Time for the Hair to Go

Well the time finally arrived.  Hayley came over to shave my hair off yesterday. She had a little cry, but I was fine, as I have gone through the process over the past weeks. It was time for it to go, it was grossing Allan out that I would pull chunks out while we watched television, and It was starting to thin out so much I couldn’t really do it any more.  I’ve been reading a funny book by comedian Luke Ryan who has had cancer twice at age 11 and 22.  He said, he went to the toilet during a dinner party and as he pulled down his undies, all the hair from that part of his body which had disengaged, flew into the air and he was in there for ages, getting it off the cistern, the window sill and every other place it had landed, he wasn’t sure how to explain his long absence since it wasn’t the sort of thing you chat about at a dinner party.

FullSizeRender-19 FullSizeRender-20

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Finally Allan and I have the same haircut.

Later that night at Troy's 40th Birthday Bash with Great Grandbaby Amaya and me wearing my blonde wig.

Later that night at Troy’s 40th Birthday Bash with Great Grandbaby Amaya and me wearing my blonde wig.

Beau and Chelsea, looking very alike due to their squashed noses

Beau and Chelsea, looking very alike due to their squashed noses

Chelsea, she had half cleaned her face up after eating chocolate ice-cream with her hands

Chelsea, she had half cleaned her face up after eating chocolate ice-cream with her hands

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

I felt so well, I couldn’t believe I had just had Chemo the day before.  I was so pleased to be able to go to Troy’s party.  It was a special night, with everyone there except for Sarah and Jarrad who are in Sydney with three of our Grandchildren and are always missed at family things.  They are planning a trip over for two weeks in April so we will be looking forward to a big family catch up.

Today I slept, and rested up.  The medication makes me a bit shaky and I was that way the day after Chemo last time, so  felt very blessed to get a day of feeling well, when I shouldn’t have, and could join the family celebration yesterday.

11024732_10155216067955247_1420685602137070621_n

We picked up a lovely little dog who was running near the Paganoni Rd exit of the freeway.  Ben the softy that he is stopped and bought dog food and chews at the Singo Serve and they took her home for the night.   Hayley posted her picture on Gumtree and the owners picked her up today.  I think Ben was a bit sad, he really liked her.

IMG_2526                                                                Lunch

On the days I am a bit off, it is great to have freezer back up, Minestrone soup, a cheese muffin compliments of Hayley, and some fruit salad.  Good food, with a minimum of effort.

Check us out on Facebook: Breast Cancer Ready or Not

Chemo Round Two

It is easy to see why we have to put the rest of our life on hold once embarking on cancer treatment.  Appointments just keep on coming.  The day before my Chemo Round, I had to go for a Review with my Doctor, at Fiona Stanley Hospital.  This was probably a good thing, so we could do a trial run on where to park and how to find the main entrance.  Treatment day parking was $15.  Since the Chemo cost us nothing I suppose there is nothing to whinge about, and hopefully they will put the revenue from the full up parking areas toward some good signs around the place.

FullSizeRender-11Normally on the day of a review, you need to have a blood test to make sure your blood count is back up to where it should be, so you are ready for your next treatment.  I being of the variety that hates waiting, asked if I could have my blood test at Mandurah Pathwest the day before.  They send it through to the hospital in the afternoon, all ready for my Chemo the next day. I felt a little smug as I walked past the very full, Pathwest waiting room at the hospital, having had mine on the way in with hardly a wait.  The hospital is beautiful, but there are still hiccups in the system as patients who don’t have a Pathwest just down the road from their house, are often still over having blood tests, when they are called in for the review, and the waiting continues..

