It’s not a pink sparkly ribbon. It’s not pretty. It fucking sucks.
I had my port removed on Tuesday and it’s gruesome. My plastic surgeon removed it and he was going to sew it shut and make the scar look pretty, but when he got in there he had to remove a lot of scar tissue and infected skin. He wasn’t able to close the wound because he was worried that the infection would essentially be sewn shut in there and it would cause an abscess. FUN.
So now I have a gaping hole in my chest where I can literally see my own flesh. To be honest, it looks worse than it feels. It doesn’t really hurt, it doesn’t bleed. I just slap a giant band-aid over it every morning and that’s all I’m supposed to do for now. It’s supposed to take about 6-8 weeks to heal completely. So without further adieu… if you’d like to view these pictures please click the link below. Warning: if you’re a weak bitch and you’re grossed out by blood then don’t look!
Last week I laid in my bed, the night before my last chemo unable to sleep well. There is this fear that grips me; it tightens my throat and waters my eyes like an icy cold blast of air. What if this isn’t the end? What if I haven’t done enough? I’ve spent the past 6 months in defensive mode against cancer. I’ve exhausted those months always doing something; chemo, mastectomy, pills, exams, diets, needles. Now it’s all over with. Sometimes I feel like I’m going to be that dove that is freed from it’s cage and flies right into a glass window.
I had read about and anticipated this emotional feeling on cancer websites, but it hasn’t stopped me from feeling this way. I am definitely SUPER FUCKING HAPPY and excited that my chemotherapy journey is over, but it’s not without mixed emotions. Of course I don’t want anymore chemo, but it’s a little scary knowing that I’m not receiving the cancer-killing drug anymore.
In the past, I let my fear control me. It manifested itself in anxiety, self-doubt, and denial in my life. Now I’m choosing to control my own emotions. It actually did take me 30 years to realize the simple fact that I can manage my own emotions and create my own destiny. Better late than never I guess? I anticipate that this post-cancer anxiety is going to feel like a dark cloud over me some days, but I’m choosing to stay in the light and believe with all my heart that this is the end of the road for cancer in my life. I will love every gorgeous breath that I inhale and be forever grateful that I was given a chance to stare death in the eyes and tell him to fuck off.
People often say to me “You’re so brave! You have so much courage!” and every time I hear it, I tend to nervously laugh it off because I’ve never considered myself brave. And you know what, honestly I was NOT brave, I was scared shitless every second. But when you’re faced with a situation in which you could actually die, you choose LIFE, not because you’re brave but because surviving is inherent in each of us. I didn’t run towards danger, I ran AWAY from it! I’m not a hero! Instead of saying I’m brave, I’d like to think I was just lucky enough to be in a situation where I could confront my deepest fears and learn from the experience. I’ve learned the emotions and mentality that it necessitates to be brave, and from here on out I will be that way with a grateful heart. Everyone has bravery in them so I challenge you to do something brave! Go skydiving, admit when you’re wrong, pursue an impossible dream, sacrifice something of yours for someone else, face your phobias and fears! You are in control.
“Promise me you’ll always remember: You’re braver than you believe, and stronger than you seem, and smarter than you think.” – Christopher Robin to Pooh
News flash: it can also make you fat. There are numerous different types of chemotherapy drugs and MOST of them will probably have the opposite effect and make you lose weight from lack of appetite. (I don’t want to be insensitive because losing a lot of weight from chemo is awful, but hey a few pounds couldn’t hurt right?) But me, oh I was lucky because apparently my chemo is not the type that makes you LOSE weight. It makes you fucking fat. Ha ha ha, Satan is laughing somewhere.
