Cancer, Chemo, and What I Wore

With all due apologies to Ilene Beckerman.

Yesterday I had my first chemo treatment. This all came as a bit of a surprise. The results from the surgery and pathology were great, but just as I was getting ready to set up for radiation, my oncologist called. It turns out there was a genetic marker that raised a red flag for her, so she wanted to send a sample out for more testing. The test took two weeks to get back. Thank god for my husband and his healthcare, which covered the test.  The test came back indicating that there is a double digit chance of distant recurrence in 10 years. Frankly, even small single digit percentages give me hives when you attach them to the words “distant recurrence”, so I told her “Let’s do it. I bought myself an Hermes scarf in case it came back that way.” So there you are. I specifically asked to have the chemo late in the week so any feeling yucky would happen over the weekend. But that meant that I had to wait one more week.

Now, One More Week in cancer-land is one more week of worrying and sleepless nights. I watched my father die of cancer, and I saw my mother-in-law go through hell with chemotherapy for her metastatic breast cancer. I’m normally a very happy person (yes, with an undercurrent of smug snarkiness, but I rein in most of my nasty tendencies). But let me tell you – a total of three weeks waiting to get hooked up to an IV dripping poison into my veins? Hmmm, that sucked, big time. It also sapped my sewing mojo, thus helping to explain my woeful lack of progress on the Chanel Jacket. For Wednesday, the weather people were forecasting the second coming of Snowmaggedon, which threatened to postpone it further. I’ll tell you, I have never had so many sleepless nights in my life.

Fortunately, the snowstorm failed to materialize in Boston and life went along as usual. I slept terribly the night before, and to say that I was a panic sandwich is a gross understatement. Heart racing, blood pressure about 20 points above normal (seriously), I walked into the room and got hooked up. And…
Nothing. No bad feeling, no pain, no nasty side effects. Just 6 hours of me working online, entering fabrics, answering customer emails and catching up on paperwork. That’s it? My god, how far we’ve come from my childhood “Movie of the Week” horror show about how sick people are, and how far we’ve come since my father (18 years ago) and my mother-in-law (10 years ago) were going through this.

I realize that things may change. I have three more sessions to go. Hopefully that will be enough to blast the little bugger out of me for good. Hopefully I’ll feel this way after each session. They warned me that I would probably not sleep well thanks to the steroids, but last night I slept like a log. I’m keeping my fingers crossed and keeping my spirits up.

So, What did I wear?
No pictures on me, sorry. I thought about it, but decided not to. I’ve found that the best way to face something Big and Scary is with utter fabulosity of dress. So I dug through my closet and came up with this:

 
What is better at battling Big and Scary things than Scooby Doo and Thelma (IMO the unsung heroine of the Scooby Gang), so I picked out my “We’ve Got Some Work to Do Now” tee (available from Threadless – NAYY, I just LOVE my shirt). With that I wore a belt I got last summer and my Rich and Skinny Jeans (a girl can dream, right?). Last, but not least, I wore my ponyskin mules. I’ll tell you, I was the fashion hit at the clinic. All the nurses were coming over to see the shirt and mules. I think I set the bar. Forget about cancer, now I’ll be stressing out for the next three weeks over my wardrobe choice for the next session.
While I was sitting there entering orders, DH came in with a package that had arrived at home. It was a beautiful present from my dear friend Bill! He and his partner own the Farmhouse Store in Westfield, NJ, a beautiful little boite with all sorts of treasures. If you are in the area, you must stop in! Anyway, Bill sent me this wonderful ring to cheer me up:

Is that fabulous or what? Thank you Bill! The timing was impeccable and it was a huge hit with all the nurses! And yes, every girl needs bling when she’s feeling scared.

For makeup, I went full-on warpaint. All of it: foundation, blush, full eye makeup with liner (inner and outer lids), tons of mascara and lipstick. If I’m going to kick this thing’s ass I’m going to look good doing it. I took extra time styling my hair too. Might as well while I still have a full head of it, right?

So why am I telling you all this? I assure you, I’m not looking for sympathy. Far from it. I’m telling you this in case someone who reads this is, or ends up, going through what I have been for the last two months. Getting a diagnosis of breast cancer will scare the crap out of anyone. They tell you, and then you wait, and while you wait your imagination, if it’s like mine, starts dreaming up all sorts of unpleasant scenarios. That leads to sleepless nights, anxiety and lots of tears. But the reality is nowhere near as bad as anything I could come up with. The only side effects I’ve noticed are the occasional warm flush (not hot flash, warm flush) feeling, and when I had a cup of coffee this morning I ended up running around like a chipmunk on speed. Other than that, knock on wood, it hasn’t been that bad. I was tempted to go to the gym today but I took Hoover on a nice walk instead. Tomorrow I’ll hit the gym. While it is my most fervent prayer that you never go through this yourself, if I can do it, anyone can.
So please, stay well, be healthy, if you are a woman over 40, get your annual mammogram. It could save your life. 
Oh, and I got my sewing mojo back! I’m going to do a muslin of the bodice of my Vogue dress tomorrow and hopefully get the dress sewn up to wear to my next chemo session. I’m thinking I’ll wear it with my Stuart Weitzman Sand Suede pumps. That will truly be an outfit to kick cancerous ass!
Happy sewing!

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Gorgeous Fabrics

I own an online fabric store, www.GorgeousFabrics.com. The name says it all!

2 thoughts on “Cancer, Chemo, and What I Wore”

  1. Thank you Ann. I start chemo on Monday. I haven’t had anyone who has had chemo to talk to. But my friends who haven’t had it have felt the need to tell me how horrible it will be, they must have watched those same movies. I hope my results will be as good as yours.

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