Tuesday, April 28, 2009

The Little Engine That Could

It's Monday again and I go in to Tower for round 5 of chemo. First up is my weekly fight with the scale. I've gained 2 pounds. Again. Fuck. Anne takes my blood and returns with mostly good news. My counts are holding up for the most part. My hemoglobin is low which explains why I'm so tired and why I've been getting daily nose bleeds. We talk about how I've been feeling and I tell her that other than my nose bleeds and some pain in my feet, I'm still feeling pretty good. I tell her that I've been having hot flashes at night and that Dr. Ottavi thinks it could be chemo induced menopause. I'm freaked out and ask her if I should be taking Lupron, a drug that shuts down the ovaries and is thought to protect them from chemo (there's no guarantee). She says I should discuss it with Angela and Dr. McAndrew. I'm given the green light for treatment and the drip begins.

Angela comes to see how I'm doing and tells me, again, how impressed she is with me and how well I'm doing. She tells me again, that I'm a complete mystery and she can't believe how good I look. "Doesn't she look amazing?" she asks Nitasha who is sitting with me. But of course. I ask her if I'm going to lose my hair. It's still growing and getting thicker and longer. She tells me that if it were anyone else but me, she'd say yes, but since it's me, she has no idea. I also ask her whether I should be taking Lupron and if she can ask Dr. McAndrew whether she thinks that Zometa is something I should consider. One of my triple-negative-breast-cancer-while-pregnant friends brought it to my attention after watching Dr. Funk discuss a new study in which women who took Zometa had a much lower recurrence rate (36%!). Zometa is currently used to treat bone cancer (and I think a slightly different form of it is used to prevent osteoporosis in post menopausal women). My friend's oncologist at UCLA believes that she should take it so I'm curious to see what Dr. McAndrew thinks. Angela (and Anne) are curious to know what Dr. McAndrew says but both say that it's probably a good drug for me to take and Angela says I can get my first injection of Lupron today. I tell her that I'm going to meet with a fertility doctor first and will see what he thinks before taking the drug.

I feel so torn about taking both drugs. Lupron may (not for sure) make me a crazy person with mood swings, depression, hot flashes, dryness etc. (it totally shuts down ovarian function and we really need estrogen to be normal). I'm already suffering from most the of the side effects but am afraid of severe mood swings. Mostly I'm afraid Boris might file for divorce if I become any bitchier. Even if it's not my fault. And although the initial research on Zometa is good, it's so new, that really, who knows? We don't know all of the upsides or all of the downsides. One of the few known side effects is necrosis of the jaw but it appears that those who suffer from it are either really old or people who have had major dental surgery that didn't heal (and I thankfully don't fall into either category). I'd have to take Zometa for 3 years which means that if I am able to have more children, I'd have to wait 3 years instead of 2 to try to have more (I have to wait 2 years because all of the studies show that women who become pregnant within 2 years of having breast cancer die twice as often as those who don't and triple negative tumors recur most often within the first 2 years.). Plus, the longer I keep my ovaries, the higher my risk of ovarian cancer. Also, Zometa stays in the body for ten years and no one knows what having it in your body while you're pregnant does to a fetus. I don't know how to make these decisions. Part of me thinks that I have to take anything that improves my chances of living, but I really want more kids and would like to worry about normal things during my next pregnancy instead of whether I'm subjecting my little one to something that will do horrible things to her (if I can have a third I'm having a girl and yes, I do have control over it.). Been there. Done that.