So I’m not qualified to explain the exact science of it, so I’ll give you laymen’s terms. The weight gain is caused by a number of factors actually. First, the specific combination of chemo I’m on (docetaxel, doxorubicin and cyclophosphamide) is particularly harmful to the ovaries. In order to prevent harm, I’m given a hormone therapy shot, Zoladex, which causes medical menopause. FML I’m having hot flashes as I type! Anyways, Zolodex stops my body from producing estrogen; and in turn, sends my ovaries away with their bags packed on a nice little vacation. (I’d like to think they went to the South of France because they’re so chic.) Meanwhile, while my ovaries are ignoring their duties of producing estrogen and are instead sipping mojitos in Saint-Tropez, my whole metabolism slows down without the estrogen. And we all know that a slow metabolism means gradual weight gain. Secondly, the chemo drug docetaxel (Taxol) notoriously causes water retention. So you’re bloated and puffy. Third, the drugs that I am given to combat nausea are steroids, which also cause weight gain and increased appetite. These three factors combine to make a perfect storm for weight gain. Keep reading…
Thankfully, I haven’t actually gained a ton of weight. It fluctuates between about 5 and 10 pounds extra at the most. I try and workout when I can, but going to the gym is not always easy. I usually can’t go to the gym until about a week after my chemo day. Normally I would be going to the gym on a day like today, except my port is infected so I’m terrified of germs right now. And everyone knows that gyms are cesspools for germs and sickness, (and dad bods, and girls taking mirror selfies, and basic bros…) which doesn’t bode well for a person like myself who has no immune system.
On a side note, I wanted to talk about the fact that my port is infected and it sucks! So my port, which is located under the skin right below my collar bone, has had a hard time healing from the start. My lazy immune system strikes again; because the incision where the port was put under the skin never was able to fully heal. After my second chemo session, one of the dissolvable stitches came loose and fell out of my skin. Somehow that shitty little stitch let in an infection. It burned and was painful, but the doctor gave me antibiotics and it seemed to clear up. Well that was two months ago, so fast forward to today and the infection is back. And once again, it burns and is painful and I’m put on antibiotics. I went to my plastic surgeon yesterday and he took one look at it and said “Oh boy, yeah I’m scheduling you for surgery to remove that thing.” So December 29th I’m having it removed and he’s going to try and work his plastic surgeon magic to make the scar not look ugly. I still have one chemo left on the 21st, and the nurse said they’ll have to make a game-time decision if they can use the port for chemo. They may just need to do it the old-fashioned way and stick a big needle in my arm.
Okay, sorry for that gross update. Back to talking about getting fat! So the 5 to 10 pounds that I’ve gained is not so bad, by my doctor’s standards. She said I could expect to gain up to 20 pounds! ….So you’re telling me that I’m going to look like I had a baby, except there is no baby? Get the fuck outta here. No. bye. Not happening. I’d rather starve. Ok, well maybe not.
My advice is to try meal prepping. I’ve recently started doing that with my boyfriend Jeff and I find it helps. We make a bunch of healthy meals on Sunday and Thursday and portion them all out in plastic containers, and eat that for the next few days. It’s also an awesome plan because I never know when I’m going to feel sick, so on my sick days I don’t have to worry about making lunch or dinner. My doctor also says that a few weeks after my last chemo I can expect to start losing the weigh because most of it is water weight. SO here’s to hoping I’ll be skinny enough to squeeze my ass into a cute New Years Eve dress! I can’t wait to get back to normal and see how my body recovers from all this poison. Xoxo
A few years ago I would have thought 31 looked much differently than it does today. A few years ago, if somebody had told me that by the age of 31 I would have cancer, be divorced, live in Florida, have a DOG (as a former crazy cat-lady), and be as hairless as a dolphin…. I would have said, Hey FUCK YOU, that sounds really awful! But honestly, it’s the best time I’ve ever had in my life and I don’t regret anything that has happened. The past few years have seemingly been laced with unfortunate events that have created my most fortunate, grateful self yet.
So I’ll share with you a few pieces of advice that I have learned along the way. I’m OLD and WISE now, right?!
Live your life for you, and nobody else.
Just a few years ago, I was a very different person in a very different point in my life. I was married to a man who I, unfortunately, lived my life for. Everything in my life; from my hair color to my job, revolved around him and making decisions that were best for “us.” It was just what I thought you were supposed to do when you’re married. And when the marriage went to shit, I felt as though I was stranded. I was on an island alone by myself because I had built my life around another person.
