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Thursday, April 29, 2010

My Steel Magnolias



Hello friends! The past couple of days have been pretty good ones. I have had more energy and felt good enough to get out and go up to the The Yellow Brick Salon and see my coworkers and some clients. They have been so supportive of me emotional, spiritually, and even financially. They have brought food over, given me gift cards for all kinds of restaurants, they had a bake sale, and have been so generous in every way. I can't even begin to explain how much support my family has received from so many people that are connected in some way to this salon.

Like I said before, I owned this salon for almost 8 years. I graduated from Texas Christian University in 1990 with a BS in Education, but I always wanted to do hair. So I pursued my dreams and got my license despite my students loans and all the college I already had. I did hair for 8 years and loved it. When I first started thinking of owning my own salon I was a single mother and I was scared. I was scared of something happening to me physically that would keep me from being able to stand behind the chair and make my living. So I thought..."I will open a salon so if anything ever happens I will still have an income." Well, it took every dime I had and then some to make that happen. A lot of sacrifices were made along the way. My dear friend, Ken Cater, is now the owner and is expanding the salon. I prayed for God to give me someone to take on this huge responsibility. I know it was a God thing when I opened it, and when it was time to let it go.....God sent me Ken. I see the same passion in him that I had 8 years ago. It is an "on the job training". I remember how many mistakes I made along the way and how God molded me to be what he wanted. I prayed that God would send me good people and he did. I felt that God wanted me to be of service to people and that he was doing this through the salon. I remember thinking..."why can't I just be in business to make lots of money?"....but that was never the case. There was another plan. So through the years he brought many people and showed me why each and every one of them were there. Like a huge web, God has woven so many people into my life through this salon. Now, these are the same people that have made so much of a difference in my life now. Now...living with and fighting breast cancer. The salon, my "once-upon-a time-dream" is giving back to ME in so many ways. Every day I go to my mail box and there are cards from clients who are praying for me. So many of them are not even my clients. I am overwhelmed with all the love, prayers, and support that is coming my way. I counted over 50 greeting cards on my fireplace mantle today, most of them from the clients of THE YELLOW BRICK SALON.

So Ken is expanding the salon, something that has to be done. I pray that the staff will stand behind him in his efforts and pull together and welcome the newcomers. We have always been a pretty tight knit group....like family. Being that I have done this job, I know how hard it is to mesh so many personalities and make everyone happy. I know that God put Ken in this very challenging position for a purpose, besides the fact that he knew that I would be battling cancer. God took care of me. I am so thankful for Ken and his mother, Linda. They are working so hard, putting in so many hours....hours without pay right now. Sometimes I look at them and think...."what would I have done If I still had this salon to run at the same time I am fighting this battle with cancer?" Thank God for Ken and his passion for making this work. I know what he is going through and it is so hard. But one thing is always true and that is the saying that "if God brought you to it, He will bring you through it." This is something Ken and I can both hold on to right now. My prayers are with this awesome group of people and I know that their prayers are with me. Thank you so much clients and friends of The Yellow Brick Salon.

I love you Ken, Linda, Jo Ann, Barbie, Suzette, Rene, Vicky, Susan, Tyler, Jessy, Beverly, Sandy, Joyce, Lauren, Liz, Pat, Lynette, Shonna, Trina, "Mr. T"; Ann and all the newcomers... I am looking forward to working with you all....as soon as I am able. This place is special. :)

 Until next time my friends....


Wednesday, April 28, 2010

Pulling Out My Hair




It is a beautiful Wednesday morning and believe it or not, I actually feel pretty good. This is mostly due to the fact that I got some good rest and for the first time in days...my head does not ache. But hold up for a minute. I want to talk about my blog. Those of you reading this must understand something. Yes, it is true I am writing this as an outlet for me. But most of all, I hope that at some point someone who is diagnosed with breast cancer, or triple negative breast cancer, will be scouring the internet trying to find some first hand truth about what it might be like for them. That is what I did. I found this girls blog and I read it. It was more informative than anything my doctor could have told me and gave me more insight to what was ahead for me than any "wikipedia" type site. But the harsh truth was..It wasn't always positive. She had bad days and good days. She was diagnosed at stage four. I read her blog and learned so much from her. I laughed and I cried, but I learned. I remember I could not turn the computer off that night. I read and read and read. It was about 3 a.m. when I read the last posting. It was by her husband who was apologizing for not posting sooner. He was letting everyone know that his beautiful 32 year old wife had passed away in their bed three months before. It was a harsh reality. It saddened me. But I thanked God that she shared her story and that I could benefit from her experiences by being more prepared for what was ahead. She especially helped me be prepared for the chemo treatments. I say all this because I too will not always be positive. I will have good days and bads days. But first and foremost I want to be truthful. I don't mean to sound down or depressed, but it isn't like I just won the lottery. It is not a walk in the park by any means. I am not here to humor anyone. Breast cancer is beaten everyday. I will beat this. I will have good days and I will have bad days, I will write about them....BOTH of them. Just because I am writing about the "bad" doesn't mean that I have given up or I am not thinking positive or that I am "depressed". It just means that I have cancer...and there are good days and bad days.

Ok, so I don't have a headache this morning. Why? Well, last night when Kevin got home he pulled my hair out, literally. Basically all my hair follicles were just sitting in my scalp. Every time I put on a scarf or hat it was like a million needles pushing into my head. I could grab on to any part of my head and just give the slightest of a tug and the hair was in my fingers. But it wasn't just falling off on its own. So I laid on the bed with a big huge beach towel under my neck and head and Presley and Kevin started pulling hair. It was effortless on their part. I can't tell you how good this felt. It sounds really weird, but it truly felt amazing. My headache began to ease immediately. I guess the fact that it gets the inevitable out of the way is another reason it felt good. All in all, I never thought pulling my hair out could feel so good, but it did. I am now not walking around with a pounding headache. I can lay down and rest without pain to my scalp. It was liberating. I will say that Kevin cried at first. I did too...only because he was. Pretty soon we were all laughing and making egg-head jokes. Frankly, I thought I looked like a quite larger version of "mini-me" when I first looked in the mirror. Then I reminded myself of some of the Star Trek shows...or one of those outer space TV phenomenons. Nevertheless, I am bald...and it feels good. It is good to be bald. It is much cooler and my head is not nearly as big. All my hats fit more comfortably. It makes my eyes really "pop". HAHAHA! How many times have I said that to clients after giving them a new color or cut....(snicker snicker :)

Oh, so I want you guys to look at the ads.  I wanted to tell you that I clicked on one of CAFE PRESS' ads and I ordered a couple of things. I got a pink T-shirt that says "CUTE BALD CHICK KICKING CANCER'S BUTT" on it with a cute little bald stick-figure-gal on the front. It also has the breast cancer pink ribbon logo on it. I also got a cute button that says "CHEMO ATE MY EYEBROWS". It all came just as ordered in a timely manner and was good quality. For some reason I still have my eyebrows so I guess I can't wear that yet. DARN IT! Anyways, thanks for reading. I am going to go and enjoy this "feel good" beautiful day while I can, and I am going to wear my T-shirt. :)

Monday, April 26, 2010

Race for the Cure



Well, it is Monday evening. I have spent most of the weekend feeling very sick. Nausea, diarrhea, fatigue, and a horrible taste in my mouth have been just a few of the aggravations. Oh yeah, I forgot...my hair is falling out, too! This, my friends, is CANCER. As bad as it is, I know it could always be worse. I just think of all the love and support I have, and I feel very blessed. I think of all the single mothers that go through this, all the while taking care of children and working. I feel blessed.

