Pathology Report

After the surgery I received my pathology report. It told me some valuable things. 1) my cancer was still the same type/pathology as it was before – no new surprises, 2) no cancer was found in any of my lymph nodes – no progression of the disease, and 3) that the cancer they removed was a single tumor of 1.2 cm in size. This 3rd one was the kicker for me. Previously the surgeon had told me that it looked like the tumors had gotten smaller and were responding well to treatment. Well, I started out with a diagnosis of 2 tumors – ~1 cm and a ~0.5 cm. After speaking with my oncologist about this report, he informed me that the smaller tumor gave 100% response rate and was not found. The larger 1 cm tumor didn’t respond. My oncologist said that for the type of cancer that I had, it was likely that at any given time during my chemotherapy that only about 25% of the tumor cells were growing – and thus, caught by the chemo (which targets rapidly dividing cells). If the cells aren’t undergoing any growth, then they aren’t dividing and the drugs cannot deliver their punch. So, I took that to mean that the larger tumor I did have obviously wasn’t growing very much, instead it was just kind of sitting there, hanging out. Given this, I’m glad I took all of the tissue out and I’m happy that my herceptin immunotherapy treatment will continue for another 7 months. Seems my aggressive Her2 positive cancer hadn’t gotten as aggressive in its growth as it could.

Gone (for now) But Not Forgotten

Today was the first day since the surgery when I actually took care in how I looked. I had an event I wanted to attend at my daughter’s school so I broke out the make up, put my jewelry back on (I’d removed it all for the surgery and never put any of it back on), put a bra on (with assistance) and covered my hairy legs in nice pants. In the end, it was quite empowering – feeling like my old self (amazing what make up can do!).

But – this accomplishment was not reached without another kick in the gut from cancer. As I was putting on my eye liner I realized that all of my eye lashes had gone. Yup. Last time I’d put make up on (the day before the surgery) I know they were there and today – well, today they were not. Luckily I’m not into mascara – I’m all about the charcoal gray eye liner with my favorite Mary Kay eye shadow and with those in play, I still felt good.  Also – my eye brows are still around. I’m hoping they don’t go missing…. I honestly think that would be worse and much more noticeable….  I’m prepared if they do (already picked up a nice, brown eye brow pencil if (heaven forbid) I have to draw them back on). For now, I feel confident that they are staying around. Just in case, I’m keeping my fingers crossed.

The second thing that was different in getting ready was figuring out how to be comfortable in public concerning my breasts. Currently, my chest doesn’t sag – they are two mounds with happy little nipples pointing about. I put on a t-shirt and, well, the nipples were noticeable easily to me. Since I didn’t feel that was acceptable to me – and due to the summer temperatures outside – adding a second shirt or coat wasn’t going to do, I figured I’d give a bra a try. With my husbands assistance to close it, I then checked to see how I looked in the t-shirt. A slight improvement but with a new problem – the bra size was all off. The straps were adjusted accordingly to accommodate my much smaller cup size and that helped but still – I could see the rough up and down bumps from a too-big bra. Thinking for a second I realized the answer was obvious – what does any female do when they cannot fill out a bra? They stuff it. Feeling like I was more in high school trying to catch up with my girl friends because I was a late bloomer, I grabbed a bunch of tissues and stuffed the cups and voila! A nice smooth surface finally was realized with the t-shirt. Success!  It’s all about overcoming obstacles. This one was more of a silly one but I was not to be outdone and felt good that I succeeded – though it did feel like smoke and mirrors! Cancer be damned!

Although my eye lashes and “filled bra cups” are currently gone, they are not forgotten and I know that they will be back. Have I mentioned that this is a long, slow battle that requires unending patience and optimism and perseverance to win??? Screw you, Cancer. One thing you’ve taught me is patience and I know these will all come back.


It’s been 2 weeks since my double mastectomy/reconstruction surgery. I’m managing the pain fairly well – more discomfort than pain to me, and I’m worrying more about becoming too complacent and over doing something that would result in my recovery taking longer than originally thought.

