Month: July 2014

Ladies first.

 

Do you remember being, like, twelve and just willing your boobs to grow, grow, GROW?  Or if you’re a guy, maybe you willed every girl in your sixth grade class’ boobs to grow.  Do guys do that?  Maybe you just wanted hair on your chest?  IDK.  I just know that, after years of watching my beautiful mother, and by the time middle school rolled around, I wanted my very own boobs and now!  (I wonder if people are searching naughty things and finding this well-intentioned blog because of such frequent boob talk.  Hey there, pervs, and sorry to disappoint.)  Anyway, it takes time – puberty and such.

Well, you guys, Christmas came early, AND I defied the laws of puberty.  My boobs are in.  BAM!  Just like that.  All I had to do was drive to the Galleria and pick them up.  (Twelve year old me is reeling.)  It is the ultimate in bra stuffing, and I love having them back more than I thought I would.  Plus, now Josh can get to second base again, and I don’t even have to be in the same room.

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They don’t look exactly like mine did.  I got confused and thought that I was getting two pair of prosthetics so I went into the fitting with the plan of getting a “church pair” and a “going out pair.”  You know, so they could fit my mood and situation.  But alas, I only got the one pair.  After briefly thinking about going bigger, I decided to stick with my size.  When the fitters asked me what size I previously wore, I told them a 34B.  After much measuring and (shirtless) discussion, they told me that I had been wearing the wrong bra size and that I had been a 32D.

First of all, I assured them that I was not a D cup, but secondly, how could you know that without my boobs being here?  They assured me that so many people are wearing the wrong size.  So I went with it.

These falsies are a tad bigger and wider (or more spread out?) on my chest, so yeah, I don’t think I was a 32D.  Ah well, I think I got a little too braggy to my husband anyway, and more than once, I wished that my mom had been here to laugh about the possibility of either of us being a D cup.

Boob placement is hard, yo.
Boob placement is hard, yo.

On a more serious note, I had a lot of good reasons (for me) that I decided against reconstruction, but my life was harder/sadder (I’m not really sure of the right word here.) without, at least, prosthetics.  I definitely felt like a nine year old boy in my clothes.  Plus, I wasn’t aware that boobs balance out even the tiniest pooch bellies until I didn’t have any.  So I started to wear my husband’s tee shirts more and more, and well, I didn’t want to see where this slippery slope was headed.  I did start to notice a decline in general niceties thrown my way.  Things that, for my entire life, I have just taken for granted.  You know, things like opening doors, hellos, big smiles, letting me cut in in traffic, eye contact and such.  And it was ALL about having boobs (and natural hair helps too).  Boobs = power.  Let me tell you how I know.

My husband and I went to the mall to pick up my girly parts, and as I had developed a small bond with the girl who fitted me (re: I cried within ten minutes of meeting her), I asked her if I could “wear them out” — like they were new shoes and I wanted to stroll the mall in them.  She obliged, and I did.  Lunchtime Josh, then, had to restrain me from entering Sephora and pull me out of Lush, and we made our way to the food court.  Josh was very hungry so he was a few steps ahead of me and made his way to the free samples guy first.  He got his sample, and then the guy spotted me as I made my way over to his delicious tray of bite sized sandwiches.

“Oh, hey!” he said and looks to Josh and back to me.  “Ladies first.  Girl, you can have two to make up for it.”  Huge grin.

Now, on a normal pre-cancer day, I would just smile back, take my extra free sample, and be on my way.  People are nice.

But no one (that I don’t know) had been this nice to me in months!  It was such a weird feeling.  I got my boobs back, and ten minutes later, I’m a worthy person again.  People are looking me in the eye and saying, “Giiiirl.”  I wanted to just say, “Men!” and be done with it, but I know it goes deeper than that.  It’s kind of rocking my world.  In a good way.  So yeah, in its simplest form, boobs = power.

