Chemo Phone Dump: Summertime Edition

It's time for my annual summer o' chemo phone dump. Also known as my life with cancer, as seen through my phone.
My caregiver.
Doors off and all my hair blowing in the wind.
Compression on and elevated during treatment. You can see
how my left ankle is slighter bigger than my right.

My sweetest boy doing the parade thing.

Dutifully taking care of me, and eating all the cookies and snacks they have
in the infusion room.
Multi-layer wrapped and elevated. Also known as the Mummy Leg.
Chemo buddy.
The engineer must understand how this machine works.
Won't do a scan without it.
Compression tight on. Leg elevated. Netflix on.
Giving my left leg a little more help with some pre-bed elevation.
Clearly the compression tight is helping to keep it nice and pasty during the summer.


Cuddling on the Couch

I have been cyber stalking my future boyfriend for weeks, and anticipating his inclusion in my other evening romance - Netflix. And last week, he finally knocked on my door.

As much as I'm trying to put on a happy face about this whole lymphedema thing, I'm still wallowing in my own Spanx-covered poopy pants. I've spent the past few months altering my wardrobe, and dreaming of winter, where I can completely hide all signs of a compression garment under big coats and knee high boots. I'm also looking forward to the colder weather, as nothing makes the uncompressed portions of my left foot swell like a nice, hot day.

My physical therapist mentioned the Flexitouch at my first appointment, but at that time I was still trying to absorb the fact that I was now the proud owner of another chronic condition that would include further damage to my vanity. I went to see her last month, because my returned-to-previous-size-as-long-as-compressed leg was not cooperating. It was "flaring," and no amount of self-giving manual lymphatic drainage, doing up the Mummy Leg, or wearing a daily compression garment was getting it back down to a size worthy of my vast collection of skinny jeans. She mentioned this magical machine that simulated the manual lymphatic drainage she was doing in office, and told me it could be mine in the comfort of my own home.

The orders were signed, my insurance would pay for it, and I got a little taste when a Product Specialist came by the house to give me a demo. Poor thing arrived about 30 minutes after my home care nurse came to disconnect my pump, so she didn't realize she was dealing with Chemo Drunk me who hadn't bathed or brushed my teeth in 3 days.

My boyfriend is now here, so enjoy this photo montage of our new relationship, and bask in the chronic glory they call lymphedema.

Sorry kids, you're going to have to meet your own needs for the next 60 minutes.
A Kenny Powers-endorsed evening of fun.
Post-Flexitouch lumpiness. Push on it and it feels like a Tempurpedic leg


Read Me: The New Cancer Survivors

A fellow young-cancer-fighting-mommy friend sent me this article on my last treatment day. I was home from my infusion, and deliriously tucked into bed like a drunken sailor. But even my foggy brain perked up and soaked in every word.

I loved it, because it said exactly what I want to scream at so many people (including doctors who don't read my file before seeing me) who give me that ahhhh-you-have-stage-4-cancer-and-are-terminal look.

I am not terminal. I'm chronic.

Read this, and know it feels like my personal anthem.


Spanx to the Left

Nothing says let's go outside and enjoy the warmth of
summer like these multi-layer accessories!
I finally got over my laziness and went out and bought my first pair of Spanx.

I just couldn't deal with my left butt sag anymore. This compression tight I wear on my left leg is designed to go all the way up to that fine dividing line between butt and thigh, which is awesome for someone who carries 95% of her body fat right there. You know when you squeeze a balloon animal and one end gets big from all air? Use that as a visual for what was happening here. The garment was creating a butt lump, or what I've taken to calling The Blump. There will be no illustrative ass photos here, so use your imagination or go buy some balloons and start squeezing.
Good times.

I know far too many women who don't leave the house without their Spanx on, so I hoped they could do the mighty job of smoothing things over back there. Within 30 minutes of putting them on, I think I dislocated my downstairs lady bits. Within an hour my intestines started to cramp. And by the end of the evening I couldn't pull them off fast enough.

But like any good soul, I asked them out on a second date. We are going to have to make this relationship work for the sake of 80% of my wardrobe and the even appearance of my backside while fully dressed. At least I don't have that extra 10 inches of colon taking up space, so make room intestines! My internal organs are just going to have to take one for Team Vanity here. I've adjusted my wardrobe accordingly, and added a few maxi dresses to the closet, making my compression garment much less noticeable to anyone not paying attention, which is probably most people.

Cheers to the rest of summer, and my unevenly tanned legs.


Public Baldness

I have never been the type that enjoyed having my photo taken. I think it's for the same reason that I'm not one that really likes to go all out in celebration of my birthday. And why my few existing selfies have been used to illustrate a point, and not show off my ability to spend 40 minutes taking pictures of myself until I looked like I wasn't trying, by actually trying too hard.

I just don't like the attention.

Odd for a girl who writes a blog and spills all her dirty bathroom secrets, yes, but there's something to be said for hiding behind my words on what started as an anonymous format.

This same desire to avoid attention is probably why I have never walked around with my bald head in public. It's not that I was uncomfortable with my temporary look. At this point, I think I've lost my hair enough that I know how to roll with it in any situation. I just don't want to draw attention to myself, and I certainly don't want people to notice me. To each his own, should you be someone who is bald and proud.

So with great hesitation, I took myself far outside of my comfort zone and not only let myself be photographed for the purposes of public display, but let it be done with only a few weeks of that baby soft regrowth we all love to rub like a Chia Pet.

My face and head will appear on marketing material for a few Get Your Rear in Gear races this year. I'm sucking it up and taking one for the team here. Or rather sucking it up and doing whatever it takes to get people's attention about colon cancer. Or maybe just sucking it up because I do work for the very people putting on the race, so it's almost like I'm being paid to do it.

Regardless, it saved me from having to find some book on "self-growth" that's on the shelf by the bathroom at Barnes and Noble. Standing in front of a professional photographer's camera was growth enough.

I'm penciled in to be at the Boston race, should you happen to live there and want to come!

As you can see, I've somehow managed to grow hair while on Irinotecan, which is clearly a drug that has made me lose hair and keep it lost until I stopped taking it. This time around, it all fell out right away, and then I slowly started to get the fuzz. It's a mystery, and perhaps I'm the only one to manage such a feat while on the Destroy of Bowels (and hair follicles), but I'll take it. I'm already to the point to self-trimming my mullet, and applying hair gel borrowed from a 4-year-old that smells like a drunken coconut.

Photo by Laura Rae Photography - Minneapolis.