So it has been a while since I posted. Here is my hair growth progression since that last blog post. You can see I have kept it kind of short since it is so easy. I am thinking about growing it down to my shoulders now.
First off, ignore the cleavage shot there. I had no idea when we were taking photos how low that went! Good grief! I felt like Elaine on Seinfeld (https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=UhIMV3lu6Qg) when I saw my gallery of family pics. I'm not even going to share some of the other shots. My wholesome family pics turned out a wee bit exposed.
Onward! to my first real haircut. It has now been one year (and a few days) since my last chemo treatment and this is what my hair looks like now. So a silver lining here... I literally get up in the morning, run my hands through my hair briefly, then go. That's it! I must admit having short, curly hair has its benefits. Now I have to figure out if I am going to keep it. Today I am going in for my first haircut and actually having the hairdresser trim the back shorter and trim a bit off my ends on the top. Now that my hair is this long, I no longer feel like I look like I had chemo so my confidence is back I guess. I'm trying to rock the short cut now for a while.
On the medical side... My white blood count has been low ever since I started the Tamoxifen. They have to monitor it every month with a blood test to make sure I don't go too low because my oncologist says I need the tamoxifen so I am still being extra cautious with hand-washing, etc. so I don't get sick.
Also due to some unfortunate bleeding in places I don't like to say, I have a colonoscopy scheduled as well. Man, I pray they don't find anything in there. Ugh.
Now to end on a good note, I am feeling pretty good. Still get tired early at night (I usually fall asleep on the couch at 9:15pm) but other than that, feeling good.
I just received my first mammogram since treatment. I am so relieved to say, everything is normal. Whoopie!!! I must admit though, I was actually terrified when I went in. Lately my breast has been pretty sore, thick and large. Does that make sense? The dr. called it thickening. I call it as close to a fake boob but still real. My right side is now a bit larger than it was before so all of those cute bras I have are cutting into my right breast now. Ugh! of course, I should look at the bright side, more shopping!
I was so glad my oncologist told me what to expect with this mammogram though, otherwise I might have lost it. He said because this is the first since finalizing treatment, it will be the most intense in order to create a new baseline. They did extra smashing, i mean imaging AND they had the radiologist come out to talk to me. I was hoping it was that cutie that did the procedure before my surgery, but no such luck. Whah! If I hadn't have known all of that was normal, that would've been super scary. BUT she came out and said everything is normal and to come back in a year. Wow, that seems a little long to me, luckily my oncologist is seeing me every 3 months.
June 2016: Little did I know how hard it would be to get my blonde back! You'd think in this day and age, coloring hair would be easier. My hair grew back very full, no grays, but very dark. I went to the hair dresser to get blonde. Apparently my hair was too short to highlight, so she did an all over color. To my misfortune, I left her chair with yellow hair!! OMG I felt like a clown. As I drove away crying, I told myself at least I have some hair, but that didn't last long. I really felt sorry for myself. I ended up contacting another hair dresser who was referred by a friend, and thank goodness, after seeing this picture, she got me in the next morning. Here is a before and after...
Geez, those are really crappy photos of me, but you can see the difference. The second gal gave me darker roots to make it look more natural and put a blue wash on me to tone down the yellow.
Now! here are some photos of my hair in September. I feel like I finally have a haircut! People have been commenting I look like Princess Diana. Huh! I wish! My roots are still very dark and hair is still very curly. I ended up changing my part onto the other side with this new hair. I must admit, short, curly hair is sooooo easy!
So that shortness of breath the other day, I realize now what was causing it. Nerves about getting rid of my wig. Why is hair such big deal? Good grief, I'm embarrassed even mentioning it. I think I knew I was going to get rid of it, but was so scared the anticipation got the better of me. So I figured I better rip the bandaid off fast. I was thinking I was going to wait until the end of the school year, so I didn't have to confront so many people, there is only a month of school left, but I had to do it before my shortness of breath got worse.
I went straight from the urgent care office (where they did a chest x-ray for my shortness of breath) to school pick-up without my wig! Honestly, it felt like I was walking onto campus completely naked. That's how it felt. How was it? Man, everyone was so supportive, thank goodness. Once I did that, my shortness of breath disappeared. So now I am trying to rock my short hair. Honestly, I do not feel like my sassy self with this hair, more like a meek wallflower these days, but it does feel good not to wear the wig anymore.