Also, Katie (from the fittings) helped me to find a swimsuit that would accommodate my stuffies, and I’m excited to get back in the pool with the girls.  I was not, however, excited to swimsuit shop with so many mirrors around and a stage-like pedestal centered among them.  I would show you the cute coral colored one-piece that we picked out, but my thighs are begging me not to.  It has been a hard four years on my body.  Three pregnancies, two births, two surgeries, two surgical procedures, and chemo.  Yikes.  Before Penny, I hadn’t stayed a night in the hospital since I was born.

Aaaand to the gym I have been going.  Between the cancer and the mirrors, I finally found the motivation, and I keep having the same thought.  What took me so long?  Daily babysitting for $50 a month!  Sign. Me Up.  And why didn’t you other mothers tell me about the miracle that is gym provided childcare?  Unless you didn’t know.  I have been working out, but if I wanted to, I could just go there and shower in peace for once!  I could drop my kids off, sit in the lobby, and watch Big Brother while eating Cheetos if I wanted to.  I’ve even figured out a way to have a date night with Josh at the gym.  We could take a walk together (on side by side treadmills), hit up the vending machines, watch a movie in the lobby…hey, they even have a hot tub.  We are set.  Any girlfriends want to meet up for a coffee date and actually swap fun stories sans all the interruptions and bathroom breaks?  I’ve got the perfect place.  I’ll even wear my boobs.

The Bald and the Beautiful.

Ladies, you know what’s better than taking your bra off at the end of a long day?  Taking your wig off the moment you walk through the door.

I’m just going to let that be a paragraph all on its own.  I’m not sure what else to say about it because I know you’re feeling me, right?  Instead, I’ll tell you a little story of hair loss.  (Oh yes, get excited!)  Actually, it’s a pretty short story.  It goes like this.  Chemo started making me lose my hair.  It happened gradually but steadily until, one day, I decided to take a shower.  I knew that I was losing a lot of my, at that point, very short hair when I had to clean the drain four times just to get water through.  It wasn’t until I stepped out of the shower and saw my poor (loving, ridiculous, empathetic, mouth agaping, maybe should be working on his poker face–I’m not really sure what you want here) husband that I realized it was time.  I foolishly looked into the mirror.  Uhh yeah, it’s time.

“No big deal,” I said to myself.  “I’ve known this day was coming for almost three months.”

So I casually texted my hairstylist aka Aunt Toni and set a time to shave it the next morning at her shop.  “I got this.”

Except I didn’t got this.

I put on a hat, and I’m going to say that I was “pretty cranky” for a few hours until I called my aunt at 8 o’clock in tears asking her to come over asap, stat, right now! to shave it.  Of course, she did.  We even let Penny in on the action.  I wish I could say it was to make it less traumatic for her, but the truth is that it was because she was awake, there, and thought it would be fun. (Please excuse the mess that is my house.  Ain’t nobody got time to clean right now.)

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There you have it.  Until the next night, when my other cousin, Michelle (we have a talented hair family), came over and razored it because my head looked a little more like a globe with continents of hair, and I didn’t want Christopher Columbus discovering anything on my head.  IDK, just go with it.

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Things I’ve learned thus far about being bald:

It is a cold world out there, and I have to wear a hat at night.

Showers only really take three minutes.

It’s super fun to sneak up on your husband and pretend to be Gollum, precious!

People really do want to touch a bald head, but it feels just as awkward as it did when they rubbed my pregnant belly a year ago.

People really do look at you like you have cancer now.  (<—which is blowing my mind because, theoretically, the cancer was removed with surgery.  When I really did have cancer, I didn’t know it and looked just as healthy as the next guy.)

My husband reported that everything I say sounds/looks just a little meaner.

My kids don’t care one bit.

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As hard as this is to go through with two very little girls, my daughters continually put things into perspective for me.  They really, really didn’t and don’t care.  I thought it would take some adjusting to, especially for Alice, but it just didn’t.  She looked at my bald head for two seconds, and then locked into my eyes like she could see into my soul.  That sounds super dramatic, I know, and my brother, Paul, is probably shaking his head at the screen right about now and my other brother, Josh, is totally feeling me.  Still, I felt like no matter what, no matter where, no matter how, she and I were meant to be together.  And she knew it.  Penny too.  She just doesn’t care.

