Day 16: Oh, oh. My hair…

Day 15 after my first chemotherapy -yesterday night-…  At night, I just noticed something a little bit unusual.  Many hair in my underwear, and on toilet paper.  Oh, oh.  did it finally start? (Japanese translation is at the bottom. 日本語は英語の後に記入してあります。)

Day 16 after my first chemotherapy -Today-… Now as I run my fingers through my hair, two to three pieces of hair come out.  It is surprisingly no physical sensation what so ever when hair comes off.  I don’t even notice them.  When I wash my hair, I close my eyes, I cannot tell how much is coming off.  I just don’t feel a pull at all.

My experienced nurse at oncology office told me my hair would fall off after my 2nd chemotherapy.  I figured my first week of teaching, I could show up with my hair, at least once.  Oh, oh… that will be 4 days from now.  I really hope my hair will be intact until then.  I can shave it off or what ever after that.  Please stay on!

I took a shower tonight.  I washed it as if I am washing something so fragile. I did not towel dry my hair, nor combed my hair.  Please stay on.

[physically] Feeling totally normal.  Very very mild nausea.  I do what I can while I can move around before Wednesday, the next chemotherapy.  My period is still spotty.  Hair started to fall down.  I experimented by pulling out my hair in my leg, it harts, and it did not come off 🙂 !

[emotionally]  I beg my hair to stay on for another 5 days until my Tuesday teaching will be over.  Then I will surrender completely.  I just became anxious about this.  I know it was totally expected, and I think I am ready for this.

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Breast Cancer in Summer 2014 with a Kid

For the last 3 days, I was doing fine.  Not great, but just fine.  Nausea had it’s peek on 2nd to5th days after the chemotherapy.  Today, not much.  Occasionally, there was some moments I was thinking, “oh, I can feel it.”  It is extremely mild today.

Once as I feel recovered, almost!, from the last one, now I can see my next chemotherapy 2/6, second one out of 6, coming up on Wednesday, August 27.  Now I know how I will respond to it, I started to prepare for it, mainly 2 things I have to do before next Wednesday.  1: prepare for my fall semester teaching material.  2: Give my son some summer treat.

Being a breast cancer patient while kids are still young, it is difficult to find a good balance.  Here I need to focus on me, while it is recommended to maintain a kid’s life as “normal” as possible.  How do I do that?

1. Keeping up with daily routine schedule for a kid (my son 8 years old)

I could not do it alone!  If you are the one who manage, kid’s scheduling, it is a good time to give the schedule to husband/partner/sitter ahead of time.  Assure him/her to trying to keep it up with the daily routine as scheduled.  Well, I still do participate, because I care about it a lot.   But there were times, when I devoted myself studying about my disease and treatments.  I also had to look for professionals whom I can trust.  I needed to discuss or just talk with my family and friends over coffee or the phone for hours (in total) to search for different opinions or just for comforting me.  I need to rest and recover.  It has been so helpful when friends take my son out for a play date.  Meanwhile, I can focus on me, not being a mother.  No worries about snack or screen time.

Keeping up with daily routine schedule for a kid can provides him/her a good security feeling.  His mother might be fighting with cancer, but his life does not change, the same as before.  The same old time.  Kids can be also scared when their mother face possibly deadly disease.  Mother’s appearance may change, not being able to move around, or hair loss.

2. Planning play dates with his friends

It looks to me he enjoys a lot to be with friends.  Seemingly worrisome issues are discussed over the phone with specialists, insurance companies, and friends at home, when he has somebody accompany with him, his focus is on the play date.  I made a lot of play dates during this summer.  I could not really go for swimming while my son loves swimming, some friends took him for a pool.  Those play dates have been helpful.

3. Unfortunate summer 2014.  Mini trips, instead, when I can.

We were initially planning to visit his grand parents in Japan for 6 weeks.  We had a plan to sending him to a Japanese public school for 3 weeks.  Unfortunately, I needed to cancel the trip.  Instead, I had to face the cancer.  I know that it is purely a social pressure, but when I hear other families go for VACATION, I felt sorry for my son.  All 9 weeks of summer break, we are in town, wait, almost.  I had my left mastectomy 4 days before my son’s summer started.  We just had to stay around.

I wanted to take him out for some trips.  When I felt good, I tried to take him out for mini trips.  Some highlights are: We visited our friend’s home in beach, a day trip.  We took him out for a theme park. I took him out yesterday for an off-broadway, “iLuminate Artist of Light”.  (So much fun, I really recommend it.  Visually so appealing.  http://iluminate.com/artist-of-light/ ) Maybe this weekend, we will take him out for a hiking (before my next chemo and it is our last summer weekend).  We enjoyed a lot.  I just really wanted to provide him some summertime feeling.