My infusion is uneventful. I go home three hours after it begins. Even though I had called my nanny to let her know I was on my way home, when I arrive, there are no children present. And dinner isn't ready for Miles. And there's no bottle for Baron. I'm pissed. I start making dinner and bottles and a short while later my nanny, mom and boys arrive. I'm not sure what I was thinking or who I think I am, but because I wanted time alone with the boys and because I'm so angry that everyone else is enjoying my kids while I'm cooking and cleaning I tell my mom I don't need any help and she leaves. I hold Baron while I feed Miles dinner and and wear him in a sling while bathing Miles. He falls asleep and I lay him in his crib while I start reading to Miles and giving his his milk. Baron wakes up screaming and wanting to eat. I bring him into Miles' room and the 3 of us sit on Miles' chair listening to music. Soon Baron starts screaming again. After a few minutes Miles turns to me and says "papa?" I tell him that papa is at work. "Sara?" he asks. I tell him that Sara went home but realize that he's asking me to get some goddamn help so he can have some peace and quiet before he goes to bed. I call my mom but she doesn't answer. I call my brother and ask him how quickly he can get to my house. 3 minutes later peace is restored. Seth gives Baron his first bottle with formula. Baron is an eating machine and has devoured our breast milk supply much faster than expected. I knew this day was coming, but still feel so guilty. Thankfully, he didn't mind at all (same with Miles who was happy as long as something was coming out of the bottle) and had no tummy issues whatsoever.

Two days later I meet with Dr. Jain, a fertility specialist. I have to fill out a lengthy questionnaire that's totally irrelevant to my situation. It's pages and pages of questions about my period and whether I've taken hormones, how many pregnancies and miscarriages I've had, how long it took me to get pregnant, my exercise habits. I barely fill the questionnaire out. When asked how long it took me to get pregnant I write "5 minutes," and then write "I am on chemotherapy and want to preserve my fertility and ability to have more children should I choose to." Dr. Jain meets me in the waiting room. He's young and handsome and very friendly. "You made me laugh," he says. "I've never had anyone write '5 minutes' before." Glad I provide some entertainment. I unleash a zillion questions on him regarding Lupron and chemotherapy and Zometa and testing eggs for the BRCA1 gene. I inform him that if I can get pregnant again, I am having a girl who does not carry the gene (and love that in the fertility world sex selection is euphamistically called "gender balancing."). He's very knowledgeable and honest about what's possible, what's unknown, possible risks. He says that while in vitro is an option for me because my tumor was hormone negative, the safest route will be a surrogate. He also says that when I'm ready to try to get pregnant again, we will have more information regarding testing eggs for the BRCA1 gene because advancements in this field are so rapid. He tells me that I need to have my hormone levels tested to know whether he can harvest eggs. If my ovaries haven't been "shocked" into menopause, he can determine the right time to harvest eggs with Dr. McAndrew. At the moment Boris swears he doesn't want more kids, but he's sleep deprived and stressed. Soon Baron will sleep through the night and I won't be in treatment and I want to keep our options open. I'll have my hormone levels tested next Monday at Tower.

Anne leaves me a message early Monday morning. She says that my kidney function is off a bit and that I need to come in early for hydration. I call Anne back and ask what she's talking about and if I need to be afraid. Apparently my kidneys are slightly toxic and the hydration will help flush them out. She says not to be afraid, but that I want to get the toxicity level down. When I got the call, I was tending to my newly planted vegetable garden (compliments of my aunt who has the most lovely and amazing garden) while Baron was asleep. I had planned on spending the morning with Baron, having lunch with Miles and then going to Tower. I stop watering my tiny cauliflower and budding tomatoes and run to the park so I can have a few minutes with Miles since lunch is out. Ironically, Miles found a watering can and spent our 30 minutes together watering the plants at the park. Miles would pour water onto the base of a tree, inform me that "Miles is watering tree," and then say "Fernando," who is our gardener. I kiss Miles, race home to shower and snuggle Baron and then head to Tower.

Before Anne starts me on hydration, I get weighed. I've lost 4 pounds and could cry I'm so happy. By the time Ali, my chemo date arrives, I'm already woozy from the drugs and I tell her repeatedly that I've lost 4 pounds. She laughs. My infusion goes quickly and I'm home much faster than I expected. I'm exhausted and feeling shitty. I feed Miles dinner and want to cry as he tosses his food on to the floor because he "no want it the pasta." I tell him that mommy isn't feeling well and I need him to cooperate. He doesn't care. Before I lose it, I remove him from his high chair and take him into the bathroom for his bath. But before I can close the bathroom door, he sprints out of the bathroom laughing and screaming and before I can catch him he rubs marina sauce all over my white couch. He's laughing and pointing to the red blotches yelling "red! red!" I'm trying to block him from rubbing his face into the couch again and he leans all of his weight on me as I'm letting go of his arm. He tumbles to the floor, starts crying and looks up at me and says "Miles hurt. Miles sad." I die. It takes forever to get him to sleep because at bedtime he now tells me that he needs to "poo poo on the potty," (which he almost never does), and he goes through each body part and tells me that it hurts or that his monkey blanket needs water or milk and a zillion other things that would prolong going to bed.

