The first slap

The first slap
This photo was taken the day after I was diagnosed, and it is my first bitch slap at cancer. I'm the one with the icepack symbolically placed on my boob. My teammates changed our team's uniform to pink at the last minute, and I came off the soccer field that night with one goal and a whole lot of love. Several of these women are my close friends, but they are all warriors, and they all helped me set the tone for this fight.

Thursday, December 12, 2013

Side Effects and Weight Gain Pancakes!

Several people have asked me about side effects from the chemotherapy. It's actually too soon to tell exactly how my body will respond to this, but I'll try to give you all an idea of how I'm feeling. First off, yesterday and today I've simply felt GREAT! I have felt energetic, I've exercised, and have not had any stomach upset. Woo-hoo! Let's have a collective fist pump for that!

Actually, the Herceptin and Pertuzemab are pretty light in terms of side effects; it's the Taxol that will give me the most unpleasantries. On Monday night, only a half a day after my first infusion, I began to feel some nausea, but they sent me home with medication for that, which worked quickly and effectively. Taxol can screw with your whole digestive tract, which extends from where it all goes in to where it all goes out. So I did have some lower digestive discomfort on Tuesday, and today I started getting what I can only describe as a stinging mouth. (No, I'm not talking about my swearing, although there is that.) Rather, my mouth feels as if I've eaten spicy foods when I haven't, and I have a bit of a metallic taste in my mouth. I'd been told to expect this, but only now understand what people meant. I'm trying a water, baking soda, salt solution for rinsing, so we'll see if that helps. I've also been told that eating with plasticware, rather than silverware, can help mitigate that, although I'm not sure how and why.

I met with a dietician yesterday, and she gave me a whole bunch of advice, including a recipe for homemade Lära Bars and a cookbook for cancer patients titled Eating Well Through Cancer: Easy Recipes and Recommendations During and After Treatment. This book is awesome! Rather than being organized by type of food or dish (e.g., sauces and salsas, or main dishes, or poultry), it's organized by side effects. It has a whole chapter with recipes to cook if you're nauseated, and another if you need to enhance your protein intake. And (I'm so not making this up), there are actually chapters titled "Diarrhea" and "Constipation." I kid you not!  Happily for me, the book also has a chapter titled "Sore Mouth or Throat," which includes recipes for Cream of Spinach and Brie Soup, Cantaloupe and Banana Smoothies, German Chocolate Angel Pie, and my favorite, Weight Gain Pancakes. Ha! I hope I don't actually need Weight Gain Pancakes, but you gotta love this! I'm thinking of trying the Apple Sauce Oatmeal tomorrow morning.

In terms of side effects, I will most definitely lose my hair within the next two to four weeks. This may come as a shocker to some of you, but I'm a bit of a control freak, and cancer is not easy on control freaks, as there is so much we don't get to, you know...control. But I will control this: I am going to get a cute short haircut tomorrow. I should be able to enjoy that for a while, and then when my hair starts coming out in chunks, I will get it shaved off completely. I will not sit idly by while cancer does this to me. I'll also ask Alex, my hairdresser (who is also a make-up artist), to show me how to pencil on eyebrows (because the last time I did that was never). While I'm not looking forward to baldness, particularly during an Illinois winter, in some weirdo way I can't totally explain, I'm looking forward to the experience with a sense of anticipation and curiosity. And who knows--maybe there are perks. Perhaps it will rid me of those pesky chin hairs I keep plucking out!

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