Recovery. Usually post-surgery you take your pain pills and 4-6 weeks you are back to normal. I’ve had multiple surgeries before – two on my abdomen, one on my knee. This recovery is not the same. It’s not what I expected. Usually post-surgery you look at yourself and you still outwardly look the same. Sure, you might be missing a gall bladder or a ligament or perhaps even a small part of an ovary but no one can tell and you don’t really miss them – even if you do have to learn to live without them, and even if that does require you to modify things forever going forward in some small way.

This surgery is much more brutal. Looking at myself in the mirror after the surgery is surreal. It’s like I’m looking at a movie version of myself – stunt double body with the sewn up chest with barely any hair on my head. It’s not me. I have long, beautiful brown hair that I love. It’s healthy and shiny. I am slim – having spent the last 3 years going to crossfit 3 days a week – and over the last year really seeing the change in my waist which I fell in love with. My chest, while I never even looked at it as much, was something that I’d learned to accentuate a bit more now that I was feeling stronger, slimmer from all of the time at the gym. It helped me relish my femininity, my power and sexuality as a woman.  Now I look in the mirror and see a Frankenstein-esque collection of scars across my chest, under my arms and on my stomach from the numerous surgeries. I understand that the reconstruction results are supposed to be amazing and that in the end the scars will be barely noticeable but now, well now I just cannot see it. All I see is cuts and lines everywhere. Instead of breasts which require a bra I currently have two hard bumps – mere suggestions of breasts. They don’t sag, they are hard. I feel that I have no need for a bra – especially now since post-surgery everything is so tight and new.

The recovery isn’t just for this surgery. This is a recovery within a recovery. My nails are still horrendous though improving. I keep them trimmed shorter than short – so I can cut off as much of the offending reminder of the chemotherapy. I spoke to someone who told me it’ll be 6-9 months for my nails to fully grow out. It’s a painfully slow process. All I want is for every reminder of the cancer to go the fuck away and every day I look in the mirror or at my hands and I cannot even see a difference. I must look week to week to be able to notice any difference. I’m forced to be patient, to slow down, to stop, to look elsewhere at what’s around me as the time passes.

I hate going slowly. It’s not my style. I walk fast, talk fast, think fast, type fast. This entire experience is an exercise in patience. The Ultra Marathon x Iron Man of races.

I’ve set small goals to reach so I can mark my improvements. Right now I’m trying to get off the percoset and onto Tylenol but the discomfort is a bit too much, so I continue taking the percoset. This means I cannot drive. I thus cannot take my daughter out and do any errands or even take myself to the doctor for an appointment. So I figure another week I should be fine.

Now that I’m through the worst following the surgery I’m feeling clearer in my head, as if I could handle doing work – but I know that I shouldn’t. There is so much more going on that I need to accept, digest, figure out how to move forward from. Right now I still cannot undress myself. Yes, it’s true I did wear a t-shirt today – the first time since the surgery (I’d been wearing button down shirts) – but the truth of it is, when it came time to take it off, I couldn’t do it without help. I couldn’t do it myself due to the limited movement of my arms and shoulders. Yeah. Wow.

I’ve been passing the time with Netflix watching Mad Men. 7 series, 13 episodes a series ~ 1 hr per episode. Watching it continuously allows me to forget my own situation. I get lost in the story line – the fashion, their work in an advertising firm, the people. It’s wonderful. But then I feel guilty for not doing more around the house to keep it up. And then I remember that right now the number 1 priority is to rest and not over do anything. So I push everything else out of my mind and I curl up in the comfort of my daughter’s room, under the soft blankets, and surrounded by a supportive bed of pillows and I watch – hour after hour of Mad Men. And then I get philosophical about the show and its portrayl of women in the 1960s, and women in offices, and the relationships between men and women during that time and now – and I think about it all, compare and contrast to my own life and start identifying with certain characters as certain people in my own life and it all gets odd. I’m over thinking. It’s a bad habit. At least for once I’m not thinking about cancer or work. It’s a nice change, a guilty pleasure, another silver lining I’ve found that I’m trying to enjoy as much as I can.