I leave Miles' room and collapse on the couch. When I get up to make myself dinner, I notice that there's a ton of hair on the couch. Fucking great. Although I'm hoping it will just thin, I know better. I spend the next few days noticing hair on everything I get near. The sink, my pillow, my clothes, our computer. It's so sad. I knew it would probably happen and I know it's coming back, but it's still incredibly depressing. And anyone who tells me that it's the least of my worries or it's not a big deal because I know it's going to come back quickly can fuck off. Actually, I'd like them to pour something on their head that causes their hair to slowly fall out all over the place until they look like a mangy dog. Then shave their hair off. Then have it grow back until it finally looks fairly normal even though they'd never have short hair. Then repeat the process. Then we can talk.

The night before round 7 as I'm putting Miles to bed he tells me "Miles want it the park. Go to park." I tell him that we'll go the park in the morning. He wakes up, we have breakfast and I'm feeling incredibly tired. When our nanny arrives, I tell Miles that he gets to go the park with her. "No want it," he says. "No want it the park with Sara. Park with mommy." He's so delicious that I can't resist. Off to the park I go. We spend an hour together and then I rush home so I can get to Tower on time. Shortly before I leave, Dr. Jain calls me to discus my hormone levels. I was tested at Tower the week before and had the results sent to him. My ovaries have shut down. He tells me that the normal "FSH" level is between .8-11 and mine is a 79. My estrogen is low (which explains some of the lovely side effects I'm suffering from like hot flashes every 5 minutes) so I'm not producing eggs. "That means there's nothing we can do about harvesting eggs at this time," he explains. "We will have to see if your ovarian function returns after you stop chemo." Fuck. I'm so sad. I want more babies and it's so goddamn rude that I'm 34 (for a few more days) and in menopause. The whole thing is rude. Cancer. Menopause. Being bald. And fat. Rude. Rude. Rude. Rude.

I learn that I've gained 3 of the 4 pounds I lost last week back. Fuuuuuccccckkkkk. Anne takes my blood and the results aren't good. My counts are low, especially my neutrophil. Before she can treat me I need to see Dr. McAndrew. I'm taken to a room right away. Dr. McAndrew looks at my counts and explains that this is the lowest level that they can treat me at. She gives the green light for today's treatment but tells me I'm going to have to get "the shot" I've heard so much about. It's a bone marrow stimulant that in addition to causing bone marrow to produce more white blood cells, is supposed to be excruciating. One of the first things my cancer friends asked me was if I had ever gotten "the shot" and complained that it was worse than chemo itself. Oddly, Claritin is supposed to help. I buy some right away and know that the next few days may suck big time. If my counts don't go up, I won't get treatment next week. I take the opportunity to tell Dr. McAndrew about my meeting and subsequent conversation with Dr. Jain and tell her that I'm really upset that no one suggested I take Lupron before I started this cycle of chemo. "I might have had a chance of protecting my ovaries," I tell her. She explains that because I was pregnant, there was no way to get a baseline for my normal hormone level prior to starting chemo so there was no way for her to know what to do with me. She also reminds me that there is no guarantee that Lupron protects the ovaries and she confidently states that she's never seen a woman my age not have her ovarian function return within 6 months to 1 year of stopping chemo. That's a relief. I sure hope I'm not some rarity and become her first patient to buck the trend.

