Friday, December 23, 2011

"Hang in There Kiddo"

Back for more? :) Well here goes:

For lack of better words, was a compendium of unorganized paranoid schizophrenia health care at its finest. Like I said before, I had to switch from Harvard Vanguard to Beth Israel hospital right when I started to feel really comfortable with all the staff at HV. And it was convenient and private and I felt like they were really personal with me. BUT in the middle of my treatment I had to be yanked out because of insurance switches and it was all really stressful and annoying. I just wanted to get to the treatments ASAP so I can get this shit done and move on with my life. Pardon my french.

My CHEMO was scheduled around 9am. 2.5 weeks after my first time. Darren and my dad took me this time and they were really nice and wanted to just stay with me through the whole thing to make sure I was comfortable with the new place and my dad wanted to meet my new DR. who was a woman this time- but soon as I got there it was pretty much chaos.
Before any chemo could be done- esp. if you are at a new place, you have to take your blood sample, and the Dr. has to clear it and THEN order your chemo. This wasn't really explained to me over the phone so when I got there I had to go to the Hematology Dept. first. Between your labs being drawn and the Dr. approving this- it takes about 1-1.5 hours of waiting. So my annoyance already began. To make matters worse, my oncologist had faxed over all my paperwork and info and Hematology seemed to not know anything about me. When I went in to draw blood they tried to stick a needle into my arm which is NOT what they are supposed to do when I already have a port in my chest. So I had to explain that as well.

On top of that, they had moved all their staff/depts. around, so everyone was lost- so they stuck me in this random room that were between offices down a long a confusing corridor. The Cancer Center was actually 2 floors up and I was supposed to have chemo done up there but they thought it would be best to just have me in one place and just have one needle stuck in me instead of shifting me around, which I understood- but it really didn't make me feel comfortable.  The room was small and had 2 "chemo chairs", a curtain partition, and of course a freakin' Georgia O'Keefe poster from the frikkin' MFA.  HAHAHA!!!!
I swear to GOD I laughed out loud at the irony. I seemed to never can escape this place ever since I left- maybe it's a sign I'm supposed to go back working there. Who knows. I posted this on my FB weeks ago:


The nurse that helped me with everything was actually really nice and funny and she genuinely felt bad everything was so chaotic so I tried to just grin and bear it. I felt bad my brother and dad were just aimlessly sitting there so I actually told them to just leave and that I would call them it was all done. My dad had mentioned he was going to do some holiday shopping anyways, and since I had to wait for the lab samples, there was no point for them to be sitting around for an additional 3-4 hours when they can just do what they needed to do and not waste time. After a lot of re-assurance and my fab brother grabbing me some lunch from downstairs, both of them left. 
So here I am alone again. Seems to be the theme LOL. But it's okay because I'm a type of person that prefers to do tough things alone sometimes. I'm a big girl and I can handle bad things. 

Right after my brother bought me lunch, a nice lady came into the room to offer me snacks and drinks. She introduced herself and told me she was a cancer survivor and that she was part of the volunteers that came around to help support others that were going through the same thing. I thought it was really nice and sweet and she mentioned that they would bring me lunch later :) Well, you know me, I love food so that made me smile. LOL.

Chemo was honestly very tough this time around. And I'll tell you why. A few days prior, my hair just started to fall out of NO where. I was fine for about 2 weeks then one day my hair just started thinning out and looking really unhealthy. Within 3-4 days, clumps of it were falling out....


Although I knew it was coming and it was going to suck, it definitely is weird to look at the hair you've had with you for 31 years just drop out. Random memories just rushed to my mind- proms, dates, summer beach hair, all the millions of highlights and horrible dye jobs I've done to myself over the years. Bad bangs, bad haircuts- all of that made me think of how far I've come. It's like I had a 30 second bunny movie of my hair. (HEHE) .
I know in my past post I said that the thought of it falling out made me cry for the first time - but now it was annoying me so FREAKING much that it was getting on everything and everywhere that I just got over it in my mind and had my brother help me cut it off with scissors at first. Eventually someone nice helped me do it with a razor a week later after chemo. 

Aside from the hair, the nausea this time around was horrendous and gross. The first time I had chemo they gave me actual meds that I had to take right there and then each day for the next 2 days. Instead here, they gave it to me via IV and for some reason I think it didn't work as well. I also was being paranoid and kept thinkin' the anti-nausea meds weren't being pumped through the IV correctly because it didn't seem to drip into the line that was connected to my port but I think I was hallucinating. LOL. This time as the nurse was "pushing" that nasty KOOL-AID into my body- my new DR. came down and found me. She was very eclectic and in your face and I liked that - but the first thing she said was "so I heard you got laid off- that SUCKS" . Geez. Thanks for bringing that up again. Then she asked me really direct questions that were personal and kind of embarrassing in front of the nurse. The nurse was giving me gentle looks since she was familiar with this Dr. so I just tried my best to answer without blushing. The nurses seemed to be annoyed she was sitting with her laptop interviewing me in the other chemo chair and she even did a quick breast exam on me as I was gettin chemo done. Quick and efficient I suppose. HAH.

