Monday, August 31, 2009


Hey Guys,

I had my first post-starting-chemo scans today! I started at 8:30 this morning (ugh) and finished around 4:30 this afternoon... kind of like having the crappiest job ever.

I got in a little early and was taken back to radiology for all of the pre-PET shenanigans (IV, contrast, sedation so I lay still enough while the contrast settles...)

watching a movie while I wait...

getting sedated...

contrast! (time to lay still...)

into the PET machine...

PET's over... waiting for the CT lady to bring more contrast (this time it's drinkable)

it looks like I'm drinking medicine, but really I'm drinking red contrast mixed with fruit punch (the first of two bottles...)

MORE contrast for the CT (this time it's jungle-themed...)

in Clinic with Debbie (my nurse) and Dr. Adams (my oncologist) - they're SO MUCH FUN!

in a cube for the Pulmonary Function Test (I promise it's not a phone booth...)

Now, the PET and the CT are pretty self explanatory - the PET lights up Lymphoma (and other cancer, but obviously mine is looking for Hodgkin's) and the CT scans bones, soft tissue, and the vascular system - it's kind of like a much more detailed x-ray.

The Pulmonary Function Test, however, is unlike anything I've ever had to do. I sit in that tiny glass box and do all kinds of weird breathing things into a tube while wearing a really attractive blue nose clamp (I know you guys are all wishing that I took a picture with the clamp). I do regular breathing, really deep breaths in and out (out is the worst because I have to keep blowing out for a set amount of time and usually I feel like I'm about to wet my pants towards the end...), panting like a dog... all sorts of weird things. I'm also pretty sure I do it while they pump different air combinations into the glass box, so sometimes it's a little harder to breathe than others. Then, they compare all of them to see how well my lungs are working. I guess it's times like that when being a singer comes in handy (although I've always had issues with my breathing while I sing!)

I hate getting scans done - the worst part is that I'm not allowed to eat until after the CT, which today ended at about noon. Generally, I don't even eat until 11 or so, but that's when I get up at 9 or 10! Getting up at 6 and not being allowed to eat until noon is terrible! I get headaches and get really cranky (just ask my mom...) The good thing is that Children's actually has a fantastic cafeteria, so lunch was totally worth the wait!

Finally after all of my scans were done, I met with Dr. Adams to get the results. I wasn't particularly nervous since I could physically feel that the chemo had been working - I'd had a pretty sizable lump under my collarbone, and it's been gone since the middle of my first cycle. Dr. Adams had fantastic news - all of my scans look normal and my lymph nodes have shrunk down to normal size (2mm or less). Now, this doesn't mean that the cancer is officially "gone" yet, but it's definitely exactly what I want to be hearing at this point! I'm so happy that I can head out to Cleveland tomorrow with such good news!

In other news, I'll be in Columbus/Berea/Oberlin TOMORROW! (Well, maybe not Oberlin tomorrow - but definitely this week) and I can't wait to see EVERYONE!

Lots of Love,

Friday, August 28, 2009

paper Gown Book Club #3

Hey Guys,

This week, as you may recall, I decided to read an article that was mentioned in last week's book - "Mortality Can Be a Powerful Aphrodisiac," (also published as "Sex and the Sickbed") by Jennifer Glaser for The New York Times. The article ended up being a lot more moving than I had expected - very different from the humor that I've been trying hard to stick to so I don't worry anyone too much. Before I go on, I want to put a little bit of a disclaimer (especially if you haven't read the article yet): This article IS pretty depressing. But, as funny as I try to make things, cancer is kind of depressing sometimes, and everyone isn't as lucky as my family has been. I guess you all probably know that, though.

Back to the article. I thought Jennifer Glaser wrote "Sex and the Sickbed" BEAUTIFULLY. The way she described her relationship with her boyfriend (who remains unnamed for the totality of the essay) is so real and so intense, even though she doesn't go into any gushing romantic detail about him at all. Instead, she gives short glimpses into incredibly personal and meaningful anecdotes that do more to describe a relationship than any outpouring of affections could. She paints a picture that, in some ways, makes me wish I was in a relationship right now - but in the end, after reading her descriptions, makes me also incredibly happy to not be in one. As mostly good as I feel a majority of the time, sexy is usually not what I'm feeling, even at my best. Sometimes I feel pretty glamorous, especially when I have on crazy makeup accompanying my baldness, but also sometimes I feel the complete opposite. It's also kind of hard to feel sexy with a port - if I were in any kind of "romantic" situation (sorry, Mom and Dad... and Grandma...) I can't even imagine what that would do to the mood!

I like how honest she is about keeping sex as a part of their relationship even as her boyfriend was getting sicker - a constant that they could always rely on even as everything else was changing. I like even more how she doesn't, as she says the eulogies did, praise his intellectual and emotional aspects, but instead she praises his physicality - which is what the cancer took from him most of all. It's something people rarely think about.

I'm having trouble writing as much about this essay as I'd like - not because it's emotionally hard, or upsetting me at all - quite the opposite. I've been extremely moved by Ms. Glaser's essay, and I'm not quite able to put into words exactly how I feel - mostly, I think, because it's not really something funny that I'm trying to say. I'm used to turning almost everything I write on here into some kind of humor to keep myself upbeat and to keep all of you guys as unworried as possible. However, this essay was so fantastic in an unhumorous way that I can't really figure out what to say. I guess you can all read on your own and see what I mean.

What do you think?

Next week, I'll be heading back into the "upbeat" territory with Crazy Sexy Cancer Tips by Kris Carr - it's the book that accompanies the 2007 documentary... Definitely check this one out, I've heard some amazing things!

Lots of Love,

Wednesday, August 26, 2009

Smooth as a Baby's Bottom

Hey Guys,

I haven't posted for a couple of days because I've been feeling kind of crappy - I finished my third round of steroids on Sunday, and the side effects from two weeks of them always kind of start hitting me a couple of days after I'm done taking them. I was a little bit concerned on Monday night - I went out with William and met up with a few people I haven't seen in YEARS, and it was a later night than I've had in awhile (I got home at 1:30 - sad, I know, that now I consider that a late night!). When I got home, I was having all of this weird itching and soreness all around my braline on my back and my shoulders... it was kind of red, but I hoped it would go away when I woke up in the morning. No luck. The next morning it was all rashy and PAINFUL! It looked a little blistery in some places, and my mom and I were worried that I might be having a recurrence of the chicken pox (fantastic) or maybe some shingles (also fantastic) - best case we were figuring it was probably the beginning of some really attractive steroid-induced bacne (goodbye, sundresses...). I was also having all sorts of other weird pains that I hadn't had yet - my veins were sore (which is a really bizarre feeling...) and I was getting shin splints (confusing since I definitely haven't been doing any running lately) so I decided to keep close to home and lay low most of the day. I was getting so frustrated yesterday because I haven't had chemo for a week, but it seems like everything saves itself up and then once the nausea goes away, I get hit with the pains. It could be worse, though...