Don’t look in the mirror

5 Days ago I had my surgery. Double mastectomy followed by first phase of reconstruction – implanting of the expanders. Not sure where I thought I’d be right now or how I’d feel right now. Whatever I imagined I don’t feel like this is it.

On the bright side –

1. my pain is manageable. I can come completely off the pain medication (Percoset) – letting it wear off completely for an extended time (7-8 hours), but in the end, I need to take it again since the post-surgery pain is ever-present. Even if I can tough it out for a while and feel strong in the long run I need to give myself a break and take the meds.

2. I am mobile. I can get up, move around and take care of myself. I’m not bed-ridden. I can sit up, stand up, walk around, pick things up and put them down (as long as they don’t weigh too much).

3. I have support. It wasn’t until Friday that I remarked on Facebook that I’d completed my surgery and was on the healing side now – with the worst behind me. Not so certain the worst is 100% behind me though. Honestly, I still think I’m in some of the worst – it’s not a one shot, sharp shooting kind of pain or situation – this whole cancer thing is a long, ultra marathon – of multiple trials and obstacles to be overcome.  Either way, the support is their from friends and family all over. Also, very importantly, I also have the support of other survivors through the young women’s cancer survivor’s FB page. I just texted one of the women this morning after having my emotional damn break on me. She’s amazing – always fast to respond and so supportive! The group is great and I look forward to seeing them again in the future. They are a fantastic support.

4. I have the rest of my physical health and strength. Others who had gone through similar surgery talked about how uncomfortable it was being home after the surgery and how much it hurt to try to sit up, etc. For me – I’ve had surgery which cut through my abdomen 2 other times in my life. To me -those were a lot harder when looking at mobility post-surgery.  With those surgeries any time I tried to sit up I used the very muscles that had been cut – this time, I focus more on using my stomach muscles to sit up and my pectoral muscles aren’t so sore when I sit up. Yes, they hurt but I can tolerate it when I move around the bed.

So – why do I not want to look in the mirror? Because it’s not a pretty sight. What I was only 5 months ago vs what I look like now is a huge, HUGE change. Things won’t be the same moving forward. I almost want to cover mirrors like folks who are Jewish do when someone dies – to remind yourself that you shouldn’t think about how you look, you need (I need) to focus on taking care of myself, experiencing all of the emotions I’m feeling and then healing and moving on, moving on and healing. It’s not a quick process, it’s a long process where I have to mourn over everything that was lost and now accept what is here, then in time, take what I now have and begin to grow in new ways I hadn’t imagined.

The brutality of it – also, who wants to look at me right now? I don’t. My head is still nearly bald – though it is growing back it’s still very short and not 100%. Big bald head. No make up. Make up is a big thing – make up makes me feel in control, beautiful, strong and courageous. I’m post-op right now, not a focus so this only adds to the sad image I see in front of me when I do look in the mirror. I have on an oversized button down shirt – with only one button near my chest buttoned. The rest is wide open in order to accommodate the post-op drains. I still have two holes in my body – one on the right side of my chest and one on the left – where clear plastic tubing goes into my body. The tubes (protected by what looks like clear, saran-wrap stuck to my skin to keep infection out) – extend around to about my belly button. All 4 tubes come together and are pinned together to a piece of surgical tape/gauze on my stomach. Each drain is like a small grenade-shaped clear, soft, plastic bulb that holds the liquids that are draining from my chest – where the breast tissue was removed. The shirt cannot easily close over the 4 big bulbs that hang off my stomach as a contact reminder of what I’ve had done to myself. Being reminded is not what I want. I want to be normal again. The drains gone, the pain gone, and to be back at the gym and work….but that’s just not the case. It’s going to take a few more weeks to get rid of all of the drains and a few more months before I am back with my old mobility. It just sucks. Luckily the only constant is change so slowly this situation will get better, even if I cannot tell day to day, I know that it is.