These curls I am growing are tight! I mean SUPER curly! I don't know how to manage them which is part of my problem. Trial and error and time will help though. I have made another appointment to get my hair back to blonde. Hopefully second time is a charm... fingers crossed.
On a sweet, note, I had to share this amazing moment. My son's class had a celebration for Mother's Day. It was adorable. They sang, served us snacks then each gave a framed photo to their mom. At the top of the frame it says "I Love You Because" then each child added their own words below. My son wrote "you are brave" on mine. Brought me and a couple other parents to tears. Our children are, of course, affected by this, but to see those words from my son meant so much to me. I hope that is what he gets out of this craziness. I hope seeing his mom be brave will help him in his future someday. I am so blessed.
Here is my hair progression since chemo. My oncologist was surprised at how fast it has grown back. I'm thinking it's because I put my hair potion on every morning. (Olive oil, castor oil and rosemary essential oil). I'm getting super close to releasing my wig of its duties. My hair is still super short, although this last pic makes it look quite long. I measured it to be about 1.5 inches. Here's something funny... I went to the hair dresser to get blonde! She put an ammonia-free dye on my hair and the last picture is what I came home with. What? yes, it is more or less the same but maybe a little warmer. Ugh! I think she was super scared to put anything too harsh on me since I had to cancel my appointment the week earlier due to that crazy puffy face I had. Note to self... don't tell hairdresser you are allergic to anything before your first hair appt after chemo. I made that mistake and came home with the same hair color. Now I feel like I have to wait for another month or so before i can go back and try again for blonde.
As I mentioned, I am getting really close to going wig free. Here is my fear... people will look at me and instead of saying, wow! she has cute short hair, people will look at me and feel sorry for me and think, poor thing, she must have just gone through chemo. I'm sure I'm looking into it way more than anyone else, but there you have it. Every afternoon before I pick up my kids I contemplate just walking up to school without my wig, but then chicken out. I still need a bit more courage to do that yet.
Just a note about my severe dermatitis from last week... I still have no clue what happened or what I am allergic to. I have made an appointment with an allergist to try to find out. In the meantime, I had to put a steroid cream on my face until the burn went away. Luckily, it was more or less gone in three days.
I met with my oncologist last week and he gave me a prescription for Tamoxifen. This is an estrogen-blocking drug. 40% of my cancer cells were feeding off of the estrogen in my body (I guess that is not a significant number). This pill tricks my body in thinking it has estrogen, but really it is blocking me from producing it. I started taking it last Wednesday and noticed I was a bit short of breath. I thought maybe it was due to stress, but I am still feeling it. I emailed my doctor and promptly heard back from him. I am now not supposed to take the drug for a couple of days. If my shortness of breath does not go away I have to go to emergency room. Shut the front door! What? I guess in rare cases this drug can cause blood clots. So, now hubby is on high-alert and I don't know if my shortness of breath is from stress due to that news or something else! stay tuned...
One side note: I lost my eyelashes again and a large part of my eyebrows. Not sure why, but they are starting to grow back again. I was so concerned about my puffy face last week I didn't have time to fret about it. Onward!
Easter! We had just arrived home the night before when I started getting tiny blisters on my eyelid and scales around the sides of my eyes. This felt similar to what happened in February. Argh! it didn't feel bad at the time, but looked horrendous! Get ready for a super-gross pic below...
So, I went to my GP. She thought maybe it was Shingles. Yikes! So she started me on an anti-viral med and had me get checked out by an eye doctor to make sure it hadn't spread into my eye. All checked out normal, so I proceeded to take the meds. It was clearing up and I was able to wear makeup two days later. That night I took a shower and lightly wiped my brows to get the crusty scales off, I awoke in the middle of the night with very inflamed eyes that hurt. I took a benadryl and tried to go back to sleep. When I woke up, my eyes were super puffy and the perimeter of them were so red it looked like I was wearing a mask, no joke! OMG, what the hell is going on??
I got an emergency appt with a dermatologist, a pretty cute one, I might add. He said it is not Shingles but a severe case of Dermitis. I have stopped taking the meds for Shingles. He has given me a topical steroid for eyes. My face was burning all day so I went immediately to CVS to get the cream and applied it in the car. I am in a considerable amount of discomfort now. The cream has taken away most of the burn, but I still look the same. Good grief, when will this end? I'm hoping a small fairy will toss some magical dust on me while I sleep and I will wake up to a normal face. Here is a pretty grotesque photo of me, but if you want to see what I am up against, look below. ugh.
