Wednesday, November 3, 2010

Hey, that wasn't so bad

I'll start by reminding you of my chemotherapy program, and for the first time I have enough energy to get off my butt and look up the names of the drugs:  *week 1, Taxotere, Carboplain, and Herceptin; week 2, Herceptin; week 3, Herceptin*; repeat between * six times, for total of 18 weeks.  Today was the week 2 treatment, and the only side-effect preventers that I was given were 2 tylenols and 1 benadryl by mouth.  That's a good sign right there, in contrast to last week when I was given an hour's worth of side-effect preventers by IV.  I am delighted to report that I don't think I am feeling any side effects of today's treatment.  I think I am still feeling the residuals from last week (a bit of digestive fog and a bit of fatigue hanging on), but *I am better than yesterday*; and I hope to repeat between * until the next big dose.

It has come to my attention that some of you are confused about the mechanics of my port.  All I have to say to that is, exactly.  When the surgical evidence has dissipated, I promise to do a port photo-shoot for you and launch a port-renaming contest.

I did indeed go to work for two hours yesterday.  It was glorious to be surrounded by my colleagues and friends, most of whom I hadn't seen since my catapult into cancer less than two weeks ago.  I also spoke with my boss about how to balance work, life, and cancer.  He is so kind and wonderful, and assured me that he will work with me however is needed.  The two big things are 1) signing up for the leave-transfer program, which will allow folks with extra vacation time to donate that time to me because I will run out of my own vacation time very soon (this mechanism of leave-transfer could possibly keep me off of disability for awhile), and 2) working around my health in the event that I get an interview.  That's right, I said interview.  In mid-October I applied for a full-time scientist position within my current unit at the USDA, a position I really really really want and am really really really qualified for.  I'm very hopeful that I'll get an interview, but that interview will likely be sometime around Thanksgiving, and I will obviously still have cancer and still be undergoing treatment.  We talked about the scenario where I get an interview, and he said he'd be willing to work with me to interview on a "good" day.  So, a big sigh of relief on the work front, which translates to a huge sigh of relief on the paycheck front.  Now I just need to figure out how to actually get work done and prepare for the interview, but I'm feeling so much improved from yesterday that I have high hopes for productivity next week.  By next week I mean tomorrow, because Wednesday is the new Monday in my world.  

I'll leave you with an anecdote about my surgeon.  My husband Ian saw him in the hospital today, and where Dr. Surgeon previously had a head full of hair, he now has none.  Yep.  He shaved his head.  Ian commented on it and the surgeon said that he shaved his head for ME, and that it's the best good-luck charm you can give to someone.  Ian was already planning to shave his head when my hair actually falls out, so that I don't have to be the only bald person in my dad's wedding pictures (yikes!) later this month.  I suppose this is starting to sound like I'm lobbying for you all to shave your heads, but I'm not.  The purpose of this anecdote is to suggest that you send some of your positive thoughts and prayers to yourselves, including Ian and Dr. Surgeon, for being the unique and incredible network of people loving and supporting me.  I couldn't do this without you!                    

Poke tally:
left arm  4
right arm 3
"port"  2
left breast  1
superior vena cava 1
tummy  1    


  1. That job is so yours. And I already planned on shaving Indie, for solidarity.

  2. Shaving off my mustache 10 years ago was tramatic enough for me & I'm not sure I've recovered yet. But you know I love you Heather. To show my solidarity I may have to shave the dog. Sorry Happy.

    On a serious note, the continuous stories of all the people surrounding you doing heartfelt deeds is a blessing I am grateful for.

  3. Heather, I bet you're going to be a super-cool looking bald woman!

    This book review last week was interesting & made me think of you:

    (though when sick, I take a diet of strictly escapist fiction, of course)

  4. Kudos to those showing their solidarity by shaving their heads, pets, old wool sweaters, nose hairs. . . . . whatever. Does this mean no more axillary or leg shaving for you for awhile? Here's where you'll find my mode of solidarity. Love you - glad this week is better.

  5. I love the pixie haircut! YOu look fabulous with short hair, which is a direct insight to how beautiful you will be bald! And as far as wedding photos go, I am sure you will find stunning scarves. Have your girls use fabric paint and have a custom scarf to get you through the bad days! Great seeing your smiling face at work.

  6. Yeah, like you'd be the ONLY bald person in the wedding photos.... :)

    You know what they say, there are only so many perfect heads in the world - the rest have hair.