oz of soda a day.

They're so cute.

Meanwhile, in the world I live in, if I can digest it, I am eating/drinking it. Which means...


Say hello to my little friend. (Also, don't worry about the weird angle of my thumb. My fingers are double jointed and my thumbs can look real special sometimes.)

This is my second 32 oz Diet Coke of the day. Both of them from McDonald's. Because I'd rather not get out of my car and walk into a gas station to buy a drink when it's 102. (Also, McD's makes the best french fries in the world. This is a no brainer.) Hello, drive-thru, I love you so!

Maybe tomorrow I'll flip the tables and guzzle water instead of caffeine, but today... I am a rebel. Maybe not a real hydrated rebel, but a rebel nonetheless. (And I did also drink two bottles of water, so it's not like I'm living on carbonated drinks full of caramel color alone.)

Monday, July 13, 2015

The last couple weeks

As you may or may not have noticed (I crack myself... of course you've noticed, seeing as how all I've been able to post in the last two weeks are pics of my Chia head), I haven't been posting a lot lately.

It's because I've had a lot going on.

You know, like going back to work. Even if it's only a couple hours a day, it's still taking a lot out of me. And not in a "this is killing me, and I can't believe I'm doing this" sort of way. I actually sort of love that I've been able to go back to work. Even if it's just for a few hours a day, there's a part of my day, part of my life, every day that, at the very least, looks "normal".

And going home for the 4th of July. Which was nothing short of awesome, and there will be a post with pics to follow.

Now that I mention those two things, I'm not entirely sure what else has been making me too tired to type.

Oh, well.

But here's what I've been thinking about today... I've learned a lot in the last couple weeks.

Such as:

My body has a limit. And that limit is way closer than I like to think it is. This doesn't mean that I have to stay home, or lie down, every day all day. But it does mean that I need to parcel out my time and spend my energy wisely. Beyond the fatigue that follows me everywhere I go these days, now my joints hurt and my feet are swollen - every day. (Gosh, I love late-onset chemo side effects. So much.) Most days, I can stand and/or walk without pain. Other days, after too many days of thinking I'm okay to keep pushing my pedal to the metal, I pay the price and have stay in bed until the swelling goes down.

I keep having opportunities to relearn the lesson that I need to sit down and put my feet up. Maybe this week it'll sink in? (I can tell you that I'm typing this from my magical bendy bed. So, that's a good start.)

I never cease to be amazed at my new limitations. My energy level limits what I can commit to on a daily/weekly basis and my uncertain future limits what I can commit to, both personally and professionally, long term. I've had two good, hard, cries in the last week over the lack of control I have over my future. And while I know that, really, no one can control their future... I have an increased awareness that my future is uncertain, and I've found that is causing me to hold back where I really think I would press forward, if not for my diagnosis. I am doing the best I can to live every day, but I won't deny that feeling strong enough to make a move to re-enter my actual life has created a higher awareness that I'm not who I was six months ago.

On the upside, it appears that the chemo has not destroyed my teeth. I had a cleaning appointment last week, and while the hygienist was quick to say that my gums are still pink and swollen (no duh), I don't have any active mouth sores, she counted exactly zero cavities, and my enamel is still intact. So, there's that. At least I still have decent teeth.

I'm so grateful that I have the strength and energy to do more than I could do, even a month ago. Sure, I am frustrated that I can't do all that I want to do, but I am better (and smarter) than I was. And I have every intention of getting as much as I can out of today, and tomorrow and the next day. Rinse and repeat. Ad nauseam. Heck, maybe I'll even blog about what I've up to. (But only after I've taken a nap. So you probably shouldn't hold your breath.)

Friday, July 10, 2015

Project Chia Pet - Week 3

Don't worry that it was after 10:00 PM before I thought to take my weekly Chia Pet Selfie and the bags under my eyes tell the tale of a very tired Cancer Girl at the end of a very long week...



While I am about 72 shades of tired right now, I am still THRILLED to be able to post this week's side-by-side. Why? Because, ladies and gentlemen, my hair is now long enough to comb.