We also discuss whether I should take Zometa. Dr. McAndrew believes that for me, the benefits outweigh the risks. I can't start it this week because my counts are too low and most women get a fever the night of the infusion and the risk of me getting an infection are too high. If my counts go up over the week, I'll start Zometa at my next infusion. And I'll hope that some brave women ahead of me get pregnant and that we have more research and information over the next 2-3 years. I have a lot of hoping going on.

With the green light from Dr. McAndrew, my infusion begins. Without telling me, Anne pushes the Benadryl through much faster than usual and I feel like I'm on mushrooms. Seriously. I'm not hallucinating, but same feeling. I tell my date, Debbie. She looks at me blankly and then starts laughing. I raise my eyebrows and ask her what's so funny. "I have no idea what you're saying," she chuckles. "You are incoherent and slurring all of your words. And it's hilarious. And I hope you're enjoying it." I think I'm speaking perfect English. So funny. And so sad that my first drug experience since high school is in a treatment center of an oncology office (I am not counting me and Boris' few days in Amsterdam on our way to Africa for our safari during which we bought a bag of weed that we ended up giving 90% of away because we couldn't finish it. Not to mention that neither one of us knows how to roll a joint since someone else always did it for us and it took Boris like 45 minutes to roll one joint so badly nothing came out when you tried to inhale).

I go home in my stupor and rake leaves outside with Miles. It's his new favorite activity. Of course since I'm kindof fucked up, he wants to be held and then instructs me to run and dance. "Mommy pick up Miles. Dance mama, dance! Run with Miles, mommy, running! Running!" Oy vey. I don't know if it was all of the dancing and running with a 28 pound child, but around bedtime I'm incredibly achy. I ask Boris if he thinks it could be psychosomatic since I'm anticipating agonizing bone pain tomorrow when I get "the shot." He laughs. I don't. I'm so uncomfortable that I can't sleep at all. I just toss and turn and toss and turn. Around 2am, I get up to take a Tylenol and my temperature. The thermometer reads 98.6. The thermometer however, sucks, and is never accurate. According to it, I usually have the temperature of a dead person. Before I started chemo 9 months ago, I told Boris we needed to buy some thermometers since I would need to closely monitor my temperature during treatment and the only thermometer we own had been in Miles' tush. Boris wanted to know why we needed a new thermometer since we had washed the one we had post Miles' tush. I was (I think not surprisingly) horrified and totally grossed out, but thought Boris was hilarious. I promptly went to the drugstore and bought several disposable thermometers. We've since added a high tech electronic under the arm thermometer (which also doesn't work) and 2 mercury thermometers (1 of which works but takes an insanely long time). So...given my usually dead status, 98.6 concerns me a little. I try to sleep. Again. No luck. I think I pass out around 6am for a few hours.

Even though I am exhausted and feeling like death, it's Wednesday and I always take Miles to the park on Wednesdays. Why should today be different? Um, because I'm on chemo and feel awful? But, I go anyway. With surgery coming up which will make the park an impossibility for several weeks and the very real possibility that my cancer could come back or kill me in a few years, I want to spend every minute with my kids that I can. However, I wish I hadn't because I'm achy and hurt everywhere and running around after Miles is brutal. I decide to go home a little early so that I can get to Tower for my shot and an accurate temperature reading. It's 101. Shit. I had been warned that anything over 99 could be grounds for hospitalization and the nurse tells me she has to go speak to Dr. McAndrew to find out what to do with me. Thankfully, I don't have to go to the hospital. I'm prescribed antibiotics (that cost over $100 for 7 pills) and am still given the green light for the shot. It hurts. A lot. I pop a Claritin before leaving to go home. I decide to have Baron sleep at my parents' house so that I can get some rest. Although I know I didn't choose this situation, I feel like the worst mom ever. I would have never been away from Miles for a whole night when he was 2 months old. I just feel guilty all the time. When I'm with Miles I feel guilty that I'm not with Baron and when I'm with Baron I feel bad that I'm not with Miles. And honestly, I think it's a miracle that second children learn to walk and talk and know who their parents are because they (or at least mine) spend so much time with other people and get a fraction of the attention that the first child gets. Although she disagrees, Baron might spend more time with my mom then he does with me. He still seems to like me best though. Phew.