I finally got to go to one of Landri's softball games and see her for the first time. This is the first year she has played softball. They have made the play-offs. Friday night her Dad gave me a ride to the softball fields and I got to watch a great group of girls. Say what you will about todays's youth. Let me tell you folks, there is a strong force of young women that are headed to adult hood as we speak. Landri, my 17 year old, plays basketball, volleyball, runs track, throws discus, and now plays softball. She excells in her school work and her character is top notch. Don't get me wrong, she has her flaws. Her room is always a mess, and I am sure there are many things that I will never know about that would disappoint me. That is when you have to say "we all have our flaws". After her softball game she spent the night with a friend, Brooke. Brooke, Landri, and some other girls had a plan. They all got up the next morning early and went to participate in THE RACE FOR THE CURE. I have had the privilege of meeting many young women Landri's age through her sports. These young women are strong, confidant, smart, beautiful, and full of character. They are ambitious, spiritual, and kind. They are our future. Unfortunately, one out of every eight of these young women will have breast cancer in their lifetime. I can only pray that number will change. I pray that my daughters and their friends never have to go through this.

So they said my hair would fall out right at day 14 post chemo. Well, the evening of day 15, it started. This does not sadden me or bother me like it would most people. I think being a hair stylist gives you a different outlook about it, It is just hair. However, what surprises me....is that it sickens me. Literally, I stand over the bathroom sink and rub my head. I watch the hair come out. My stomach turns. It really makes me nauseous. It is not about losing my hair. I think it is because it is something tangible that says my body is being poisoned.....that my body is toxic. That is what makes me sick. And to see the hair come out confirms that there are good cells all through my body being killed by toxins. That sickens me. The hair is coming out in patches. I wish it would just all come out. It somewhat hurts. My scalp is tender. A few tears flow. I wipe them away. I don't care about this hair on my head or what is in the sink. I just care about getting well. I cry because secretly I know this is just the beginning. Even a year from now, this won't be over. There will be more tests and scans to see if the cancer has come back. I cry because I see this long road ahead, and I feel like my fuel tank is on EMPTY. And then I remember Landri's favorite bible verse. "I CAN DO ALL THINGS THROUGH CHRIST WHO STRENGTHENS ME" Phiilipians 4:13 There is no doubt about it. Landri and Presley are my fuel, and Christ is my strength.

Friday, April 23, 2010

The Ultimate Role Reversal




Today didn't really start for me until this afternoon. I still did not feel like driving so my father who is 72 came and picked me up and drove me. My parents divorced about 4 years ago after being married 49 years. Sounds weird, but it was a good thing. So ever since then I have spent a lot of time with him and we have really got a chance to know each other. He was living in a cheap motel in Oklahoma after the divorce. They did not have much, but what they did have, he gave to her. All the furniture and their one car they shared. I could not stand the thought of my father walking with his cane to the bank, grocery store, etc with his bad leg (he needed a knee replacement). So I talked my dad into moving in with us and I put him to work at the salon 3 days a week. He spent his time sweeping, doing towels, cleaning brushes and most of all telling jokes, and flirting with all the women...both young and old. He became a staple at The Yellow Brick Salon. Everyone expected seeing him when they came in, especially the older ladies that came in every week. I know they miss him since I sold the salon. But most of all, he misses the interaction. He still comes in on Saturdays and sanitizes brushes. But he is no longer working for the salon. We got him set up with a good used truck and a new apartment. Now he is completely on his feet and we have been on several trips together. My dad has been on a mad dash to have a life....a life that he feels he missed out on during his very dysfunctional marriage to my mother. He also feels like he is in a race against the clock. He spent the last year making sure I knew everything to do when he died. ...which I think he truly believes could be next week; (even though he is in pretty good health and most people think he looks in his late 50's or early 60's). He has told me all about his life insurance, the funeral, the grave, oh and don't forget about the hole. "They are going to charge you to dig the hole". We got his will, his medical power of attorney, and all the evil necessities finished. He had thought of me as someone that would take care of him and all that needed to be done at the time of his death. I dreaded telling him that I had cancer. I knew what he would think. It would blow him away. But I had to do it. I told him, and he cried, choking back his tears. So today he picked me up and drove me in for the shot. We walked together holding hands as we went into the building. This is something we always do. Except usually I am taking HIM to the doctor for something. We laughed about the irony of this role reversal as we walked through the glass doors of the building.

I had to go in to what they call the infusion room (chemo room) and get the $7000+ shot. Yes one shot that cost at least $7000, but I have heard as much as $10000. It depends on the prenegotiated price that your insurance company has established. Come on, just what possible mountain on this earth do you have to climb to get the plant or whatever to make this shot. And what about the people who don't have insurance? I am sure that they still get it. It raises the white blood cell count by stimulating the bone marrow. The main side effects are bone pain. But since I have lived with bone and joint pain for a while, I think I did better with it than most people.

So this guy ( I don't know his name) is apparently the shot guy in the infusion room. I sit in a chair and after a while he asked me "Ms. Penny do you want your shot warmed up or do you care." It apparently is refrigerated. Then I remembered last time him handing it to me and telling me to roll the syringe between the palms of my hand and he would be back. So anyways, my response to him was "for $7000.00... it had better feel like warm honey flowing through my veins!" There were two elderly women to the right side of me. There jaws dropped and they looked at me as if they were waiting for a punch line or something. And I said no...it is true... $7000... or more. So Joe (we'll just call him that) comes over and hands me the little syringe. I put it between my palms and start rolling, and all of a sudden I started having these criminal thoughts. Somewhat similar to the typical thief mind. I thought "I could just get up and run....run and escape...I could sell it on EBAY or CRAIGSLIST. I could probably get $5000 for it. Or maybe they would let me take the shots home and "do them myself". I mean if my white blood cells weren't up to par for the next time, maybe they would just get me another. And then I remembered my dear old dad. I mean, I am pretty slow... especially these days. But I would never make it out of the building with him. I would definitely have to leave him behind. So Dad, you saved me from being imprisoned...but then again, if I were in prison...all this would be FREE! So I battled the dark side of my mind, and decided to be an upstanding, law-abiding citizen. Don't get me wrong....if any thing is a crime....it is charging $7000 for a shot needed by cancer patients. THAT, my friends, is a crime!

My dad and I finished our time together at MI PUEBLOS. This is our favorite restaurant. When he was working with me, we would usually have a date every Friday and Saturday after work. Sometimes we would sit and talk for a long time about everything, and sometimes we would say very little. Whichever the case, I think we both knew that we were thankful for the minutes we shared, making up for tainted time. I love you Daddy, and I will beat this. I will beat this.



