It’s been almost two months since my surgery and my hair is now so long (“so long” is relative, of course) that I’m getting compliments on my “cute haircut” and inquiries about who styles it. That’s great and everything but I was supposed to start chemo about a month ago and be bald by now. However, thanks to some wound healing issues from my surgery, I am on the delayed plan.
The first delay was annoying but bearable. I went into my oncologist’s office the day after my last blog post 100 percent mentally prepared to start my round of “hardcore chemo,” aka the AC regimen, just a few hours later. My oncologist took one look at a small unhealed spot on my noob (new boob) and declared me unfit for chemo. It was a tough pill to swallow, but I understood her reasoning completely.
Being on the AC regimen suppresses your white blood cells, which are essential to fighting infection. If, God forbid, that small spot got infected, my whole noob could be threatened. Failure of the noob would be cataclysmic and devastating, to say the least. Chemo was rescheduled for June 13.
And then I awoke on June 7 with a section of my abdominal incision swollen, red, and oozing. Yum. I went into the plastic surgeon’s office and it turned out to be a suture abscess. I will spare the gory details but just say that an abscess requires cutting, draining, and letting the wound heal from the inside out. All of this takes weeks, which leaves me with an indefinite chemo start date.
I was really hoping to just plow through the rest of my treatments–after chemo, I have 30 radiation treatments, too– but the cancer gods have other plans for me, apparently. It hasn’t been that bad, though.
A week after my last blog post, I was taken off post-surgery restrictions that included not being able to lift more than 10 lbs. That means I’ve been able to pick up my kids and picking up my daughter has done wonders for our bond and even allowed me to reclaim my title as Favorite Parent (I admit that losing this title during those recovery weeks reduced me to tears a few times).
A week and a half ago, an amazing woman who I will soon write about took me as her guest to a swanky fundraiser for the Ellie Fund. The Ellie Fund is an extraordinary nonprofit that helps out families dealing with breast cancer. When I was first diagnosed, the fund gave us grocery store gift cards. And when I had surgery, they paid for four housecleaning visits. What makes the fund so exceptional is that the process of getting help is easy and quick. When we applied, an MGH social worker filled out the brief required paperwork, submitted it to the Ellie Fund on our behalf, and within a week we were notified of our assistance. If you want to make a very real and immediate difference in the life of a breast cancer survivor, please consider donating to the Ellie Fund.
Last week, my son’s school was the site of a yoga fundraiser for our family. The exceptional Kim Spear of Balance Studio and Open Doors led the class while Julie Sullivan of Petit Papillon taught a kid’s class at the same time.
Afterward, we had great vendors join us including juice companies Tumeric and JOOS. Tumeric contains all kinds of cancer-preventing and fighting ingredients and I credit my daily intake of JOOS for keeping my white blood counts totally stable during my first round of chemo. Organic produce delivery company South Shore Organics attended as did Charline, who makes exquisite mala beads through her company Charla Mala; Norwell’s Mama’s Move gym which I LOVE as both a place to work out and feel part of a community; and Lyn Pompeo who is an experienced artisan (and yoga teacher!) making beautiful jewelry that’s for sale through her Etsy shop.
The event also marked my return to yoga, which felt invigorating and life-affirming. Two of my fellow breast cancer survivors friends came. The three of us are at different points in our treatment journeys but we all love yoga. We are bonded through our common struggles and yoga love, and that feels pretty darn special and cool.
The next day was my son’s 6th birthday. For the second year in a row, we had his party at the New England Wildlife Center in Weymouth. The kids got to see raccoons, birds, and geese in their temporary homes at the hospital before they return to the wild. After that, the kids hung out with and learned about the resident teaching reptiles and turtles. The wildlife center is a great place to visit–you can go anytime they are open–and it’s a perfect place for birthday parties.
Next week, I’m starting a couple of art classes. I will be learning the art of stained glass from the stained glass shop down the street. I’m also taking a couple of courses this summer through Framingham’s Danforth Museum, which offers, among other perks, up to two free art classes for people going through serious illnesses. How cool is that?
So yeah, treatment delays are a drag but to tell you the truth, having cancer ain’t so bad sometimes.