2 Cycles Down

I have now finished two cycles (4 treatments) of chemo!  I have also finished my second year of law school. And now I am exhausted. I think its hard to even fathom this accomplishment because it all happened so fast. Its like I woke up and law school was over for the year and I am still not sure I even started! Its insane really.

Things are okay. I have been battling waves of nausea this time, and to add to the chemo issues, I decided to celebrate the end of the semster with some ice cream right after chemo… and let me tell you, there is a reason why you should avoid a large intake of dairy after chemo and I wished I had remembered that. But I am slowly bouncing back. I’ve been super tired and taking naps during the day. Its really nice to recover without the stress of having assignments or reading that I should be doing.

So I am heading back to Maine next week and will continue treatment there. I have to have another PET scan when I get up there to see where things are at and how to move forward with treatment. My nurse practioner here at DHMC has sadi the risk of breast cancer is significant with radiation esp. for women my age, which kind of scares me. I really only want to go through this once. But apparently there is no difference in terms of getting rid of the cancer between doing 6 months of chemo or 4 months of chemo and radiation. I really don’t want to put myself at risk. Also the largest masses of my diseas are in the center of my chest so there would really be no way of avoiding radiaiting my breasts. So these are all things to consider.

The other neat thing about my last visit is that I got to see my first PET scan, it was really incredible to see how those masses were sitting and it all makes sense now about the breathing and chest issues I was having all winter. Also, the site where m biopsy was taken from was a large as a FIST!! it was massive, no wonder it leaked for so long!!

So wish me luck for cleaning my apartment and packing up! I am hoping to get the energy this weekend. Today I am taking it easy, and baking cupcakes for an end of the year party, trying to feel more normal and like myself, but that’s never easy when you have 4 chemicals pumping through your body.  The beat goes on, and the journey continues.


Add a comment May 8, 2009

New Do.


Add a comment April 26, 2009

When to control?

So I’ve had my second treatment and its been about a week. I’ve done much better this time around. They gave me some sweet nausea medicine through the I.V. that seemed to keep things at bay, I even ate a real Easter dinner with friends last night.

Things are progressing well. I feel pretty tired this time around, and go to bed between 9 and 10 every night, and try to nap during the days.  But this week there is not a whole lot of wiggle room, my law school week is pretty intense, lots of stuff due and we only have two weeks of real classes then… FINALS. I am in shock, I cannot believe how fast this year has flown by, and so much has happened.

So I’ve lost a bunch of weight, and trying to eat some of it back on– with healthy foods, but the other realization I came to this morning in the shower is I am losing my hair. I knew it would happen and have been anticipating it with great anxiety.  The funny thing is that in October I majorly cut my hair for the first time in years, I cut off a foot of hair… and I really liked the new look. I had been so wrapped up in my long tresses forever, that I let it define me- Erin the girl with the really long brown hair.  And now I am staring at all this hair in the shower drain and trying not to lose focus. I already cut my hair a bunch when I was diagnosed and then again this  past weekend to a pixie/mod cut (its pretty cute) but now I have to decide when to take the plunge. I have to admit I am a major control freak. I have been trying to get better at it, especially given the fact I do not have much control over the cancer cells or the chemo, but this hair thing is really getting at me. So my plan is to shave it, get rid of it, before it gets rid of me (isn’t this a valuable lesson we are taught as adolescent girls… gahh I survived that I should survive cancer right?)!! Also.. i am going to Ani Difranco concert this week, it would be an homage to the women whose lyrics wooed me through many a hard time, and lots of empowerment.

soo when I shave it, depends on how much I can really take of it falling out. I have a whole plan for the shaving, and even an outfit for the post-shaving coming out baldness. But really like I stated earlier I have a lot going on this week, its hard to squeeze in emotional grief and uncertainty. I am undecided. But I’ll be sure to keep you posted.

3 comments April 13, 2009

Ode to the honey kix

I have now completed one cycle of chemo! Yesterday’s treatment finished my first month of the bad-guy killing drug. It was an extremely long day. They were running behind at the clinic and then when I met with my doctor, we made a new plan of medicines because I got so sick the first time. She prescribed a heavier, long-lasting anti-nausea med that would be given through the IV along with the chemos. But then when I got to the infusion room (where I go to get chemo) it was sooo busy in there they had not yet received my new med plan. Needless to say it was a really really long day.