I get a great night's sleep and feel a lot less achy in the morning. I think it's a good sign that my fever has gone away. And I don't have horrific bone pain...yet. A plus. I stay home with Baron all morning and take it easy. I go in to Tower in the afternoon for my shot. I have no fever. But the nurse tells me that Dr. McAndrew wants me to come in the following day to have my blood drawn and possibly have another shot. Ugh. I go the following day and my counts have doubled. Sadly, that means they're still incredibly low, but it means I'm doing better. And I don't need a third shot which is great. Although I haven't experienced the bone pain everyone warned me about, I feel like I'm 80 and my bones are jelly. My bones go back to normal by the end of the weekend. Just in time for Monday.

Round 8 starts off well. I've lost 2 pounds (the same 2 pounds I've been gaining and losing for the past 2 months) and my counts are relatively normal for someone who has had chemotherapy for 6.5 months. That means they're low, but I'm treatable. Dr. McAndrew has also ordered my first round of Zometa. Anne tells me that I may run a fever tonight but it shouldn't last more than 24 hours. I may feel other flu-like symptoms like achiness. That however is a major understatement. Although my treatment itself is uneventful, I feel like death by the time I get home. I am so achy I can barely move and I'm sure I have a fever. I would amputate my feet if I could they itch so badly. My never accurate, piece of shit thermometer says my temperature is 101.7, so I'm pretty nervous. That probably means I'm really running a fever closer to 103. Shit. I send Baron to my parents' house so I can sleep. Again. Worst mom ever?

I have to go to Tower the next 2 days for "the shot." Again. On day 2 I run into Darcy who has finished chemo and is feeling so much better. The best part is that she had her scans and they're all clear. I want to cry I'm so happy for her but am also so sad because it's my understanding that it's a virtual certainty that her cancer will return. For now, she gets to act like a normal 21 year old and is traveling for the summer. As lame as it sounds, I tell her that I'm so proud of her and that she's survived more than most people will in their whole lives.

To add to my sadness, my hair is now falling out at a frightening pace. I'm shedding everywhere and the worst part is that it looks like male pattern baldness. I have so much hair except for the very front. It's too crazy to wear out in public so I decide it's time to shave it off. Of course Boris' electric razor breaks so Boris and I sit in the shower for over an hour with a scissors and disposable razor and I emerge bald, bald, bald. I made it through 2 of my 3 months of chemo with hair. So rude that it fell out at the very end. But then again, it's all fucking rude. That night as I put Miles to bed he pats my head and says "Mama's head. Shiny."

When I wake up in the morning I'm still super achy from the shot. Then to make things worse I throw my back out the following day as I take Miles to the first day of a new toddler group. He's the youngest by a lot but he has so much fun. Me...not so much. I have to schmooze and act "normal" and am in my scarf and watching Miles makes me sad. He's growing up. So many of the toddlers who were much older than him clung to their parents or dragged their mom around to each activity they were interested in. Miles never looked back at me once. He was off and running and busy and cried when it was time to leave. I'm not sure what that says about his attachment to me, but people keep telling me it's a really good thing. When we get home, I tell Miles that I need his help and cooperation because I hurt my back. He tells me repeatedly that "Miles' back hurts." Instead of taking a bath that night, Miles and I shower together. He's so tender it kills me. He just wants to hug. Then he washes my face. He points to my nose and I keep saying "yes, that's mommy's nose," but then I realize I'm bleeding. When it's time to get dressed for bed, instead of running around the room like madman, he lays down on the floor, lifts his legs up and says "Miles easy." Usually, when he is acting like a madman and I'm struggling to put his diaper on, I tell him we can do things the hard way or the easy way, it's up to him. The hard way involves me pinning him down to the floor which initially he finds hilarious but ultimately ends up hating. I nearly fall down trying to lift Miles into his crib my back hurts so badly. I'm totally hunched over by the time I leave his room. And I stay hunched over for almost a week. Chemo is really good at making the healing process take way longer than it should.