Fortunately, it was a BEAUTIFUL day outside so I spent most of the day on the screened in porch or laying in the hammock - I took a wonderful nap out under the trees... Also fortunately, when I woke up this morning, my back was looking SO much better and was a lot less sore. I was feeling a lot better in general today - a little bit of a headache, but most of the aching has gone away (with the exception of the mysterious shin splints... maybe I've been running in my sleep)

My mom has been cooking some really great meals the past few nights, which I'm so thankful for because I am hungry CONSTANTLY. Like... you guys have no idea. I've been like a bottomless pit. Last night she made this delicious baked chicken and pasta with pesto and tomatoes, and I ate basically half a chicken and an entire plateful of pasta without blinking an eye. Tonight my dad grilled burgers and my mom made tomato & mozz salad, and corn - healthy food so at least I'm gorging myself with something nutritious instead of the Kraft Spongebob Mac & Cheese I was craving during my first round. I shudder to think of how I'd be feeling if that was still all I wanted to eat...

I have a couple other pieces of news to share with you all. First of all, even though it LOOKED bald, I really haven't lost all of my hair - there was a fine layer of dark baby fuzz that never fell out. It was really soft and made me feel like a baby bird, but it also was STILL GROWING (!!!) so it was getting longer and longer and longer... tonight I finally caved and let my mom take a razor to it. You would not believe how soft my head is now. I feel like I'm wearing a bald cap or something because it's so smooth. Secondly, for those of you who haven't heard, I'll be up in Berea on Sept. 1 (Tuesday) for a few days visiting BW and Oberlin kids... I'll be posting a FB event for a dinner in Berea one night, and most likely be doing something similar for Oberlin another night (Marina & I were talking today about an Italy party?) so I want to see all of you at some point! Third (and last) is something that may sound bad, but really it's not. My treatments are getting delayed by a week because of Labor Day (kind of lame, but it ends up being a good thing!) Since I'm getting treated in the Day Hospital, the clinic is closed on Labor Day, so Dr. Adams suggested that we just push everything back a week since it won't really affect my school schedule or anything important. I was a little concerned about this from a treatment standpoint, but she says that a week isn't going to make any difference, especially at this point in my treatment. Because I have this extra week now, my mom and I are going to take the Megabus (!!!) to Chicago (!!!) for a few days! I haven't been to Chicago since a class trip in high school, so I'm super excited. Plus, I think it'll be really fun to take the Megabus - the trip is only 5 hours, and I've heard the busses are pretty nice. I'll arm myself with a couple of DVDs and some snacks, and I'm pretty sure we'll be golden.

I'm going to head out now and watch some more of Top Chef, but I'll be back tomorrow for a new installation of the Book Club.

Lots of Love,

Monday, August 24, 2009

Gettin' Crafty

Hey Guys,

I've been feeling kind of down & crappy the last week or so, so to cheer myself up I've been reading LOTS of fashion blogs. Ok, maybe not the best way to cheer myself up because now all I'm doing is coveting a bunch of things I can't afford! But, by checking up with Jessica at What I Wore, I've been inspired to jazz up some old stuff in my wardrobe and make it a little more exciting.

Last winter, I did a ton of crocheting - nothing fancy, but I made some pretty awesome scarves for family and friends as Christmas presents (even though I was pretty bad at judging how much yearn I needed and some of them ended up taking FOREVER to finish until I could find another matching skein...) Being in the hospital and being stuck at home a lot has prompted me to take up crocheting again - this time, I might even go as far to get some patten books out of the library and *gasp* attempt a hat or two?!?

I spent a few days working on a scarf in a really beautiful deep blue yarn (at this point, the recipient shall remain nameless because it's a surprise and it's going in the mail today!) and I forgot how quickly it goes once I get into the groove of things. Of course, it was a little stop & go at the beginning - I kept pulling too tightly and started to end up with a trapezoid. Not really a good look for a scarf. The end product turned out much more nicely than I had hoped - I'd wanted to put a picture up, but I packed it up before I remembered to take one!

My mom did take this picture of me making it, though - just to prove that I actually can be crafty!

I also went through my closet a little bit to kind of reorganize and see what I had hidden in the back, and ended up finding a cream-colored Gap cardigan from back in high school that I haven't seen in years. I wore it around to the movies, and decided that with a little love, it could be awesome. So, yesterday Brian and I stopped at Michael's craft store and I picked up some really big rhinestones that I'm in the (very slow and tedious) process of sewing to the cuffs to sparkle it up. Theoretically, I want them to look like big gaudy bracelets... we'll see what happens in reality, but so far, so good...

In other news, Andrew moved back to college yesterday... I've been really sad about everyone going back to school since I'm going to be stuck here, but I've also got some good news in that department! After weeks of waiting, I got word from the French department AND the composition department at UC that I'm going to be approved to take some of the classes I requested! I'm still waiting to hear back from a couple of the professors I emailed, but at this point I'm approved to take French 250 (which is a basic class I need to take just to meet the minor requirement), French Civilization (which is an English-language class about French history until the 17th century - I'm SO excited about this one!) as well as Orchestration I (a music theory class I need for Music History... kind of nervous about this since I have absolutely no knowledge of orchestral instruments... oh, well...) AHHH! I'm so excited to be able to take some classes this fall! I'm still not at the 12-credit full-student load that the insurance company requires, so I might just be taking some random English or History classes that I don't need approval for, but I'm headed in the right direction (finally!)

Also, this was quite a movie-filled weekend! On Saturday, I went with my family to see Inglorious Basterds which was AMAZING. Definitely go see it. It's a little gory (then again, it is Quentin Tarantino, so what do you expect?) but it's also surprisingly hilarious. At first, there was a lot of nervous laughter in the theater (like... "Should I really be laughing at this?") but Tarantino presents everything SO well that there's no question when he's joking and when it should be serious. Go Go Go see it!

Yesterday since my parents and Andrew were moving him back to Bloomington, Brian and I decided to go see District 9. He'd been wanting to see it, and I hadn't heard much about it so we picked up an afternoon showing. It was pretty good - not exactly what I was expecting (I didn't really know what to expect, I guess) but I liked the parallels drawn between the plot in the movie and apartheid in South Africa. I also liked that it took place in Johannesburg, as opposed to in New York or DC or LA - it made it seem a little more "realistic." It was pretty violent (what else would you expect from an alien movie?) but all in all, not so bad...