P.S. It is day 14 since first chemo. I still have hair.

Thursday, April 22, 2010

Kickin Chemo Round Two and Penny vs Charlie




So today was my second chemo session. Having done this before, I was a little more prepared and not quite as scared. They say that the chemo has an accumulative effect so the side effects and the fatigue may get worse and sooner, each round. Well first they did the blood draw to make sure my blood count was good enough to take the chemo. I had the same nurse, Kay, and she was kind and gentle. My husband took me and my "mom" Ellie, came and sat with us also. We started talking about my blog and nurse Kay was listening. So I read her "TWAS THE NIGHT BEFORE CHEMO" and it made her smile. Then I read to her the part of my blog where I had mentioned her before. I think she was flattered in some way and it made her feel important. Which, let me tell you.....this lady is VERY important.....very important to me! She is the keeper of the gates of chemo. She can make you comfortable or.....well......well, uh..... I am not going to even think of my sweet nurse Kay in that way. The RED DEVIL did his deed, his friend followed and the whole thing was over!

Kevin, his mother, and I stopped by Chili's on the way home. (Thanks to my client and friend Cheryl for the gift card). Funny, Cheryl sent me a gift card and I don't think she even knew about my blog to know I have been craving steak and veggies from Chili's. So this time my taste buds were puny and I decided to just get veggies and soup. We had a nice lunch. It was good to see Ellie. She always gives me strength and tells me how strong I am, and lets me know that I will beat this. Afterwards, we went home and MAM was in front of my house. MAM is Patsy, MY ADOPTED MOTHER. She had brought over dinner for the evening when the kids came home. This included a yummy cherry cheesecake pie! Yummy! Let me tell you how nice it is not to have to cook. Especially since our oven pooped out about the same time as my cancer diagnosis.


We went home and I kicked back. Had the chemo headache again, but not quite as bad this time. Kevin ran some errands. We decided to go get a new comforter that has a duvet to fit. My dog Charlie loves to jump on the bed. She seems to be guarding or protecting me in some way. When I got home from the hospital after my surgery, she jumped on the bed and almost tip-toed as if she new I was in pain. German Shepherds are supposed to be really intelligent. Anyways, we were told she wouldn't shed much, but I think that was not completely true. So we got this comforter and a duvet cover so that we could easily take it off and wash it......and so that Charlie could lay next to her mommy when she is not feeling well. For those of you who don't think of your pets as true members of the family, this might sound kind of gross. Well let me tell you, you are absolutely right! As soon as we put the new duvet on the bed, Charlie got up on the bed. Exactly one minute later, Kevin got out the hand vac and was frantically sucking the hair off the bed at which point we both noticed about 3-4 slobber spots. This was where Charlie had christened the new cover. Pets....you gotta love 'em. I would never do without their unconditional love and protection in a million years.

You know how when you were younger, and your parents gave you the "I had to walk 20 miles in the frozen know to get to school stories"? Well every now and again, I get to listen to one from my husband.....but on a much grander scale. You see he grew up during the Iranian revolution. Life for him was much different than than the life he has here and now. So tonight he told me about what would happen when they needed a new cover or blanket for the bed. So I will tell you the story as he told it to me.....

"Our beds were made of wooden slats mounted on top of 2-3 foot wooden legs. There were no mattresses. All we had were blankets that were piled on top of each other to give us some cushion. When we needed a new comforter my grandmother would sew us a big cloth fabric the size of the bed. I remember a man coming by with a donkey. The donkey was loaded with bags on either side of his back. Inside the bags were feathers. Lots and lots of feathers. This is how this man made money, by going around and selling feathers. So my grandmother would buy the amount of feathers she needed. Then, she would stuff the fabric with the feathers and sew the fabric tacking it down in formations of squares so that each part of the cover would have equal distribution of feathers to keep us warm. Sometimes the beds were moved outside depending on the season as there was not any central heat or air.".....Kevin Navid

So now that I am spending so much time in my bed, I have a whole new appreciation for the comfort it gives me. I also am reminded of all the things my husband endured that was so different from our life now. Somehow, this makes me feel safe. It makes me feel that if all were taken away......we would at least no how to stuff our own comforters.....LOL.
Just kidding! There is so much my mother-n-law, Kevin, and his brother Andy lived through. It would blow your mind! If you want the book....I'll tell you again. It is on Amazon and it is "THE RAIN STOPS IN TEXAS" by Ellie Kamran Belfiglio.

So the bed is all put together and I am eating saltine crackers as I type. Charlie had to go to her crate because she kept on stealing my saltine crackers. Since I have cancer.....I figure "hey, I can eat crackers in my bed anytime!".....but not my dog....that is where I draw the line! I mean I don't care if SHE eats crackers in my bed, but she is not eating MY crackers in my bed!!!




Wednesday, April 21, 2010

'Twas The Night Before Chemo

'Twas the night before chemo and all through the house, there were many creatures stirring, but nothing in my blouse!
It was round number two for the Red Devil and his friend. I was wishing this whole thing would just come to an end.

I decided to blog it and put my words on the screen. So that others would know the experiences I've seen.

It's been over a month since the surgeon took my breasts. The cancer was aggressive so it was really for the best.
I try to keep my spirits up and be there for my kids. But my energy and stamina have all gone up for bids.

My hair should fall out soon and my eyelashes too! Should I get a wig or wear a hat ? what to do, what to do?
This cancer thing ...it really sucks, it wears you down and steals your bucks.

But all in all I can say these things, friends and family together it brings.

I am so blessed and so thankful to have all this love. I see it all around me sent from heaven above.

So to my followers on this blog, have no pity and no fear. For true blessings can be disguised as "the worst thing of this year."

It is true how I feel that I am happy and I'm blessed. But make no mistake I do get distressed.

So keep praying and keep following and tell each and every friend, we need more research and awareness to bring triple-negative to an end.

It is rare and it is ugly, this breast cancer sub-type. So say its name and get it out there, bring on the hype.

More awareness brings the dollars and enables new research. So spread the news, join the blog, and go pray in your church.
'Twas the night before chemo and my mind is on the day, when cures will all be known to send breast cancer on its way.

Penny Nichols
4/21/2010

Tuesday, April 20, 2010

Vertigo in my sleep!

Hello my friends!

I thought I better get on here and write before everyone thinks I am M.I.A. I spent all day Sunday cleaning house with my hubby until I finally wiped out on the bed and did not have the energy to even write. Today is Tuesday two days before my second chemo. I guess you could say that I felt pretty normal on Sunday....normal for having triple negative breast cancer. I still have the hole in the right side incision but it is beginning to close up a bit. I begin to ache and hurt in the evening and last night it was pretty bad. I just did not feel good in general. In fact, I would say it was my worst post chemo day that I've had as far as how I felt. It followed the best day that I have had. This reminds me of "hair days". You always have your best hair day the day before the worst hair day, and then you know its time to go to the salon. Pretty soon I will be having "no hair" days. I expect it will be Friday that my hair will begin to come out; it will be the 14th day since chemo started and that is usually when it comes out they say.