During one of my back related forced park vacations, Katie 1 comes to visit. Baron is at my parents and we have the house to ourselves. She's just had her final implants put in and I'm eager to see what she looks like. She looks great. Just fake. But I've realized that there is no way to make implants look natural when you have no breast tissue (or I guess even when you do). I must have looked really sad because Katie says "Sharon, you are not having cosmetic surgery. You are having a double mastectomy. Your goal is to look normal in clothes. You have to remember that. It's a perk (no pun intended) if you look good naked. And you will...but that's not the goal. You have to remember what you're doing." We cry over how tragic it is to lose your breasts and she tells me how much she misses hers and how much she loved them. "I never thought about losing my breasts," she said. "And everything happened so fast that I never really had a chance to say goodbye. I was told I had cancer in both breasts and within a week they were gone." We cry over all the things we took for granted, like having your nipples get hard when the wind blows. She also tells me how being "done" with treatment is much harder than being in treatment. As amazing as her friends and family are, everyone keeps congratulating her on being done not understanding that you're never done. "It's like you're in a hole for over a year and the really hard part is getting out. Cancer does so much more to you than you realize or could imagine. It takes your body, your confidence, your happiness and you have to work really hard to find yourself again," she says. I just worship her and feel so lucky to have found her.

And on that happy note, she congratulates me on being 2/3 of the way done with chemo. One month to go. One month to go. I think I can I think can.

P.S. After reading this posting, Boris lamented that it sounds like he's not around helping. I could write a book on how helpful Boris is and how much he does (like feeding Baron in the middle of the night every night so that I can sleep and then gets up and goes to work). He also cooks, cleans (sort of), takes 1 day of work off a week to be with me and the babies (since we don't have a nanny every day) and continues to love me in my tired, itchy, bald, often bitchy state.

Monday, April 27, 2009

More Things I've Learned From Cancer

I am not as Vain as I Thought.

I am not as vain as I thought, or perhaps I'm just delusional about what I look like. My entire head is now covered in hair. I don't think I look sick anymore. Weird in a pregnant-military-chick sort of way, but not sick. Before I finished cycle 1 of chemo, I informed Boris that I was going to buy makeup and start wearing it when my hair grew back in. "And I want to wear nice clothes every day. No sweats or anything." Not a fan of makeup or dressing up (and I rarely do either), Boris wanted to know why. "Because there's a fine line between having short hair and looking fashionable and chic, and looking butch," I told him. Let me be clear that I have no issue with women decorating themselves however they choose - but butch is not a look I'm interested in.

But now that I have my covering of hair, looking fashionable and chic while 9 months pregnant and lugging a 27 pound toddler to the park is not really a priority. I'm content to leave the house in sweats without makeup. I'm just glad I can leave the house quickly without worrying about whether my scalp will get sunburned, without tying a scarf or putting on a wig. In fact I haven't worn my wig in a few weeks and have been going everywhere with my newly sprouted hair. It's actually quite thick (not surprising given the amount of hair I had pre-cancer, but you never know) and I'm overjoyed. Overjoyed may be a bit of an overstatement since I'd be much more joyful if I had my long curly hair back, but given the alternative that I've been living with, I'll take it.

When I go out, I think I make people far more uncomfortable than I feel. When my hair was more sparse (and yes, I still went out sans head coverings), people would stare or try to be discreet (you know when someone turns around pretending to look at something else but you know they're really looking at you), but I'd just smile or wave and they'd nervously smile back and turn around quickly. I recently had lunch with a pregnant with cancer friend who had completed treatment and was getting ready to go back to work. Her hair had just started to grow back in and was still pretty sparse. She told me that she really wants to go to work without a wig or scarf but was concerned about upsetting her co-workers. "My goodness," I said. "That is so nice of you. I wouldn't give a shit if I made anyone else feel uncomfortable. I only care about whether I'd feel uncomfortable or not!" But now that my hair is thick, I don't feel uncomfortable at all and most of the stares have stopped.

People Like Talking About Hair.