As I was finishing up my chemo and calling my brother, an older couple came into the room. The husband clearly had cancer and the wife looked really frazzled and upset but she had the most amazing boots ever. Like I'm talking this woman was probably in her late 50's early 60's and she ROCKED these thigh high ( you know I love the thigh high) HOT black high heeled boots and my eyes almost watered. I even told her so, and she finally relaxed and cracked a smile. LOL
Putting that aside, I could see they were both annoyed because they apparently had been waiting for a few hours and were over looked and I felt bad and it almost felt like I was invading their personal space. At first they didn't really talk to me but at some point the husband had to use the bathroom in the room and you know it's a difficult thing to witness/watch/go through since the meds really fuck up your stomach BIG TIME. The wife was right in there helping him and just supporting him and it was really nice to see that love has no boundaries :) . That to me is def. true fucking love when someone can do stuff like that for you without asking. And it touched me. And you know I'm not a mushy cheesy type of girl on the surface, but certain times, it comes out.

When they were back in the room, the husband started talking to me and asking me light questions. he felt bad I was so young and he said that his younger son just found  out he had cancer too. I felt so horrible for him. For his family to go through all this fucking bullshit not once but fucking TWICE!!!!!! I didn't even know what to say. 
As I got up to get my stuff together, he winked at me and said:

 "Hang in there Kiddo, you'll be fine". :)

When I got home I legitimately was so sick I could not eat or sleep or move for the next 24-48 hours. The nausea is so overwhelming that there are no proper ways to describe it. it feels like I drank gallons of vodka and it's just sitting there in my stomach and I can't throw up. It is THE most disgusting, uncomfortable, mind fucking thing ever. This is what I loathe about chemo. it just fucks with your head so bad and makes you so sick that you can't even function. I really felt depressed and that is when all of this just hit me. I STILL have 2 more rounds of this medication to fucking deal with and I really didn't know if I can realistically handle it. 
After about 2 days I could eat lightly again. I'm talking some old skool Campell's and Progresso chicken noodle soup in a can type of shit. I was never really hungry but would eat to not feel weak. It's really weird because chemo almost makes you not really taste your food. After a few more days my mom started cooking all the soups and traditional Chinese food I love (sorry no chicken wings and pork fried rice here) and although everyone was being really accommodating to me I was being a total moody bitch because I was going stir crazy at my parents. i was craving being at my apt just so I can have some breathing space but I felt fortunate I have parents who support me throughout most of my adult life with just about anything so I kind of just sucked it up and tried to less of a bitch.

I also was on edge because my nurse practioner had sent over refills of my scripts to my local CVS and it took like 4 days of back and forth and my poor mother checking on it for it to go through. SIGH. I'm hoping shit will go through smoothly next time or I really will lose it. 

Anyhow, I know this is dragging but I can at least say I'm having a lot of fun with wigs. 
Thanks to my friend Lisa <3  (all the way out of state) who was kind enough to send me one before any of my &^%$#@! chemo started! It def. came in handy when all of my hair fell out.  I still can't believe I'm bald....

Anyhow, for any that are interested in fun and funky wigs-they are reasonably priced:                       ( ) I have since ordered 2 more wigs that are ridiculously long, curly, girly and fabulous. Why not? I'm only YONG once :)

As Darren said:

"Girl, that looks better than your normal hair"

Sunday, December 18, 2011

First Day of Chemo- &^%$!

Chemo I
Like I said in my first post, my first chemo was on Black Friday. Mad super appropriate since I will prob. always remember it as a black, depressing day anyhow!

I just have to say that chemo really really sucks. I can't even put into words how much the whole process is just draining and time consuming and it completely sucks the life out of you. To me the whole process is really backwards. I know there is ongoing research and I am no professional Dr, or Scientist ( both things my asian parents still want me to be FYI)  and this is the way they have treated cancer for years- but think about it: they pump complete poison into your body to basically kill all your fast growing cells and since there is no way to target the cancerous ones ONLY- anything healthy within you dies. Then afterwards to add insult to injury they make you drag your nauseous ass to take a neulasta shot 24-72 hours afterwards to boost your white blood cells to counter react to your body feeling all fucked up. And then they send you home with a bunch of other meds to treat the new problems they have created- oh hello colace and senna for constipation, allergy pills for the coughing and flu like symptoms and ativan/zofran/etc. for anti-seizure and anti nausea pills that can tranquilize a horse. SIGH.
And you have to keep repeating this process until the tumor has sufficiently shrunk. 
SIGH. Rinse and Repeat until you can't take it no more. I want a new shampoo please.