At least, it had been so helpful that my parents from Japan were here to help us out for about 6 weeks.  That was fun for my son.  Thank you, my parents!

[physically]  For the last 3 days, nausea had been almost unnoticeable.  It is there though. Well… once I thought my period was over, it has still going on, very very light.  It has been over 2 weeks.  Pimples are there on my face.  I gained back weight as my appetite is back.  My left underarm has been numb since the surgery and it bugs me.  I keep touching there lightly, hoping my nerve to come back some sensation.

[emotionally] Sort of steady… I now started to feel annoyed that my next chemotherapy is right around the corner… Next Wednesday.  My teaching is coming up next Monday, I am getting ready for it!

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doing fine

I just wanted to drop a line, just in case some of you may wonder about me.  I am doing fine for now.  Once I started feeling normal, then now I can see my next chemotherapy is coming up next Wednesday.  I will write a blog post later when I have a bit more time.

後ほど もう少し長いブログをつづる予定ですが、時間がないけれど、心配してくださる方があるかもしれないと思い、短い現状報告。今の今は、調子良く生活してます。やっと調子よくいけてるかなと思えば、すでに来週水曜日に次の抗がん剤治療。どうなるか分かってしまっているだけに、気分が陰鬱になってきました。後ほど時間を作って、ブログを書きたいと思っています。

My Treatment Timeline

My treatments planI wanted to share my treatment time line for a reference.  (Please read “important” at the bottom, if you are diagnosed breast cancer.)  As many of breast cancer cases, I did not feel a pain or sick at all.  I felt perfectly healthy, in fact, I thought I was one of the most healthiest, or the most health conscious person around me.  One major different thing about the cancer from other illness is that removing cancer with surgery is only the very first step (note: some cancer requires chemotherapy before surgery).  Many other treatments to follow in breast cancer.  When I found about about the length of the treatment I had to have, I was daunted to face that fact.  Previously, I never had surgery, I did not take any medications regularly, and I even did not take any vitamins because I self-studied nutrition and my meals provided me balanced vitamins and minerals.

Day 11:  Almost normal.  I took a long nap in the afternoon.  I also did another bike ride!

[physically] I can feel a mild body ache from yesterday’s exercise.  I need some exercise.  Mild nausea, but I did not take medication.  I wake up feeling normal, but gradually my nausea reminds me that I am under chemotherapy treatment, (this is an improvement.)  I had head ache and took Advil.  My pimples are healing.  I don’t digest food well, food comes out from me recognizable (I tried not to be very descriptive).

[emotionally] Very steady.  I can predict the next cycles.  Not knowing what will happen to me was a big fear.  Next cycle, I might be a little better to handle the cycle emotionally.

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Day 10: Feel almost normal

Day 10 after my chemotherapy.  I feel almost back to normal today.  Yes, I still have mild nausea, but not that noticeable.   In fact, I thought I needed to start some exercises.  My husband is a dedicated runner, but I was not sure if running was my best exercise today.  I asked him to tune up my bicycle.  Bending over to reach ground makes me nauseated, I could not do it myself.  I went for a bike riding while he goes out for running.  I had to stop occasionally when I felt nauseous, but otherwise, I felt good about getting some exercise done.  We were out for over 1 hour.

My appetite came back as well as my taste buds.  I quickly started putting some weight now.  Wow, now it is the time to focus on what I eat, finally.  I don’t get hungry today, I believe because I eat small amount more frequently.  I felt lack of vegetables in my diet for the last 10 days, I craved for vegetables.  My friend brought me my favorite carrot dressing with ginger and honey.   I am set for vegetables!

When I was on a bike, we passed by a store that sells felafels.  I started to explain how to make felafels to my husband as I was riding the bike.  I was excited to find out that “I am thinking about food!”  I greeted myself “Welcome back, Yoko!”

[physically]: Almost back to normal (Oh, thank you!).  I felt some nausea from time to time.  When I am destructed, I forget about it.  A pimple popped out, but nothing noticeable happened for now.   I was afraid that being lower white blood counts could cause some situation, not today.  I don’t notice sore mouth today.

[emotionally]: As I felt normal and did some exercise, I felt great and thankful.

