Friday, January 22, 2016

Chemo Love Song!


Here's today's song and dance! Had to do this one at home...I re-did the lyrics to California Love to reflect my chemo experience at Shawnee Mission Health (which has been a GREAT experience!). The lyrics are on the YouTube link, for where it's hard to hear me! Thanks for watching, love you all!!!

P.S. Sorry for the tone deafness!!! wink emoticon

Sunday, January 17, 2016


When I first found out I had cancer, I was upset about having to lose my hair.  This discontent did not last for long, as I soon realized how many options for wigs, hats, and scarves there are out there (plus not having to wash and dry and style my hair was a pretty exciting thought as well).  The one thing I continued to hope for was not losing my eyelashes.  I LOVE my eyelashes!!!  Even though they are not super long, they are very dark, and I often feel like I look fine without having to put on mascara and eyeliner.

Unfortunately, however, I love to rub my eyes.  And by rub I mean DIG my boyfriend often says he feels sorry for my eyes, as I usually rub them harder than I should.  But it feels soooo good to dig 'em when they are soooo itchy!!!  It's genetic, my dad does the same thing; therefore I can't help it!  So it's no surprise to me that I have started to lose some of my eyelashes, as I have probably rubbed them out.  It's not bad or anything, as I still have plenty of them, but I can definitely tell they have thinned.    

I first started noticing this one day when I was applying mascara, as they just looked sparse and not nice and full as they normally do.  No complaints (yet), as I still have plenty of them; just another observation of my body during chemo :)  I've got one set of false eyelashes ready in case I ever feel the need to use them, and I am so thankful to still have two healthy eyes to see with!!!

In other news, I have been feeling pretty darn good, and I had acupuncture and an adjustment this week which has helped me sleep better than I have in months!  So I am very thankful for that as well.  Last Thursday I finally got to experience Top Golf with friends and family, and it was a blast!!! (Pics down below!!!).  However I do NOT recommend attempting to swing a golf club approximately 3 months after a double mastectomy...I did not think that one through well enough before attempting to golf!  The first swing I missed the ball, and my chest gave me hell.  Needless to say, I did not golf much, but had a blast playing Foosball and chatting with loved ones.  I also got to go visit my grandparents this weekend, and I am thankful I felt well enough to spend time with them.  

Round 3 is coming up on Friday!  After this round, I will be halfway done with chemo!!!  :D  I will still have the rest of the year to do Herceptin infusions, but since it is a targeted treatment, I shouldn't have all the systemic effects like I have been.  Halfway through the hard chemo, and I am alive and well...God is good!!!  I talked with my oncologist this week, and we are changing up my steroid dose a bit again, as I think last time it was too much (too little the first time, too much the second time, so the third time should be like Goldilocks' third bowl of porridge - juuuuust right!).  

Me and my BFF Ashlea chillin' at Top Golf!

 My beautiful momma swingin' that club!  

Yep, it's a macaroni and cheese burger, amazing tots, and chicken and waffles!!!  YAY for my taste buds being back!!! :D  

Sunday, January 10, 2016

Mouthing Off

This has been a really great weekend, and I am so thankful for that!!!  I got some acupuncture and biofeedback last week that helped me enjoy the weekend.  I got to spend time with family and my two best friends, eat lots of pasta (tortellini alfredo is one of my favorite dishes, and it's one that still has some flavor for me during chemo), snuggle up with my kitty and watch football, and I even got to go was a dream weekend for this girl!!!  I found a ton of great scarves to wear this spring and summer at Charming Charlie's for $1-$4!  They were on major clearance, and they are BOGO half off right now!  They are lightweight and will be perfect for wearing on my head.  Their semi-annual sale is AMAZING!!!  I highly recommend checking it out!  

Also just FYI, I have no clue why the background of the text is different in various places on this post...formatting is something way over my head!!!  So please forgive the eyesore that that is, thank you!  :)  [UPDATE: Formatting has been fixed!!!  Thank you Dad!!! :D]  Now on to my topic for today...

Ohhhh the beloved chemo mouth! Out of all the chemo side effects, the digestive tract (for me) has the broadest range of symptoms. For this post, I will be focusing only on the first part of the digestive system: the mouth.

While the mouth seems a simple body part, it's actually quite complex. From practical purposes to pleasure, our lips, teeth, and tongue are essential to many daily functions. Several years in the dental field have taught me the importance of teeth for chewing and obtaining adequate nutrition throughout our lives, and there are so many different things that can go wrong with them (and it seems just as many different fixes). The tongue is also important in the chewing process, and is essential for swallowing and talking. Lips provider a barrier for the mouth, and is also important in chewing and talking.

Normally, all these surfaces are covered in our dear friend saliva. All that lovely drool is actually very important! Saliva provides the first step in the digestive process, helps prevent tooth decay, keeps your mouth wet and comfy, and fights germs and bad breath. Now, if you take that lovely substance away, as often happens with chemo patients, you end up with a whole host of problems (the least of which is a cranky patient).