Finally, I'm going to leave you with a picture of the waterfall in my backyard... Our house backs up to the woods, so we don't really have a backyard, but my parents built a beautiful deck around the trees and put a waterfall in against the back of the house. I LOVE to go sit out there, especially if I'm feeling a little down. It's like being in the middle of the jungle!

Well, I'm off to try and finish up this beading on my sweater... and then hopefully some lunch downtown with Stephanie! I haven't seen her since my internship ended, so I'm really hoping we'll be able to get together today (and maybe have some Indian... YUM!)

Lots of Love,

Friday, August 21, 2009

Paper Gown Book Club #2

Hey Guys,

So it's a little later than I expected, but I've finished Kairol Rosenthal's Everything Changes and I've got to say that it's DEFINITELY worth it a read, whether you have cancer or not. Actually, I think it's a fantastic resource for friends and family members (especially younger ones) because all of the people she speaks with are so candid about their feelings.

I had originally planned on buying the book, but kind of changed my mind because I was like "Do I really want all of these cancer books sitting around the house once I'm done with treatment?" I ultimately decided that I DON'T want them later on, so I checked Everything Changes out of the library. However, I'm going to head out to the bookstore and buy my own copy because I kept coming across things that I wanted to highlight or notate to look back at later, and obviously you can't do that in a library book.

Kairol's book is fantastic because she interviewed so many different people, but ultimately settled on a few main stories to tell, with her own interspersed throughout. In addition, each chapter is vaguely themed (Insurance, Sex, Peers, Working, College, Alternative Medicine, etc...) but is concluded with a FANTASTIC set of resources related to each theme touched on in the chapter. Through an incredible amount of research, Kairol has provided with advice and contact information for all kinds of support systems from insurance help, financial aid services, support groups for young GLBTs with cancer, resources for siblings and for parenting with cancer - basically any question you might have Kairol has an answer. And, after emailing her, I found out that she is EXTREMELY prompt and enthusiastic about responding to correspondence!

One of the most insightful parts was the section relating to dating. Being single, I've wondered what it will be like dating someone new once I'm done with my treatment - especially if it's someone completely new, who I didn't know before my diagnosis. I know it might sound trivial, but for some reason it really worries me that it would be hard to introduce the topic of cancer to a date. How soon? Is cancer something you bring up on a first date? Kairol addresses this subject so gracefully - and with the help of an expert, Sage Bolte (who she calls the "Dr. Sue of the young adult cancer world"). Bolte says that you should wait until about the fourth date - long enough to know if you want to see the person for an extended period, but soon enough that there's not a real chance of making them feel like you've been withholding something from them. I like this advice. It's straightforward, it makes sense, and it gives me something tangible to think about whenever I decide to start dating.

That's one of the many things that makes Everything Changes an almost perfect resource for young adults with cancer. Kairol puts everything out there exactly how it is. Sure, there's humor (there's humor in everything) but there's no adding humor to sugar-coat what's really happening.

Thanks, Kairol, for taking the initiative and compiling such a comprehensive and ACCESSIBLE resource for all of us. Everything Changes has opened up my eyes to things I hadn't even considered.

I hope you guys can all enjoy this book as much as I did :-)

From now on, I'm going to make sure to do a new Paper Gown Book Club every Thursday - so keep an eye out for it! Next week, I'll be kicking it up a notch with the raciness and reading an article recommended in Everything Changes called "Sex and the Sickbed" by Jennifer Glaser. I've decided to alternate books and articles or short stories because even for a speed-reader like me, a book a week is a little much! (Especially if I actually want to be able to really absorb the information enough to write an entry about it and hopefully be able to comment discuss with you all)

In other news with me, I don't know if the neurontin hasn't had time to take effect yet, or if it's not strong enough, because today I was really disappointed to feel the numbness creeping up a little in my toes again. It's intermittent, and I'm definitely not fending off any impending paralysis, but I hate the "falling asleep" feeling that my toes have been getting all day. Argh.

On the upside, I've gotten approval for three of the classes for the fall - so far, I'm up to 6 credits. Definitely not a full load, but enough that I can start filling out the paperwork and officially get registered! Woohoo!

Ok. I should be getting to bed now (it's after midnight and I haven't been sleeping well) but I'll be back later on, and I can't wait to hear what you guys think about Everything Changes!

Lots of Love,

Thursday, August 20, 2009

I Am Not Tech Savvy...

Blog Helper of the Day: Madeline

Hey Guys,

Well, for today's post, I had wanted to create a little photo slideshow of sorts since I've got pretty many pictures to post. However, due to the fact that I am NOT technically literate (and can actually barely figure out how to use most of Blogger's simple tools) I couldn't figure out how to get the damn slideshow to work! Oh, well... you guys all just have to see the pictures lined up as opposed to tucked away in one nice little place.

Which brings me to this first photo - sorry if it grosses anyone out, but I realized that I haven't actually posted what my port looks like under my skin (at least... I don't think I have...) So I decided to take a snapshot of it's prettiest moment thus far - my first post-tape rash! Woohoo! So far, I haven't had any problem with all of the tape being removed while being deaccessed - it's come of pretty smoothly and painlessly, and this is the first time I've developed any kind of reaction. Although - this picture doesn't really do it much justice. It's now Thursday, and it's still red and itchy. I'm glad I have two more weeks before my next treatment & I don't have to put MORE tape back on top of it for awhile...

Anyway, I didn't post yesterday because I'm been feeling hella crappy. Im pretty sure I accidentally drank some bad milk yesterday because I couldn't tell that it tasted wrong (everything is tasting & smelling a little sour, so I didn't think anything of it when the milk I had a breakfast tasted off... bad choice) I was basically in bed or on the couch the whole day, on the edge of puking... Not a pleasant feeling. It wasn't until Andrew casually mentioned that he thought we should probably get new milk because the milk tasted weird that I realized what had been pushing me so close to the edge all day. Well, that and the chemo... But I'm pretty sure the milk contributed a lot. Lesson: always have someone taste the milk first! Or better yet, just don't drink milk when your taste buds are messed up...

I had some pretty awesome caretakers though... One of my FAVORITE things to eat in the whole world is the chunky veggie soup from First Watch. They don't have it all the time, and when they do I could eat bowl after bowl. It's SUPER chunky and has all kinds of great things in it like zucchini and tons of beans and chickpeas... mmmmm...

