Thursday, November 10, 2011

"Unravel me..."

"...a distant cord
on the outside is forgotten.
A constant need to get along
and the animal awakens.
And all I feel is black and white.

The road is long
and memory slides
to the whole of my undoing
put aside, I put away
I push it back to get through each day.

And all I feel is black and white
and I'm wound up small and tight
and I don't know who I am.

Everybody loves you when you're easy
Everybody hates when you're a bore
Everyone is waiting for your entrance
So don't disappoint them."
~Sarah McLachlan

I have been feeling pretty good since my last round of chemo almost 2 weeks ago.  I'm counting my blessings, even though it's so strange to me how differently my body has reacted to the same drugs over the course of the 4 treatments. The repercussions of feeling better are that I'm spending less time thinking and more time doing; which means I'm not writing as much.

Slip stitch beanie in denim blue.
I have, however, been spending some time knitting.  I finally got 2 hats worked out right. One in cotton and one in denim blue baby soft acrylic.  The acrylic one is too warm for inside wear, but has been working out ok for outside, now that the weather is starting to begin to creep towards winter (SNOW outside my window today!).

Going out in public has been a bit problematic for me because the hot flashes have hit.  The word around these circles is "chemo-pause"...chemically induced menopause.  The chemo finally stopped my cycle and I have the lovely side effects that go with it: hot flashes and night sweats.  (I'd like to say mood swings haven't been as much of an issue, but you'd have to consult my hubs for veracity of that statement!).

If I have a hot flash around my house or friends, I just peel off the hat first, and then start with the other layers. But in public, I feel a little bit uncomfortable with exposing my Benjamin Button-head to the general public.  One trick I figured out at my son's indoor soccer game last week was the 2-in-1. I wore my cotton hat and put my acrylic one over it.  When I got too warm, I just peeled off the acrylic one. And I dress in layers, preferably with zipper or button fronts. I will go from freezing to sweating and back to freezing several times over the course of an hour or two. Or...even more pleasantly, walk around with ice blocks for toes, but sweating armpits.  It's really a PITA.  It's also a constant reminder of what is potentially waiting for me once I begin on the 5 years of Tamoxifen starting next November. I'm trying really hard to put it aside, not worry about what may or may not happen to me on that drug, but now that I know a little about it, I can't help but ponder every now and then. I'm back in unknown waters, which is a place that really drives me crazy: I'm getting ready to start 2nd round of chemo: Taxitere and Herceptin, and I have no idea how I'll react to them.

My 1st treatment is the Monday before Thanksgiving. I've heard that the Taxane class of drugs (most common: Taxol and Taxitere) are less harsh than the Adriamycin/Cytoxan cocktail I've been going through.  This is a big relief to me, but the fact is that it's still a cell destroying drug, so the usual chemo side effects may apply.  I'm also waiting to see if this round will maybe help with my RA symptoms, which, though improved by my current meds, is still present and annoying. From the Herceptin, I have NO idea what to expect.

So it's this waiting and wondering that gets inside my brain and makes me fret. I HATE not knowing. When I am feeling good, it's easy to make plans for the future, but I still must put a dependency clause on any that I make: "plans subject to change depending on side effects". At the same time, I've had lots of opportunities to practice how to deal with the uncertainty that this diagnosis has given me. I must consciously tell myself again and again to put it aside- Give it over to God and the universe to deal with.  It's out of my hands.  It will be what it will be. Every day of dealing with this THING, I get to practice modifying my response to the unknown. That's a LOT of practice! In the meanwhile, I will try to do something productive and meditative, for me, it's knitting, and  I haven't run out of yarn or projects just yet.


  1. I'm so glad you're feeling a bit more like yourself. And cool that you've made some things. It's always good to have a larger hat wardrobe. :)
    take care,

  2. I love your hats!! Oh man, the hot flashes suck. I don't sweat or anything but a couple times a day, it's like I'm blushing really intensely. I am seriously starting to question Tamoxifen now. I'm 32 dammit.

    I must say, I think without the acupuncture, my hot flashes would be a lot worse. :-)

  3. I've known many women who survived breast cancer, but not until now did I really understand and feel like I know what women go through with the disease... thank you for posting and well-written too. A former co-worker gave up dairy claiming the chemicals/antibiotics in cows gave her the cancer. I'm sure there are many thoughts on what causes it. Hang in there - you are on the road to recovery. Thanks for visiting my blog too.

  4. Charlotte, I'm still amazed at how even and perfect the stitches are in the hat you made for me. I cannot compare, and I get loads of compliments on it whenever I wear it! flashes suck...I wish I had an acupunture option close to me. I was pondering the massage/reiki therapist in town to see if that might help some.

    Chili: WOW, what an awesome compliment! It motivates me to keep writing about my journey even when I think no one really wants to hear any more about it! thanks so much!

  5. Those hats are great - I especially love the blue one. It's great you can knit - what a great thing to do to focus on something else for a change.

    I just finished my 4th Paclitaxol and Herceptin. I'm not sure how taxatere compares with Paclitaxol but I did find it much easier to handle then A/C. Yesterday I went for my first Herceptin alone injection and feel absolutely nothing at all. So be encouraged - it can get better. It was great to go for a walk on my would be chemo day and know that I can only get stronger from here!

    And I totally get the hot flashes too! And Tamoxafin scares me to death but I'm sure I'll end up taking it anyway. I'm seeing a naturopathic oncologist that I hope will help me with the side effects of that drug. I've also read Kris Carr's Crazy Sexy Diet (and Cancer books). They are awesome if your interested in changing things in your diet. Although, I have to say, while I was going through A/C I just ate what I could which wasn't much except for chips and ice-cream!

    It's good to read about someone who's going through some of the same stuff and thanks for linking to my blog on your blog - I was totally surprised that anyone could even find it!! Keep writing.


  6. oops - reading down I see you totally know of Kris Carr! Cool.

  7. Thank you for linking me, too!

    It is interesting to follow the treatment plans of other her2positive women. They all seem to be a little different.

    I love the hats you are knitting. I wish I could knit. It seems like a nice peaceful way to utilize the time. Do you knit when you are having chemotherapy?

  8. Lena- I TRY to knit during my chemo but usually end up chatting with the staff or my mom. :) If I already have something on needles to just pick up its easier... Do you have a Gilda's club or yarn store near you? They usually have learn to knit classes. It's a nice way to be quiet and still be productive.


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