Treatment #3 You can do it! (Sorry, I had to!)
When chemo forced itself into my cancer journey, I was not a happy camper. I didn’t want to be vain. I didn’t want the hair loss to be something I worried about. Who cares? It’s a little hair that will grow back in no time. This was a much bigger fight I had gotten myself into and I wasn’t going to have time to worry about the trivial things. In my quest for positivity I tried to take a proactive route. Before I lost my hair, I stood in front of the mirror, armed with every kind of scarf you can imagine. I tried the pirate, I tried the headband, I tried anything to make me feel like I wouldn’t hate looking at myself in the mirror. Everything looked really adorable actually! That is, until I tucked my remaining bangs under the scarf. That’s when the inner monologue started it’s chant: SICK! YOU LOOK SICK! It’s all I could think of. Sick, ugly, cancer. No one walks around without hair unless they have no choice! I flung off the prospective covering and figured I would just deal with it when the day came.
The day came pretty quickly. I was going out and needed to wear a scarf, not for vanity purposes but because I can’t let the sunny Southern California sun scorch my dome. In a moment of desperation, my mom pulled out a red bandana she had in her closet. I looked up a quick online tutorial on how to wrap it and all of a sudden I felt strength jump through my veins. How could I feel anything but powerful wearing my bright red Rosie the Riveter bandana? She is the epitome of ass kicking. She didn’t care what was on her head, she had to roll up her sleeves and do a dirty job that only she could do. It may be cliche but it got me through my bald slump and my next round of chemo. There is nothing more feminine to me than a woman who can get shit done!
All hail Taxol! My new drug, which is the cousin to Taxotere, solved all my allergy problems! I had no issues with rashes or walking, although I took EXTRA care and stayed off my feet for a full five days just in case. I also tried a new cocktail of pre meds. Though it had been lovely for me to sleep the whole time, it turns out I’m a bit of a sleeptalker and a nasty one at that! Poor mom was dealing with the loopy things that were coming out of my mouth so in order to spare her some stress, we backed off on the Ativan. I was a much more pleasant patient and was aware of the whole thing. Better for everyone for sure.
Now the new thing I’m dealing with is Chemo Brain. THIS IS FOR REAL FOLKS! I have lost my damn mind! Full portions of my brain feel like they are missing. Words disappear from memory and if my train of thought gets interrupted it’s a painful experience trying to get back on. I had heard of this before but I didn’t really think it would affect me. I have always had a steel trap brain. I started my Broadway career being a swing which means you have to learn every part in the show and go on without any rehearsal. I knew my lines and everyone else’s immediately and I got paid the bucks to do it. I really thought this part of my brain would hold up but it went out as quickly as you could say “what?!” I’ve had to have a very particular amount of grace with myself during this time. It’s very disconcerting to lose something you rely on so heavily, but it’s temporary. The people around me love me anyway and will be there waiting for me to finally supply the word I’m looking for. Wait for it… It’s coming, I swear.