I looked at the results earlier this week from my routine blood draw, and for the first time, it showed a red flag instead of a check mark. The change alarmed me, as I stared at the ominous graphic of a down-facing arrow, signifying a drop of some sort. The description stated that I am anemic. As someone who has never failed a test, I was disheartened to see I had failed this one, after having a perfect score thus far throughout my chemo treatments. It was also an odd feeling, realizing that I am not in control of what is happening to my body right now. And things are most definitely happening. I suppose this should be reassuring, but there’s also something upsetting about it. I found the staff oncologist and asked her if the drop in my levels was anything to be concerned over. She explained that my numbers were still fine, and to be expected, for someone undergoing chemotherapy. The regular range only applies to regular people.
I am growing tired of the whole chemo routine and having all these bizarre things happen to my body. I have about half an eyebrow on both sides and a significant portion of my once lusciously long eyelashes have fallen out. I was reading today that for many women, it takes a very long time for their lashes to come back, and often when they do, they are not as long as they once were. Something so silly, yet it made me feel quite sad. I have a few “things” and my lashes are (were) one of them. I often get compliments on them or people asking me if they’re real (they are….were). It can be rough to think of some of the long-term side effects from the chemotherapy, or the ones that will linger for some time. It is also somewhat of a heavy feeling, to think of the treatments and long road I still have to walk after chemo is complete. Despite what future post-chemo blood results might show, I know I will never quite be a “regular” person again. But let’s be honest, I never really was.
So in order to not get completely depressed, I’ve decided to make a list of some of the things I am looking forward to after chemo is over. Because there are things, and I need to remember them, especially when all that is going through my head right now is the fact that in a few days, I will once again be in a massive amount of pain and threatening to jump out windows.
Here is what I am looking forward to:
Eating sushi… the real kind
Not being afraid that every person who coughs or sneezes is going to kill me
Grocery shopping without passing out in the cereal aisle
Spring and the end of a miserable winter
Going for long walks
Not feeling like I am walking on hot coals
Hair regrowth, hopefully in the right places
Not having people stare at me with a does she have cancer or is she just some artsy girl wearing a scarf on her head look
Eating a real caesar salad
Having my skin return to normal and losing the not-so-sexy red patches that have taken up residence on my cheeks
Gaining my energy back (this one can take months, or years, but even a small increase will be something to celebrate)
Writing bitchy comments on people’s facebook statuses such as “I just endured four grueling months of chemo, but I do really sympathize with your seasonal cold that lasted three days.” (I will never actually have the nerve to do that, but I think about it all. the. time.)
Not having a perma-runny nose
Tastebuds that work properly
Not basing my entire life around my chemo schedule
Planning the most needed vacation ever in the history of vacations, even though I still can’t take one for some time
Being able to say I’m 28 years old and survived chemotherapy. And I’m still standing.
25 thoughts on “Looking forward”
Let me just say- the eyelash thing is so right on. When I was 12 I had really rigorous chemo, but before I started my protocol, even at 12, my first questions was, “will my eyelashes fall out?” My Mom and grands found this hilarious. They still bring it up!
And now with my breast cancer, before I found out what would happen to me treatment wise, I just kept thinking… I’m going to lose my freakin eyelashes again.
If it helps at all, mine grew back ever so long. Possibly longer than before. And my hair grew back nearly the same color, just much more silky. 15 years later, it is still very good hair!
And don’t worry about thinking those things when you read a facebook status. You are not alone!
I just came across your blog and it’s unfortunate what it’s about, but your writing is AMAZING. You should definitely write a book! Heck, you could take all your blog posts and make each one a chapter and people would definitely read it! I love your honesty, humor, sarcasm – all of it. You are so inspiring to so many people for posting your experiences going through this (and you’re beautiful with or without hair!). My uncle currently has cancer and he is tired a lot too, but he is constantly having friends come over to visit and watch movies (when he’s not tired of course) to keep him company and try to take his mind off of it which is the best thing you can do! I don’t know if you remember me, I was an intern at MTV from last January till the end of August (I’m the blonde one who cried about getting the wrong wig for one of the skits in front of you, Charles and Nicole). I also have to agree with you that cupcakes are the best. I could eat them all day for breakfast, lunch, and dinner. Remember to stay strong, and never give up. You seem to have SO much support from family and friends who love you very much! Always believe that something wonderful is about to happen. (a quote that has gotten me through some hard times). Also, when in doubt, catch up on episodes of The Mindy Project!