Since they don't always have it, and I'm trying really hard to eat a balanced diet with all of my restrictions, Brian and my mom decided that they were going to recreate this soup for me. Oh. My. God. The whole house smelled SO GOOD for hours - they made it all with fresh veggies and herbs from my mom's fledgling herb garden in the backyard.
Brian slices & dices

The End Result: can't you smell it from here?

In addition to my human caretakers, I had two very furry helpers (there's a third cat in our house, but she doesn't like me much...)

Winnie spent a ton of time with me out on the screened in porch on Monday afternoon, chilling out and protecting me from whatever kinds of bugs might try to penetrate the screen...

She also gave me a helping hand with my Snowie (best sno cone in the world) and also with perusing Brian's new yearbook... she just tucked herself up there under the covers (probably to make sure that I didn't fall off the couch in my Ativan-induced confusion)

After jealously watching from the ottoman for about a half hour, Madeline (my baby - she's 13) joined us, despite her intense dislike for Winnie (The Intruder) and we happily napped for a couple hours. As much as I fear becoming a Crazy Cat Lady, I like having them around... especially at times like this!

William came by for a little while last night, which was fantastic. I'd really hoped that by the evening I'd be feeling better and had planned on calling to see if he wanted to hit up Dollar Burger after work, but alas. I was thrilled when he called to see if I wanted him to bring over the second half of Angels in America. We're still not all the way through it, but I fall a little more in love with Mary Louise Parker each time I see more of her. It also reminds me how much I love Meryl Streep, and how much I need to go out and rent some of her older movies... (someone remind me to do that next time I'm feeling crappy!)

Finally, I went shopping with my mom at Kenwood Mall last week and stopped to take a look in Arhaus Furniture. I found the chairs below, and although they are WAY out of my price range, and I don't really even have a place to live, I've decided when I DO finally get my own house I am buying ONE chair (or a cheaper version & asking my grandma to recreate the upholstery) and decorating my entire house around it. I can't stop thinking about the vivid colors and patterns - it's even effecting my recent clothing choices. I've been ditching the blacks & greys I've been wearing continuously all summer for the HUGE stash of near-neon I have at the back of my closet & the bottom of my drawers. SO different than the IKEA modern style that's decorating my apartment in Berea. I definitely need something more cheerful.

Align Center
photo courtesy of Arhaus Furniture

Well, t-t-t-that's all, folks! I'm off to get some bloodwork done to make sure I don't need any GCSF shots (so far, so good - those steroids are good for something, I guess...) and then to pick up a couple books from the library so we can continue with the Paper Gown Book Club. Yay!

Lots of Love,

Tuesday, August 18, 2009

Lauren van Winkle

Hey Guys,

I am not a morning person, but somehow I managed to drag myself out of bed at 6am yesterday. Maybe it was the promise of delicious chemo that got me up & at 'em so easily. ...I'm going to have to say probably not, though.

We actually made it to Children's early yesterday - my appointment was at 7:30, and we were sauntering in around 7:20 - potentially a new record? (My mom and I tend to run late for things...) We made it up to the check-in desk at Day Hospital just behind a woman talking really loudly on her cell phone, with an adorable little boy curled up sleeping in a wheelchair. The woman (it's still unclear if it was his mom or not) just stood there complaining into the phone about how she had to take "The Kid" to the hospital and he was giving her so much trouble today, and he was such a handful... The nurse kind of looked over after she got off the phone and gave the woman a doubtful look, with "He always seems so sweet here, and he's sleeping now!"

I feel really bad for some of the little kids at Children's, especially the ones who are really sick and don't have a support system from their families. Most of the time, you see the little tiny kids in their rooms all hooked up but looking relatively happy because they're surrounded by family and toys and don't really know any different (which is sad enough on its own). It's even worse to see the kids who are all tiny and hooked up but being yelled at by their parents, because they're not even surrounded by the positive energy they need to heal more quickly. I guess that's why Children's has such a great system of social workers checking in all the time (heck, I even have a social worker come in and check on me - but maybe that's because the staff thinks we've lost our minds because we laugh SO much...)

Anyway, I got Kristy yesterday, who is my favorite nurse. She's about 3 years older than I am, and is by FAR the best nurse I've ever had. She never waits to be asked to do something and is always in as soon as my machine starts to beep - sometimes even before I have to press the alert button! Usually, the nurses wait until Dr. Adams comes in before they'll access my port, but Kristy always does it right away so that as soon as the chemo order is filled, all she has to do is hook up the tubes, instead of letting it sit there while she hooks ME up also. Because of all of her awesome prompt nurse-work, I was unhooked and on my way out of Day Hospital by 11:20 - I'm ABSOLUTELY sure that's a record for us.

I was feeling pretty crappy by the time I got home, and Brian was cool enough to run to McDonald's and get me a milkshake and fries (which sounded so good at the time, but now thinking about it is making my stomach turn!) I spent a few hours up in my bed, alternately sleeping and watching a couple hours of THS:Investigates Various Terrible Crimes Against Beautiful People (I believe it was a mish-mash of "Husbands Who Kill" and "Young, Beautiful, and Missing," because I managed to catch a bit of Elizabeth Smart at the end...)

Later on in the day, I was able to keep down some ramen (knock on wood, but I've managed to keep the vomit count down to 0... I'd like it to stay that way, although some days take more willpower than others...)

I spent basically the rest of the night sleeping on the couch or sleeping in my bed with Winnie (who normally hates cuddling, but makes the sacrifice when I'm feeling crappy) so I feel a little like Rip van Winkle - when I woke up this morning, I had absolutely NO concept of what time it was. And it's raining (which I love) but when I got in bed yesterday afternoon, it was really sunny out...

I'm feeling pretty good at the moment (all hopped up on Kytril to stave of the nausea) and even considering meeting a friend for tea before he goes to New Zealand for three weeks - this, however, could take a turn for the worst when I make the first attempt to get downstairs and/or eat anything. The digestive system on chemo is a delicate beast...

Thanks for all of the comments people have been leaving! I love to hear from you!

Lots of Love,

Sunday, August 16, 2009

Cats, Flies, and Cell Phones

Hey Guys,

What do these three things have in common?

They're all things that kept me awake last night (not for long though - mix a couple tablets of Benadryl with a little Ativan, and I was drowsy and confused in no time...)

There has been a giant fly buzzing around my room for days now, and Winnie, having never had to fend for herself in the wild, does not have the sufficient skills to hunt and trap such a wily insect. So, I still have a giant fly buzzing above my head (as I type, she's bounding around the room, clumsily trying to catch it - still to no avail)

In other cat-related news (as a side note, I'm pretty sure I'm going to end up a crazy cat lady in the next twenty years...) Lily (my little brother's cat) has discovered the super-secret location of Winnie's food container (not-so-cleverly hidden on top of my dresser, which until last night I had thought was basically inaccessible...) and spent the entire night jumping from the foot of my bed to my dresser, attempting to knock the plastic container of cat food onto the floor so she could devour it. My bed is made of iron. My dresser is pretty far away from it. This created a pretty big noise every time she jumped. Agh.

