February 23, 2016. One year ago today, we were sitting in treatment room #2 of chemotherapy singing “its all about that drip”, a song I made up to pass the time. I remember so clearly how the doctor came in prior to this chemo session because we were changing up my medicine from Taxol which I had an anaphylactic allergic reaction to the week prior, and we were ready to try a drug called Abraxane which is a Taxol derivative. The doctor specifically came in and said “don’t worry, no one is allergic to this drug”. To our surprise I am a rare person that had a “true” Taxol allergy.
I was so nervous for them to administer this new drug, and truthfully I was just waiting for hives, pain, or the worst, to be unable to breath! Up until this point, I have had allergic reactions to all of the drugs that they have tried with me within time. In my pre-chemo concoction, they would load me up with fluids, benedryl, and anxiety medications however soon enough my body built up a tolerance to the benedryl and BOOM a reaction would occur.
You often hear the quote, “its all in your head” and for the first time in my life I realized that isn’t always true. There were reactions that I had literally after being in a deep sleep where I would wake up feeling my throat closing, not being able to breath, and my family rushing to get a nurse to come and help. (Thank you to my sister Jillian, that literally happened). Allergies are scary, your body is reacting and your mind cannot do anything about it!
Side note: and also important for anyone with seasonal allergies! Taxol is a chemotherapy drug that is part of a group called “plant alkaloids”. Basically, it comes from a plant or part of a plant. In the case of Taxol, it is made from the bark of a Pacific Yew tree. Taxol is a specific plant alkaloid that is cell-cycle specific, meaning that they attack the cells before they divide causing cell death and in my case hopefully CANCER DEATH!
What is interesting about Taxol is that I have many allergies to the outdoors. I love flowers, camping, hiking, etc. however come spring I always have a stuffy nose. Another side note, I am super allergic to different fruits with skin especially. It doesn’t matter if I de-skin them, buy organic, or cook them… apples, peaches, and cherries turn me into a ball of itch! So, looking at where this very powerful drug comes from it isn’t surprising that I was severely allergic!
So, basically with four intended chemo treatments left of my initial (16 dose) planned course, my doctor threw in the towel after getting my breathing back and scaring my mother half to death! (literally). Pretty much I exhausted all of the drugs they could try to treat my exact cancer, and she took this as a sign that my body had had enough. And that basically meant, no “last day of chemo” party for me. No making cupcakes, taking pictures with a pretty sign, once again I missed out on yet another occasion to throw a party! (however not a party that most people would look forward to throwing)
My anxiety was so bad that with them simply running fluids through my port my heart rate was sky rocketing! I never really had anxiety before… because I never really had anything to be fearful of. Chemo literally brought the fear out of me.
One year later, I am finally getting my life back. Although I added on to my already serious list of allergies, (knock on wood) I havent had any serious reactions with my concurrent surgeries other than annoying rashes and ichiness. Today, I am finally starting to look in the mirror and see the reflection of a “me” that I love! I have hair again!!!! And a lot if curl I must add! Although I pray everyday it miraculously will grow past my booty… it is crazy to see just how much it has grown in a years time!
For me, losing my hair was THE worst part of my cancer journey. Truthfully, I would say it was even worse than losing my boobies! People may think im crazy… but to me, my hair is on the outside for everyone to see. My boobs are covered for the most part, and I can always do the tricks of my inner 13 year old self and just stuff my bras with socks or tissues right;) Being bald made the cancer real. A random person off the street could see bald therefore see that I had cancer, no matter how much glitter or lipstick I wore.
But really, cancer not only made me fight for my life… but, I was moreso fighting for my identity. I looked in the mirror and cried because a bald beast was starring back at me. It was cancer that I saw, raw, bald, and at the time I felt far from beautiful. My dark circles, sunken cheeks, and fake smile were only some of the outward side effects of chemo. Though these poisonous drugs were attacking all the evil little cancer cells in my body, sadly they cant pick and chose good from bad and therefore the inner side effects were also prevalent.
Of course there was nausea, loss of appetite, and for me allergies… but there were also side effects that the normal person doesn’t want to talk about. Oh ya, I’m talking about my booty! And not how cute and perky it used to be either! Im talking constipation, hemorrhoids, the cancer life is tough let me tell you! And lets not even get into the awkward initial stages of when hair decides to grow back! I can tell you that it doest come back on your head first…
But for reals, this was a HUGE deal— a girls coochie is beautiful bald and I hate that I have to shave/ wax nowadays however… hair growth is hair growth people! AND YES it deserved a group text message to my sisters (and now the world) that my COOCH HAS HAIR!!! *I may have embraced the bush for a few days too… I promise I’m back to naked mole rat now 😉
Luckily, today that is all in my past! Hopefully anyways:)
Although I still have frequent check ups with my specialists. Life now a days is getting back into a routine. It’s forcing me to get up everyday and eat healthy, begin working out, loving my job, being thankful for my family, and most importantly… living every single second of every day to its fullest, because truly– tomorrow is NEVER EVER a guarantee! I wake up each and every day with a smile on my face, I look into the mirror and see a strong, beautiful, determined me! I get to roll over and kiss the most amazing husband and puppers in the whole entire world. And I make numerous phone calls throughout the day to my family and friends! Life is so so so good, and I am just truly thankful!
I am looking forward to where my future is leading me. I was dragged along this path and journey for a reason, and in this year to come Sparkle On Inc. WILL come to life! Stay tuned 😉