Thursday, June 14, 2012

Operation fuck kancer: Chemo 3 and an attitude adjustment

Wall of happy. Copyright Lori Kittelberg.
My wall of happy.
Had my third chemo yesterday, the second last of the AC part of my ACT treatment. This puts me close to the half-way mark chemo wise, which I'm quite pleased about.

The huge thing was yesterday, I had four members in my chemo posse: my husband, current colleagues Kirsten (who doubled as our driver) and Melissa (who had me laughing about making Elizabethan ruffs for dogs), and Erica, a former colleague who's now a great friend.

I was waiting to see if the nurse would kick two of them out, but it wasn't a full room, and only one other patient had one visitor with him, so I guess she decided it wasn't a big deal. Now more about that attitude adjustment...

Getting needed perspective

It was a huge kick in the pants for me. You may recall I've been having a pity party.

Then a few nights ago, I was magnetized to a magazine in our laundry room called Fresh Vancouver. The feature story was an interview with Bif Naked, a rockin' woman who happens to be a breast cancer warrior. One quote really stuck out for me:

"...there are cancer patients who take the bus in from Surrey for chemo, or who have four kids and can't find child care so they lug their kids in with them." Sweet merciful crap. I can't imagine taking my one kid with me, much less four.

Challenges are just that

Yes, we have had challenges arranging child care, or finding someone to do daycare drop-off and pick-up for us at times. My husband has taken over that task because it stresses me out (thing one to be grateful for).

And every single time, whether it takes 10 phone calls or one, a friend steps up to the plate (thing two to be grateful for). Indeed, the childcare posse is in full effect y'all, with Shemim helping us last night Yvonne this morning, and Nikki tonight since George is working. It takes a village, folks. And our village is pretty fucking awesome.

My wall of happy

All this brings me to my wall of happy (sorry about the photo quality, will try to get something better, but you get the idea). The wall started with a couple of art pieces by my son and one of his best friends. Last night it grew to include photos and greeting cards.

I've been posting my progress on Facebook with some uncertainly over how much I should be sharing. But within a few hours of posting that I'm almost halfway through chemo, the number of responses floored me. And that's why I do it. Living far from most of my family, I need to know my friends are there for me.

When I roll over to get out of bed every morning, and when I'm lying down because I feel like hell, I now have a hard-copy reminder of how many people have my back. And a reminder of how much hair I had when I was young and wild (yeah, that's a perm - don't judge, it was the 90s).

Thursday, June 7, 2012

How to find peace when I'm on the edge

This has been a crappy week.

    chemo hair copyright Lori Kittelberg
  1. What little hair I have is now falling out (except for the hair on my legs, which is really annoying). My scalp hurts. 
  2. Our mail carrier didn't bother buzzing when I was home yesterday, so I missed my mom's care package. 
  3. I've been on daycare duty more this week. Combined with my son's dawdling? Patience is done. Resulting in a mega-dose of guilt. 
  4. My period started, which seems to be extending the nausea from my last treatment. 
  5. My fingernails are starting to hurt, which is freaking me out because I don't want to lose my nails. Hair, fine, I'll deal. But fingernails? Really? Bloody hell.

After nearly having a breakdown on the bus this morning and sending a few panicked texts to my husband - please, someone buy that man a drink, he truly deserves it - I stopped for a little liquid sunshine.

Nectar of the gods

Delaney's on Denman copyright Lori KittelbergIn an ideal world, I would cut coffee. I'm eating more vegetables, have eliminated and reduced a lot of crap (white foods, red meat, wine, dairy). I am not cutting out coffee.

Which brings me to today's saviour, Delaney's on Denman.

Grabbing a coffee is nothing new to me, it's something I do every day. In Vancouver, we take for granted the fact that there's at least one coffee shop on every block. This makes it easy to miss the whole cafe experience.

When my mom was here after my surgery, we tried a few of the local coffee shops. She liked Delaney's best. And I remembered why I loved going there so much.

Me and Delaney's have history

Through my years freelancing two days a week, to my maternity-leave days and short escape trips when I was dealing with PPD, I used to go there an awful lot. Lately, I've been going on my way home from dropping off my son at daycare since it's been pouring rain (that's no. 6 on my list!), reading the paper, and tweeting.

I like the chill atmosphere, the staff, the new sugar-free spelt muffins, the free extra shot in my latte, the seating along the window providing perfect people-watching.

It's still been a crappy week. But taking that little moment today gave me the bit of normal I needed.

Monday, June 4, 2012

Finding solace in books

Last week was chemo appointment two. I ended up arriving early at the cancer agency with an hour to kill, so decided to check out their information centre on the first floor. Basically, it's a small library with free hats.

After nabbing a couple of new skull caps and discussing the merits of doing the head-shave with another cancer warrior, I asked the volunteer working that day if she had any books for children she could recommend.

Lo and behold, she found Where's Mom's Hair? If you read last week's post, you'll know talking to my son about the whole cancer thing has been weighing heavily on my mind.

All about timing

Even though I had already shaved my head, this book landed in my hands at the perfect time. Not only does it go through mom's shaving her head (at a head-shaving party, no less!), but it also walks through mom's experience going to chemo, with photos of her with the IV in. It talks about dad feeling sad when mom doesn't feel well after treatment. And it ends on a hopeful note.

I brought it home and that night, my son and I read Where's Mom's Hair? He was curious about the IV and wanted to know if my treatment was the same as the mom's in the book. And then he got very quiet. We finished the book and he gave me multiple hugs before bed.

He has no interest in reading the book again. And that's okay. I'm pretty sure it served its purpose.