Finally, I love you all, but I do NOT love when my phone keeps ringing in the middle of the night. Texts are fine, but someone (honestly, I'm not even sure who, because it was someone whose number I don't have in my phone) kept calling me in the middle of the night... Not cool...

Anyway, back to the stuff that you're all here for. I don't think I've written about this before, but my doctors are on the lookout for "foot drop" in my walking, which is basically when you start walking weirdly and not bending your feet the right way - it's a long-term side effect of one of my drugs. They're not expecting me to develop it, but are checking early just in case. So last Monday when I went in, Dr. Adams decided she wanted me to take a spin around the oncology hall, just to check on my walking. She had me walk up and down the hallway (pre-access, fortunately - I'm still not very dextrous with the pole...) and I felt like a really bad contestant on America's Next Top Model. If I still had any delusions of a career as a runway model, they're gone now! For those of you who don't know me, I am not a graceful person (my ballet teacher last semester told me that I "make her laugh")

Tomorrow, I'm back in for my rough chemo - Adriamycin, Bleomycin... and something else. I'm blanking. I should probably keep better track of what I'm getting on a given day... The good news is that my appointment is at 7:30am, so I'll theoretically be home before lunch if the nurses get everything started on time (cross your fingers for me!)

Talk to you all soon :-)

Lots of Love,

Goodnight :-)

Friday, August 14, 2009


Hey Guys,

Great news! Well... don't get too excited, it's not cancer-related... but it is awesome-related! After months and months and months of procrastination, Tyler and I have FINALLY booked a hotel for New Year's Eve in New York City! We've been talking about it since before I was diagnosed, and once I was diagnosed, we were afraid that we wouldn't be able to make it anymore! However, since I'm supposed to be finishing up my treatments in mid-November (keep your fingers crossed!) I should be feeling good enough to take the trip! We've booked four days, three nights at the Edison Hotel on 47th between 8th & Broadway. It's a wonderfully-reviewed Deco hotel built in 1931. It looks so beautiful! I can't even believe that we found a room for a decent rate for New Year's weekend. I was sure everything would be full or sky-high! Especially right on Times Square...

I'd been feeling pretty crappy all day... I've had basically no appetite, and every time I think of something I want to eat, it's on my list of "bad foods." I almost started crying in Servatii's Bakery this afternoon because all I wanted to eat was a grilled cheese sandwich. Moments like that I feel like a little kid, or like I'm losing my mind. A 22-year-old girl shouldn't be crying about not being allowed to have grilled cheese!

Anyway, booking this hotel has made me feel so much better! Now I have a post-chemo celebration planned! Plus, Tyler will have just turned 21, so New Year's is the perfect time for us to take a trip! we just have to figure out how we're going to get there...

Here's the lobby... Beautiful!

I can't wait!

Lots of Love,

ps apparently there are some problems with posting comments on here... I'm going to try to figure it out ASAP because I love hearing from you guys (I can't even post comments to myself under my Google account name!)

Well, Hello, Ginger Ale & Saltines!

Hey Guys,

Man... by this point after my "Day 1" treatment, I'm usually ready to hop out of bed and go about my day. Today, though, I was hit with another wave of nausea, achy joints, and an all-over sense of uneasiness. They weren't wrong about the side effects becoming more and more intense each time (and by they I mean basically everyone I've talked to...) For some reason, I'm also having a lot of trouble typing. Sometimes I'll think one word and when I look at the screen, a completely different word is there. I suppose this is another aspect of the chemo brain? Or maybe my hands are just better writers than my brain is...

In other news, I bought a couple of study guides for the GRE exam the other day. As a voice major, I hadn't ever really thought about taking it, but since my internship, I've totally changed my track. Yes, I still want to be involved in the Arts, but in a much less hands-on way. I spoke with Marcus at the Cincinnati Opera, and I've decided I'm going to apply for an Arts Admin master, which is, obviously, much more academic than a performance degree. I need to score well to make up for my less-than-stellar GPA (not horrible, just not awesome) if I want to get into IU or CCM or anywhere close to Cincinnati so I can stick around for scans, etc. Of course, I would prefer something in New York or the West Coast. That had been my original plan - take a year and teach English in France, then come back and go to school (or find a job) on the West Coast. Probably not going to happen for awhile now...

And now, I leave you with two things: little test of your verbal skills, and a photographic surprise!

eulogy : praise
euphemism : expression
threnody: song
benediction : blessing
lamentation : joy

Now, Winnie looks adorable (she's trying to steal my necklace...) I, however, have somehow managed to develop a double chin at this angle... Yikes...

First person to send me a right answer to my little verbal puzzle, I'll send you... something...

Lots of Love,

Thursday, August 13, 2009

Paper Gown Book Club #1

Hey Guys,

I've decided to add a new aspect to my blogging - book club time! I got the idea after reading Kairol Rosenthal's blog Everything Changes and deciding that I really, really wanted to read her book. Unfortunately, I haven't had a chance to run out and get it yet (I'll be heading out to Barnes & Noble in Kenwood tonight!) so I'm going to write about an interesting book my mom passed on to me. Now, for those of you who don't know, my mom has had cancer (more on that in another post...) so she's a fantastic resource for any advice or questions I might have.

As I've written about before, I've had a lot of issues with my diet since starting chemo. I've got tons of dietary restrictions, and those mixed with the nausea and mouth sores makes a skinny girl even skinnier! I know that might sound appealing, but trust me... skin and bones is NOT an attractive look. Anyway, the with all of the diet problems, my mom dug out this book for me: The Cancer Recovery Eating Plan, by Daniel Nixon, MD. Dr. Nixon is a Folk Professor of Experimental Oncology at the Medical University of South Carolina, as well as a consultant with the American Cancer Society.

Now, I was a little skeptical at first - the book looked pretty dry, and it's also fifteen years old (published in 1994). I was also extremely skeptical about the part about "Folk Professor of Experimental Oncology." Usually I shy away from anything that tells me to use alternative-type medicine to cure my cancer. But then again, that advice usually comes from aging hippies in vintage shops, not popular books written by accredited medical professionals.

