Chemo #2 was definitely a success. Well, I think it was from my perspective. I admit to actually letting the thought "If I don't feel as bad as last time, maybe it wasn't the right dose or it isn't working" cross my mind at least once or twice. But I've tried to just enjoy the fact that it has been less difficult though very exhausting. The fatigue side of it has been so hard to describe. I get bursts of energy and then suddenly I feel like I can't stay awake a minute longer and have to go rest. I am learning to pay attention and actually listen to what my body is telling me.
I have just begun to have trouble with the acne on my almost-bare scalp. This is just plain gross. The doctor called in a prescription for a topical lotion (antibiotic, I think) and I'm really hoping this alleviates some of this issue. I've read a blog and a Caring Bridge page for two other women experiencing acne while undergoing chemotherapy and there is another woman close to my age locally who is having the same trouble. Unfortunately, at the doctor's office, it seems like our reaction is a little unusual. I'm just not sure if it is a reaction to chemo, my body trying to process the toxins from chemo, a result of the hormonal changes from chemo (as my body slips into menopause as a result) or maybe even heat/fabric- issues as my poor, sensitive scalp adjusts to life without hair to provide a buffer. But there are certainly better things to discuss.
Lately, this great team of "chemo angels" started sending me cards and small gifts in the mail. These are people who have survived cancer and are now giving back. One woman is my "card angel" and she has sent me some beautiful notes already. The other woman lives in TX and her first gift was a package of all sorts of TX travel information (maps, brochures, etc) as well as a cowboy bandana that the kids love. Later she sent something with an umbrella, drink cup (again confiscated by the small people in the house) and a book. And another package (Troy's favorite so far) had all sorts of TX "heat" (hot tamales candy, two bottles of hot sauce, Big Red gum). These people are so sweet and I love that they have been through this journey before and are now connecting with people currently in treatment. I am already considering participating in this once I am out of treatment because it is such an amazing ministry.
Recently, I've gone back to a church I attended in the 90s (though I've still remained as an inactive member despite attending other churches). My parents originally went there and I eventually followed (somewhat reluctantly because I wanted to find my "own" church). I spent a number of years at this church and was pretty involved so lately, it feels like "home" to me in some strange way. I feel connected to my parents again. And I've also run into some people who were important to me so I feel like it is where I need to be for now.
I've had friends bring me smoothies and milkshakes. My sister made me my favorite egg salad and potato salad (our mom's recipe) and sought out tuna fish that I loved (the kind from Jason's Deli is the best, in my opinion). My sis-in-law sent a super cool Cookie Bouquet this week of all pink cookies which have been delish! And a friend from college sent me a box of all sorts of "pink" things and an iTunes gift card so that I can make my own "mix tape." This week I also got a call from someone offering to let me join her at the gym a few days a week (free pass for guest) which sounds like a great way to burn off some of those shakes and smoothies! We've also been blessed with so many wonderful meals during the last few months, but it has been nice to start getting back into the kitchen and actually looking up recipes again. Generous co-workers even donated some of their hard-earned PTO (paid time off) hours in order to help ease some financial burden and the stress of leaving my job to get well.
I still haven't been focused and diligent enough to get thank you notes completed. Please know that I do intend to try to personally thank everyone who has supported us during this time. We've been overwhelmed by the kindness of so many friends and family members as well as people we have never met. I know that people tend to see me and probably think that they don't want cancer. I didn't want cancer. But I also feel like I have been blessed in so many ways because of my diagnosis and treatment that I am thankful for it too. I have met some amazing people, many of them are women who have already traveled down this road and others who are navigating it just ahead of me. Without breast cancer, I wouldn't have met these people and I feel an amazing connection to them already. Sure. I wish it hadn't happened to me. But at the same time, I do feel thankful that it happened to me.