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Day 9: Some energy toward evening

It started out slowly this morning.  I wake up having mild nausea very similar to yesterday.  We visited a farmers market and bought a few vegetables.  I was not sure how much cooking I will do for a week.  So far, I did not cook at all, but heating up prepared food from time to time.  But it was good that I had motivation to go out.

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Those are so cute!  Not only pies are homemade, but the packages are also hand painted.

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I spend reading a book most of my time until 3 PM.  When a friend of mine called me at 3:30, when I was taking a nap.  A get together dinner invitation at a Japanese restaurant made me think of what I wanted to eat for the first time since I had my chemotherapy.  My appetite is getting back on track, a bright news to me.  Just in case, I took an anti-nausea medication before the restaurant.

I could not imagine how much I ate.  I ordered Tempura so that I could take some home in case I did not finish it, but I ate everything.  Somehow I started to taste food better again.  Having a good accompany distracted me from thinking about being nauseous.  The dinner replenished my energy up again.  Once I went home, I started to clean the house that I could not do before.  Oh, I felt good.

[physically]: Constant very mild nausea, a lot of burping.  Not much fatigue.  Appetite is coming back!   Food started to taste as it supposed to be.  Pimples are persistent on my face.  Sore spots in the mouth.  A red rash spot at my throat.  My period seems to be over, finally -12th day of my period.  Itch scalp.

[emotionally]: Fine.  Things look more optimistic.

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Day 8:Thoughts about being constant nauseous

Day 8:  Even better than yesterday.  I was slightly nauseated, milder than yesterday…  the level of nausea is like morning sickness.

I remember having this similar nauseous condition 9 years ago, when I was pregnant of my son.  Yesterday, our son’s piano teacher called me to check on me.  (Thank you!)  Her daughter and daughter in law went through breast cancer recently.  She described me “just like morning sickness, isn’t it?” when I mentioned about my nausea.  That reminded me a nurse with my oncologist had already told me about that, too, on the day of my chemotherapy.  At the hospital, there are 4 specialists stopped by and gave me so many facts and tips.  I totally forgot about that comment.  Yes, now it is like morning sickness.

This made me wonder a difference between a morning sickness of 9 years ago and chemotherapy nausea today.  9 years ago, when I felt my morning sickness, I felt sick, but there was joy underneath.  “Op, this is what it is like!”  I did not like it much, but I knew there was something precious I was growing.  I wanted it to be growing well.  I wanted to get over with it and wanted to meet our baby later.  Today, it is true… I have “Op, this is what it is like…” a very same impression, except tone is different.  I try to look for something to look forward to to go through this.

Once I get over this nausea:

1. “I will get back to my normal life!”

2. “I will taste my favorite food as it supposed to taste!”

3. “I will feel a big relief.”

I thought listing up would help me feel better, and had better attitude today.  Well, I have a mixed feeling about this.  I may succeeded to list up something positive, but at the same time, the things I am looking forward to are what I used to already have.  I don’t have them now.  Then… I look like victimized… and maybe I am a victim of the cancer…  mmm, Bummer.

[physically]: Constant nauseous.  Not much of fatigue, but I took a nap.  Some appetite is coming back!  11th day of my period. Around my nose and mouth, many pimples.  Edges of my mouth started ache, some small cut openings.  My mouth is sore with one white spot started to show up.

[emotionally]: Stable.  Some motivation started to come back to me again, which made me happy.  Started to concerned about my hair loss.  Will I be able to put together something look good on me with my new area of fashion: bald?

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Day 7: A short trip to NYC

A week ago, I had my first chemotherapy.  Today, I felt even better than yesterday.  It was best among the last 5 days. I wake up with a slight feeling of nausea, but very mild.  It was like morning sickness.  (My posture has been pretty good.  When I am nauseated, I noticed I walked in bad posture, but I could not help it.)

After a breakfast, friend’s homemade banana muffin and scrambled eggs, I went back to watch a movie; “Diana Vreeland: The Eye Has to Travel.”  A story about a woman who used to be an editor in chief of Harper Bazaar, Vogue and head of The Costume Institute of Metropolitan Museum.  That made me think of different head piece solutions I have to think for near future.  I wanted to go to the NYC.  My husband wanted to come with me to make sure I would be OK.  I really appreciated about it, I myself was not confident either.  We made a short trip, 2 hours stay in the city. Oh, I was happy.  I felt nauseous but when I was looking into different hats, I was not thinking about nausea.  A brief moment of nausea-free without medication!  Bravo, fashion.  I had some inspiration, and I will make some, too, when I can.  Soon to be seen here, I hope!  (Or not hope… I am talking about after my hair falls off.)

