Saturday, December 26, 2009

Most Awesome Breast Cancer Swag

What is the cardinal social rule of breast cancer?

If you have it, people give you oodles of free stuff.

I began noticing this right after my diagnosis. In my surgical packet was a coupon for a free wig, from the American Cancer Society. (I know it's meant to be kind and helpful but I just kept picturing the evil synthetic wigs that are advertised in the back of ladies' magazines. "Yes! You too can look like Eva Gabor!")

Two days after the masectomy, I was carted upstairs from the ICU to where the regular sick people are kept. In my room was a huge pink-tulle wrapped basket, full of pink goodies from a local breast cancer group. (Most of the stuff I used-with the exception of Chicken Soup for the Breast Cancer Survivor's Soul. Those books just aren't my thing. I get easily creeped out by overly-emotional/sweet stuff.)
That basket did get me thinking about how well breast cancer research/groups are funded.

What do people get delivered to their room who have colon cancer? And is it brown? (Which I found out, yes, the colon cancer color fundraising color is brown. I'm disappointed at the lack of creativity. At the very least, I was expecting something with Katie Couric's face/bottom on it.)

Moving right along to my latest treasure trove of swag. I registered and attended the American Cancer Society's "Look Good, Feel Better," class on learning make-up and wig tips for lwomen undergoing chemotherapy.

It was an interesting class. I didn't learn much on the make-up front-but since I know how to apply stage make-up, I think I'll be OK. Learning about wigs was why I went. Since I'm about to have chemo and lose my hair, I want to be prepared. I've never looked like shit in my life and I'm not about to start-at least not if I can help it.

I walked out with over $200 in free make-up!!!!! And really nice stuff, too, like MAC, Estee Lauder, and Bobbi Brown. I knew we were going to get make-up kits to for ourselves, since the woman who registered me asked me what skin color I had. But I didn't know what awesome swag they would give out!!!

Thursday, December 3, 2009

"The Plan"

Sorry I haven't updated the blog on what CJ and I have decided to choose as our plan for cancer treatment.

We've decided on Plan C. Which wasn't on the original list. (I tend to make stuff up as a go along) None of the options sounded good, so this is our compromise.

Plan C

I'm going to see my third oncologist doctor, Neelima Dendalouri, on December 16th. She is recommended by both my plastic surgeon, Dr. Venturi, and the Johns Hopkins oncologist, Dr. Prowell. According to Dr. Prowell, Dr. Dendalouri will probably recommend the same chemo regimen that Dr. Prowell suggested.

This would mean:

Six cycles of TC. Taxotere and Carboplatin are the drug names. The six cycles take place over 18 weeks. During this time, I will be taking Herceptin along with chemo. I will continue taking Herceptin for the rest of the year, after I have finished chemo.

After this delightful process finishes, I will take a medically recommended break. The doctors want to see any side effects of chemo and Herceptin wear off. This way, any side effects of other drugs that are prescribed afterwords will not be mistaken for the chemo/Herceptin side effects.

And this is where I deviate from Dr. Prowell's suggestions. I am going to use this medical downtime to see how my menstrual cycle is doing after chemo. I will track it with my trusty basal body temp thermometer and my Ovusoft computer program.

I want to see if:

a. I get my period back
b. If I'm actually ovulating
c. How many days I'm fertile and see if that time period has decreased since chemo

Of course, I will also have my first mammogram since treatment and blood work to make sure the cancer hasn't come back.

Then CJ, my oncologist, and I will have a tense sit-down to discuss how many months/years of Tamoxifen I'm willing to do. The longer I'm on Tamoxifen, the higher my chances are of going into full-blown menopause. Not good since I want to have another child. Of my own. Produced and manufactured by me.

We will proceed from there. It's a "wait and see" plan. I can't make a permanent decision about my future until after I've done all the above.

I'm sure this will make my doctor slightly crazy. Too bad. I'm the one who has to live with the long-term consequences.