As I started the book, my skepticism lessened - especially when I came across this one particular quote: "Your goal is to eat adequately without feeding the cancer." That really struck me. Dr. Nixon makes the very important point that so many cancer patients are so absorbed with just trying to keep on weight they don't stop to think about what they're actually putting in their bodies. This hit close to home for me, because I've been struggling with the same thing. Before I was diagnosed, I was used to eating mostly organic, local foods from farmer's markets. After my first chemo, I was so nauseous that the only thing I wanted to eat was Kraft Macaroni (SpongeBob or Pokemon shaped, please!), which, I'm sure only made me feel worse.

Dr. Nixon dedicates chapters to specific types of cancers (such as breast, colon, and others), with dietary suggestions for each type. Unfortunately, he also lists Hodgkin's (along with NHL and Leukemia) as non-diet related cancers, which kind of made the book moot for me, but oh, well - I still learned something! And at the back, he wonderfully puts recipes high in "good fats" but low in "bad fats" - perfect for someone like me, who is trying to put on healthy weight - not just any old kind of fat. In addition, there's a "Get Healthy" menu at the back - helpful for jump starting a new healthy eating lifestyle.

All in all, I enjoyed the book. It was a little dry - I don't always have a lot of patience for mainstream books with too much medical jargon, but this one wasn't as bad as it could have been. I learned a pretty decent amount about how cancer is effected by diet (even though MY cancer, apparently, doesn't have anything to do with diet) and that was good to learn for the future.

Let me know what you guys think! Also - Book Club. Good idea? Bad idea? I feel like I need a little something else to do to fill my time before I (hopefully!) start classes at the end of September.

Next, I'll definitely be reading Kairol's book Everything Changes - click on the link at the beginning if you want to grab a copy and read with me! I'd love to get some discussions going.

I'm also open to suggestions! I'm going to try to lean towards books for YAs with cancer, but I might throw something else in the mix every once in awhile, just for a little surprise :-)

Talk to you soon!

Lots of Love,

Wednesday, August 12, 2009

I'm not on Chemo, I'm the Cutting-Edge of Fashion

Hey Guys,

So my eyelashes have been thinning a bit, but the fantastic people at Dior have been keeping that pretty much unnoticeable (best mascara EVER). My eyebrows seem basically intact, but just in case they end up falling out, I wanted to point you all in this direction. If/when they come out, I'm on the cutting edge of the makeup trends. The "no-eyebrow" look is apparently all over the runways and print ads - Givenchy, Balenciaga, and Prada all featured eyebrow-less models for the Fall 2009 shows. Woohoo!

Also, I generally love to watch Bravo - Real Housewives, Top Chef, The Fashion Show - I love them all. However, I'm severely disappointed by NYC Prep and Miami Social. And they're on all the time! (sorry, just turned on the TV and Miami Social was on. They're driving me crazy. I should turn the channel...)

In a "side-effects update," so far I've been feeling pretty awesome today (knock on wood). I only had to take one kytril for nausea this morning (more of a precaution than anything else), but I'll probably be able to rely on zofran for the rest of the day. The kytril's really expensive and hard to get from the insurance company, so I need to stock it up for next week's treatment.

Finally, any advice about scarves? I've got a TON of beautiful silk scarves (lots of them hand-dyed) that people have given me or that I bought at Summerfair in anticipation of being bald. Since it's so hot, I haven't been wearing them on my head, but would love some more suggestions. Claire sent me a twitter link to tying headscarves, but I'd also love some advice about tying some of the bigger ones into skirts, shirts, or dresses... share the love, my fashionable friends!

Lots of Love,

ps what do you think of the new purple theme? I just found out the "Purple Ribbon" is for Hodgkin's, so I thought I'd change up the page colors a little bit to represent that :-)

Tuesday, August 11, 2009

Change is Good

Hey Guys,

I mentioned before that Sarah Sullivan came to visit me yesterday. Since she works for Children's, she's able to share a lot about what's going on "behind the scenes" - the parts of the hospital that the patients don't see, but that keep everything moving smoothly (well, as smoothly as a hospital can run!)

This morning, Sarah emailed my dad & I with a great article that had been published for Children's staff members. It's all about the changes the hospital is making to help things become more efficient, especially in the area of patient waiting times. My family has been in and out of Children's a lot over the past nine years or so (years of treatment and scans for Brian, and now myself...) and it's really great to be able to see all of the past changes occur, and even better to be able to see what the hospital wants to change in the future. I was so happy to read this article, because a lot of times you wonder if the people who run things even realize what the real problems are for the patients. I know for myself, the waiting time to start chemo is really frustrating - especially on my short treatment days. I've had to wait three hours for someone to write an order so I can get less than two hours of chemo! Now, I know that's still better than being an inpatient, but patients shouldn't have to wait longer than their treatment time to get the treatment started! It was really refreshing to see that Children's recognizes that wait times are something they need to fix, and have actually drawn up a plan to make that change happen! That's one of the many reasons I'm thrilled to have been taken on as a Children's patient!

Also, congrats to Children's for moving up from 5th place to become the 3rd best Children's hospital in the country! Woohoo!

In my world, I'm definitely reaching a point where the chemo's building up enough for the side effects to start getting a little worse... usually after this first treatment, I feel slightly crappy that evening, but fine by the time I wake up in the morning. However, it's 7:50pm and I'm still nauseous! Maybe I should start eating more bland foods... or some ginger ale! I've got some achy joints from the Vincristine, but nothing unmanageable - no trouble with stairs or anything, but I was a little stiff after the "Tour of Clifton" I gave my mom today. We drove around areas of Clifton she'd never really been to - especially the Gaslight District (so pretty!)

On a funny note, I'm definitely bald, but I'd say I've still got about 10% of my hair... and that 10% is growing... and growing... I'm going to have to ask my mom to buzz it off again, or it's going to start looking silly! My little chicken fuzz hairs that are left have gotten long enough now that they're starting to curl...

Finally, one of my friends posted this on Facebook, and I thought it was pretty funny/ridiculous, so I'm posting it here for all of you to enjoy. This guy watched every episode of Friends in one sitting - over 80 hours of TV! He broke the World Record for longest TV watching (or something like that...)

Lots of Love,

ps the Leukemia and Lymphoma Society is holding a Light the Night walk at Sawyer Point in Downtown Cincinnati on Thursday, September 24. I'd love to be able to get a team of family and friends to walk, so anyone who's in the Cincinnati area (no matter how well we know each other), please feel free to send me a message or give me a call and let me know if you'd like to participate! Find more details HERE... Thank you guys all so much!