Today I prepared for the surgery. This entailed many, many things to do in order to make myself feel “ready”. My young daughter has left the house with my husband’s parents and gone on a nice vacation for a week a few hours east of us. I’ve then cleaned up her room (toys into the closet, books where they belong), stripped the bed, washed all of the bedding and remade the bed, brought in a nice small table where I can sit and type on the computer, and also set up a spot where I can recharge my cell phones. All of these preparations are necessary (along with purchasing some wonderful prune juice and other foods to feed me for the next few days) so that I can heal properly at home.

Main idea is to quarantine myself away from my four-footed feline friends and keep myself entertained and hopefully, comfortable enough to sleep. The second idea is too use the prune juice to keep my body from becoming uncomfortably constipated due to the wonders of the usual pain drugs that they have prescribed. Thirdly, it is to use the 2 beautiful “mastectomy pillows” (AKA heart shaped pillows), and a mastectomy apron (to help hold onto the 4 bulbs on the 4 drains that will be coming out of my body after the surgery) to handle the drains more easily and comfortably (if there is such a thing) until they are finally removed from my body and I am onto phase II of my healing (sans drains) – likely 2-3 weeks from now.

Physically – the room is now ready and my body is ready as well. Mentally – I think I am as ready as I can be as well.

Preparation of my body began the weekend preceding the surgery – I had a pedicure to clean up my toenails which had gotten a bit long and had some polish still remaining from my last pedicure and some completely worn off. Somehow in my mind messy toe nails weren’t ok to have for the surgery. If I made my toes cute, I’d be stronger, more prepared. The day before the surgery I had a 90 minute massage (no oils, lotions allowed and I informed the wonderful masseuse about what was going on) and she was extra careful washing her hands and keeping things clean for me. I felt phenomenal, simply amazing after that and it made my final trip before the surgery to see the plastic surgeon a little easier.

My appointment with my plastic surgeon was surreal (yet again).  This time he got out his Sharpie and drew the lines of where to cut on my chest. He then took pictures on my cell phone for me – in case during my last shower with antibacterial soap and the fancy antibacterial-surgery sponge- I scrubbed all of the marks off. If need be, I could use the photos to redraw the lines in the same place. He also took and sent pictures using his cell phone to my surgeon who’d follow the marks and begin the surgery (removing all of my breast tissue). The next time I’d see the plastic surgeon I’d be asleep in the operating room. No worries about the photos themselves – they were from just below my head to my waist. And they hideously showed off the full 7 lbs that I have put on since this whole charade began in March. The photos will live in my mind and help drive me back to the gym as soon as it is 100% safe to go. I’ll take it easy because I have to in order to heal properly, but I will go back and I will fight to get my body back to where it was. I strongly dislike the extra 7 lb tire I now have around my waist. It will go away after this, no matter how much time it takes.

Mentally – I went over the decision so many ways when I was trying to make it that I have never questioned my decision or wanted any other option than they one I have chosen for myself. Following the massage yesterday, I felt so relaxed, so “Gumby-esque” as I like to call it – so zoned on just breathing, taking the next steps necessary, continuing to move time forward. I’m now in the Acceptance Phase. I’m as ready as I can be.

My strategy for dealing with it is to keep my mind distracted. I have started the book “Wild” by Cheryl Strayed (recently it came out as a movie) and in order to pass the time I’m reading it. I will likely take it with me to the hospital so that I can read it quietly while I wait. I’ve informed my mother to be prepared for me to be reading and plugged into my cell phone listening to music. I want to distract myself in my ways and do not want to talk and talk and talk. Sometimes being a peace with things and what has to happen is all about keeping relaxed on the journey as the time passes and the inevitable finally comes. Then, once on the other side of the surgery, I anticipate continuing to read the book (if I comfortably can) to help keep my mind off the pain and keep it entirely somewhere else to get a break. If a book becomes to much I’ll leverage Netflix to help my brain pass the time. And if is really bad (which it very well may be the first few days) I’ll just keep listening to my App to focus on breathing so that I can rest.

