Hair

If you ask many cancer patients what one of their main concerns are about Chemo, a lot will say hair loss.  It is to be expected.  I never thought about it before, but I took having hair for granted.  Now that I have been bald before,  I know that hair is just that hair.  It shouldn’t define who I am as a person.

When I started my new treatment this year, the nurse told me I may have hair loss or thinning .  Well, that brought up a bunch of questions.  How likely was I to lose all my hair and if thinning how much to expect.  I am not new to being bald.  The first time I had chemo in 2014, hair loss was expected and I chose to shave my head before it fell out on its own.  I didn’t mind being bald but I  did like having hair better.  I was lucky and my niece Kristi is a hairdresser and shaved my head for me.  It was more of a personal feeling and family was there did not make the experience as dramatic.  My husband Steve even shaved his head at the same time.  I have never imagined what I would look like bald.  I have to admit it wasn’t as bad as I thought it would be. Steve would shave my head for me every week.  It became a nice time where we would discuss things to keep our minds off the current situation.  I was not an easy person to shave because I wouldn’t keep still.  So kudos to Steve for being patient and understanding.   I chose not to wear a wig.  I had brought one but only wore it once or twice just to see how I looked.  It was a very pretty and nice wig.  The place where I got the wig matched my current hairstyle and color from a picture and it did look great.  I just liked wearing it bald.   I got many compliments on being bald but also some people were uncomfortable with my baldness.  I did wear chemo hats a lot because it was winter time.  As anyone who is bald can tell you,  my head sure did get cold in the winter.  There are other alternatives such as the cold chemo cap that can be worn during chemo to avoid hair loss.  Not a lot of chemo centers offer the cold cap option currently.  It is  a nice option if hair loss is a major concern.

For more information about the cold chemo caps,

https://arcticcoldcaps.com/

After my first set of chemo treatments in 2014,  I waited for my hair to come back.  I had heard so many stories about the hair texture and color changing after chemo.  Well, when it started growing back it was gray very fine hair.  I didn’t like it. I told Steve that we would keep shaving it until it either changed or I would reserve myself to being bald.  After about a month of shaving the gray fine hair away, it finally started growing back brown and the regular texture.  I was so glad.

So over the years, my hair has grown back almost the same as it was previous to chemo.  So, facing losing my hair again did not seem as much of an issue for me this time.  My hair did start thinning after a few weeks of my current treatments.  Other survivors had stories of some losing all their hair under this treatment while others were able to keep their hair.  Not many people even knew my hair was thinning unless I told them.  The most noticeable for me was my eyebrows were thinning.  So, I discussed with many people and even prayed to God about if I should shave my hair,   The thinning for me just felt and looked weird.  I would and still do ask Steve if he thinks if my hair is thinning.

At CTCA,  I  also meet with a neutropath specialist during treatment.  A neutropath specialist to me means someone that can assist me with alternative means to combat a situation without relying on medication.  It was recommended that I start biotin supplement.  Biotin is used to strengthen brittle nails, hair and many other options.  I started the biotin supplement and als started using ogx biotin and collagean shampoo.  For, now I am happy to report my hair has started growing again and it has more volume than before.  I still am prepared that other treatments may cause me to lose my hair and I may  bald again.  For now,  I just enjoy what I have.

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Cancer is personal

IMG_0865A very close friend of mine, sister died a couple weeks ago from brain cancer.  She sent me an email yesterday. From the email I could tell that she was not having a very good day, so I called her today and she asked me why her sister didn’t fight more. I thought what could I say that would make her feel better.    It may not seem like she didn’t fight anymore. Chemo is tough on anyone. Especially when your body is weak and the cancer is aggressive.   Her sister had fought as much as she could and then left the fight in God’s hands.    Each person’s journey is totally individual.  Don’t compare them. Even though two people may have cancer, their types, treatment and circumstances are totally individual.

After the first time I had breast cancer I said afterwards , I would never have chemo again here I am getting chemo again.  Time and circumstances make you forget the bad side of cancer.  I have a friend that died from lung cancer last year and had decided that he didn’t want any treatments.  I totally understood but some questioned his decision.  Chemo is tough not only on the patient but on family and friends.  Everyone fights in their own way. Sometimes it may seem like giving up would be easier.

I was talking to my primary care doctor today.  She asked how I always stayed positive and smiled.  I wouldn’t know how to do it any other way.  I have my faith, a great family, great friends and a positive attitude.  That’s half the battle.  The side effects and treatment are the hard part.    I share my experiences just to show what I am going through.  I have my tough days too. A couple of weeks ago ,  I had a terrible day.  I had a migraine headache and it just seemed that everything hurt.  I stayed in bed the whole day which is something I rarely do.  Steve came home and I was just laying in bed wide awake.  I knew it was hard for him to see me like that.  So I mustered up what energy  I had, got up and went for a short walk with him.  I knew it would make him feel better and it made me  feel a little better too.

I told my oncologist yesterday about my back hurting more now.  He asked me if I took the pain pills he had prescribed and if needed anything stronger.  Well, I of course told him that I took them if I was I terrible pain.  He again counseled me that the pain pills are there for any type of pain and there is no shame in having to take them.  I just don’t like taking pain pills.  No real justification, just I really don’t like how they make me feel afterwards.

No one is guaranteed tomorrow.  Make the most of the life you have now.  Enjoy all the time you have.  Enjoy life’s victories!

Life truly is short. We often don’t like to think about it, but this really could be our last day to live. But that shouldn’t frighten us as Christians, because Jesus has promised that He will give eternal life to all those who put their faith in Him (John 10:28).

First cycle of chemo completed

Today is the 21st day of ibrance the oral chemo.  I was so ready for this day. I have been counting down since the beginning.  I have never been so happy to see an empty pill bottle. Thank God I was able to complete the first cycle.   I get 7 days off.  I technically am not sure why I get 7 days off but I hope it gives time for my body to recover.  I also finished my booster chemo injections so now I will get the injections once every month.  I bombed my blood test this week .  Everything was low WBC, platelets, hemoglobin, potassium, etc.  Dr. Citrin said we will continue the high dosage of ibrance and Faslodex for now.  If the blood tests still come back low then may have to lower for the next cycle.  I have to get my blood test every two weeks here.  The results are sent to CTCA.  My potassium levels are so low, I get to add potassium pills to my daily pills.   All of this may explain why I am so tired.

As a result of the low platelets,  my injections bleed for a while and left some pretty bruises.  Needless to say I haven’t been sitting for long.  I am sure they will get better soon.  I thought, not that anyone told me it was the case,  that these injections and oral chemo would be easier than the IV chemo I had the first time I had breast cancer.  I guess each type has its own side effects.  One is definitely not easier than the other though.  Or, I may not want to remember how bad the first chemo was.  Other patients have told me that the side effects can differ with each cycle.  I pray it gets better with time.  I know a lot of other patients have a lot more side effects than I do.

I know that this is a long-term plan.  It was great to hear Dr. Citrin say that I was doing great so far.  I know that God is with me!

My first oncologist Dr. Fernette used to tell me

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Isaiah 41:10 fear not, for I am with you; be not dismayed, for I am your God; I will strengthen you, I will help you, I will uphold you with my righteous right hand

There have been many days that I have prayed to not only to take the cancer away but to also make each day better.  I know that God is right beside me and will get me through this like he has everything else.   I know my faith, attitude and all of your prayers and support will see me through this.  I pray for all those going through hard times.  Even though things may be rough some days,  I know that there are some people way worse off than me.

Psalm 55:22 Give your burdens to the LORD, and he will take care of you. He will not permit the godly to slip and fall.