On a lighter note, here are some things that I am playing around with.  I’m not so sure about the scarves.  They kind of scream “sick” to me (and apparently, I can’t even look at the camera in one).  I think my favorite look is the pink wig, and I’m thinking about getting a blue or teal one.  And I’m definitely on the hunt for some cute beanie caps.  Also, so sorry for the awkwardness on display.  I think I am just over the age limit for feeling comfortable taking a bajillion (or even four) selfies on the daily.

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Girl Talk.

Chemo #2 is in the bag, and I have been weird.  Like, crying all the time weird.  Sometimes with reason.  Sometimes without.  At first, I thought I was just really emotional because I’m bald now.  (Yeah, that happened.)  But then, I was just weepy, and I am not a weepy girl.  My three-year-old kept trying to cheer me up when she would catch me crying, which always worked but made me feel like I wasn’t doing my job.  You guys, it has been a barrel of fun around here.  Just ask my husband.  I’ve been a peach.  Anyway, then I realized something–and please avert your eyes if you don’t like “girl talk”–I think I’m going through chemotherapy induced menopause.  Gasp!  The change!  At the ripe old age of 32.  Fantastic.  So if you see me maniacally fanning myself  at the park or barely able to hold myself together at church, be kind, friends.  In a decade or two, this will be you.

Enough of that nonsense!  Round two went much smoother than round one due to the fact that I knew what to expect.  There was the little hiccup during my pre-chemo left armpit ultrasound where the doctor asked me if I was “all finished breastfeeding.”

“I see that you were nursing when you found the lump.”

“Yeah.”

“How old is your baby?”

“She’s eleven months.”

“Oh, okay.  So are you all finished breastfeeding then?”

Umm…what?!  You are a doctor, right?  Yeah, I’d say I’m “all finished.”  I mean unless there’s a way to do it without breasts.  Or did they send them home with my daughter after they were removed?  Does she have them in her closet in some kind of cooler system that I’m not aware of?  Or maybe you think I’m still trying?  Yeah, I mean, I have been.  We’ve been having a hard time with the latch lately though.  It’s just not going well.

I did not actually have those thoughts until later.  As I said, I’ve been weepy.  At the time, I just muttered a meek, “Yeah,” and avoided eye contact.

She did the ultrasound, and I kept thinking about how many ultrasounds I had with Penny and Alice.  Even though they were because I was high risk, I loved watching my babies on the screen.  Now, I didn’t dare look at the screen.  I was worried those images would move me from a stage 1 to a stage 3 just by existing.  They didn’t.

The doctor finished up, caught her mistake, apologized, gave me the all clear, and left the room.  And I cried for the good news.  I’m telling you, I’m a mess.  I’m currently avoiding all Sarah McLachlan commercials, handwritten notes, pictures of my babies when they were newborns, pictures of your babies when they were newborns, the little puppy on the toilet paper package, and songs that remind me of a middle school dance.  I think, instead, I will fill my life with WWE, Chris Farley movies, going to the shooting range, PBRs with grandpa, and video games.  I will NOT watch My Girl on Netflix again.  Big mistake.  BIG mistake.

It has been just over a week since my treatment so I’m on the upswing, and I can say that I am one third of the way done!  This time was much like the last (no fun) except that I’m now bald.  I’ll get to that next time.  I’ve been trying out different head covering situations for when I go out.  I have a hat, some scarves, and two wigs–one of which is pink, at Penny’s request.  So I’ll leave you with a picture of her modeling it because it actually is my favorite…and she’s, like, the cutest cutie ever.  Great, now I’m crying again.  Just kidding.

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Pixies and thermometers.

Hair, hair everywhere!  I mean, I still have it but it’s falling fast.  Like, if I was your lunch lady, you might want me to wear three hair nets OR just step away from your rectangle pizza and fruit medley altogether.  I did go ahead with the pixie cut because Alice kept pulling fistfuls from the left side while I fed her bottles.  I felt like that wasn’t a normal mother-daughter bonding type behavior so I had my awesome cousin chop it off.