I am ready. I am prepared. I have plans, options.



The Freight Train

T minus 13 days and counting. Until The Freight Train hits.  I’m strapped to the tracks and it’s coming – slow and steady getting closer and closer and the noise from it is getting louder and louder. I try not to think about it but so far, I’ve failed to derail my first thoughts each morning when I wake up, which is unfortunately not at my time to get up but about 2 hrs before when I actually need to get up. First thoughts are always about the upcoming surgery – usually at ~ 2 am in the morning, when I’m most susceptible to uncontrolled, anxiety-filled thoughts about the future.

In order to combat the inevitable, we are actually scheduled to have house guests join to visit for the whole week before the surgery. I could have said no but in the end, I felt that I’ll need the distraction, anything to keep my mind of what it is currently on. The house guests aren’t just normal visitors but are my in-laws, coming to help celebrate my young daughter’s birthday and then taking off the day before the surgery with her for a nice week long vacation – thus, providing me a quite, calm household to return to after my radical out-patient surgery. I’ll be coming home with 4 drains hanging out of my body. I’ll be sequestering myself in my daughter’s room so that I can stay away from the cats we have in order to make sure that I don’t get any post-op infections. Just seems easier to lock myself up and hide from it all at that point – for safety.

Think it’s also a way to emotionally be hiding from it all as well. The pain I know I’ll have (you can run but you cannot hide). The emotional healing that will be necessary – I need to go through that on my own, get to the acceptance stage in that first week so that I can see my daughter and eventually my cat (when all is said and done and the tubes are finally gone from my body). My two biggest support systems, my two biggest snugglers and huggers all being pulled away for protection -whether it be for my own or her own. A necessity but a jagged little pill to swallow all the same.

So the train continues down the tracks, like a ticking bomb getting closer and closer. I’m trying to exercise all of the tools in my anxiety tool box to release my fears, work through the emotion and continue to stay strong, but honestly – it isn’t going so well. Made the gym only once this week so far and when there, I was working on figuring out what my one rep max’s are post-chemo and it was like I’d already given up. I know I will have 6 weeks completely off – where I cannot lift my arms above 90 degrees, where I cannot get my heart rate up – so I can heal properly. Knowing that this huge break in activity is coming makes me really say – why do it? What’s the use? It’s all for nought – doesn’t matter – but obviously, it really does. It isn’t to stay fit this time. The workouts between now and the surgery are really all about helping to keep me sane – work out, move – just keep going and do anything that makes me feel like I am in control. That I am strong. But it isn’t quite working so well when I try for a one rep max and instead all I feel is my hesitation to go for it. I am not only thinking – what does it matter – but also, hey, I have to be careful here. Cannot be stupid. Cannot pull a muscle or injure myself before my surgery. no pushing it. I need to be at 100% of my health. No broken bones (no roller skating at the upcoming birthday party for my daughter) – no being stupid. Must be smart and conservative. And that makes total sense and thus, another major way I let it all go is seemingly shut down, taken away from me.

I haven’t done a work out with an aerobic bend to it in a few weeks. No running or rowing. Thought my plan to get all psyched up about the 1 rep maxes would keep me on task, focused on being strong at the gym- focused so every day I’d have a goal to shoot for but it didn’t work out right. Or at least not the way I had planned. So I think today I’ll have to try another option – more aerobic and less 1RM. You figure I’d want to continue with my S-WOD, the work out I did all chemo to NOT lose ground on my strength in certain areas but instead, I have an immense urge to just push away from that table – like a kid at the dinner table saying no to vegetables. Yes they may be good for me but NO! I don’t wanna! Yeah, real grown up, I know.