Monday, August 10, 2009


Hey Guys,

I know I just posted like... 45 minutes ago or so, but I just had to get this off my chest. As you all know, one of the things I'm most sad about with this treatment is that I can't return to BW until the spring semester. I just got even more sad when I received Bryan Bowser's email about the part-time job opportunity with Apollo's Fire (a fantastic Cleveland Baroque music group). The internship I had this summer was officially called the "Rehearsal Department Intern," but Stephanie, who I was interning under, is Cincinnati Opera's Production Coordinator. The job with Apollo's Fire is to be their Production Coordinator, and is being offered to Conservatory students in the Cleveland area. I'm so sad that their season starts in October, and I really can't even apply for the job since the earliest I can possibly be back in Cleveland full-time would be the end of November (and that would be pushing it).

Missing out on the opportunity made me feel especially down since I've decided to apply for Arts Administration Master's programs for next year, and I feel like I absolutely need more experience if I want to be accepted into a high-level program. This job (even part-time) would be such a wonderful experience.

Thanks for listening, everyone, and I'll be back soon (though... not in 45 minutes...)

Lots of Love,

Another Day, Another Round of Chemo...

Hey Guys,

Well... I'm almost halfway done... today was, all in all, one of the best treatment days I've had (in no small part to my awesome visitors)

I can't remember if I've mentioned this before, but Children's offers free therapeutic massages to all their patients. I got my first one last week, and now I'm officially on the massage therapist's schedule, which means that every time I come in for a treatment, she's notified, and I get to have a massage! (woohoo!)

As you can see in the picture above, it's not like a regular massage - I lay in my hospital bed (fully clothed) and she works VERY gently so that nothing gets too sore. She asks what I want to have her focus on (usually my neck and shoulders - too much computer time!) and then she always gives me a little bit of a head and ear massage.

After the massage, my nurse came back in to access my port, and I made a terrible mistake. Usually I lay so that my back is to the nurse while she accesses me, but today she stood on the other side so that I was facing her. This was not a good plan. As I've mentioned before, I get numbing cream to put on my port before I get to the hospital so I won't feel it when they access me. Today was no different - except that it was the first time that I actually SAW the needle they use. It looks kind of like a plug - except instead of prongs for the electrical socket, there's a 3/4" long needle in it's place. 3/4" may not sound particularly big, but it is when it's a needle about to be stuck in your side! So, due to this unfortunate turn of events, I tensed up a lot before she put the needle in, and even though the skin was numb, it was the first time it's ever hurt to be accessed. I'm pretty sure that had something to do with me watching.

After this though, everything went really smoothly. I had some fantastic guests! William came around 11am, armed with the perfect selection of DVDs... among them were Angels in America, Arrested Development (one of my favorite TV shows), The Emperor's New Groove (thank you, Disney), and A Mighty Wind... we watched the second part of Angels in America (William commented a couple of nights ago when I told him to bring it "Are you sure you want to watch a miniseries about AIDS while you're getting chemo?" I responded with "Well... at least I don't have AIDS...") and later watched a little bit of A Mighty Wind... just to cheer the place up a little after an hour of depression.

Thanks, William, for being such a fantastic visitor and staying for almost my ENTIRE treatment - and being hilarious company the whole time! We managed to take a few pictures at one point - notice how much more tan he is than I am... (I guess that's what happens when he works at a pool and I work in a tiny office with no windows...)

Also, he was pretty tired all afternoon (apparently last night was a little crazy) and opted to "take a nap" while my mom was taking pictures... complete with a cuddly bear (courtesy of Sarah!)

Sarah Sullivan also came to visit - she works at Children's, and we met her a few years ago when she first started working there. I love seeing and talking to Sarah, especially now, because she's not much older than I am, and had Hodgkin's when she was my age. It's really wonderful to have someone who went through almost the exact same thing so close by to talk with! It's also especially encouraging because she's pregnant and due on October 11 - that really gives me hope that the treatments won't damage my fertility (which is something I was a little worried about before I talked to Sarah). She stopped by for about an hour, and brought me an adorable stuffed bear (which is awesome, since I hadn't been wanting to bring my "special friends" to the hospital for fear of leaving them behind - yes, I have "special friends" at the age of 22...) as well as a stress ball. I'm pretty sure that will come in handy - I get stressed a LOT and I've been having some pain in my right arm that relaxes when I squeeze a fist... the ball was helping me relax it a lot in my bed.
(me & Sarah... she looks a lot better than I do!)

I also have some good (I hope) news in regards to my tremors and tingling! I talked to the OTHER Sarah (my fellow) and she told me that people my age generally feel those side effects worse than others, and wrote me a prescription for something called Neurontin, which is a pill I take three times a day, everyday (boo to more pills) throughout my treatment. It's sort of like a painkiller, but won't make me groggy and I have to take it all the time for it to work. She says it usually works really well (and my mom's friend Sue agrees), so I'm hoping when I come up to Cleveland in a couple of weeks, I won't be so shaky and weird.

Finally, I wanted to thank Claire at A Little Piece of Me for sending me this fantastic sketch - we've been communicating through a blogger network, and exchanging stories - she offered to send me a sketch, and I told her about a joke I have with some of my friends about having the crappiest superpower ever... I think it's pretty funny!

Lots of Love,

Sunday, August 9, 2009

Testing 1-2-3

Hey Guys,

This is a quick test - I can't get internet at Children's, so I added the mobile update feature that Blogspot offers. Before I go in for my treatment tomorrow, I want to check to make sure that this actually works!

In other news, I had my pre-chemo bloodwork done today (all normal!) and had to wait FOREVER at Outpatient Anderson (where I get labs done so I don't have to go all the way downtown), which also happens to be the CHMC Urgent Care. Normally, since I get labs done on Sundays, there isn't anyone elso there and I'm in and out right away. Today, however, I was there for almost and hour surrounded by little kids with soccer injuries and serenaded by the always beloved Hannah Montana. I almist went crazy.

Anyway, treatment tomorrow at 7:30am... If you're in Cincinnati, I'll be in until dinner time, so feel free to text and stop by!

Lots of Love,

Saturday, August 8, 2009

Before I Forget...

Hey Guys,

I wanted to post this quickly before I forget - I've been starting to get Chemo Brain and I've been forgetting things A LOT (even more than usual - I know that's hard to believe!)... for example, this morning I asked my mom twice within five minutes if she wanted to share some bacon at breakfast...

Anyway, I came across this when I was doing some reading on a Lymphoma information site (if you have any questions I haven't answered in my posts and for some reason you don't want to ask, definitely check out that site... it's got some of the most detailed info I've found on the web! But seriously - you should feel free to ask me ANYTHING)... I've definitely gotten off topic, and I wanted to share a really great e-card site with you all. These cards are hilarious! I love the humor - I saved some of the pictures to my iPhoto, and they totally give me a lift when I'm feeling bad. Check this one out - it's one of my favorites:
That's all for now, but you'll hear from me again soon! Also, a HUGE thanks to Dennis Pyritz from for adding me to his blogroll as a resource for other Hodgkin's patients... I'm so happy to (hopefully) be able to help other people!