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Aaaand I’m not a fan.  Rachael did excellent work, but I ultimately feel like I look a little more Daniel Radcliffe than Emma Watson if you know what I mean.  (If you don’t know what I mean, I might look like Harry Potter’s lesbian sister.)  It’s just not for me.  Maybe if I hadn’t felt forced to do it, I could be a little more accepting.  Let me tell you though, it is hard walking out into the world without my hair and boobs.  I didn’t realize how much of my femininity was wrapped up in them, but I don’t feel like myself.  Then add ten pounds. (Still eating to nurse a baby, stress, chemo steroids?)  Ugh.  It is definitely a lesson in vanity and pride, but the upside is that it’s forcing me to gain a better sense of self.

We did go to a fourth of July party at Josh’s parents house, and everyone was very nice about it.  I got a lot of compliments and such.  I just don’t know if I can trust them.  Haha.  I feel like I would dole the compliments out to me too.  Like who is going to tell the girl with cancer who was forced to cut her hair because it is falling out all over the place that her new haircut sucks?  Not me.  I’d be all, “Oh, it looks great!  You are just so cute with that cut.  It fits your face perfectly!  And those shoes!”  Insert huge smile and possible hug.  All the while, my mother-in-law was suspiciously quiet.  She cannot falsely praise and girlfriend keeps it real…but she knows I’m having a hard time.

More hair pics, you say?  This is what I did the night of the cut after the girls went to sleep.  Fun!  I kind of liked how moldy and fun my hair was.  At one point, Josh got freaked out because I slicked it back, and he said that I looked just like my dad.  A fine looking fellow.  I don’t know what my husband’s problem was.  Anyway, I have further thinned, and it’s not quite as fun to style these days. (Uhh, half a week later.)  On the plus side, lint rolling your head is super fun too.

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Well, it really has been a whole lot of hair woes lately.  For that, I owe you a funny story that I remembered a few days ago while taking my daughter’s temperature.  Besides, now that I have a blog, it is the perfect place to publicly humiliate the people that I love, right?

Last winter, Alice was sick so I took her temperature rectally and set the thermometer on the sink to be sanitized a few minutes later.  My husband, Josh, is a huge hypochondriac.  If someone is sick, so is he.  After my double mastectomy, the guy complained TO ME for a week straight about a burn on his arm that he got from work.  When we took Alice to the doctor last week, he had the doctor check him out too.  I think you can see where this is going.  He saw the thermometer on the sink and took his temperature orally.  I didn’t know he was doing it until he walked out of the bathroom.

“Well, I don’t have a fever.  Yet.”

“Uh, Josh, did you just use that thermometer on the sink?”

“Yeah.  Why?”

I barely got it out.  “It was just in Alice’s BUTT!”

I couldn’t breathe for the next five minutes.  I cry-laughed so hard.  I was literally ROFL.  Maybe you had to be there.  Maybe I have the sense of humor (and hair) of a thirteen-year-old boy.  All I know is that Josh didn’t think it was as funny as I did.

Hair today, Gone tomorrow

I think my hair is starting to bail on me.  Over the last couple of months, when people in my life found out that I was going to have to receive chemotherapy, a lot of them focused on my hair.  I got a lot of “You might not lose your hair.  You know not everyone does.  My sister’s neighbor’s babysitter’s mom didn’t.”  You know, lots of hair loss worry.  At the time, I couldn’t really understand it.  I was straight up scared that I was dying, and at the very least, I was worried about the toll chemo was going to have on my entire body.  Hair loss seemed so trivial.

Well, I’m not as cool with it as I thought.  Last night, I was about to read a bedtime book to Penny, and I took my ponytail holder out so I could lay with her.  About 25 hairs came with it.  Yikes.  I went to throw them away and gave my hair another pass.  More.  And more.  Sad times.  But I turned around and read my sweet little girl a bedtime story and tucked her in.  I think that’s what it means to go through something like this with little ones.  Grieving later.  Worrying when they’re in bed.