I’ve had a streak of friends also going through emotional times right now. This has led them to go to the gym and find themselves crying afterwards. Amazingly strong women who hold it in and cannot let it out any other way – taking themselves to the gym and upon exerting themselves in exercise they finally break through the emotional prison they are in, the isolation cell, to let it out and cry. I know I need that and this week I seem to find myself crying on the way to the gym in hopes that I’ll just find that release myself and let it all out, but so far I only made it to the gym once and it didn’t come. The release didn’t come – perhaps a slight crack in the dam of tears that I need to feel but the dam is still holding it all back and that dam has gotta break so that I can 1) experience it and 2) accept it and then finally 3) move on.

It’s like that song “Breathe” (AKA 2 am) by Anna Nalick….”’cause you can’t jump the track we’re like cars on a cable….and life’s like an hour glass glued to the table…no one can find the rewind button girl… cradle your head in your hand….. and breathe, just breathe…..”   “2 am and I’m still awake writing this song  if I get it all down on paper its no longer inside of me threatening the life it belongs to…and I feel like I’m naked in front of a crowd cause these words are my diary screaming out loud and I know that you’ll use them however you want to….”


Infection, Fear Of

I’ve completed my last chemo. I’ve fought a battle and won – come out still kicking. I was proud. On top of the world. Master of my own destiny.  Today I feel like I’ve been sucker punched. As if the evil I’ve been fighting wasn’t playing fair – and instead of going down in a brave battle of fists, just pulled out a gun, pointed it at me and pulled the trigger when my back was turned.

Today I had my first pre-op appointment with the plastic surgeon. A mere 2+ hour appointment to familiarize myself with all of the intricacies of everything that probably will not happen but could, so they ask me to read through all of the fine print and then sign – just in case.

I was prepared. Or so I thought.

During the course of discussion about what to be aware of following the surgery, and what I’ll need to do – the nurse asks me if we have any pets. Yes, I say, 2 cats. Indoor cats? she asks…. why yes, 2 elderly, indoor cats. She then informs me that fear of infection following this surgery is very serious (I had gathered as much from my discussion with my plastic surgeon as well – they are deadly serious about my susceptibility to infection following the type of surgery I’m having). Seems I’m not to come into contact with any animals following my procedure – not until after all of my 4 drainage tubes are removed – the last of which is likely not going to be until 3 weeks after the surgery. Hmm, I say….

My cat isn’t just a cat, he’s my companion when I’m sick. When I was dead on the couch with the flu that rolled into pneumonia last winter, he stayed with me. He kept me company. He was my constant companion. When I wasn’t sleeping at 2 am, he was snuggled up with me or wide awake with me, purring and comforting me. He was my rock, my constant snuggle bunny kitty. I had planned in my mind that I’d be spending the vast majority of my recovery on the very same couch upon which I spent 4 weeks when I had the flu and pneumonia. I had envisioned him and I in the same roles – me stuck on the couch while my body slowly heals and him as my furry hugging, purry pillow.

In telling me that I cannot come into contact with my cat for the majority of the critical healing time, the painful recovery time, they’ve effectively removed one of my best tools for handling stress and sickness in my life. I’m not sure I am ready to swallow that pill just yet. I’m pretty sure I am going to have to mourn my cat’s loss to me during this time before I can clear my mind enough to get it around what they need me to do.

Last Chemo Today!

Woo Hoo! Last day of chemo is here! Finally!!  I actually have some nice peach fuzz growing on my head which will be knocked down one final time before it’ll be allowed to grow back. My fingernails are still hanging on. Oh yes – the magic of chemistry!! The cut sealer stuff I’ve been using is helping keep them on – that and keeping the nails short.  Now I’ll have one month to get myself in better shape for surgery and then Ka BoOM! I won’t be allowed to put my arm over my head or get my heart rate up for a bit. Going to try to record a lot of my max lifts so I can compare – what was I pre-cancer, where am I now – so I’ll have a benchmark of how far I’ll be coming back. Gotta have goals! Need my plan so I’m in control. No concerns about how fast I come back or anything – just that I know what my goals are that I’m working towards. Likely won’t be until next spring/summer that the port comes out and I can get back to working on with the class!! THAT will be a fantastic day to celebrate!! (and get my tush handed to me on a silver platter I’m certain!).  So much to look forward to 🙂

Pissed Off

Pissed off. That’s what I’m currently am. Luckily, this is an emotion I can actually do something with. An emotion which I can funnel into a useful activity such as Crossfit. TGF Crossfit!