Despite this, I must give props to all the Drs. that have made me a priority and have gotten me into treatment fairly quickly. My primary Dr. and every Dr. I've ever seen was at the Harvard Vanguard in the Kenmore/Fenway area. Everyone there has been great and really caring- from my Oncologist to all the nurses who knew me by name and the social worker who worked with me tirelessly to try to get me to maintain and keep getting my care there after my insurance expired (which has been a separate nightmare= CHEMO II had to be moved to Beth Israel due to this.)

My first chemo was really not tremendously horrendous. I think my body didn't really know what was going on yet so everything was still new and I could handle it. The whole process took about 3 hours and my mom came with me. I even ate and chatted and had some laughs throughout the whole ordeal. When I went in, they take your stats first then the oncologist meets with you first to go over the chemo process and then you ask any questions you may have- then you get moved into your own private little room with a chair/tv. I remember it was really sunny that day and there were 2 huge windows behind me with the blinds up. My mom made me get up and put them down since they were blinding her LOL....(Sorry Edward from twilight I didn't know you were so light sensitive :) )

My lovely nurse Anne Marie came in and first drew some blood from my port, then little by little she would connect my port with different IVs- first with saline to flush it out and then  later on she added the different bags of the meds. I had to have pumped into my system .  She also gave me pre-nausea meds to control it for later on.  The most disgusting one was the "Adriamycin" where she had to sit and "push" through my IV- This basically meant she had to manually inject the vials of it into my IV little by little. It made it even more gross that the med is bright red and it looked like kool aid was being forced into my body- and anyone who knows me well knows that I LOATHE any type of sugary or soda like drinks, so looking at this just made me nauseous and  I wanted to almost puke right there. I may have had less of a reaction if it was turquoise. At least turquoise is calming. Red is my least favorite color and I just associate it with anger and blood.

In the middle of all of this, I got a nice 'lil visit from Stephanie (long time friend from the MFA and ex boss at current job where I was laid off) who came by to see how I was doing so that was nice to have some good company to lighten the mood. I had recently purchased 2 special little Tibetan lotus blossom charms with my awesome friends who took me to Rockport the weekend prior ( I have a tattoo and love the symbolism of them) and one of them I already made into a necklace (see pic) but I handed her the other one to make me something I could wear and keep my strength at future chemo visits. Of course being the awesome and talented jewelry maker that she is, she made me a really cute necklace that I will post later. She also sells her jewelry on etsy so hollah if you want more info. (shameless plug)
After Steph left and my chemo was finished I didn't feel any different for about 10 minutes. But within half an hour I was extremely tired and my stomach started to hurt a little bit.  My mom drove me straight home and within the hour I was in bed. The nausea didn't really even hit me. My stomach would hurt a little bit but every time I would just lie down I was fine. I really thought that I would be vomiting- that was my biggest fear- I HATE the idea and loathe vomiting. That is why I have never even really drank a lot throughout my life. I had one bad incident with 151 and ever since that bad day I was petrified to even smell Bacardi so I was surprised that within 2-3 days I was already out of bed and up and about.
Since the chemo was on a Friday and the health center was not open on the weekends, I had a appt. to go back on the following Monday to get that neulasta shot I mentioned earlier.  My Oncologist also scheduled an MRI all the way in Quincy that same say so my brother Darren drove me down there to get it done. I have never gotten a MRI ever in my life and it was the weirdest process. They inject a dye into your blood which makes you feel like you are peeing yourself for about a min. At this point I was poked and prodded so many times, I didn't even feel the needle anymore. Sad, but true.
Darren then drove me back into Boston where I ran in to get that shot I mentioned earlier....2 things I have to say about it:

1.) That shit really hurt!!! They injected it in the back of my arm on my muscle and I actually winced when the needle went in. 
2.)Immediately afterwards the nurse warned me I would feel like  I was "getting hit by a truck" but that that feeling should only last 3-4 days...YEAH NO. I additionally caught someones cold so this flu like crap was extended to about 2 weeks of feeling like I had the influenza. I think i bought about every sugar free cough drop I could find and owned every Vick's vapor rub product. It was horrendous. I had a sore throat, stuffy nose, backed up sinuses, headache, chills, you name it and I could only take an allergy pill that didn't help.

So for my first chemo the plus side was that I wasn't too nauseous and I got through it, but I gained 2 weeks of a disgusting cold. Fair trade off I suppose.

The second chemo, was not so good. More to come on that as I catch up. <3

Monday, December 5, 2011

goddamned f*&^%#@ cancer

I debated whether or not I wanted to make a blog or post about all of this and I actually started writing this last month. I published it but couldn't decide whether this would help anyone or if anyone really wanted to read any of this very personal and painful ordeal...but I decided to just go ahead and keep track of all the crap that is to come. If it helps one person than I am happy.