No, my advice is not to “never get married” because, whatever, you can do what you want. My advice is to live your life for YOU and nobody else. Don’t loose sight of your own goals and your own happiness. Don’t become that “we” couple. Be independent, travel alone, make weird friends, quit your job, start your own business, dye your hair green, and please never ever once think about what your husband or boyfriend might think. If they are the right person for you, then they will will allow you to be yourself completely.
I cringe at today’s obsession over marriage now. I’m jaded. I know. But ladies let’s stop being so thirsty for that perfect fucking wedding that we’re willing to shrug off the fact that that the groom may actually suck at life. Keep reading…
When you look good, you feel good.
Truthfully, I’ve learned that when I look like shit, I feel like shit. Some days I need to remind myself that just a few short months ago after my double mastectomy, I couldn’t even get out of bed without assistance. I couldn’t lift my arms up to wash my face. I had an excuse to look like crap. Today, I don’t have an excuse. So I wake up, shower, and put on makeup, clothes and a wig or scarf, even if I know I’m not leaving the house. Why? Because it makes me feel good. Also, what if the house started on fire and I had to run outside with a robe and a bald head? (HELL NO)
Health is wealth.
There are some days when I am literally stopped in my tracks by this sudden realization: Nothing hurts… no stomach ache, headache, bone pain, fever, infection, or bandages! Savor your good days and your good health. Take care of yourself and listen to your body. Exercise, eat healthy, drink lots of water.
Toughen the fuck up.
Expect the best but prepare for the worst. Toughen up. Be brave because shit is inevitably going to go wrong somewhere in your life. I used to be very emotional; like if I burnt toast, I might cry. Crying and worrying are as beneficial as a white crayon.
Comparison robs us of joy.
I used to compare myself to everyone. Ok I still do a little (don’t we all?), but it’s not nearly as bad! My clothes, my jewelry, my handbags, my car. I sized myself up to other people. I looked at other women and their fabulous handbags, manicured lawns and personal trainers and I wanted that. Then one day a few years ago I asked myself “Why do I want that?” and I didn’t have a real answer. I actually decided to cleanse my life of the material possessions I owned. I sold all my expensive jewelry like David Yurman and Tiffany’s. Then I just started just giving my shit away. I gave away stuff like Gucci handbags, designer sunglasses, expensive dresses and nice shoes to friends and family because I really just didn’t want it. IT FELT SO GOOD. I still love all those fancy, sparkly, designer extravagances, but now I have less of it and I appreciate it more. Less is more 🙂
So goodbye 30. You were a really fun but fucked-up year. Cheers to 31, and I’m looking forward to a year that is hopefully drama free!
So I haven’t wrote on my blog in a while, since my last chemo. I had my 2nd to last chemo on Monday (yesterday) and I have to say I’m feeling it pretty hard today. My doctor warned me that the last two chemo treatments will be the worst. My last one is on December 21, so I can expect to have a not-so-jolly Christmas. YAY. But I’m not delaying anything, To quote Clark Griswold (he gets me) from the movie Christmas Vacation:
“Where do you think you’re going? Nobody’s leaving. Nobody’s walking out on this fun, old-fashioned family Christmas. No, no. We’re all in this together. This is a full-blown, four-alarm holiday emergency here. We’re gonna press on, and we’re gonna have the hap, hap, happiest Christmas since Bing Crosby tap-danced with Danny fucking Kaye. And when Santa squeezes his fat white ass down that chimney tonight, he’s gonna find the jolliest bunch of assholes this side of the nuthouse.”
Also, my parents are coming here on the 22nd so there’s no way I’m backing out of Christmas shenanigans! With only ONE MORE CHEMO LEFT, I have to say; the hot flashes are epic, my anxiety is erratic, my stomach, appetite, and emotions are all unpredictable, and the headaches are the worst I’ve ever had, but I DON’T CARE I’M ALMOST DONE!
It’s like they say, every cloud has it’s silver lining; or always look on the bright side. No, it’s like sorting through 100 pounds of hand-me-down-clothes because you know there’s a perfect vintage Chanel bag in there somewhere. Basically, what I’m saying is that I endured these past 6 months with a positive mindset because I know it will all be worth it when it’s all over. So for now I’ll keep my head held high and say “Fuck you chemo, Fuck you cancer, you’re not ruining my Christmas spirit!” Keep reading…