Also, I have bangs.



Sort of.

Aaaaaaaand... maybe a little bit of a beard. (Ah, the hormonal imbalances caused by chemo. It's all so very sexy.) But I like to think that the eyelashes distract from my super fuzzy peach fuzz. (And if I'm wrong, I don't want to hear about it, pleaseandthankyou.)

An open letter

Chemo,

Oh, how I hate thee.

Let me count the ways.

I hate this port. I hate it with my whole heart. I hate that I had to keep a bra on 24/7 for over five months, so the weight of the port wouldn't cause pain as it pulled against "the muscle" in my left breast. (Seriously. The pain of that damn port pulling inside my breast was enough to wake me up in the night, so I slept in an underwire bra. For months. Grrrrr.) 

I hate that I have to keep this specific picture on me at all times, so I have a handy sample of the exact (and only) hypoallergenic dressing my skin can handle. I need the fabric tape, because I have adhesive allergies that result in raised, red, angry, swollen skin if a nurse or tech tried to tape me up like they would any other patient.

Oh, to be able to go back in time before I knew what chemo would mean to me...


I can remember when it didn't make me physically sick to drive past the hospital where I had my treatments administered. I remember when any IV pole I'd ever had to walk hospital floors with was filled with pain meds and fluids to keep me hydrated. Now I know what it's like to pull poison behind me, and I hate it.


Oh my gosh... this picture.

I took this lovely selfie on Day 1 of Round III.

I look like I've been hit by a bus... and this was Day 1. I had nowhere to go but down.



Oh, yes. And how about how chemo took "dry skin" to a whole new low?

I would lather my feet with ridiculously expensive lotion every night, and then pull on socks, in the hopes that there would be enough moisture in there to keep my feet in one piece overnight.

This pic was taken in May, weeks after my last chemo treatment, when my feet were very much on the mend. On the one hand, it's too bad that I didn't get a shot of my feet when they were at their worst. That said, my heel is still pretty horrific here.


How about that pink, rosy glow?

It's been three months since my last round, and I still overheat and get a weird blush from time to time, but gone is the constant tomato-face. Thank the heavens and hallelujah.


And even now, there is this.


I have these new squiggly horizontal lines on my nails.

And to add insult to injury, as my nails have grown, I've found that those hideous little squiggles have resulted in warped nails.


My nails used to be thick, strong, almost indestructible. Now they are thin, flimsy, and warped. And short. Very, very short, because I had a nail catch on something in my purse and tear down into the quick, which was the impetus for cutting them all down as far as I could, so as to avoid further rippage.

I have lost a large portion of my independence. I have lost my energy. I have lost my hair and my eyelashes and now I have lost my fingernails.

And yet... 

You are my only treatment option.

As much as I hate you, I need you. And I am trusting that at some point, I'll meet some version of you that will change what is happening inside of me.

Friday, July 3, 2015

Project Chia Pet - Week 2

Here I am with this week's side-by-side.


I know, it's another with glasses and with not glasses (aka: contacts), so it's not an exact sameness of me (don't worry - from here on out, I'll be all contacts all the time, so you can see a more accurate comparison), but there's been a significant amount of growth in the last week.

It's getting thicker, and I'm starting to get some pokey little bangs going on.

Also, here's a side shot of my sweet sideburns. (For some reason, the darker and longer mysideburns get, the more I feel like this is an actual haircut and less of a science projdct.)


As it gets longer, it's becoming more unruly, which gives me hope that it's curly. (Fingers crossed!)

Wednesday, July 1, 2015

My poor little piggies

This is what happens when I sit at a desk at work.


For two hours.

That's absolutely ludicrous. Also, it's what's happening. (And I sit with my feet up on a trash can under the desk when I'm at work.)

Oh, geeze. Who knew that poor circulation was gonna be such a fun little after-effect of chemo?

The good news? The swelling goes down every afternoon/evening, and I get to start from scratch with feet with bones in them every morning. Woot!