Cancer, Chemo and What I Wore Part 4

Thank you, Charles M. Schulz

Stick a fork in me, I’m DONE!!!!!!

Yes, today was my fourth and final chemo session. I never thought I would be excited to go to chemo, which tells you how surreal this whole experience has been. Get yourself a cup of coffee or a glass of wine (Raise one for me, will you? I’m still off booze for 3 weeks), this is going to be a long one…

First thing, of course, is what I wore. I finished hemming my Vogue 1089 at 8:00 this morning (my appointment was at 9:15). Here I am in it, avec pink wig and a pair of pink stiletto mules by Andrea Pfister. I wasn’t able to find any new shoes I liked before my last session, so I went with these. They are nice shoes, but they are several years old, and they have been my go-to date night shoes in the spring and summer since I bought them. Date night around here usually means going into Boston. Going into Boston means walking on (and frequently falling in between) cobblestones, so the heels are more beat than I like, hence no closeups. For jewelry, I wore a necklace my husband gave me for our 15th anniversary.

Full makeup, and leg makeup (no stockings today).

I’ll do a review on it later, but let me just say, this fabric was an absolute JOY to sew. It has a wonderful hand and it’s just beautiful. It has a lot of stretch too, so you may want to go down in size a bit when working with this or its sister fabric. Like I say, more later.

Of course, for the first time ever, traffic was terrible, so I was late, but I called to let them know. When I got there, my doctor took me right in, did the usual workup and then brought me into the chemo room. Everyone was running in to see my wig and outfit, and all the patients were asking me where I got the wig. It really does bring a smile to everyone’s face, including mine. Hookup and drip per usual, no problems. DH took a picture of me working entering orders.

 Have you ever seen anyone look so happy at chemotherapy?

I brought my Hermes scarf and hung it on the IV pole like a knight’s battle standard. The staff was laughing every time they walked by. I also brought a huge box of Godiva chocolates for the staff. I think I got fave rave patient of the day. Everything was uneventful. In fact, I was finished about an hour before I expected. YAY!!!! Big shout out to Winchester Hospital’s staff and the Medical Oncology staff at Montvale in Stoneham. As I said to them, “You guys made a sucky experience a whole lot less sucky.” We were all giving each other hugs and kisses and high fives as I left. Here’s hoping we blasted the little bastard into oblivion.

Some Thoughts and Helpful Hints (I hope)
It is my most fervent hope that none of my readers ever have to go through this, but if the unthinkable happens to you, there are a few things to keep in mind. I’ll keep it on the light side:

The bad things about Chemotherapy
Well, the whole Cancer thing kind of really sucks
Your hair falls out. Adding insult to injury, in my case, only the non-gray fell out!
You keep asking, WTF? Like when they tell you
“You need to use barrier contraception while you’re on chemo.” (uh, what???)
“No salads, berries or raw food that can’t be thoroughly washed and peeled”
“You shouldn’t have manicures or pedicures” (that’s a no-go in my world, sorry)

The good things about Chemotherapy – Believe it or not, there are some
Showers/morning prep take a lot less time.
You save a lot of money on razor blades.
You don’t need to worry about bikini waxing.
Makeup application becomes easier – no worries about blending to the hairline.
You can change your hairstyle/color every day if you want.

A couple of things to keep in mind also to help you out if you do have to go through this. First, never feel like you’re being a bother if you have questions. The doctors and nurses are there to help you. They want you to get better.  They want you to have the information you need to make an informed decision.

Second, try to find the humor and joy in these situations. It’s there, and it will get you through the tough time. Silly things like pink wigs, “giving the big fangou to the big C”, adopting songs like “It Sucks to be Me” as your theme song… things like that take the edge off, both for you and for those around you.

Third, allow yourself some self-pity. My friend Marilyn, who is coming up on her 6th anniversary, told me, “Give yourself 20 minutes a day or when you feel you need it. Then dust yourself off and get back to living.” I found that spin class is a great time to indulge in a self-pity party. The lights are down low, and everyone is sweating so if you’re crying it just looks like you’re sweating heavily. Don’t sob though. That’s a dead giveaway.

Finally, lean on those around you. Larry, my husband, has been my rock and a godsend through this whole thing. My kids, family, neighbors and friends have all rallied around. Even getting little notes and emails from folks has been so helpful keeping my spirits up.  I couldn’t do it without them (and you!). Take the help and support they offer. Of course, every time someone says, “Let me know what I can do to help.” I say, “Well, my basement needs cleaning.” The basement still needs cleaning. Sigh…

About Those Damned Pink Ribbons
I think if you ask any breast cancer patient, the vast majority will tell you the same thing. Forget the Pink Ribbon. Wear one if it makes you feel better, but buying something that has a pink ribbon on it? Don’t bother. The amount of funds those things actually send to charities that need it is minuscule. And if you read the fine print, most of them say that they are sending a percentage to the charity after expenses, overhead, royalties and whatever are taken out. People slap pink ribbons on items for marketing purposes. I’m all for marketing services and products. But if you really want to make a difference, don’t buy something because it has a pink ribbon on it. Write a check, large or small, to the breast cancer charity of your choice. They’ll put that money directly to good use. All of it. And they won’t have to wait the better part of a year, if ever, to get the moneys from the company. And besides, by sending a check directly to the charity, YOU get to take the tax deduction, not some fatcat.

Parting Shot: Freedom!!!!!
How I really feel today

Happy sewing!

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Gorgeous Fabrics

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

3 thoughts on “Cancer, Chemo and What I Wore Part 4”

  1. I just happen to open this page and I was thrilled to see your comments on going through 4 chemo treatments with such a good attitude and great outfits, makeup and fantastic shoes. I am a nurse in womens health unit and I wish I could have you write a book to give to every women who comes into the clinic. Some come in with their oldest outfit on and they are depressed even before things get started. You know people do not realize that you never get a second chance to make a first impression. If I could help these gals in some way, I would. We all try to keep positive and help them get through this difficult time. I thank you for this blog and I will refer others to this to read. It is so uplifting. I just went through this big C event with my friend and I paid for her to have a wig consultation and a pedicure. Her husband was mad, I think he thought I was making light of the seriousness of her cancer. Now she is one year clear. I pray both you and she continue to remain in good health…… stay happy and beautiful for all to see.

    1. Thank you so much, Karin! And thank you for the work you do. You and other nurses who help cancer patients are truly angels on earth.

  2. ‘Humour & joy’ that pretty much how I lived through a week on IV blood thinners, warding off a stroke & subsequent angiogram, after a sports injury.
    My husband was convinced the neurosurgeon marked me ‘permanently cognitively impaired’ as a result of my humour BUT it kept me amused & sane… and I was the bright spark on a very quiet & eerie neurology Ward.
    Stay strong. Cry a little, laugh a lot.

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