To be honest, I’m not looking forward to being bald, but I’m more worried about losing my eyebrows and eyelashes.  Weird and pretty vain, I know, but I love my eyelashes!  However, I CANNOT wait to lose my leg hair.  Bring. It. On.

Hair!

I mean come on, tell me you’re not a little jealous of my hair.  And my family.  And our attire.

My hair loss plan is to use it to my advantage as best as I can.  I already had my aunt cut it a little shorter and with thick bangs just to see what it would look like.  The bangs look awful on me, but now I know.  Next up, a pixie cut?  I never really imagined cutting my hair that short, but what if it looks amazing?  Now I’ll know.  If not, don’t fret…I’ll be wigging it soon enough.

I broke up with diet coke and am turning into my mother. I don’t think they’re related though.

Chemo sucks, but it’s also pretty much my bff.  I kind of feel about chemo like I did about my mom when I was fourteen.  I want to slam my bedroom door in its face.  I want to blame everything that’s wrong in my life on it.  It’s totally not cool, and it definitely embarrasses me (Oh hey, adult acne!).  Buuuuut, I actually know that I can’t live without it.  It really does have my back, and I’m certainly glad it’s there.  Just, you know, don’t tell it that for another five or ten years.

You guys, I made it through my first treatment.  You don’t want to hear all of my moanings and groanings.  I’ll just tell you that it wasn’t as bad as I thought it might be.  (I’m actually pretty nervous to publish that last sentence since I have five more rounds and the effects of chemo are cumulative, but it’s true…for now.)  I was down for about a week with a couple of bad days and one day that had me very worried about what the next day might be like.  Now, two weeks later, I almost feel normal.  I’ll go again next Monday for another swift kick.

Can we talk about some lifestyle changes that I have (and am still trying) to make?  More specifically, my deodorant situation.  (I know you guys have always wanted to go down this road with me.)  You see, I have switched to an all natural, non-toxic deodorant because antiperspirants are as shady as my junior year prom date’s intentions.*  More specifically, the aluminum and other nasties in antiperspirants have been linked to cancer and alzheimer’s, among other things.  Here’s my dilemma: I stink.  As I was tucking Penny in the other night, she said, “Mom, you need to take a shower.  You stink!”

“I do?  What do I smell like?”

She scrunched up her nose, thought for a moment, and replied, “Like old crusty dirt.”

I laughed for a minute straight, but I mean, come on!  It’s one thing to have my three year-old think I stink, but I can’t live my life like this.  I’m way too pretty to stink.  (I hope you know I’m just kidding.  Kind of.)  And I can’t even slather on some pretty smelling lotion because those are toxic too.  I guess what I’m getting at is twofold.  1) Do any of you guys know of a non-toxic deodorant that won’t have my daughter heckling me at bedtime?  I’m using primal pit paste.  2) If you notice my stink, I am so, so, so sorry; I am currently trying to decide between living a long life and having friends.

It’s funny because, before all of this, I thought we were a pretty healthy household.  We ate our fruits and veggies and whole wheats and drank mostly water.  We played outside every day.  Ugh.  Other changes underway: juicing, much less meat and dairy, organic everything, non-toxic everything, not a single diet coke since my diagnosis.

I had another realization this week.  I guess I have been noticing this slowly,  but I am turning into my mother!  Gah.  With each slightly inappropriate joke I tell, I feel it.  Every time I laugh at my kids before correcting them, I know it.  She used to embarrass me so much, and, at a time, I thought that she didn’t have much self-awareness…but there I was…at a family event…sitting between my brother and my 82 year-old grandpa…talking about how I don’t have a second base anymore and joking that Josh just gets to go straight to third.  Oh man.  Who does that?  My mom.  And now me.  I miss her.

My cousins told me that I couldn’t start a blog and then not have time for it.  So there.  I hope my random brain dumps suffice for now.  You see, my daughters don’t care if I have cancer or if I’m down because of chemo.  They still demand that I get my mom on.  I’m off to make dinner now.

 

*Just kidding, Jeff.  You were and have always been nothing but a gentleman.