Here goes: 12/17/11
SO..if you haven't heard from the grapevine by now - I got diagnosed with lovely *&^%#$@ breast cancer last month. (Nov.) shocking? yes. shitty? double yes- am I remotely even surprised really? NO. Let me rewind and go back to the beginning. 
I am first going to warn all of you and say that I talk a lot and will prob. bore most of you- but I need to get all of this out and so just bear with me and come with me on this magical carpet ride. 

Let's first start off with the fact that I got laid off from work. This happened back in Oct and while the whole thing really sucked and I will always miss people at work, I'm not going to dwell on it. Things happen in life for a reason and I'm a firm believer in karma. I am still friends with most of the people from work so I'm not worried- all the people I care about and love will always be in my life :)-Although I must say that the daily 7 min walking commute to work was  nice and I'm going to miss the daily fresh air early in the morning.

On top of that *TAKES DEEP BREATH* prior to the job loss and all this other crap, SEVERAL of my personal relationships (amongst some other shit) ended on a really bad note.  I'm still really angry and upset about this so I'm not going to post about that now but it def. has taken a toll mentally.  All I'm going to say is that you really see who really "is there for you" and cares about you when you find out destructive and devastating  things like this in your life.  But alas that is how life goes sometimes.

ANYHOW. I digress.
SO long story short- lost the relationship- lost the job and now I find out I have freaking BREAST CANCER!!!

It basically started on the breast area and now has spread under my arm in my lymph nodes  making me in the "intermediate" IIB stage.  I don't even know about all the lingo just all of it just sucks. Is it wrong of me to cringe when I see the pink ribbons? To me, that really doesn't make me feel any better. And until you have to deal with it in your life- those stupid ribbons don't really mean anything.  I'll save you all the details of my painful 2 biopsies and mammogram I was forced to have while I got an ultrasound to check this lump out but I knew something was wrong. Not to get all Phil Collins wax poetic- but I could feel it in the air. Something wasn't right. 

2 days later I took a day trip with Vicky and was still in pain from all the biopsies but I was in good spirits. I love NYC and anytime I go there- even for short periods of time it has always re-juvenated me. I almost wanted to go to NYU back in the day and totally regret not doing it. But that's just how life goes. I'm going to grow old in Boston with my 50 cats and still be single. UGH.

Anyhow, I came back from NY really early the next day - red eye bus and got a few missed calls on my phone later in the afternoon. I then get a call from my medical asst. and she says to me: "is now a good time to talk?" FUCK. Um I guess so. "btw- you have something and  it IS cancerous"

I didn't even know how to respond. I thought she was joking. I'm freakin' 31. SERIOUSLY?
from that point forward everything has been a mumble jumble of oncologists, MRIs, CAT SCANS, BLOOD TESTS, SURGERY , and just plain fuckery at it's best. I have been fighting with health insurance since my coverage from BCBS was ending- back and forth with social workers, DANA FARBER, and just plain freakin' the fuck out that I am going to lose my hair. 

Isn't that sad? I can withstand all the shots and the surgery and the chemo and the poison but the thought of losing my hair and my $200 extentions is what made me cry the first time EVER. I know it's stupid and superficial but  I have been dye-ing and changing my hair up since god knows when and it's the ONE thing I like to control. Now THAT is compromised. 

So right before Thanksgiving, I had surgery and a port was inserted on my right chest. basically it's a little leveling pad for the drs and nurses to inject me with meds and draw my blood without the risk of infections through multiple IV uses. I get that it's cleaner and safer but it looks gross on my chest and now i'm really not goin to be able to wear my infamous low cut shirts. FML. Surgery was a bit sad. It was the day before Thanksgiving and my brother Darren was kind enough to drop me off - but he had shows to go to and my mom and dad both had work so no one was with me during the whole process. I mean it wasn't a big deal and it was only a few hours and my mom eventually picked me up later.... but the hospital was next to empty and all the nurses stared at me mournfully and whispered "but you are so young" like it was a death sentence. Not very comforting. I trudged through it but it would have been nice to have someone sitting in the chair next to the bed telling me to not freak the HELL out. And I knew any number of my friends would have come if I asked but I just didn't want to burden anyone with it.  I got stitches all up on my chest. 

I then had Thanksgiving the next day with my parents fully on Vicodin because I was in a lot of pain from the surgery and it was nice but depressing knowing that I would have my very first chemo on Black Friday. While everyone else gets in line at 5am to buy super discounted giant tvs and gps systems, I have to wake up at 7am to go to my first chemo treatment.

My next post i'm going to talk about how freakin' great chemo is. Note my sarcasm.

The thing is I made this blog to just vent and have a place to record the shit i'm going through. Take or leave it but I'll appreciate any comments or feedback :)