On a side note... I think I need to take a seminar in how to take a good selfie. I look like a cross-eyed monster...sorry!
The family finally got back to he midwest after a long wait. Last time we were back was December 2015. It was so great to see family and friends! I think I shocked a couple of family members when I pulled my wig off. Everyone has been so supportive, my father-in-law told me to keep the wig off. That meant a lot to me. My family convinced me not to wear my wig on the flight home. My kids were so sweet they held my hand the whole time we were in the airport to help me be brave. It feels so good not to wear the wig, but I am still very self-conscious. It's not because I don't like the way I look. I'm starting to get used to that, it's that I look like someone who just went through chemotherapy. Plus, I'll be honest, I think this hairdo ages me considerably. BUT! I have a plan. I will have a little more than a month of the wig, then I will not be taking it on my trip to Italy. I'm thinking that will give me around two inches of hair to work with by then. I just need to get it colored now so it fits me again. I have been really good at rubbing my "hair growth potion" on it. I mixed Castor Oil and Olive Oil with a little Rosemary Essential Oil. My good friend, Jen, also sent me an amazing head scrubber. I'm so addicted, plus it is hopefully stimulating some growth!
Below is my first selfie and first post of me without my wig in plain view. Again, my children and husband have been so amazing through this journey. They really did give me the confidence to walk around the airport like this. Man, I love these people.
Dark and Curly! and it's coming in thick. Happy to report no gray hairs in there too. I always wondered if I had any gray hairs. I highlighted my hair every two months so never really knew.
Why did I get breast cancer? That's what I have been asking myself a lot lately. Now that I am done focusing on my treatment, it seems odd to go back to normal life just like before diagnosis. What should I be doing different? I already had a very healthy diet and walked the dog four times a week. I had already reduced the amount of chemicals I put on and in my body. So what else should I be doing?? Boy, I would really like to know. I am taking more vitamins and John doesn't know this yet, but bought all of the supplies to start making my own dishwashing and laundry detergent. Ha! I wonder how that will fly with him! I would also like to make my own cleaning supplies, or at least buy ones not so filled with chemicals.
I am extremely proud to report I have finished with breast cancer treatments!!! Today was my last day of radiation. Six weeks Monday through Friday is finally over. To celebrate, I baked my radiation therapy team of mini loaf each of Lemon Yogurt bread. They, in return, gave me a signed certificate congratulating me. I surprised myself and broke down and cried the whole ride home. I will still have to take an estrogen-blocking pill for the next 5-10 years, but treatments are done. As far as side effects, I did get a bit more tired these last two weeks. it came at me in waves typically late afternoon. I have tried to be diligent about taking my dog out for a walk though which I believe has helped me. Between that and a heck of a lot of gardening, I have had a lot of exercise the last few weeks.
My Radiation Oncologist said I was one of the lucky ones and faired better than most when it comes to my skin after radiation. He says genetics, I say the shea butter and aloe vera gel every day and night helped as well. I have had no peeling. The below photo shows the worst of it. Kind of raised bumps and red but doesn't hurt. He said that coloring will most likely go away in time.
Now, on to so weird stuff... peach fuzz. I was so happy to see hair growing all over my body, I didn't quite know how to feel when an abundance of peach fuzz grew on the side of my cheeks. After some research online, I found out this is a normal thing that happens to a lot of chemo patients after the fact. I have since then used my husband's clippers to remove the fuzz. My twin called me the bearded lady! No more of that! I also read online that a lot of people who shaved it reported it never came back. I'm hoping mine won't come back either.
Lastly, a little snippet on face moisturizer. If you read the earlier post, you would have seen how incredibly dry my face got. Not sure if it was allergies, radiation, post chemo or menopausal effects. In any case, I was using a facial oil serum I had been using the last couple of years, but when this happened I moved directly to shea butter with frankincense and myrrh essential oils. That has helped tremendously! Now I put that on my face every morning and night and it's not too much. Shows how dry I am now. Thankful I found something that works!
Hi! I'm Amy. I was diagnosed at 44 with