My new do elicits a lot of unsolicited conversations. They're mostly friendly and encouraging and it's pretty fascinating. A mom I see often at the park told me she didn't recognize me with my "new haircut." I'm not sure who chooses this haircut, but it was nice that she didn't think my hair screamed cancer. Another woman who I was sitting next to at dinner turned to me to tell me that her daughter cut off 10 inches of her hair to donate to Locks of Love and now has the same haircut as me. I smiled and told her to thank her daughter for being so fearless and generous. Then I told her that this wasn't a haircut, but rather that I lost my hair during chemo and it's just growing back. "Well," she said. Then silence. Then "you look beautiful." But of course. During a particularly rainy day, an older woman stopped me on the street and told me that I needed a hat to stay warm. And at my most recent blood draw at Tower, I was approached by a cancer patient who ran (really, she ran) up to me to tell me how fantastic my hair looked and how she couldn't wait until her hair was as long as mine. "I just had to talk to you," she said. "You are awesome and you are going to beat this. I know it." I immediately welled up with tears and said "I hope you're right." "I am right," she swore. I hope I hope I hope.


Never in my whole 34 year old life have I been told so often that I look great. Someone tells me on a daily basis. I'm not sure if I looked like hell before cancer or if people are just expecting me to look like death and are pleasantly surprised that I don't, but the compliments are never ending (not complaining!). A few months ago I was having a pilates lesson and was in my workout clothes (with my belly hanging out) and a scarf. A woman with short hair walked in, looked at me and said "you are beautiful." It turns out that she is a cancer survivor and must have known what was, or rather what wasn't, under the scarf. Now that I'm strutting around town with my buzzcut I get even more compliments. One woman recently told me that she would look terrible with such short hair but I'm "so pretty" with "such striking features," that I can pull it off. Puh-lease! Not to be self-denigrating or anything but give me a fucking break. I appreciate the compliment and all - but as I've said before, I am no supermodel. And no one who is accustomed to long locks thinks they'd look great with a semi-bald do and quite honestly, would look better with more hair. Myself included. I do appreciate that people routinely tell me I'm a bad ass for going out looking the way I do and Boris repeatedly tells me how proud he is that I'm so comfortable with the way I look.


I often catch a glimpse of myself in a mirror or window and sometimes stop and pause. "Who the hell is that?" I often wonder. I am unrecognizable to myself. In the few dreams I've had recently that I can remember, I look like my old self. I have tons of hair and clear skin and am wearing normal clothes. I know the maternity clothes part will end soon - but the rest...not so much. Even though I've endured 6 rounds of chemo and am gearing up for more treatment, I still can't believe this is happening to me. I've asked my chemo dates if they can believe this is happening, because I can't. Even bald and hooked up to an i.v. I just scheduled all of my post-pregnancy scans and as I was setting up appointment after appointment I turned to the receptionist and said that I was still in shock that the appointments were for me. Sometimes as Boris and I are getting ready for bed and I'm slathering my body in Aquaphor, I'll turn to him and ask if he can believe I have cancer. He can't. I have cancer. Me neither. I have cancer. I think. I guess the cancer has been removed. We hope. We don't know for sure and won't until I have my scans. So I don't know if I have cancer, am battling cancer, am a survivor? How surreal?

The C-Bomb Works.

I'm shameless. I know. But sometimes a girl's gotta do what a girl's gotta do. If Pizzeria Mozza is booked, I just tell them I'm pregnant with cancer and voila - they're not booked anymore. I just purchased a new couch and when the clerk informed me I wouldn't get it before Miracle Warrior arrived, I told him that I had cancer and really needed the couch as soon as humanly possibly. I had it 4 days later. If I'm going to go through this shit - I'm going to milk it for all I can.

I No Longer Care Who Knows I have Cancer.

When I was initially diagnosed I only wanted to discuss cancer with a select few. The marines of my life if you will. Now, not so much. If anyone comments on my hair (or sadly, now, my lack thereof) I blurt out that I have cancer or am being treated for cancer. If people comment on Baron's name ("it's so unusual!") I tell them it means warrior and he and I went through chemo together. I shock people all the time and really, truly don't care.