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[physically] My weight hit the lowest record ever I remember since I am at this height.  A mild nausea, consistent but tolerable.  I could eat more today.  No appetite.  Burping.  Not much fatigue.  My face still has pimples for the last 3 days.  My period still goes on.  A nurse called me and told me that it could be irregular during chemotherapy.  She did not sound concerned about it.  Every night, nausea gets worse.

[emotionally] Very steady.  It may be still too early to say, but the first week of the chemotherapy is rough and tough.  If that is the case, 5 more weeks of that to overcome.  I have 6 cycles every 3 weeks, that makes it about 4+ months.  It is not like 5 months of rough and tough time, more like 5 weeks in total.  That way, emotionally it is easier to cope with this.  In the train heading back home, I exercised an “escape” that my physiotherapist had told me how to calm me down.

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Day 6: Killing my time while healing

It was better, again, than yesterday.  I really hope this improvement in the past Day 5 and Day 6 will be my cycle for the rest of my 5 chemotherapy.  In the next cycle, I will be teaching on Day 6.  When there is some “must do” things that I care, I should be able to pull myself together on Day 6, I can tell.  The course is called Fashion Economics.  It is a field of economics, but main theme is about fashion.  I created the course outline, proposed to and approved by collage and NY state.  It is brand new and only run for 2 semesters yet.  This will be my third semester teaching that subject.  This semester, it expanded into 2 courses.  I am excited about it.  I am the only one who can teach that course and no other economists can replace me.  I must do it!

[physically] My body is 1/4 of my regular energy level.  A light fatigue.  Laying down most of the time.  Nausea around lunch time and I took a medicine.  No appetite.  Never feel hungry without eating any snack during a day.  Talking is not too tiring (it used to). I will contact doctor’s office tomorrow to inquire about my continuous spotty period, still going on.  Today was it’s 8th day.

[emotionally] BORED.  I feel like a day after my fever is gone after catching a cold (yes, that is more emotionally).  Slightly positive.   Comments and e-mails from friends made me smile :-)!

I am so bored, but I don’t want to be actively moving around.  I tried to go out for a walk, but it started to rain and I turned around to head home.  I finally cleaned our kitchen casual dining table.  I did not realize but if I don’t do it, things just pile up!   Dishes are served on top of them.  Table glass was sticky, I could not stand it any more and I could move and clean it.  I can see my husband is handful with taking care of me and our son while he does his job.  I will do what I can.

My boredom set a light on my photography again today.  I don’t want to walk around much.  I am afraid of contacting many people as I am more prone to infection today.  Photography requires some time and now it is a perfect time.  I had not done that for awhile.

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Day 5: I feel a little better than yesterday

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Day 5: I wake up feeling a little better than yesterday.  I got up to do necessary chores, including eating.  Sadly, no appetite makes eating as a daily chore for now.  For a record, I lost about 4.5lb (2kg) since before the chemotherapy in a week.  A day after my chemotherapy, I was 8lb (4kg) heavier than today.  I don’t understand why.  Possibly, all the liquid that I took and they injected me weighted plus 4.5lb.  Over the course of chemotherapy, patients seem to put more weight on average.  I am guessing my appetite will come back before the next cycle (in about 2 weeks).  Let’s see.  I focus on eating mainly more lean protein, vegetables and fruits, and try not to skip Vitamin D & Calcium liquid supplement.

My husband took me out for a short walk.  Thank you for asking me!  As we got ready to leave home, it started to rain some.  Great… But that did not stop us from walking.  That was a nice walk and refreshing, and it was really short.  But it caused some mild nausea afterwards.  I took Metoclopramide, anti-nausea, medicine, rested in a couch and it went away.  No make-up, my hair is not really set… Oh well, at least I brushed my teeth.  I am afraid of saying it out loud, as a fashion fun, but that was not important today!

I noticed I started to get pimples around my nose and mouth.  I may have skipped some face wash in some mornings.  I know I did it before going to bed.  I will see how it goes.

[phsically]  Less fatigue than in the last 3 days.  Persisting lack of appetite.  I have been sleeping well at night, even if I take naps during day.  Gassy.  So many burping, I mean so many.  I took 1 anti-nausea pill.I still have spotty period, makes me concerned.

[emotionally]  Not bad.  Things are looking slightly more optimistic today.  I am concerned how I will be able to teach in 2 weeks.  I will have to manage the scheduling in advance to prepare material way in advance, when I can.  I just hope tomorrow will come a bit more brighter.

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