Ok enough with the biology lesson, on to the whining! The corners of my mouth are constantly cracking (you can kind of see it in the picture, red and irritated spots). This would be fine if 1. I didn't like to eat, and 2. I didn't like to smile a lot. My mouth is so dry at moments I feel like sandpaper would be wetter! And it's amazing to me how my tongue can feel bloated, yet desiccated. This of course makes it difficult to eat (I won't go into the loss of taste buds function again), but it also makes it difficult to talk and breathe. Now, you're probably thinking, "Well silly, just close your mouth and breathe through your nose!" At times, this solution works wonders! Other times you embark on a lovely back-and-forth journey of what's the worst of two evils: dry winter air running over a dry, ulcerated tongue, or dry winter air running through a very dry (except the 3-5 times per day when it's bleeding) nasal cavity?

And yes, I have a humidifier :)

Then there's the mouth sores...I haven't had these too bad thankfully! Mostly on the tongue. I've circled them in red on the picture, just in case you couldn't find them.  LOL.  I'm glad my tongue is not on my face!
But, it's only for one year. And there are only a few bad days each cycle! And the Chiefs won!!! 😀

Ok well now that I've whined enough, here are some things that have helped (for anyone who may be reading this and experiencing similar fun times):

  • Humidifier - I don't know for sure that it's helped, because I have used it every day and night since before I started chemo, but I am assuming it is helping and would not want to attempt NOT using it.
  • Magic mouthwash - This. Stuff. Is. MAGIC!!! Literally it's magical...with a numbing agent that works very well and two other magical ingredients (I don't remember what they are or what they do), this stuff helps coat the mouth and tongue and makes you feel like you want to live again! It also helps heal up those fun little mouth sores.
  • Mentholatum - Another winner! When you've been battling internal nosebleeds and causing so much friction to your nostrils that they start to bleed too, this stuff helps restore some moisture to those guys. I tried to put it on frequently BEFORE wiping my nose, to help prevent more irritation, but of course if your nose is having a bloody Ebola-like moment, ain't nobody got time for that!!! I've also found that, while recommended for external use only, putting a bit of Vaseline up in my nose a bit helps coat those bone dry passages, making breathing more comfortable.

  • Burt's Bees, EOS, Softlips, Chapstick, our dental office lip balm, it all helps those dry lips and cracked mouth corners!
  • Saline nasal spray - good for helping to lower the frequency of nosebleeds. 
  • Extra-fluoride toothpaste - With the increased risk of tooth decay, it's important to help the enamel stay strong! 
  • Ice cream - yes!  Even without flavor, the cold and texture feels GREAT on a sore mouth!!!
  • Protein/nutrition shakes - Gotta keep that nutrition up, and when it hurts to eat actual food, shakes go down easy. And with no taste buds tasting, flavor ain't an issue! All mushy foods (mashed potatoes, yogurt, etc) are all wonderful too.  My mom ***correction: Dad!*** found these (pictured below) at the grocery store, and they are pretty darn yummy!!!  I tried the sweet potato and beet ones also, and they were good too.  You can't see him in the picture here, but there is an adorable bunny on the package too (Peter Rabbit)!  

  • Most importantly, remember it's only temporary. It's all a sign that the chemo is working!  We'll be back to tasting kale and cupcakes in no time!!! 😉Here's to a great couple of weeks, getting ready for Round 3 on the 22nd!❤❤❤❤❤

Sunday, January 3, 2016

New Year, New Side Effects!

I  don't know if it was the steroids or the chemo, but the past couple of days of Round 2 found me with some fun side effects! Most of the following is small bits of things I've written over the past few days, just now complied together. The pics are from our NYE celebration, food and games! :-)

The crawling was the worst. The insects, like small house-flies, were walking on my skin. From the inside. Hundreds of tiny flies moving along the inside of my skin. Dancing along my skin with their tiny feet, brushing me with their tiny wings. Against the insider of my forehead, my temples, my eyes, and my knees. Crawling up my legs, trying to get out. I'd find the energy to move my leg, to shake them loose, but they remained.

My bones...they weren't bones. The only way I can describe how they felt is "melty." Washing my hands was bizarre, because it felt like my hands were not coming together, yet I could visibly see they were touching. When I did press them together, it felt like they melted away from each other. The skin was melting off the muscles, which were melting off the bones, which were bending and melting from themselves. Again, I could see everything was still there, still intact, but the sensations felt otherwise. This caused a massive disconnect in my about feeling crazy! None of my other bones or joints felt normal left knee seemed to be in my abdomen...but I could see this was obviously not the case! How my brain could perceive things this way I have no idea.

Foods have lost their flavors again, and now taste like textures. Mashed potatoes "taste" gritty. Protein shakes "taste" glumpy. And that's pretty much all I can get down...

I feel trapped inside myself, by my own body, by my own brain. I'm watching the world go on around me, unable to participate. When I do participate, I feel again as though I'm just watching. I see me talking and laughing, but I'm just watching. I see myself eating and moving, but it's not me - it's someone else. Even as I type this, I know I am typing it, yet I do not feel I am...

Such bizarre sensations! Literally it'll make you feel crazy...I am so thankful for good family and friends. Family who trim my nails for me when I am too weak to do so, and best friends and boyfriends who come to visit and let me sleep. And sleep. And sleep some more. All I can do is sleep it off, and stay in hope. I'm alive and well, and will continue to fight!