You know, it took a little time but I was ok with losing my hair. I knew it was coming. I took a breath – it fell out, I accepted it. I moved on. I even still mourn it some days but it’ll be back.  Now, to add insult to injury my nails are finally starting to go. And by go I mean complete their departure from my body. What began as beautiful nails – pink underneath the nails, long and feminine with nice white tips has turned into big browny-splotchy things with ridges that all look awful and now, they are finally started to lift off, and despite neuropathy which you think might actually HELP in this situation and make it NOT hurt – it actually hurts like HELL when I bump the nails into something.  Yeah, I’m angry all right. I’m pissed off.

So today I went to the gym. I’m technically near the end of my nadir period but I’ve now done this whole thing enough to feel comfortable with the hand washing, no face-touching – stay healthy thing. I went to the gym and did the work out with everyone. I had to scale a bit but I did it. Made me feel better. Despite feeling like I’m even losing more and more of my dignity each time I bump my nails and am immediately, and PAINFULLY reminded that I have cancer and my nails are now falling off – I did the F’ing work out and it felt good. Screw Cancer. I’m pissed now.  For the next 2 weeks before my next treatment I’m going to the gym and kickin’ some ass  ’cause I’m SO done with this.  No one told me about my nails falling out. I think if’ I’d been prepared like I had my hair it wouldn’t have been so bad. I thought I’d seen all of the side effects. Hopefully no more show up or I’ll really go over the edge and I’m pretty much already dancing on the Pissed Off Ledge so let’s just NOT go there.  As it is, I am now using “new skin liquid bandage” to help keep my nails tight to my finger so they won’t get knocked/pull off my hands. The indignity of it!! Let’s just hope it works…..  If not I don’t if I can stand to stare at my fingers if they are all nail-less….don’t even know if I could keep them uncovered without nails or what. I just really don’t want to have to have the conversation with myself. Seriously! Enough is ENOUGH!!



So much of being a cancer patient revolves around wanting to be normal. To look normal. To not look sick and, well, like you are a cancer patient. Overall I’ve been pretty good at hiding it, excluding the loss of my long hair. This has left me feeling strong, if not a slight bit “alternative” with my bald head.

Unfortunately, it isn’t just hair loss that is noticeable. Other side effects are also visually noticeable – so I’m learning. Now that I’m 5 treatments in, the hit on my fingernails is too much. I used to have beautiful, strong, healthy nails. All pink, strong and clear. Now my nails are kept very short – almost one would think, too short – but not so. With the neuropathy I feel, it is easier to keep them short to avoid catching long nails on anything unexpected and pulling on them. Also, more recently, my nails have gone from having deep, dark bands in them (due to the treatment) to being downright brown in color – and looking as though they are separating from my fingertips. I see the treatment schedule as a race – can I complete it without losing my fingernails. Who signed me up for this hideous game?

To this end, I decided tonight to put nail polish on my finger nails. Nothing fancy – just buff color to at least keep the abnormal and definitely unhealthy looking brown patches from catching anyone’s eye (including my own). It’s strictly a vanity thing but you know what, it’s important to me. Very important.

Now my toe nails, not so much an issue. I had a pedicure a while ago – second one since treatments have started – and I haven’t had to face any ugly discoloring. In fact, I’ve been quite happy with my cute looking toes recently. Also – since they grow so much slower than my finger nails, I’m fairly certain that the impact to their overall health hasn’t been as bad as it has to my finger nails. I have to keep them short, too – due to the neuropathy, but that’s normal.

So it continues, a battle for normalcy. The life of a cancer patient.