Monday, October 16, 2006


Haven't posted since the end of treatment and thought I should check in briefly. I'm doing well; haven't been sick again (knock wood) and my energy is coming back steadily. Another hair update soon, I think. I've been out in public a couple of times with my GI Jane look, though I still don't really feel the head's ready for viewing.

A couple of nights ago, I was at Whole Foods and, as I got back to the car, saw a woman in the parking lot with a bandanna covering hair like mine. I was wearing a wig, but wanted to whip it off and call out, "Hey, look! Me too!"

Having cancer has made me a lot more aware of the many difficulties and tragedies that people all around us face. (Also, when Noah and I watched a 9/11 documentary, we saw a guy who was in one of the stairwells when a tower came down, and he rode that stairwell down in the collapse--something like 60 stories--and survived. I thought about him walking around in the world, mingling with thousands of strangers who have no idea what he's been through--no idea that he survived the collapse of the twin towers.) It's impossible to see what people have survived, what they are currently enduring. I wish we all wore big signs: "In treatment for breast cancer"; "Parents died in a plane crash"; "Currently nursing my husband through terminal illness"; etc. Yes, it may be macabre, but it just seems like almost everyone has faced tragedy, and deserves tenderness, and yet we are all so oblivious to everyone else's pain because we just can't see it.

Friday, October 06, 2006

Light candles and hope this is for good!

Here's what Noah presented to me at 11:01 am, after I rang the ceremonial "done with treatment" bell at radiation oncology.

Thursday, October 05, 2006

T-minus-27 hours

One more radiation treatment left.

We had a hiccup on Tuesday, when I arrived for my appointment and was told that the machine was down. It couldn't be fixed in time for me to make it to class, so I had to skip treatment that day. I really wanted to finish on Friday--can you imagine having to wait the weekend, knowing that your last would be on a Monday? So the dr agreed that I could have two treatments in one day. Today, I got up early and got to radiation for an 8:30 appointment, then went to Beverly Hills to meet the nutritional oncologist at 12:30, and then back down to Torrance for radiation again at 4:10. (I had time to stop home twice, between appointments.)

The rad onc tells me that this week should be the time for my worst skin reaction to the original radiation field, and next week will be the worst in the areas covered by the boost. I do have some redness, and the top of the field looks like I got an odd, rectangular sunburn. The skin's a little toasty--leathery--the way sunburned skin can be, but still not too bad, and if it starts getting better from here, I should be fine.

The meeting with the nutritionist went great. She said I'm doing really well (18 lbs down, reflecting a slowdown this week--but she says this is a really fast rate compared to most of her other patients). My goal has been adjusted a bit--I have another 18 lbs to go, and she may still push me further after that. I don't go back for another 8 weeks. Since it took me 8 weeks to lose the first 18 lbs, I hope to lose the next 18 lbs in the next 8 weeks. It'll take some work!

After my last treatment tomorrow, Noah and I are having a celebration day. We'll go to brunch at the North End Caffe in Manhattan Beach, one of my favorite places--a place I've not patronized since my diet started. I'll be cheating on the diet tomorrow, for sure. Then we'll go for a hike in the Santa Monica Mountains, then back down to the South Bay for dinner, and then (of course) the Battlestar Galactica premiere. I'm looking forward to a day of self-indulgence; the next day, I'll be back to my refraining ways!

It is really kind of amazing how much support there is out in the world these days for cancer patients. First, there's the Wellness Community, where I've attended support groups since my diagnosis. They also offer all kinds of classes in yoga, visualization, nutrition, and other mind-body boosts, and all of it is free to cancer patients and their families. Now that I'm almost through treatment, I've been interested in getting back to physical condition, and it turns out there are more great (and free) programs for that, too. Spectrum health clubs offers a "Cancer WellFit" program that gives a 10-week class to help us get back into shape. I start mine on October 16. There's also an organization called Team Survivor that provides group exercise classes--even triathlon training!--to recovering patients. And yes, it's free.

Finally, it is Breast Cancer Awareness Month. I'm certainly aware of breast cancer, and I assume anyone reading here is, too. Of course I want all the women I know to do the self exams and the mammograms and yada yada yada. But also watch your weight (huge risk factor!) and enjoy your life every day (not a risk factor, but something we can fail to do until a calamity knocks us on our ass). I hope everyone can keep their awareness firmly anchored in the 3rd-person perspective.

Monday, October 02, 2006

Photo Monday! -- Diet update

How's the diet going? See for yourself.

Photo credits, as always: Noah

Photo Monday! -- Hair Watch 2006

As promised. My hair is growing WAAAAAAAY more slowly than I hoped or expected. Tomorrow makes 9 weeks since the end of chemo (yay), and as of today I still look bald, albeit with 5 o'clock shadow. It's progress, but not arrival. My new goal is to be able to go "topless" by November. Please send all your hairy thoughts my way.

Here's the head today: And the last time:

And just to acknowledge growth where it's a closeup shot of my eye, where you can see that eyebrow and lashes are actually looking like the real things. By the end of treatment, I had about three single lashes left on the upper lid of each eye, and none on the lower; and I've been down to maybe ten eyebrow hairs, total. Now I can even go easy on the eye pencil, so this really is progress: