12 months ago, I came in to the year 2014 with 4 drains protruding out of the sides of my body and in a fog from the pain pills I took regularly to minimize the discomfort from having my boobs cut off. This would be the first of 4 treatments I underwent this past year to remove the cancer from my body.
Shortly after the pain pill regimen stopped, the chemotherapy began. All of the cells inside of my body, good and bad, were destroyed. By Valentines Day, the chemo had burned every hair follicle in my body and I was bald.
By Memorial Day, I was FAT! Thanks to the steroid regimen that replaced the opiate usage, I was able to get through chemo without a whole lot of puking. The trade-off (and in the world of cancer, there is ALWAYS a trade-off), steroids make you eat – EVERYTHING.
I spent my summer with chemo-induced hot flashes, a bald head, a fat body, and a completely wrecked stomach that gets inflamed every time I put anything at all in to my mouth.
By Labor Day, I was through radiation and left with some wicked burns on the inside and out. At this point, the most comfort came for me when I could lay on the cold kitchen floor of my house, naked, with the central air blasting. Even t-shirt material hurt my skin from the burns.
I started taking the drug Tamoxifen to block the estrogen in my system, which feeds my cancer. One side effect of this drug for me, was hair loss. It doesn’t happen to everyone, only a select few. Wow, I feel special. Another side effect was even greater and more intense hot flashes – as if they could get any worse! Needless to say, screw that drug – it ain’t for me!
By Halloween, my hair begins to grow. Yippee! Even though I lived all of my life with thin, pin straight blonde hair, I will take this mop on my head that is thick, brownish/grayish and very curly. It’s better than nothing.
Anxious to get my blonde back so that my family members will recognize me again, in early December, I head to the hairdresser. Sadly and strangely, my new hair doesn’t accept the color, therefore I continue to sit with this ash/gray/brown mop.
December 9th, I host a book release party in order to personally thank the many friends and supporters who pre-ordered a copy of my book. Well, Syracuse hosts the worst storm of the year on that very same day. Announcements are made that no travel will be allowed. But hey, let’s be positive here - some people dared the white-out conditions and had a few drinks with me so the party wasn’t a total bust.
Today is December 31st and I have my first cold/flu in well over a year. I don’t even remember what this feels like. I can’t breathe, my nose is stuffed but running like crazy. My head feels like it’s going to explode as my brain continues to swell from this terrible headache. My body aches, my skin hurts and strangely my jaw feels like it weighs 100 lbs. Yesterday, I knew it was coming so I drank ½ a gallon of OJ and about 2 gallons of water. All that did was make me pee every hour all through the day and night.
So, as I sit here and reflect on this past year (with my foggy clogged thinking cap), I am thrilled beyond words to say PISS OFF to 2014! Without question, this was the most physically challenging, embarrassing, self-esteem steeling year of my life.
There is no telling when the cancer will return and since I am guaranteed a 50% return rate, I will continue to live like I am dying (Thanks Tim McGraw). If everyone were to live this way, maybe the world would be a better place.
In 2015, I don’t want to be rich, I don’t wish for material things, I crave simplicity and a chance to help others. Oh, and if I could help others while cruising the Caribbean, that would be ok too.
PS While typing the last paragraph of this post, my phone rang – it was a friend who called to ask questions about cancer because this friend was diagnosed yesterday. Now, how is it possible that as I type the words “A CHANCE TO HELP OTHERS”, my phone rings and it is someone needing my help. If you believe in God, you would call this divine intervention, right? If you don’t believe, I guess you would call it coincidence. Oh, and if you know me personally and are thinking to ask me who this person is – stop thinking. I have been asked to keep it a secret and that I shall do. It is a big deal to tell the world you have cancer. It can only be done when you are ready.
Happy New Year!