I don't know why I felt so bad. I went to the DMV with Landri to get her driver's license renewed because it expired on her birthday. So we went first thing in the morning during school hours. She drove us (with her expired license) because sometimes I just can't drive. It went pretty quick and we were out of there. By the time we were done I had a headache and body aches. We stopped at Sonic and I got a strawberry shake....something I usually crave if I am getting nauseated. Landri took me home and went off to school. She got me all tucked in bed before she left (a role reversal to say the least). I slept until my aunt Patsy and uncle David came by to say hello. I introduced them to the world of Iphones, Facebook, CafeWorld, Farmville, and Zynga Texas Hold'em Poker, Words with Friends, and all the other really important areas of technology that seem to dominate my time these days. We said our good-byes and I decided to drive to pick Presley up at her friends house. By this time it was 5:30 p.m. The day had wiped me out and once again I was in bed. This time nausea was beginning to creep in slowly. I fell asleep and awoke just in time for Kevin to get home and say hello. He works late on Mondays. Presley and I snuggled and watched some TV but it was about time for her to go to bed. Landri had already gone to bed as she often does. These days, sometimes Presley will tuck me in and kiss me right there in my bed and then Kevin will tuck her in her bed. This was one of those nights. I had already taken an anti-nausea medication and I just wasn't able to get out of bed to go tuck her in and kiss her. So the role reversal happened again, this time with Presley.

From midnight until about 4 in the morning I had the worst vertigo like the room was spinning so hard. I tried to just keep my eyes tightly shut and my head seemed so heavy like the weight of it was going to just crush down right through my pillows and leave a permanent impression on the memory foam mattress. Charlie, the german shepherd, kept moving in her crate outside our bedroom door and she was whining. Every time she moved it was like the sound of it jolted my head and the room would spin faster. I finally woke Kevin up and told him to let her out and bring me more anti-nausea meds. I have a total of 3 oral and one cream. I was starting to break out in a sweat and my mouth was salivating. I hate his as most people do. (The other night I was on Facebook and Tyler from the salon popped up in the chat window. We chatted for awhile and he asked if there was anything I specific I wanted him to pray about. I told him to pray I don't throw up, because I hate throwing up!) So obviously I was not enjoying this feeling that was torturing me through the night last night. When I did finally fall asleep, I had nightmares all night.

So here I am, blogging. My dad is coming over to bring me a strawberry shake. I talked to him on the phone earlier and I began to cry like a baby. This was all because he asked me how I was feeling. I replied "not very good..." sniffle, sniffle, and then I started to boo-hoo as if to say...."daddy I don't feel very good".....So he is coming over and bringing me a strawberry shake.

Joyce is coming over to bring me a hat she bought me at SAM MOON's. She text me and asked me if I needed anything and I told her "butterfinger". She said "OK". She is a sweetie and she just lives around the corner thankfully. There is nothing worse than this feeling of knowing you are probably going to be hugging the porcelain pretty soon. Tyler!!! get to praying! (I think he must have forgot). What I don't understand is why it has waited this long to set in....I thought I was in the clear. I guess I have been lucky so far. I did notice yesterday that I had a real COKE (not diet). I could hardly drink it because it literally burned going down my throat. Not the burn that feels good from the fizz, but a true burn. I think that is from the linings of the mouth and throat dying off from the chemo. They said that it would happen.

Ok enough of my whining. My daddy just called and he is at Sonic around the corner so I will bring this tribute to my nausea and self pity to an end. Maybe the shake will do the trick! Good bye for now my friends.

Saturday, April 17, 2010

Anointed with oil and blessed with KFC!

Hello everyone!

It is a little after midnight, early Sunday in the wee hours of the morning. I have just taken a pain pill because I ache all over. I think it has more to do with the rain than my chemo or the cancer. I guess I am just getting old. Speaking of....I read somewhere that a woman's body composition ages 10 years after undergoing chemo. Meaning instead of having the muscle mass or bone density of a 42 year old, I may easily have that of a 52 year old after chemo. That is not to say that your body can't recover and gain back those years. Of course, don't take this as complete truth .....who knows? Read it on the internet....LOL.

Vicky came and picked me up today and took me to her church. She always goes to the 4 pm Saturday night service at Gateway Church. It was a good service. At the end they ask for anyone to come down to the front who wanted prayer. Vicky and I went down and waited in line. There were several people down at the front praying for all who came. As we stood there she told me that the elderly man who stood facing us was the husband of one of her clients and that she was dying of some type of cancer. He was a tall slim man probably in his late 70's or early 80's. He had a kind smile. He finished praying for the person he was with and we were directed to go ahead and step forward towards him. He took my hand. It was gentle and warm. Vicky introduced me and told him that I was the previous owner of the salon where his wife gets her hair done every week. He smiled at me. She explained to him that I had breast cancer. He asked if he could anoint me with oil and pray for me. He took a tiny glass jar out of a bag and opened it. He put a small amount on his finger and put the sign of the cross on my forehead and he began to pray. He prayed for my healing, cursing my cancer, and all the while holding my hand. His prayer brought peace and light. Even with my eyes closed, I could see light and feel God's presence. All the while I couldn't help thinking of his wife who was dying of cancer, yet he was here....in front of me. He was taking the time to pray for me and be there for others. I can only imagine how long he has been married....50, 60 years or more. I pray for him and what lies ahead....his loneliness and his pain. I can't help but think that my cancer pales in comparison to what he will face losing the love of his life. Yet, I also know the strength and faith that I saw in his eyes not many people have. Thank you kind man for praying for me and may God bless you and may he give me courage and devotion like yours.

Afterwards, Vicky and I went to my house. Just as we arrived, Shonna who works as the skin care specialist at the salon,, pulled up in front of my house. She is a beautiful person inside and out, a true sweetheart. She is tall with platinum blonde hair and has flawless bronze skin. When you see her enter a room, you can watch all the men around gazing in awe as their jaws hit the floor. She has a sweet innocence about her. It was raining. I quickly got in the house through the garage and got to the front door to open it and let her in out of the rain. Her hands were full: two bags, each carrying the well known famous buckets of Kentucky Fried Chicken. This time the buckets were pink. They were adorned with the breast cancer ribbon logos printed on them, along with hundreds of names. These were the names of women. Vicky and I thanked Shonna and tried to encourage her to stay. But seriously, the girl is single and it's Saturday night.......Hot date, or chicken with Penny?......hot date? or chicken with Penny? So she left as quickly as she came, so I made Vicky stay and help me with the feast. We ate and ate, all the while I couldn't help but ask...."do you think these names are survivors or women who didn't beat their breast cancer?" We read the names, turning the pink buckets slowly. There were so many....so many names. No offense KFC, but if I beat this thing (which I will), please don't put my name on a bucket of chicken.....and If I don't (that just won't happen).....I surely don't want my name to adorn pink buckets of chicken. I think your marketing /PR department needs some new direction. Although I do give them credit for supporting the breast cancer fight. Oh, and they do have best chicken in the world, too! So.....give me a breast....or two!.....sorry, I just couldn't help myself. (snicker, snicker, snicker)....No seriously, everyone go get some pink buckets of KFC and support the fight against breast cancer. Hey, I'm giving you an excuse to eat large quantities of fried chicken. Just say thank you....now go get some.

