Part 6 – A Look Back on my Cancer Journey – Flights, Hikes, and Hair Loss.

Cancer port

(Adapted from journal entries and family email updates from May 13 – 18, 2006. I flew to Boise to drive back to Colorado with our daughter, Tess, who had just finished her Freshman year.)

Saturday, May 13, 2006

Hello again. Happy Mother’s Day to all you moms out there. Hope your day is very special. We’re planning on church in the morning, a hike in the afternoon and something on the grill for dinner.

It’s been a crazy week of travel and I’m happy to be back home. My flights to Boise went smoothly and I had a lot of airport time to read and walk.  Tess and I left Wednesday morning around 7:30 am, after airing up the tires and filling “Cindy the Civic’s” tank. Even with all the stops (every 2-3 hours), we got home in a little over 12 hours with Tess behind the wheel the whole way. I think our average speed through Wyoming was at least 90 mph. I just rode shotgun, kept her awake, and prayed for safety and no tickets.

My mouth sores continued to worsen this week, but got better after Wednesday. I was given a prescription for a mouth rinse that coats and numbs the mouth but an aloe gel seems to be more soothing and less gagging. Keeping Neosporin gel on my lips and in my nose is a must to prevent cracking and bleeding. The body maintenance these days is time-consuming. I can barely leave the house without an emergency kit of various preparations. Tim says I’m a noisier breather at night now and if I didn’t have cancer, he’d smack me like I smack him when he makes noises that wake me up. Guess we’re about even now.

Aspen is getting 2-a-day workouts now with Tess running her and me hiking or walking with her. She’s a content, fit pooch.

I’ve now completed 8 radiation treatments and have (ugh) 20 to go. Tootie is definitely getting nuked, making me dread trips to the bathroom. I have a numbing gel to help ease the discomfort. “A numb bum is a happy bum“ will be my motto. Ordered a donut pillow online today with a discreet zip-off cover. No one will know if I have spine, tailbone, hemorrhoid, or just-had-a baby issues. Yippee.

On that cheery note, have a great rest-of-the weekend!

Love, mj

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Tuesday, May 16, 2006

Tootie’s a pain in the a—

Just when I thought I was kind of rebounding…my blood lab tests on Monday came back compromised. My white count is down quite a bit (600 from 1500) and the platelets are also down. This is a typical delayed onset of chemo and means it’s time to limit crowds, avoid anyone with a cold or infection and be careful of cuts and bruises as I won’t clot normally. Low platelets and Coumadin are like a double whammy. I need to report any sign of fever so got the thermometer out. I guess hot flashes don’t count. =) In typical compliance <wink>, I went for a 70 minute hike with (aunt) Joan yesterday and then to a church gathering in the evening. This morning, I joined some running buddies for a walk in Garden of the Gods at 6 am. Yes, I plan to take a power nap — or several today — to rest up. On Wednesday, they will draw blood again to check the counts. Gee, ya think draining all that blood might have something to do with my counts???? 

Today will be Nuke #10. When I hit 14, that will be a mile marker, halfway through 28 TOTAL radiation treatments. Also, Round 2 of Chemo is scheduled for May 30-June 3. That’s two weeks from today and I’m already dreading hauling around my “FU Bag” of poison and the accompanying nausea, etc. Bleah.

Again, thanks for all your wonderful cards and emails. I feel like I have an entourage of supporters lifting me up on a daily basis. Be thankful for every painless poop you take, okay?

Love, mj

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Thursday, May 18, 2006

So much for thinking the hair on my head was safe. The last few days I’ve had gobs of hair coming out when I comb, wash or just run my fingers through my locks. It’s apparently related to the Mitomycin they gave me May 1. Although most of the articles I read online said this drug was in the “unlikely to cause hair loss” category, it was mentioned on the drug sheet they gave me as a possible side effect. Since this particular drug won’t be repeated in my next round of chemo, I should get new growth in about 6 weeks. Also, NOTHING will stop it from falling out, so don’t even try to find me remedies, products, supplements, etc. Apparently, they used to use some type of ice cap and it just gave patients headaches and prolonged the inevitable hair loss. My scalp is tender, itches and it hurts when the wind blows my hair even slightly. I plan to look at wigs tomorrow with Tess and have Dylan give me a shorter cut if it doesn’t hit the floor while he’s trying. If it just thins, I may get by with a hat or something. The scarf/bandanna things I’ve seen either look like you live in a nursing home or are a contestant on Survivor

I’m going to try send a cell phone camera picture of me getting lab work done through my port since it’s a weird concept that’s hard to picture.

Until the next update,

mj

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