My mom’s here this week helping out. Its been great to have her here in Vermont and getting to see how I live the law school life. She’s also doing some cooking for me, which I cannnot complain about. And, she discovered and brought with her my new secret weapon— HONEY KIX CEREAl. I am telling you, this stuff is amazingly good and all I want to do is nibble on honey kix, which is great b/c my appetite is so small. I love these. LOVE LOVE LOVE.

That aside, I think the new meds seem to be working. Last night I felt awful and did not want to eat, I went to bed pretty early 8:30! But I think the sleeping helped not focusing on the nausea and I seem to be holding today, no intense vomit feelings.  Just poop-tinis (these are what Sam and I called the stool-softener drinks I mix) and honey kix!!

I am feeling really tired today though, I slept for almost ten hours and am still tired. It’s a little frustrating but I am trying to let my body feel what it needs and cater to it.

overall, I am feeling happy to have one full cycle under my belt, oo and apparently my blood work for this week came back wonderful, even my cells counts were holding, so that’s really good too. WOOT. 🙂 Thanks for supporting and reading.

5 comments April 8, 2009

That’s just fabulous.

Today has been fabulous. Fabulous in the sense, that never before the big HL (this is my new slang for the hodgkins lymphoma) would have I thought today was fabulous, or even really noteworthy.  But today, I attended 2 classes, 1 study group session, completed 1 negotiation, did 2 1/2 assignments, ate three REAL meals, basked in the sunlight of spring and patted a fabulous new fury friend (shout out to Peepers the greyhound). It’s been a good day. I’ve felt full of energy and optimism (despite my first final being only 27 days away). Also, finally after a month of spewing lymphatic fluid my biopsy site, looks like it wants to actually try and heal! These are my small victories.

I know there will be days ahead when I will not feel this good. But I think its important for me to appreciate these days where I teeter on the edge of feeling like a superwoman, and I chuckle and say “Hey body and stupid HL take that!” I recognize I cannot push my body further than it should go, but must treat my down cycles gingerly but when I am not feeling that low, I just want to go throughout the day fabulously and accomplish all those things on my to-do list that once seemed so perfunctory but now feel like  real achievement and I am proud of the fact I completed the list.  I am after all, if a daily bowel movement is now going to be noteworthy in my day, should not a full day of law school be too? Yes. And that’s just fabulous.

2 comments April 2, 2009

It’s been one week

I have survived my first week on the chemo. I am starting to feel more “normal” eating real meals and everything, nut of course, 7 more days I get to go in again for the next treatment.

My big fanfare this week has been the elusive bowel movement. I mean really… chemo makes you have to get comfortable with your body and talking about it to complete strangers with intimate details. Just one of the many glorious side effects to putting the chemo into my body to kill the cancer, there are of course innocent bystanders that have to go as well, like my immune system, and appetite.  These things I try to take in stride, and one by one as they come up.  It’s too overwhelming to look at the big picture right now, so I tally the days, and mark my treatments on my calendar so I remember, but other than those signifiers I try to enjoy the day.  Like the fact that it’s about 50 degrees finally and tomorrow is April, and maybe spring is coming after all. Or the fact that I made it through all my classes and did not feel completely exhausted.  One week closer to cured. One week closer to new energy and healthy cells.

1 comment March 31, 2009

Poetic Interlude

Food for thought. I love this poem. I loved it before the chemo, and now it means something else to me. That’s what I love about poetry, it does not have to change, but as you do, it grows with you- stretches to the corners of your mind and places that before, were just out of reach.

“Cell” from Margaret Atwood’s morning in the burned house

Now look objectively. You have to

admit the cancer cell is beautiful.

If it were a flower, you’d say, How pretty,

with its mauve centre and pink petals

or if the cover for a pulpy thirties

sci-fi magazine, How striking;

as an alien, a success,

all purple eye and jelly tentacles

and spines, or are they gills,

creeping around on granular Martian

dirt red as the inside of the body,

while its tender walls

expand and burst, its spores

scatter elsewhere, take root, like money,

drifting like a fiction or

miasma in and out of people’s

brains, digging themselves

industriously in.  The lab technician

says, It has forgotten

how to die. But why remember? All it wants is more

amnesia. More life, and more abundantly. To take

more. To eat more. To replicate itself. To keep on

doing those things forever. Such desires

are not unknown. Look in the mirror.