(Thanks Shonna! ) Dinner was great. I have been craving fried chicken amongst a lot of other things. Shonna has cooked for us once already and brought me a McDonald's gift card for the girls. She is always thinking of others. She, like so many of my co-workers and clients, have done so much for me and my family. I am so grateful to all of them!

So tonight I was anointed with oil and blessed with KFC. Doesn't get much better than that. :)  Go to this link or copy in your browser to watch a great KFC pink bucket dance.


http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=qFe9c0zPSFM

Friday, April 16, 2010

Blood draw and Dancing with the Stars

It has been a couple of days since I have logged my journeys. Today is Friday the, hmmm.......? ummm.....16th! yes. That's it. All the days seem to not require a number or a name anymore. My days are marked by which ones include a trip to the doctor or oncologists. Yesterday I went in for a blood draw (post chemo). This is to check whether or not the white blood count is sufficient and the red blood count is as well. They told me my red blood count was slightly low meaning I was anemic, but not enough to render receiving blood. My white count had got into the range that was considered acceptable. So all in all, I was OK. I would live another day. But first I had to go down the elevator to my surgeon who was going to check out the opening in my incision again to see how it was faring. So I go in there and do the routine. Put on the gown, opening in the front please. My husband is with me and he has become an expert at "unbandaging me" . After taking my top off he grabs one end of the spandex flesh colored wrap, unvelcros it from itself and lets it rip while giving me a swift push. As usual, I go spinning across the room looking like a scene from "Dancing with the Stars" until I finally hit the wall......and stop. We get better and better at it each time. The excitement is over. We smile, giving each other proud looks of approval for our efforts. The fun is over, so I put the hospital grade mauve top-half-only gown on "opening to the front."

The nurse comes in and takes my blood pressure. It is slightly elevated. Probably because of the poetic dancing duo routine we were practicing just before she entered the room. She says nothing about it but gives me this knowing glance as if to say "I know".......so she does. She leaves and Mary Brian comes in and looks at me laying back, gown open, knees up as usual, pants on I might ad....and she smiles. "OK, let's have a look..." she says as she puts her gloves on and grabs the silver nitrate out of the cabinet. She looks at the opening which has granulation tissue trying to grow in it. It kind of looks like white-yellowish cobweb like tissue growing across the center depth of the opening. The silver nitrate burns this tissue back so the real tissue can continue to grow from the bottom up as it should. She pulls apart some gauze until she gets a single layer so thin she can stuff the whole in my incision. She wants me to do this twice a day. The granulation tissue continues to try to grow but when you pull the gauze out that is stuffed down inside there, it destroys its formation and all is good again. New tissue can grow correctly. All is well, so we say our good-byes and get ready to bandage me back up again. Not nearly as exciting. So our morning is done. All appointments complete. I go home get in bed and sleep. Our outing has wiped me out again.

Today I slept until noon or maybe even later. My best friend Vicky had made plans for me. She was going to come by and pick me up and take me to dinner when she got off work. Vicky has been my best friend, my confidant, my one who I depend on come hell or high water.....my go-to girl, for as long as I have done hair; which is about 17 years now. I remember the night in probably 1996 when I shared with her my deepest fears which were coming true. We sat in the parking lot of her small apartment and I cried and she guided me and supported me and God spoke through her. We had worked together for a little while. That night, Vicky had needed a ride home from work. She was a single mom of 3 for about 18 years at that point. She had started doing hair again after 10 years of being out of it, Not able to give up her full time job, she worked with me at night. And that is how we met. It is amazing how God puts people in your path at just the right time. His timing is ALWAYS perfect. So I sat in the car not wanting to leave. I was a new mother and my life was about to fall apart, But there in that dark parking lot, we prayed, and we cried. I confided in Vicky my worries and my fears and all the things that tortured my heart. All the while she brought a calm, a peace, and a sense of absoluteness that God's promises were undying and faithful. She still has those gifts today. I know if I am confused and I want to hear God speak plainly to me....I pick up the phone and I talk to Vicky. You see Vicky is one of those prayer super heroes that has a direct line to God in one hand and Satan's kryptonite in the other. God put her in my life and I in hers. She says I inspire her and help her to take those giant leaps of faith. I don't. I simply remind her of the faith and the strength that she already has within, and the same promises that she has reminded me of so many times....I tell her that he was also speaking to her, not just me.

So Vicky picked me up and took me to Chili's where I ate the same steak and veggies that I did the other night after seeing the commercial. Then we topped it off with a chocolate molten lava cake or something sinful like that.....oh yes. We went to her car and sat in the parking lot and she shared a song off her ipod that she wanted me to here, and then I shared one with her. We like sitting in parking lots......talking, sharing, laughing, and praying, We will always be friends. We give each other a strength that each one of us needs. They are two different kinds of strengths. It's kind of like when you sync your ipod. We just get together and "sync". Then we are more complete....or at least I know I am.

Wednesday, April 14, 2010

What day is it anyway?

Well, today has been one foggy moment after the other. All I remember is that I awoke around 1 p.m. to my doorbell ringing. It was my aunt Patsy and my Uncle David. She said she had emailed me earlier to let me know that she was coming because I never answer my phone. Well she is partially right because I do have a new phone since switching to AT&T and I haven't even paid attention to what my ringer sounds like, and I have 100+ contacts to enter . Haven't had the energy to do that yet. My clients are used to communicating by text, most of them. I still have a few that have no idea I have cancer or have had surgery. So I have gotten the occasional text asking me advice about their hair. One text in particular was yesterday or the day before....I don't know. But they told me they were thinking of going all blonde and having some dark streaks put in. I think I responded and had a full text conversation with this person only to realize later that I didn't even know who I was speaking with. Still don't know. Got to get my contacts entered so I know who I am talking to....yikes! These anti-nausea drugs have somewhat of an amnesia effect.

Like I said, my aunt Patsy came by with my uncle David. Patsy is my mother's youngest sister. She is a spark to say the least....more like a wild fire. She always made things fun when I was a kid.....a time when things were gloomy at best on many days. I remember being pretty poor when I was really young. Patsy always had something with her like a stuffed animal or some kind of toy. I remember her buying me this fake fur coat when I was in kindergarten. It was velvet trimmed and came with matching velvet pants. In the first grade she bought me a TEXAS orange velvet hooded coat with a white woolly sheep-like trim. In the third grade she picked me up one morning and took me to school in her white corvette with the T-tops off. She was always fun! There were so many things that my childhood was, but FUN was not one of them. However, when Patsy was around....it was fun. I am sad to say that Patsy is fighting a battle herself with cancer. She has an intestinal cancer that they say is inoperable. She has been going down to MD Anderson and is going to be part of some trial soon. As much as I hate this cancer and especially this chemo, I have to remember that there are people like my aunt that are told that chemo won't help and that it is not even an option. At least I have this treatment to try whether it works or not, at least I get to try. I pray for her healing and she prays for mine as well.