All you prayer warriors and well wishers, keep up the good work.  I am tolerating Chemo very well and feel even better than my last time straight after treatment.  I did say to my Doctor, just because I pulled up ok, didn’t mean he should give me a stronger dose this time.  My nurse and I were chatting while she pumped toxic stuff into me, and I was telling her I was a Pastor with a very strong faith in God and that I had no fear whatsoever, I just think of this as the prescribed medicine I need, and see it as my friend.  Pastor Darlene Zschech, a well know singer, and songwriter in the Christian world who has been going through her own Chemo journey, said when she saw the nurse coming at her all suited up with the bright red chemicals, she though, ‘I will just think of it as The Blood of Jesus’.  What a great analogy, I would have loved to have stolen it.  My nurse did say that in her years of experience, people with a strong faith, do seem to sail through this.  Chemo doesn’t hurt.  Since the first day I went to my GP and he attempted with three needles to try and draw some fluid out of my tumour hoping it was a cyst, I have lost count of the needles and cannula that have been stuck in me.  They don’t bother me at all, and I feel for those of you that are needlephobes.  My nurse yesterday was telling me, once as she prepared to give a lady her Chemo, the terrified woman passed out cold and she had only taken the needle off the tray.  Apparently, if some people get very nauseas or vomit after treatment, their brain can go into action the minute they walk into the Chemo room and they start vomiting and have to be given medication.

we get fed continuously during Chemo

we get fed continuously during Chemo

I feel very blessed to be coping so well.  Yesterday, they had no recliner rockers left in the ward, so I was put in a private room with an entertainment centre, all very swish.  The nurses kept saying, how are things at the Ritz when they walked in, and Allan kept ordering a steak, as well as having them in stitches with his stream of terrible jokes. I said he was the Court Jester and I only bring him to cheer me up, and they should feel free to ignore him.

How cute was he!

How cute was he!

It is our oldest son Troy’s 40th today, so I will need to rally myself and go for a couple of hours to have dinner. His oldest son and our oldest grandson, turned ten on Monday, so we popped down there after Fiona Stanley review day as he had stayed home from school.  I did say to Troy he could have realised forty years ago his mother might need chemo the day before his birthday, and picked some other time to be born.  He pointed out that timing was nothing to do with him so it wasn’t his fault.  True, true.

Check us out on Facebook: Breast Cancer Ready or Not

Food for Thought

Thank goodness my sweet craving passed quickly and I am now loving healthy fruits and vegetables.  Look at this colourful bowl of antioxidants.  You can’t see everything, but, it has lots of leafy greens, grape tomatoes, cranberries, almonds, pumpkin seeds, red and green bell peppers, carrot, grapes, and cucumber served separately, as Allan doesn’t like it.  I dressed it with my homemade vinaigrette:  Shake in a jar, 1/3 jar olive oil, apple cider vinegar, 1/2 tsp turmeric, 1/2 tsp oregano, 1/4 garlic powder, 1 tsp dijon mustard, 1 dsp honey, salt and pepper.  I served this as a side with Lasagne that friends bought for lunch on Saturday, you could just add a chopped boiled egg or some Tuna and have it as a main meal.

FullSizeRender-5

Chicken Casserole

I’m also doubling up on some meals this week, so I have a freezer stock for after next Tuesday’s Chemo round.  I thought this Chicken Sausage Casserole I got from You Tube’s DoitonaDime looked quick and yummy. Very few ingredients, 1 1/2 cups brown rice, 3 carrots diced, 1 onion diced, 1/2 cup cranberries, diced broccoli,  sprinkle with oregano, add 2 cups water, salt and pepper and 6 cooked and sliced chicken sausages.  Cook in Crock pot for 7 hours

OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERAThe Wedding down at the beach went well on Friday and as you can see, my hair ended up like the monkey picture I posted on ‘Relaxing while I can’, all standing on end, but at least it was still doable.  I know God knows how many hairs on our head, so He must be having to deduct very quickly now, as it is coming our on every comb of my hair, and I end up with a big chunk on the counter every time I style it.  I should think with the next round of Chemo tomorrow, I will lose the rest.  The good thing is, it will grow back, so it is way less traumatic than losing an arm or leg.  I really need to be careful to practice what I have preached for years.  Whenever, one of my children would complain about their legs or anything on their body they didn’t like.  I would say, ‘what if we take a trip down to Princess Margaret Hospital, and visit some children battling Cancer, or those that have lost a leg due to some disease or accident.  Once you have done that, I am sure you will appreciate that you have those bits on your body still in tact and stop whining.’  I know it is not pleasant for women to lose their hair, but, there are women out there with things like Alopecia, who may have lost all their hair when young, and have had to wear a wig their whole life, as there is still no cure for this demoralising disease.  I am not about to start crying about something that will fix itself in a couple of months time. The Wedding was for one of our oldest son Troy’s School friends, so we had fun catching up with Troy and Lesa at Krispy Kreme donuts for coffee in between the wedding and reception.