1 comment March 30, 2009

The giving in

Last night I found myself on a winding Vermont road.  This is not unusual given my current “home.”  But the roads, are so strange this time of year, a path of frost heave, muddy ruts that bounce around wheels.  All Sam and I could see was what was in front of us.  Whatever the high beams of my Volkswagen illuminated.  I felt tired and frustrated. I know I need to baby myself, to take each day in stride to make sure I am not “over-doing it” the damn chemo wants to take my freedom, and it stinks because I am so tired, but I am still me. Still want to make every invite see every birthday celebrating friend, still want to be involved with all my causes.

But this chemo journey is really like our drive last night, I could not see anything around me, only the immediate illuminated in front of me.  Last night my car struggled up a mountain road, that was muddy, the wheels hit the ruts and made scraping sounds under the car.  Sam and I stopped and decided to turn around.  I could not drive anymore, could not see how to deal with what was in front of me, did not want to continue on the path of darkness, but craved the comfort and quiet of bed, the softness of  mattress and tenderness of my lover’s body holding my shrinking frame.  So there in the mud I stopped the car and got out. I walked around the back listening to the mountain melt streaming down either side of the narrow muddy path.  I buried my face in Sam’s jacket and mourned my sight. Let go of my want to push and push and settled on heading back down the mountain and to take care of my body  and let it be.

My body is the vehicle by which I fully intend to create more, accomplish the bright things I have been planning, move forward with, and stretch and grow.  But I have to let it run its course.  I am not the boss for now, I am the passenger. As I rode home silently holding Sam’s hand and leaving tears on my face I knew– it’s the letting go, the giving in. It’s not an ugly thing, not a weakness, or a newly discovered flaw, it is necessary. This is my moment in time, my spring muddy path, that will lead me in time to the place I always knew I would make it to- the top, the cure, health strength and beauty.

1 comment March 28, 2009

The Disconnect

Hodgkins lymphoma. Everytime I say it to someone, or to myself, or to explain why I have not been in class it feel a little more detached from me, Erin, who I actually am. It’s like it’s happening to someone else’s body. And here I am, the gawker, the nosey detail lover watching each moment of it. Up until my primary care physician said “oncologist” my body and I were quite friendly with one another. I knew its curves, its noises, its subtle aches, or the cravings, I listened to it, my body. And I in turn responded to its needs and wants.  But now, after the first chemo treatment my body feels like a foreign territory. A place where I am invading with food, liquids, with conversation.

I have been trying to wrap my head around all “this”. The nausea from the treatments, the personal information about my bathroom habits that I must now record in a “symptoms journal” the nurse at the hospital told me women were better at this task, she chuckled and looked over at my brother. Neither he nor I laughed or found this amusing.  I mean this all sounds like I am angry, and I think at times, yes I am. I must acknowledge the anger, confront it and let it go if I am ever going to get through this. It’s positive thinking, and love and support that I need to be welcoming. I am not dealing with my weird ingrown toenail or a rash from cleaning up dust, I am dealing with cancer.  There I said. I have an incredibly treatable, curable, stage 2A cancer.

I have every intention of beating this damn thing.  It’s just the whole concept of these greedy “pac-man” cells all over my upper body and out my control I have a hard time reconciling. I don’t feel like a sick person. And I think before this I listend to my body reasonably well, fed, clothed, showered, rested, even bought cute shoes for. So what gives? It’s like trying to find the damn needle in the haystack. Every google hit telling me “doctor’s do not know the exact cause of hodgkins.”  And I guess the unknown will have to suffice for now. Besides there is still air in and out of my lungs, I can walk reasonable far without complete exhaustion, I am discovering my old childhood love for popsickles, I cannot drink alcohol, so that’s a healthy life style change, and the support and wealth of love I’ve felt from friends and family is incredible. “I am going to be just fine” I hear myself say, that’s a reminder body.

Add a comment March 26, 2009

My 3 centimeter mass

I must make a disclaimer about my blog.  I never much was into the idea of blogging about myself. I love the idea of using blogs to communicate the social, political, religious, ideas out there, to create a large “market place of ideas” that the first amendment so graciously encourages us. But then my life took a turn or a lump rather.  A kidney shaped bean over my right clavicle. The medical terminology: a super clavicular mass. Which in turn lodge my life into a series of medical terms and tests with abbreviations for names, instead of legal terms and case law which my law school life had filled me with.  No, things were not really the same anymore. I began talking a lot about myself with people, particularly doctors, mostly about what sort of things had been happening in my life, about every cough, sniffle, bowel movements, times of voiding (apparently this means peeing) and thus my journey, my path, my battle of my body began.

1 comment March 24, 2009






May 2018
« Dec    

Most Recent Posts