Ken, the new salon owner came by and talked some business. I am his consultant for what I am worth anyways. He is doing a great job and learning very quickly how it is impossible to please everyone. His mother, Linda, is in the hospital. She also has been my client for years. She has an infection of some sort and I will continue to pray for her healing.

Joyce, one of the stylist at the salon came by with her husband Ted. I have worked with Joyce for over 12 years now. Joyce and Ted are as good as gold. They brought me some homemade soup and cornbread. This was a good thing because up until this point I had once again had a butterfinger to eat. I know, I know! But there is this easter basket thing on my kitchen counter top, and I had no energy and it was there.....so I ate it.

It is almost 7 pm and I think I am hearing Landri's car pull in the back drive way. The kids usually go out to eat on WED with their dad. Kevin won't be home until after 10 tonight. They are having a company dinner this evening at his work celebrating a record month for the month of March.

All in all, I have felt drugged today. Like I have been slipping in and out of consciousness. I don't know why because I don't think I have even taken anything today. I haven't even had anything for the nausea which is not as bad today. It has been actually just one big blurr. That was today, a big blurr ...and it is almost over. Good! Another one down.



Tuesday, April 13, 2010

Chili's To Go

So here I am, laying in the same spot on the bed where I have been all day. This time, I am watching TV with my hubby. And then, it happens; the commercial. It's a big juicy, delicious, steak. It has seasonings from the grill adorning the top of it. I can't believe it. Something that actually sounds good to eat. So as I lay here with my laptop on my lap, I go immediately to the Chili's website and place the order.....a 12oz rib eye that makes my mouth water for the first time this week in a GOOD way.....not salivating like it has been from nausea. Now the next part of the plan....to get my husband to go pick it up for me. I think he is so glad that I am willing to eat something besides chips, butterfingers, and saltine crackers, that he puts up no resistance. I will say that I did order the seasonal veggies that came with it and some loaded potatoes. What is it with craving salt when you are hit with nausea? Why is that? Should not be long now. Presley has filled my water bottle for me and she is getting ready for a bath. Charlie, the German shepherd likes to peek over the edge of the tub and try to lick the water. Well, sorry Charlie. Presley just locked you out of the bathroom. Kevin should be home any minute, so I hope this craving for some actual food lasts until it is here. Maybe it is a sign....a sign that I am coming out of the chemo fog. Maybe there are good days ahead. Thanks Chili's.

Sour Cream and Butterfingers

Well, today is Tuesday I think. Seems like I have been in one long drug-induced slumber for a while now. I have three different bottles of meds for nausea and one cream that can be topically applied at the wrist. Most all of these have sedation as a side effect. I lost track a long time ago of which ones I was taking when. If I woke up and still felt nauseated I found one of the bottles and took one. I did feel nauseated most of the day monday and I ate at least half a box of saltine cracker when I was conscious. Nothing tastes the same. They told me that my taste buds would be one of the first things to go. Chemo kills rapidly growing cells including your taste buds. They also told me to prepare myself for mouth sores, anal sores, and vaginal sores. Sounds delightful.

It is about 3p.m. right now and all is quiet in the house. I just got through eating a bowl of Lays sour cream and onion chips and I am working my way to these bite-sized butterfinger candy bars. I think because the taste buds are shot, the stronger the taste the better. Well the Neulasta shot I would say was somewhat of a success for me. I did feel a little achy like the flu, but it was mild and short-lived. I did run a little fever of about 99.5 but all in all I think it made me feel a little less wiped out.

So I am in my bed eating butterfingers waiting on my kids and husband to come home. I have been sleeping on this wedge thing for almost a month now. It keeps me propped up nicely and doesn't allow me to stretch out the incisions too much. I am beginning to think that I may never be able to sleep without it. My dear friend Ferda Coffey brought it to me before my surgery from the medical supply store. She is from Turkey, a really nice lady. She was laid off from Justin boots about a year ago. Then, in September she was diagnosed with stage II breast cancer. I remember her coming in to the salon to get me to shave her head. She was to have started chemo that week. She too had a double mastectomy and she endured chemo and is in the middle of dealing with reconstruction. We text each other all the time. I remember texting her and telling here I guess it was "my turn now" because I had breast cancer too! It seems that it is everywhere.

Another dear friend of mine is Patsy. Patsy is my rock. She is a wonderful lady in her 70's. She is a client, friend, and an adopted mother to me. She adopted me along time ago, probably back in 1999 when I was going through my divorce. I have done her hair every Friday for years now. Just shampoo it , blow dry it, curl it, and waal-lah!! She is beautiful and hip. Her hair takes me maybe 25-30 minutes but I always book her for a two hour slot. We always sit out back behind the salon and drink coffee and talk about our week. We watch the sun beam out above us and listen to all the little birds waking up. The roof of the shopping center is flat. So there are drainage openings every so many feet sticking out of the top of the building. If you are looking you will notice that every one has a bird's nest in it.....along with its own bird family. They look like little skyrise apartments up there. They are all singing and telling the story of the day. And below....well it is Patsy and I....telling our stories, drinking coffee, and sharing. Sometimes with laughter and sometimes with tears. Patsy, you see, is a breast cancer survivor herself.....as well as her daughter, Dabney. Every year we celebrate Patsy being cancer-free one more year. She survived this awful disease while she was taking care of Paul, her late husband. They were so in love. She still misses him and I know she will be crying just reading this. Why is she my adopted mom? Well, my mother has suffered from various mental illnesses for years now. She is currently in an alzheimers lock-down facility. She is doing well and I am glad. So Patsy kind of adopted me....she is MAD my adoped mother. I sign all my emails to her as YAD your adopted daughter.

Since I married Kevin, I now have two mother figures in my life. Kevin's mom, Ellie, has taken on the roll of my family mom. She loves me like a daughter, and I love her as well. She would do anything for us and she is always there for Kevin, I, and the girls. She has transported me to and from doctors offices, cooked for us, and helped us out in so many other ways. I am enjoying getting closer to her, getting to know her on a deeper level. She is a brilliant woman, a published author. She fought many battles of her own. If you ever want a good book to read "THE RAIN STOPS IN TEXAS" by Ellie Kamran Belfilgio It is her life story. Kevin's too. It is about what all they had to go through to get here. It is an amazing story and she is an amazing woman. I am pretty sure I have seen the book on Amazon.

Well, my sweet Presley just came in from school. She is an angel, She will be 13 soon, and is the most caring little girl you could ever dream of. She came skipping into my room asking me "how are you today, mommy?" ....."have you had lunch, do you need anything?"....."how about a birthday cake icecream sandwhich?". I agreed and she went and got us two out of the freezer. So she sat on the bed with me and we both ate the icecream sandwhiches that taste just like a birthday cake.