What I ordered

What I ordered

Meanwhile, another one of my cheap wigs from Hong Kong arrived, and is nothing like the colour in the picture (which I have since discovered was taken from another website of a much more expensive wig). So together with the Red wig I posted about ages ago, it will be getting donated to the Cancer Council’s Wig Library.  Maybe these will suit someone else.

What arrived

What arrived

Check us out on Facebook: Breast Cancer Ready or Not

Taking it Easy

I have to admit I am becoming addicted to buying things on Ebay. There is something about the postman arriving with packages each day, with my name on it. I feel weirdly special like I am being sent present after present.  The fact that I have paid for them myself doesn’t seem to spoil the thrill.  I’ve ordered, wigs, and beanies, scarves and hats, all in the belief that I will be losing my hair in the near future.  So far, apart from an itchy scalp and a few extra tufts coming out when I brush, my hair is pretty much in tact.  The thought has now struck me, ‘what if it doesn’t fall out?’  I will find myself having to have an end of Chemo clearance sale of assorted paraphernalia that was meant to cover a non-existent bald head. It is still early days, and only 40% of patients lose their hair on the first round, so they may come in handy soon.  Most of you will know I am a Marriage Celebrant, and as I have a Wedding at the Beach at the end of the week, I am glad my hair has hung in there this long, as I have mentioned before, wigs and wind may be fine, but, I would rather not have to chance it.

Some of my haul

Some of my haul

Over the weekend when my immune system was at its lowest for this round of Chemo I stayed home from Church as I am meant to avoid crowds. It felt really strange as I wasn’t sick.  I had a shower, put on fresh PJ’s and had a wonderfully decadent day, lounging in bed, reading, looking at You Tube and pottering around doing wedding paperwork.  Allan was at a darts event, so it was very unusual to have the house to myself, and nothing pressing to do.  What a luxury.  These days don’t come often in life, so one should enjoy them when they do.  In the past, I have memories of similar occurrences on the odd Boxing Day.  After, the busyness of Christmas Day, our teenagers and their partners and friends, would often head off to the Movies to see the latest ‘Lord of the Rings’ or new release for the holidays, and I would be left in peace.  Usually, it would be hot, so I could be found exactly as I was yesterday, curled up in my air-conditioned bedroom wearing my Peter Alexanders, reading and watching Television (this was in the days before I was hooked on You Tube, in fact I don’t think You Tube existed yet).  I love You Tube, you can type in anything from Caulking a Bath tub to applying eyeshadow to achieve a smoky eye for beginners, press enter, and up it comes.  When my eight year old granddaughter and a fellow You Tube addicted visited last year, she squealed with delight when she discovered we both watched one of the same You Tube channels.  I liked it for the way the lady organised things in her home and Halle liked the way she had decorated her girls bedroom as a princess paradise.

Todays chunk

Todays chunk

Just an update.  Yesterday and today my hair has been coming out in quite big chunks as  It gets styled, so I think it is on the way out.  My working with Children’s Check expires at the end of the month so I called in to the Post Office to pick up a new application. I explained to the clerk that I am losing my hair due to chemo, and could she take the necessary photo to go with it while I still have my hair, as it may not last till the weekend, I said I realise they like both things to go together, so I said, ‘you can keep the picture under the counter till I come back with my signed form on Monday’.  She said this is extenuating circumstances so it shouldn’t be a problem and went off to ask the supervisor.  Of course she said no, so I guess I will be having my photo with my wig on.  What sort of person says no to that.  I mean my face will be the same on Monday, any idiot will be able to see it is still me. Grrr…