Lots of Love,

...more insomnia...

Hey Guys,

So I've been really partaking in all of my favorite "forbidden" foods this week. One unfortunate side effect of this is that my body isn't used to caffeine anymore, and the cup of kona I had at 5pm is still keeping me buzzed 8.5 hours later. What a bummer.

My grandparents (on my Dad's side) are in from Montpelier (near Toledo) for the weekend, and it's always fun to see them, especially since we don't get to often. My grandma brings delicious treats, and I was soooo excited that she brough my favorite pecan tarts - bite sized pecan pies that are incredibly delicious and addicting.

I started watching Angels in America tonight with William - I'd never seen it before, but it's AMAZING. I love Mary Louise Parker in Weeds, but this is making me love her even more. One question though - what's with her and the drug theme?? We got through the first segment tonight, and (I can't believe I'm saying this but...) I can't wait for my treatment on Monday, because he's going to bring another segment or two with him and I'm itching to see what happens next.

Also, everytime I get in the shower or take my makeup off, I'm expecting my eyebrows and eyelashes to go (so far, so good...). In preparation for my eyelashes falling out, I've been doing a little research at to try and find some nice falsies I can use as a replacement. I really like the extreme variety offered by Make Up For Ever... especially the super crazy ones. Let me know what you guys think - if you all like anything in particular, it might help me make a decision when the time comes.

Lots of Love,

ps maybe I could take some makeup advice from Boy George now that I'm bald...

Thursday, August 6, 2009

Home Sweet Home

Hey Guys,

I'm back in Cincinnati - a little earlier than planned, but due to Tyler's car troubles and a family emergency with Katie, I ended up not having anything to do last night, so I decided to drive home.

Katie - I want you to know that I'm thinking about your Grandma, and I hope that everything turns out as well as possible! If you ever need to talk or if you have any questions about anything, please feel free to call me! I hope you can make it down to Cincinnati, but definitely stay home if your family needs you!

I had a great time in Berea/Oberlin - the drive up was boring (as usual) but it was fantastic to be back for a few days. I got to see a lot of Madeline, Vanessa, Ben, and Will, as well as a return to Maya (best mexican restaurant EVER - I miss it so much when I'm at home!) I also was able to go and spend some time in Oberlin with Matt & his roommates, which was massive amounts of fun (also as usual)

I was worried on my way up - I was having some issues with the tingling/burning in my legs, which got a little worse (it's mostly gone now, but I'm going to have to talk to my doctor about it when I get back to Children's on Monday) and my hands have been shaking so bad lately that I've been having trouble opening my pill bottles, putting on makeup, typing, dialing the phone, etc... For a few days, it was terrible all day long (Matt kept asking if I was nervous because my hands were visibly shaking so much) but now it's the worst in the morning, and mostly tapers off as the day goes on. I'm hoping they'll be able to give me something to calm that down a little bit, because it's really frustrating, especially with the typing and phone usage. I'm also anticipating a little bit of trouble with piano playing this fall once classes start (still waiting to hear back, though...)

I got really sad last night when I was leaving - it sucks a lot not being able to go back to school for the fall. As much as I know that it's not always fun when I'm in classes, I still really, really want to be going back. It'll be hard once I know that everyone is back for the semester and I'm stuck at home in Cincinnati...

Finally, I was on msn today and was reading Dear Prudence on Slate Magazine and came across this question, which made me really sad... (it's the third question in the article). It made me so thankful for all of the unwavering support I get from my family and all of you guys. Thanks for everything.

Lots of Love,

ps Thanks to Holly to all of the great advice in comments you've left! I don't know how to reply to comments that people leave, but I wanted to let you know that I'm reading and appreciating them!

pps I'll be back up to Berea the week of August 30, when everyone will be back! There are a bunch of you who weren't in town that I REALLY want to see!

Sunday, August 2, 2009

Stars Without Their Makeup

Hey Guys,

So I've been getting a lot "Wow! You look FANTASTIC!" comments from people when I see them, especially if it's been awhile and they haven't seen me since before I was diagnosed. I think people mostly assume that I'm going to look all pale and sickly (well, I'm always pale...) but I've made a vow that no matter how bad I'm feeling, if I have to go out somewhere, I'm putting on makeup. There is absolutely no way I ever want strangers (or friends, for that matter) to ever think "Wow, that girl looks like she has cancer!" I even put on makeup to go to the hospital to get chemo! Thats really the same reason why I refuse to wear a bandana or a head scarf when I go out - I feel like wearing something like that makes me look more cancery - if I walk around bald, I feel like people are more inclined to think that I'm bald on purpose since I'm not trying to hide it.

Anyway, I'm offering you all a rare treat - a glimpse of me without all of the makeup I wear on a daily basis (much more now than ever before!)

With Makeup (smiling!)

Without Makeup (YIKES!)

You can't see them as well in this picture because of the giant flash, but in recent weeks I've developed some extremely attractive chemo circles under my eyes - I've started to look like the losing end of a fist fight.

I'd like to thank Sephora, Clinique, and Laura Mercier for their part in keeping me lookin' good (as well as significantly shrinking the size of my wallet)

In other news, I've had a couple of weird side effects sneak up on me the past couple of days. I'd been hearing ever since the beginning that dry skin would be a big problem. I'd been feeling pretty triumphant about the fact that I'd somehow escaped this, but starting yesterday, I've been feeling it. The skin on my arms and legs is peeling and tight - I kind of feel like one giant piece of dandruff or something. My mom got me some amazing moisturizing body wash and extra-thick lemon scented balm from Bigelow's, and I've been slathering it on, but it's effects are short-lived. Hopefully drinking massive amounts of water will help.
Also, I've been feeling the nerve effects of the Vincristine (which, annoyingly, are always delayed - I'd rather feel crappy all at one time). My calves are all tingly and burny feeling just under the skin - at first I thought it was from the dry skin, but it's definitely not on the surface, it feels like the nerves are all over-firing. I took one of my oxycondone pills (which are meant specifically for neurological pain), but all it did was make me groggy enough to run into my bedroom wall when I got up to go to the bathroom. Hopefully they'll be less tingly while I'm driving to Cleveland tomorrow, because pain meds + 4 hour drive = disaster.

Finally, enjoy this picture of Winnie I found when I was cleaning out the memory card on my camera. She looks like a little lion.

Lots of Love,