Now I am loaded up on sugar and salt awaiting the rest of the crew. Landri is always in some type of sports practice ....volleyball, basketball, track relays, disc, and now softball. Kevin, my hubby should be home soon. He has worked for Park Place Lexus in Grapevine for almost five years in sales. He has 17 years in the industry, and he is excellent with his clients. Thank God for his job now. He has always worked on straight commission and done pretty well. Although the economy has been tough the past couple of years in the car business. I guess it is time to see what a one income family can acheive. Nevertheless, the health insurance alone is saving our butts and God has always been faithful to all of our needs. It is time now to help with some homework. Until next time...

Monday, April 12, 2010

The First signs of Chemo

Well, it is 4:30 a.m. Monday and I survived the weekend. I was given my first round of chemo on Friday and I made it to Monday. Today is the day that I go in and get the NEULASTA shot. This is what helps your bones produces white blood cells. The chemo pretty much wipes them all out. So you go and get this shot which I hear by the way cost about $7000.00 or more for this one shot. It is supposed to bring your blood counts back up to where they need to be by the time your next chemo comes around in two weeks. I have heard that it is a miracle drug which makes you feel so much better and minimizes some of the side effects of chemo. However, I have also heard that it is horrible and it is very dreaded by many. Why? Because it pulls from the bone marrow to do its job, and it can be very painful. Many people experience severe aches and pains in there bones. They say it can be excruciating. I try not to read into too much of what other people experience because everyone is unique. I did have one experience this morning that I beleive was the first physical sign that I have had chemo. I felt the top of my head this morning, and instead of the buzzed hair standing strong and feeling as if it were resisting my hand pushing down on it, it felt like it kind of layed over wherever I touched it. I began rubbing my hand across my head over and over while standing in front of my bathroom mirror. All of a sudden, there was stuff flying off my head. I could not tell at first but I think the hair is starting to shed and the scalp is coming off in the form of very large scales. I rubbed some more, but it never stopped. Stuff was flying everywhere. It was grossing me out! So I went and found a terry cloth sleep cap and put it on and went back to bed. And so I am here. Next to my sleeping hubby separated only by the 6 pound Yorkshire terrier named Ricky. Charlie, the German shepherd sleeps in her crate right outside our bedroom door. Soon they will all be gone, the kids off to school and Kevin off to
work. I will make a trip to the oncologist for blood draw and the famous $7000 Neulasta shot. I guess I will play the waiting game to see what side effects it brings. I pray that it brings healing and rest and assists in any way that it can to make sure that no cancer cells float by unnoticed.

Sunday, April 11, 2010

Lazy Sunday

It is Sunday and I just woke up. It is noon. The house is quiet. My yorkie, Ricky, insists on being by my side on the bed at all times. The only problem is he is old and has a bad back. He can't jump up on the bed himself. So I have to lean over and try to reach his collar with one hand and scoop him up by his belly with the other. This is not an easy feat either. I am still wrapped in bandages which are holding gauze squares in against two areas of my incisions where my breasts used to be. The right side basically came apart at the seams and I ended up with a gaping hole in my chest about an inch or so wide and at least 3/4 of an inch deep. It seems to be coming together slightly in the last few days. The other side has what looks to be the starting of the same thing. It is a really tiny opening so we have been very careful about trying to keep me together. The doctors say it is fine and it will heal from within....from bottom to top. OK, so I just follow their directions.

Like I said it is Sunday and the house is quiet. My children are with their Dad, my first husband. They are going to a party for their cousin. It is her birthday and she will be 32. She is an orthodontist and mother of 3 boys all in cars seats and diapers. She just gave birth to twins when her first was 19 months. So Landri and Presley, my daughters, love to go over there and help. Everyone gets to hold a baby. Erin, the mother is very dear to my heart. She was twelve when I married her uncle, and I am very thankful we have been able to maintain our relationship. She is a sweetheart. Erin who has two nannys still needs as much help as she can get. Her oldest son Cale absolutely loves Presley. He lights up when she enters the room. So I am glad my children have somewhere to go when things get gloomy here at home. Erin always welcomes the extra help. It is good to know that my kids are having fun somewhere. I don't want them to have dark memories of this time. Yet I don't seem to have the energy to make them any fun exciting memories either.

Well, we did make a memory last Monday night. After the girls got home from school I suggested that we go to the mall and maybe pick out some hats for my soon to be bald head. I told them they could bring there money and do some shopping. The catch was that Landri would have to drive us and they would have to push me around in a wheelchair. They both agreed. They were arguing over who would get to push first. We got to the mall and got a complimentary wheelchair to check out and the journey began. Let me tell you this is the way to shop. Don't get me wrong I could have walked but it wouldn't have lasted long. Every step I can feel the pulling at my incision where it is coming apart. So it was a good idea for me to ride. We had lots of fun going up the ramps and through the isles like a maze. Landri enjoyed going down the ramps and pretending she was going to let go of me to see how fast I could go. She has always been about speed. We ate dinner at the food court while we waited for my hat to be ready. We had found it at a kiosk in the middle of the mall. It was a white beanie style with a small bill on it. We had them embroidery "I'M TOO SEXY FOR MY HAIR" across the front for all to see. The kids thought it was funny. I love my girls and I love these times when it is just us doing silly girl things.

So I have been up for an hour now and still no sign of Kevin, my hubby. Nor is there any sign of our 9 mos old german shepherd puppy, Charlie. She is a girl pup and is the true love of Kevin's life. She gets more of his time than any of us I can assure you! We have a dog park less than 3 minutes from our house. Everyday it seems they are there for hours at a time. I am sure it is a form of escape for Kevin. I know this has to be stressful for him to know that we have this long journey ahead of us and that so much responsibility rides on his shoulders now.

Overall, I am feeling pretty good today. I have a bad taste in my mouth and my mouth starts to salivate as if I were going to be sick. But it tends to go away as fast as it comes. There is something about knowing that your body is full of poisons that makes you feel toxic, like you need to be cleansed. I try not to think about it. I am going to take a shower now. It is never a pretty sight. So many scars. My surgeon did what is called anchor incisions. She cut me from the nipple down and all the way across from one flank under the arm almost to the back and across to the other side. There is nothing left just two concave craters....kind of like I've been hit by two meteorites from outer space. When I look down, there it is.....the stomach. In plain view for me to see. A reminder that there is a treadmill in the empty room of our house that needs to be used. Will I ever get the energy? Off to the shower now. Maybe Charlie and Kevin will be home soon.

Saturday, April 10, 2010

1st CHEMO CONTINUED

Ok so it is nothing like getting a pedicure. My nurse was Kay. She introduced herself and began to explain the process. She was very nice and told me everything would be fine and that she was here for me if I needed anything or felt anything weird. As I looked around the room I began to notice that I was definitely the youngest person in the room. Somehow this did not make me feel better. My husband who is always my cheerleader tells me to look at it like I probably have a better chance of beating this cancer than all these people who are much older. Ok, so I will go with that. Now on to the poisoning. The first thing I got was a bag of saline to get fluids in me. This was done by inserting this needle into my port which was inmplanted during my mastectomy surgery. The port is under the skin near my right collar bone. The needle they insert is slightly hooked like a finger coming out of a flat rubbery round disc. They snap the disc in place and the needle goes in to the port. After the saline has gone in a while they begin with the anti-nausea drug. This was called Aloxi and has a residual effect that lasts up the three days. It was followed by a drug called Decadron which is an IV steroid that enhances the effects of the Aloxi. Yippe!!! I get steroids. I get to gain even more weight. Early menopause managed to put an extra 35-45 pounds on me already. I can't wait to see what the steroids will do. I am already boobless, will be bald soon, and now I get to be even fatter. All the while, my husband gets even sexier. Tell me, how is this fair?