Check us out on Facebook: Breast Cancer Ready or Not

So Far So Good

I was feeling very really good one week and one day after my first Chemo round, so I ventured off to our Church Women’s morning.  Between day 10 -14 your blood count drops, so you are advised to stay away from public places where germs may be lurking.  Since it was only day nine I thought I would take the chance.  I did however, make a public announcement that I appreciated all their prayers and support, but, not to be offended if I didn’t hug people.  Those of you who are Church folk will know these places are rife with huggers.  I stopped short of bringing a can of glen twenty.  Joking aside, during this time a Chemo Patient’s Immune System is very low and it can be quite dangerous if they catch anything. We are contemplating putting a sign at the front door, as I feel weird asking everyone that says they are coming for a cuppa, if they are sick or have any symptoms.   I have several cards saying I am at high risk of Febrile Neutrophenia which starts out I think with a fever, hence from day one, you are required to take your temperature and if it hits 38 degrees, which is not unusually high for the general population, a Chemo patient must not pass go, and, head straight for the hospital.

I seem to be very healthy so far, and very grateful for that fact.  We just spoke to an old friend today who has been on Chemo long-term due to kidney cancer, and is doing it tough.  I only have four more rounds to go, which is nothing in the Chemo world.

FullSizeRender-3FullSizeRender-4-4

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Meanwhile, my head is starting to itch a lot,so I am anticipating some hair fall out soon.  It doesn’t come out all at once, but in chunks.  One of my dear friends was undergoing radiation after a Basal cell carcinoma being removed from her ear lobe.  She was brushing her hair when a furry dark brown lump fell to the floor.  She screamed and ran from the room thinking it was a mouse.  On closer investigation it turned out to be a clump of her hair from behind her ear, collateral damage from the radiation therapy. My new wig arrived today, so I am posting some preview pictures.  We are taking votes on who looks the best.  Allan seems to be very interested in my wigs, maybe because his hair is a little thinner than when I first fancied him, with his long Beatles hair-do.  Here he is looking like an ageing Rolling Stones, band member, and if anyone says he looks better than me, you will be immediately crossed off my Christmas List.

Check us out on Facebook: Breast Cancer Ready or Not

Too Hot to Drink

Like many of my generation, it came as a shock when we began to have to wash our rubbish.  I have always had a jar fetish anyway, and couldn’t bear to throw out any jar that was an interesting shape.  Eventually, at clear out time, a whole draw full of various unused glass containers would be ditched.  Now, with the recycling surge, I put a lot more of them to use in the pantry and fridge.  My sister gave me two varieties of jam from Margaret River.  We enjoyed the contents and since I liked the shape of the jars, decided to remove the labels.  After a week of soaking, those babies were not budging.  I ended up having to laboriously peel bits off then attack them with detergent and a curly girl, and finally they ended up sparkling like new.  But, give a girl a break, I am just feeling back to almost normal since my first Chemo round a week ago, so not wanting to waste too much energy on my first housework day my Sanguine side which thinks life is too short nearly threw them in the recycling, but, my Choleric side which says ‘never give up, never surrender’, wouldn’t quit, with the end result being clean shiny jars, ready for reuse.  In hindsight, we could have had a weekend away, with the monetary value of the woman hours I put into cleaning them, and I can’t help thinking manufacturers, could use better stickers.  I can’t be the only one who is fed up with trying to get labels off new plastic containers, and seeing the sticky goop their three years later, or buying someone a book as a gift and having to give it to them with a grubby residue mark where the price was. That’s my rant for the day, so back to Chemo Side Effects.

IMG_2418FullSizeRender-2FullSizeRenderOver the weekend, I purchased some over the counter medication for the indigestion I was experiencing.  These helped a little, except, yesterday, I set out and made some mild chicken soup, thinking that would be a very indigestion free food.  Turns out that even though I have always had a cast iron gullet in the past, and have always drunk boiling hot cups of tea and sipped on piping hot soups.  This is not how it will be during Chemo.  Previously, I explained the chemicals attack fast growing cells which skin and hence the digestive tract are made of.  Obviously, your food passage can get quite tender and sensitive and didn’t appreciate my home-made scalding onslaught.  It objected, quite strenuously in a very painful manner, to the point that I rang my Doctor who had a script for a stronger medicine faxed through to our Chemist, and Allan good man that he is rushed off to get them for me.  They seem to have done the trick, although I am planning to be a bit more careful about the temperature of my food, and make sure I chew everything well, and don’t eat large amounts. It has been a couple of days and has  now settled down.  Compared to what I have heard, my side effects are nothing, so I really can’t complain, so far I am having a good run. Thanks everyone, keep up the good wishes and prayers, they are very appreciated.