PS- I’ve been reading that a lot of lovely people on here are sending you goodies in the mail (getting packages in the mail is the best! Except for when you order something online from Hong Kong and it never comes…that’s another story!…) How can others who are interested in sending you something do so?
Steph,I can’t understand how someone could lose their hair and eyelashes and still look as GORGEOUS as you! Im sending HUGE hugs your way and hoping your treatment goes well! Im thi nking of you! Love you, Helene xoxo
HI, read your blog. You are truly unbelievable. You are my idol. Just like to check in and say today is your chemo and I am thinking about you. Muvh love always. Rhoda Zaidman
I can t understand how someone could lose their hair and their eyelashes and still be so beautiful inside and out!!! I’m sending huge hugs your way and hoping your treatment goes well…….Im thinking of you…….Love you, Helene xoxo
I am almost 6 months post chemo and reading through your list was bitter sweet. I’m so happy to have my eyelashes back, my hair is coming in quickly too, energy returning, enjoying sushi again, still have the runny nose (darn it!) and life is returning to normal. But remembering the hard times and wishing I could fast forward time for you. Blessings and God speed.
Thanks for commenting Erin… Glad to hear there is a light at the end of the tunnel 🙂 I don’t know how I became so fixated on my hair, but lately, I am really missing it! And yes the nose is such a pain… I’m going through a hundred Kleenexes a day!
It makes sense to miss your hair. It was a part of you and said something about who you are. I kept telling myself it was only one “part” of me and there is much more. There is to you too!! Hugs~
Bitchy is best when it’s what you really feel. Let that bitch roar. You can unleash her on my FB anytime.
Here are some positives…money saved on mascara and never the worry about racoon eyes from runny mascara. You keep going and start plannng that dream vacation…..
Eyelashes or no eyelashes, you’ll never lose your beautiful eyes! xox
Thinking of you Steph!!!! Everyday i am thinking and praying for your healthy recovery. You are the strongest person i know and I hope that this battle you are enduring comes to a close and you can go on enjoying the things on your list and the things you look most forward to in life. Love you and i would love to come and see you 🙂 XOXOOXOXOXOXOXOX
Hmmm…eye lashes are over rated!! Your eyes are beautiful no matter what! Keep bitching it you earned it!
wish all my wishing you well actually worked…
I think there are many, MANY people who can’t wait to partake in the activities on your list with you. I agree with Yale, you can write bitchy comments on her facebook any time you like. She loves it.
Haha, I will just take all my rage out on her for no good reason except that she volunteered. Sounds like a good plan to me (sorry Yalie).
I heard there is something called Latisse if your eyelashes don’t want to behave after the chemo
I’m a 24-year-old young lady undergoing this chemo crap too. I found your blog through a mutual friend and I can totally relate to what you write about. My “when I finish chemo” list is quite similar to yours actually! I’m looking forward to getting back to running especially and to the sunshine so I can take my dog to the park and just stay there. And I just started noticing my eyelashes are falling out too and they were also something that people would compliment me on often.
Thanks for writing so candidly. It helps me to know I’m not alone in this mess (although I wish I was because nobody else should have to go through what we have to go through).
Sending you good vibes!
Hi Yael. Ugh, sorry to hear you’re dealing with this BS too. But I’m glad you found the blog and that all my whining could provide some comfort to you! Are you in Toronto as well? Hope you’re feeling ok, keep in touch!
I am in Toronto/Thornhill doing chemo at PMH for Hodgkin’s Lymphoma. My regiment isn’t quite so hard on the body so I’m managing, although it sure isn’t easy. I hope you’re getting a few days where your symptoms let up every once in a while. I find I need those days, even if it’s just one or two before heading back into chemo, to recharge for another round.
Keep writing and asking for gifts and trying to reach the chocolate on the top shelf! Whatever gets you through it 🙂
Wow Steph. I can’t imagine what this all must be like. I found out along time ago the world is ever changing. Keep positive and funny. You WILL be back
I love your blog, and my family is wishing you all the best. We are old time friends with Larry and Deb Brooks. We both went to med school with Larry and are hoping to see him at out 30th reunion in April. You are a beautiful gal with a lot of spunk and we look forward to more of your blogging 🙂 Many prayers going your way.
Eyelashes or none at all, you’re a truly beautiful Duck (swans are overrated)!! And I love you!! And you can write bitchy comments on my facebook any time you like!