The next drug they give me is called Adriamycin, AKA "THE RED DEVIL". It is thick and bright red. It comes in these two very large syringes. It has to be administered by the nurse who slowly pushes it into the IV line. It takes about 10-15 minutes. I guess because it is so thick, it won't drip like other drugs through an IV line. It has to be pushed. After it was over I got more saline before the next drug was to come. But first, I have to pee. So I get up off my recliner and roll my IV pole along with me and to the bathroom I went. This is the second time since I went into the chemotherapy room that I have had to go. I have a very active bladder anyways and all the fluids that are being pushed through my body aren't helping things. So I pee. Wow! I am now peeing red. I was warned of this side effect of The Red Devil, but I didn't think it would happen so fast. I finished with all the drugs with the only discomfort being a burning sensation in the upper part of my nose and into my eyes. It felt like I had snorted something like salt water up my nose. All in all I left feeling pretty good.

My wonderful mother-n-law came and sat with me the last half of the chemo. She says I am like a daughter to her. We have become very close. She drove me after stopping to eat lunch at Bayley's, a local restaurant open only for breakfast and lunch. She drove me home after we picked up prescriptions and left me there to nap. By this time I started having a horrible headache. The kind that feels like there is extremely hot liquid inside your skull. Burning and expanding as if it were going to erupt like Mt. St. Helens. I decided to take one of the anti-nausea drugs and rest. When I woke up I did feel a little better, but I still had the headache. I decided to take a hydracodone pain pill and that seemed to do the trick. My hubby came home sexier than ever of course , looking like an iranian terriost rapper hitman kind of dude. He then made a special trip to the store to get me saltine crackers and chicken noodle soup that I had been craving. He fixed it for me and brought it to me while I was still in bed. I had been on my FACEBOOK keeping myself occupied. The food seemed to make me feel better.

I went to sleep later that evening thanking God for all the prescription drugs that I had on my bedside table. Every night I pray for healing. As I lay there trying to fall asleep, I meditate on the verse in the Bible that says "by his stripes we are healed" or "by his wounds we are healed". I guess the stripes that are mentioned are the wounds of flesh that were torn from Jesus' back as he was beaten by the Roman soldiers with their whips. So every night I fall asleep not counting sheep, but instead praying and uttering the words "by his stripes I am healed, by his stripes I am healed, etc, etc....over and over until I fall asleep. So today I woke up feeling pretty good. I did not wake up until almost noon. It is always good when you awake to find out that alot of time has passed. You tend to think "oh good, another 12 hours passed that I lived with cancer unconsciously, and I did not have to think about it or feel its inflictions." I got through another day and another night. This will be a long journey. It will not be an easy one. Just as I have prayed for God's healing, I have prayed for the side effects of chemo to be minimal. God has taken care of me with everything so far. It is good to let go.

1st CHEMO SESSION

1st Chemo Session was yesterday. I am offically 26.5 hours since it first started in the chemo room at Texas Oncology. The days of me dreading it were gone. It was finally here. Time to face the fears head on. My wonderful husband and I both had our heads shave a couple of nights before. I did not want to wake up to patches of baldness. Not knowing how chemo would make me feel or if I would even feel up to leaving the house I decided to go ahead and have control over this situation. Being a hairdresses for over 17 years I have shaved many pre-chemo heads...most who shed a few tears along with the hair. Not me though, there were no tears. It's just hair, it will grow back. Since I went into natural menopause at the age of 39, I have said many times during the occasional hotflash that I would like to shave my head. So Kevin and I went up to THE YELLOW BRICK SALON, the salon I formerly owned. I still have a station there, but I am not working at the moment. The staff there have been like family. They have supported me so much through all of this and the clients as well. They have done everything from donating money, having a bake sale, bringing food over, offering rides. Most of all, giving me their kind words of support and love. So Vicky shaved both of our heads. They said I had a perfectly shaped head. I, for one know that I have the biggest head in the world. We actually measured everyone's head in the salon one day and I had the biggest. It runs in the family. When a baby is born they take three measurement, their height, weight, and their head circumference. This is a standard test which is then given percentile rankings to see how they measure up to all other babies born. Both my girls were in the normal 50-75% for their height and their weight. On the other hand, their heads were ranked in the 100% percentile. This means their heads were bigger than 99% of all babies born!!! What can I say....it runs in the family. So my head is big and perfect! My husband who is iranian born and still speaks Farsi fluently and is currently sporting a gotee, looks hot with a bald head. I told him the shaved head made his biceps grow and his chest. He put on a suit Friday as he was to leave after dropping me off at chemo to go to work. At that point I realized he looked like a hitman, maybe even a terrorist hitman.


Ok, so I went into Texas oncology feeling like I had my own body guard. I was all geared up for my first chemo treatment. We were asked to come back to the financial counselors booth. OH BOY! Just what I wanted. Well we were thrilled to find out that my chemo would fall under the normal co-pay of $40.00. Wow some good financial news finally! Although I had doctor visits on MON, Tue, WED, and Chemo on Friday....all with a minimun $40 dollar co-pay. It adds up quickly. Biopsy was almost $1000 out of pocket and surgery to doctor was $1000 out of pocket. Hospital was $1600 out of pocket. Pre-op testing was $600 out of pocket. I would say that I have had no less than 25 doctors appointments to date in the last 45 days. All of them at $40 co-pay minimum. Very hard when your income has been cut in half. However, I have prayed that God will meet all our needs as he is so awesome and great. And he has. He has put so many people in our lives and used them to meet those needs that I have not had to worry about the financial part of it hardly at all. To anyone that is going through this. Trust and believe that God can and will meet your every need. Ask him to do it. And then you have to let it go and believe that all will be taken care of from that point forward.......So. Getting back to my hot looking husband. The lady that was the financial counselor woman kept staring at Kevin until she finally said..."Do you know who you look like?" he said "no, who?" She told him he looked like PITT BULL the rapper. Since I did not even know who this was, my husband quickly googled him from his iphone to see if it were really true! Could it be? I could see the excitement in his eyes. He was forcing back a smile....trying to keep up his ever so threatening demeanor that went well with his new look. I held back my snickering. His chest and his biceps suddenly grew bigger. He was loving this I could tell. And I was glad. I have seen him cry more in the last month than I have ever seen him cry. So this new found confidence is good. WE settled up and then went back to the chemo room. Probalby 25 lounging type reclining chairs with flip up trays on eith side. Complimentary beverages served to your liking. Snacks if you want them. Tv's mounted for your viewing pleasure. It kind of reminded me of going to get a pedicure.