IMG_2414Chicken Soup Recipe at my other blog ‘Evie Down Under’

Check us out at Facebook ‘Breast Cancer Ready or Not’

Goodbye Coffee

I hate to be a drama Queen but, life as I know it is over, I’ve gone off coffee.  I love my coffee, its one of the joys of my life.  I am a good barista and can brew you up a beautiful latte while you relax in my family room.  Alas, I think while I am on Chemo though, I won’t be one of the recipients. Oh, well-being originally English, I do like a nice cup of tea and that seems to go down better at the moment.  Going through the vast array of leaf teas and bags we have collected I can see that some are probably ten years old, so a bit of culling is overdue.  On the good side, this is an excuse to go to some lovely tea houses and buy some new and exotic teas.  Some of the old ones have amazing names, ‘Sticky Date Pudding’, ‘Caramel Toffee’, ‘Japanese Evening Mint’ to name a few.  Coffees are the same, ‘I’ll have a large double skinny vanilla bean mochachino thanks’.  No longer do you ask for a cup of tea while at the Cafe, and expect a tea bag dangling from a cup with some water in it.

IMG_2426

We have gotten very posh in our modern society.  Our Grannies would turn over in their graves. We often don’t really have time to enjoy our cuppa either, now we grab our take away cup, and sip it down as we hurry back to the office, or drive in our car to pick the kids up from school.  What happened to gathering in the Parlour (whats a Parlour you say, I think it’s a lounge room, that’s before my time as well) at 4 o’clock, for tea and cucumber sandwiches accompanied by tiny cakes, to be savoured and eaten at a leisurely pace, while we discuss the day.   Mind you, in our culture, there are often not a lot of people home at 4 o’clock, and even if Mum where there, her little cakes and sandwiches wouldn’t go far, when Freddy brings in four of his teenage mates and attacks the fridge with gusto.  I’ve shared this before, that, Troy our family cook would make up amazing Pizzas, from anything he could find in the pantry.  Once when we were planning a family holiday to Exmouth, Troy and Scott baked all the cakes for us to take (as we were leaving Civilization for two weeks) also I was dieting and didn’t want to be cooking fattening stuff.  I remember a lovely Cherry Cake in their repertoire. If you have fed teenage boys you will know first hand that a cup of tea and a biscuit will not do, I bought trays of eggs from the Egg Farm near our house and that way, after school they could whip themselves up four eggs on toast, and survive till Dinner time.

dsc_00051

Life seems to be in too much of a rush and bustle and most of our lives are lived in a hurry.  Being able to make such grand decisions as to which coffee we will order at morning tea, must give us some sense of empowerment in a day that is otherwise largely out of our control.  We can at least chose what coffee to drink, right, and no one is going to tell us we can’t, unless of course they are out of our favourite flavour. Some things in life don’t change though, and even though we have a big urn and lovely tea bag selection at our after Church Cuppa, I am certain that somewhere around the state, there are still ladies with their big stainless steel tea pots, serving up very stewed cups of tea that we remember of old, to the odd club, or church gathering.

white_tea

Since being diagnoses with Breast cancer, my life has come to a grinding holt.  Priorities shift, as treatment and your health become the most important thing to consider.  Trivial things suddenly don’t matter.  Having let go of as much as possible that I was doing previously, I now have time, to take time with things and people.  Unfortunately, other people in my life are still just as busy, so at four o’clock, I will be sitting down with Allan for that nice relaxed cup of tea, although, now that I think about it, not today, as he has a meeting  and I need to go and see a couple about their wedding next month while we are up that way, and take our granddaughter her birthday present.  Ahh! life, does it ever really slow down…….   Thanks Jenny for the baking the beautiful Breast Cancer cup cakes for my visit.  Your a darling.

Check us out on Facebook ‘Breast Cancer Ready or Not’