Yesterday was chemotherapy round 2. The end of the first cycle. Day 15 of cycle 1. However you want to label it, it went smoothly. My mom was here to take me to this one, I don’t want my Dan-O to have to take too much time off from work. So we had a nice day, I packed a turkey sandridge for my lunch, and the sweet front desk scheduler gave me a wonderful bowl of real chocolate ice cream; none of that soft serve stuff ;-). So that made for a nice treatment all in all.
I’m feeling alright so far. My biggest symptoms are heartburn, fingertip numbness, fatigue, and weird taste buds, hence my recent #salttastesgood motto. The steroids make me a bottomless pit of hunger, but they are only taken for 6 days out of 30, so its manageable. We’ve only joked about how my tumor baby wanted a blizzard from DQ once! Which is to say I’ve only had Dan take me to Dairy Queen the one time. We’ve stocked the fridge with real ice cream, don’t worry. And yes, I’m mostly staying away from sugar, it doesn’t taste all that good, but sometimes a sick kid needs fucking ice cream man. Cancer be damned. The symptoms really dissipated around day 10 and I had a nice calm 5 days before this second treatment…oh, except for the PMS!
I got my period the day of my chemo appointment. Thank you mother nature, you couldn’t have made that experience any better. So now I’m curiously working my way through a different cycle than the chemo cycle. It’s being weird. It’s fairly painful. I’ll be happy to see it go. They say that my cycles will get irregular or stop during chemo, and that for some women it can cause early menopause. I’m not very worried about that in the grand scheme of things. And won’t I likely be one of the lucky ones who goes right back to her regularly scheduled programming once all this shit is over! We will see, but it’s one of those things I talk about that I’m not supposed to but oh well. Here I am talking about it. I call it bear hunting.
I’m having a hard time wrapping my mind around the upcoming Solstice. How 2016 is half way through. It just keeps moving faster and faster. One of the things that has happened to me besides the cancer this year, is my yoga teacher training. I started YTT in November of 2015 with Erin Bowman at 4 Elements Yoga Studio in McMinnville. Erin is wonderful and my co-students are so kind and supportive. They have all recently graduated from the 200 hour program. I am just a few weeks behind, Erin is being very gentle with me while I find my new path. But ultimately, I’m done, I’m almost certified, just dotting the i’s and crossing the t’s. So I will soon be able to call myself a yoga teacher! I will be looking forward to starting my journey as a practicing yoga teacher when I am recovered from the chemo. Until then, I will be practicing at home frequently, heading to class whenever I feel up for it, and if any of you ever want to join me for either a public class or just to gently move with me at home, please don’t hesitate. Yoga has changed my life in such positive ways. It has given me an outlet to deal with hard emotions, it has helped with painful areas of tension in my body, it has taught me the gift of meditation and breathing practices or pranayama. I am happier and healthier (ahem) than I’ve ever been and it’s due in a major way to my friend and teacher Erin Bowman, my co-students Brad, Kathy, Kari, Carole, and Jane, (and yes that did make us KELLY KATHY KARI CAROLE the whole time) and all the wonderful community of people at 4 Elements. Lan Carpenter and Lisa Neal specifically made me feel welcome and loved in addition. I am so excited to start helping others find the joy and freedom I’ve found, and I feel like it is a good calling, or even go so far as to call it my Dharma, or lifes work. The world needs more of us to find our dharma’s so that we can be leading authentic happy lives. Save the world with love and meditation. We’ll keep trying. Yoga is going to help me save my life right now though, I feel that in my bones.
My most recent CBC or, complete blood count, showed that my red blood cells were doing great, and that my white blood cells are in the shitter. That’s to be expected and with my type of cancer it’s also what we want a little. So I am needing to be extra cautious about germs and not getting sick while my infection fighting WBC’s are so low. My absolute neutrophils are really low, and apparently very important when it comes to keeping me well. So I’m stocking up on hand sanitizer and I have wet wipes in the car I use every time I get in it. I’m going to be avoiding crowds and children (little plague vectors). I’m going to report any temperature reading that is over 100.4 degrees. Oooh, this is going to be fun!
My Comprehensive Metabolic Panel, CMP, or chemistries, were perfect this round. They’ve been fine so far, but this is when my liver and my kidneys could start to struggle from dealing with processing all the toxins they’re pumping into me. I’m not going to let that happen though, we’ll keep everything up and running smoothly I think.
With that said, I recently spoke to a friend who went through the exact same thing I am about 2 years ago. She is fully recovered and living the vibrant beautiful life of a 29 year old woman. Speaking with her relieved a huge burden of fear and anxiety that I was feeling up until then, about what treatment was like. Her story won’t be my story exactly, but a lot of the symptoms will be the same so I got good tips about a lot of stuff. Lemon oil in my water for heartburn. She only threw up one time and that was the first round and was before she discovered the blissful natural remedies of cannabis. She stayed very active until the last few treatments, and she has only vague memories of those last weeks. So she gave me such positive feedback, it was so helpful, and my spirits have been much higher since then. I’ve been able to finish all my yoga homework, keep active during the days, do yoga whenever I want, I painted my nails and plucked my eyebrows yesterday even. They say my hair should start falling out now, but I haven’t noticed the preceding tenderness, so I wait. I’m actually thinking a trim might be in order this weekend. I’m feeling like a hair farmer up in here.
I’ve decided after thinking on it, that if you feel like you want to do something for me, the gift of your time is what would be most appreciated. You are welcome in my home, I would love to meet you out for lunch, we could always go for a nice slow walk somewhere pleasant, I’ve never been to Miller Woods or The Trappist Abbey. So if you’ve been feeling like you would like to reach out and don’t know how or what, please do, even a phone call is wonderful. I’m staying busy most days, and when I’m not busy I’m just reading or watching a show. I’m also very good about screening my calls! So you’ll just have to leave a message if you don’t catch me, and wonder if I am busy or not… 😉
In beginning to wrap it up, I’d like to thank my parents especially, I have two sets whom I adore. Mom and Dad Duke, my parents, have been beyond generous with us these last few months. Dad took Dan Halibut fishing yesterday and they caught beautiful big ‘buts. Mom has been here many times to cook and take me to appointments. This trip she made an amazing meatloaf, baby back ribs w/slaw and mashed potatoes, and a freaking delicious my favorite type of fresh berry pie, with a gluten free crust and everything. It was really fun getting to bake with her yesterday, we used to bake together all the time, it’s how I learned. She’s an amazing baker. My Mom and Dad Babbitt have been frustrated by the time and distance between us, but are still doing their part by being supportive listeners over the phone and they made me the most cheerful quilt to keep me warm through treatment. They also collaborated on a beautiful fabric/clothesline basket that is just stunning. I love them all so much, its such a blessing to have great parents and I am very appreciative. And fairly spoiled. Thank you moms and dads, we couldn’t do this without you. I love you.
When I left my chemo appointment, with a relived smile on my pale face, I said, “I’ll be back next time, and while my blood counts will be low, my spirits will be high.” Of that I’m sure.