walking, although nothing is pedestrian

i always have a pit my stomach on sunday nights – a weekend gone too quickly, not accomplishing everything i wanted, and re-entering the world of alarm clocks. with my diagnosis, i’m working on that, trying to treat each new week as a surprise, full of goodness and one week closer to being done with my treatment (it probably helps to eliminate the alarm clock part too, as i just wake up naturally now) (i.e., sleep-aids only last so long). so i’m writing to you this sunday night to ease that pit and reflect on the past week.

i went on a 7-mile hike yesterday with friends up Mt. Tamalpais.  the Breast Cancer Fund, a nonprofit researching environmental determinants of breast cancer, hosted the event Peak Hike. my friend rachel raised almost $1000 for the event, and it felt good to be in the fresh air with a wonderful group of people (see photo!).  the tata schwag (my new term for the onslaught of pink garb that this next month is going to bring) was particularly awesome too.  although i’m not sure what mike and our friend pat, the men among us hikers, are going to do with the breast exam cream included in the goody bag. i’ll leave it to your imagination (yes, men unfortunately get breast cancer but they probably don’t have a desire to slather some “made for women” lotion formula all over their chests). i know there are quite a few of you raising money for cancer and breast cancer this month—stephanie, donna, gabrielle, jeremy and many others.  that’s just awesome that something good can come of my diagnosis.

carrying on the topic of my last blog post, i came across a huge research endeavor that the American Cancer Society is taking on – the Cancer Prevention Study. they are looking to get 300,000 people registered in a study to understand why some people get cancer and others don’t. you can do it if you don’t have cancer, and i hope that is most of you! the time it would take you to participate in this research project now and over the next few years is less than one of my weekly infusions. i know, i’m really not trying to guilt you. this is just a brilliant effort that takes an appointment, some quick bloodwork, and a few surveys over the next few years. please forward to your friends too, and i hope it’s something you can manage to squeeze in. we’ve all been touched by cancer, and i love the idea of having it out of our lives within the next 25 years. all this research helps us get there.

in related news, i don’t have a pulmonary embolism (PE for short, according to one NP). WTF, you say? i agree. i started having chest pains monday night that were particularly bad at night or when i took a deep breath. as i was all hooked up to start my infusion on thursday, i explained this to the nurse, who immediately called the head nurse and then my ex-NP (J). the team called my cell phone to talk through my symptoms, and one of them casually dropped, “it could be a pulmonary embolism. we need to get a CT to determine that though. let me call you back in a few minutes.” cut to: me, crying.  mike, dumbfounded.  my mom, sitting patiently in the waiting room trying to act like it’s all normal as the sun rising. herceptin is a drug that can have cardio-pulmonary complications, so this is nothing to be flippant about. ultimately they ruled out the PE (yay for me!) because my chest pain seems more muscular-skeletal, and a normal, but more rare, side effect of the taxol is to have rib and sternum pain. i love having those rare-ish side effects, because they make me feel oh-so-special. yoi. it’s mostly something that a few ibuprofen take care of, but i have to be really mindful if i start to swell or cough or have sharp pains. words to live by.

living in this twilight zone of taking chemo so that cancer doesn’t kill you but knowing that the chemo complications could kill you just sucks. there’s really nothing more to elaborate on there.

so, nothing is like clockwork each week. i’m just happy i got chemo this week, so it’s one week closer to being done.

and yesterday at the hike, i got to meet in person some local survivors who have been a wonderful resource so far. a few were shocked i still had hair. one remarked that on taxol, she could not even get out of bed, even with all the meds to manage side effects (that is, until she got her medical marijuana prescription…more on that later, but we get to check out the dispensary soon.  i appreciate california in new ways every day!). so, all in all, i was feeling pretty on top of stuff, like “wow, maybe i won’t lose my hair this round and keep feeling good in general.” but yesterday in the afternoon, it’s like my hair decided it was sick of me. it started jumping ship, leaving home, abandoning its host. if i don’t wear a tight cap, it’s absolutely everywhere (oddly somehow even in my mouth) (it’s acrobatic apparently). so when mike gets home from work tonight, we are taking charge and shaving my head. that way, i won’t continue having a small to medium-sized rodent join me in the shower, i can stop leaving a trail everywhere i go, and my hair might stop tingling. yes, my hair is tingling right now.  i don’t know how it’s possible. clearly it has many talents.

luckily this week and right in time, my mom, mike and i went and got my cranial prosthesis (aka wig). a long-haired wavy beauty called strawberry syrup will make her debut soon. not every day but on days when i want to look normal and a prettier shade of strawberry blonde.

i have so many other things to catch you up on. most importantly is that whiz is fine, as i know you were all teetering on the edge of your seats with that one.

each day, i find a new way to be thankful for my diagnosis. i have to. because something happens each day that would not have otherwise happened if i didn’t have breast cancer–being in better touch with family and friends and colleagues and knowing more about your ups and downs, a stranger offering kind words when something physical gives away my disease, meeting inspiring breast cancer survivors, being more mindful of my breathing…i know you would come to that conclusion too if our places were switched.

have a good week for now. and remember kids, bald is beautiful!


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