Day 4 – In the Middle

All of the news that is telling us that we are being chemoed to death is amazing! For me, there was a lot of social stigma around my diagnosis. I thought people would judge me because I had it. I had been socialized to believe that if I was cheerful, positive, and didn’t have and/or suppress anger, I would never get cancer. What a load of manure!

This is what I am learning: More people are getting cancer every day. More options for treatment that are just as effective, if not more, than chemo. Chemotherapy actually takes people to the edge of death and then drags them back to life – hopefully. Now we see on CNN that Canada’s cancer treatment is less expensive and has a better survival rate than ours.

Just this week it was announced that 70% – seventy percent!! – of women with breast cancer don’t need chemo. There is now a test that can determine the genetic marker to know what kind of breast cancer it is. (Please don’t hold me to the scientific terms. You can get that from the actual article I am merely a survivor).

I’ve spent my life being afraid of cancer. When people see my bald head, many of them give me the head tilt and sympathy look. But I don’t think cancer is as scary as it once was. And from my experience, medical science doesn’t have all the answers – or even the right ones!

Still feeling energetic and focused. I only took one Tylenol today. The supplements I’m taking to support my body to bring it back from chemo and allow it to heal the cancer are working: All of my blood tests came back perfectly normal – right smack dab in the middle of the range of normal. I’m so happy some part of me is!

Day 3 of CBD Oil

A dear and longtime friend of mine has Parkinson’s. Over the next week or two, she will be starting on CBD oil. I will chronicle her journey as much as I can without being in her skin. She was diagnosed about a year ago, has tried natural cures, and finally began the medication. It has helped a lot, but she is having other issues now.

We all have to die, and I know that unless we commit suicide – something that I’ve considered at different points in my life and declined – we don’t have a choice over how. My friend has always been health conscious. It got to the point where she counted the leaves of lettuce she ate, she was in such control. Stunning to me was that she was diagnosed with Parkinson’s when I was the one who had done all the drugs, drinking, and partying when I was in my twenties; I was the one who could eat a Big Mac standing over the kitchen sink and believed I had dined. We both supported – and still do – organic farming and healthy eating, but I mixed my in with chili dogs and full fat, full gluten chocolate chip cookies.

I remember about twenty years ago when she had hurt herself, been confined to couch rest with a pretty serious injury, and then a few weeks later went to a dance workshop and danced twelve hours a day for a whole week. She wasn’t a dancer by profession, she just liked to dance.

Today I visited her, and she struggled to walk. She has my deepest admiration. It cannot be easy to watch your world shrink to your easy chair with the occasional outing when you at one time united countries. She was responsible for bringing several of her friends from different countries together socially. International museums resulted.

My mother always told us that if you took your troubles down to the market place, you would end up buying them back. For me, she was right. I have cancer, and I have pain,  but for now, I have mobility and clarity. No one gets out alive, as the old saying goes. When I hit my sixties, I knew that I would die. I prayed I wouldn’t live until 95 like my aunt did. She said it was boring and lonely and she missed my uncle. But getting cancer is forcing me to live like there’s no tomorrow, forcing me to choose to create the life that I want. Many of us don’t get that chance ever.

Day 3 of CBD oil was uneventful otherwise. I tried one of the lymph machines, and it’s just made the sides of my thighs ache. This will be published in the morning, but it’s night now and time for a glass of wine! Make it a great day, and I will talk with you later.

End of Day 2

I had a pretty busy and physically active day. My bones (pelvic and thigh) didn’t ache much. Sitting is a problem, but with the cbd, I was able to be active and focused. No nap. The trick is to take the second hit of cbd oil before naptime and work right through it.

It was a good move to take the supplements. Turns out that they are not for the pain as I thought they were. They are to support my lungs and heart so my body can heal itself. This makes sense to me. Years ago I learned that 80% of all diseases will heal themselves if you just give them time. That was referring to the repeated sinus infections I struggled with my first year in Atlanta. It was true. I stopped going to the doctor, and eventually the infections stopped.

Cancer is a bit more of a strain on the body, so it makes sense to me that the vital organs have to be supported. All in all, I’m pretty pleased. People tell me that bone marrow cancer is amazingly painful, and other than a pain in the ass – literally – I’m doing fine.

Sleep tight and thanks for reading!


CBD…The Experiment Continues

This morning I did cbd oil and included the supplements that my practitioner gave me. Since I’m not sure what is fighting cancer and what is fighting pain, and I need to be productive, I’m taking everything. I will do the cbd alone in a week or two.

I do know this: When I take the cbd oil, I am more energetic, focused, and productive. For me, it’s good for about 8 hours, so I take it on getting out of bed. In the afternoon when I lag, I take a 15 minute nap (I am, indeed, a power napper. It’s a talent!). When I wake up, I take another cbd so I can have a productive evening. Both a schedule and being productive make me feel normal. At the age of 6 I started pushing a lawn mower to make my own money and having stopped working since. The cbd oil helps me do what I want and need to do.

And it doesn’t interact adversely with my wine at the end of the day. I’ve been taking acetaminophen with wine to sleep, and all of the warnings say that it’s better to refrain from alcohol with acetaminophen. Now I don’t have to worry about that. Very important because I schedule my life: Coffee in the morning before anything; cbd oil; chocolate in the afternoon; cbd oil; wine after everything. It’s good to be organized, don’t you think?

End of Day 1 CBD Only

My best friend falls asleep when she takes cbd. It energizes me. I don’t know if it’s our age difference (I am 8 years older) or metabolism. I read that practitioners are now giving cbd oil to seniors (I am 66) to help with memory. When I take the oil, I’m so focused and get tons done. After 8 hours, I need a nap. Then more cbd oil, and I’m off and running.

Pain mitigation is so-so, but I’ve only taken it without any supplements for one day.

Update tomorrow. I have some research to do.

CBD Experiment

Today I am taking only CBD oil for the pain. Bone marrow cancer is apparently pretty painful. Thanks to John Mullen, I’ve had very little pain – especially for stage 2 cancer. My next MRI is July 12. Last week I learned that all of my blood tests are normal, so at least I know that the effects of the chemo are largely gone in that respect. Still no shoulder-length hair…hehehe!

But I’ve had more pain than usual in my hip and leg. I even came home early one day to nap but was back at it the next day feeling fine. I want to know if it’s the myotrophin, pneumotrophin, Tylenol, or CBD oil that is helping. Something I’m taking is giving me a stomach ache, so I need to ferret that out while still staying within the guidelines that John gave me. I know I would not have been able to leave chemo so easily without him.

I also got a new mattress that is soft compared to what I had. For me you can pretty much cover a rock with a mattress pad and I’m happy. When I was married, we had a Sleep Number bed. My ex was a 35; I was an 80. (That meant I slept on the divider. The chambers did not keep us separated. Alas, that took a court decree!) So I have to figure out how all of this ties together.

This isn’t my usual experience-peppered-with-philosophy quote, but I figure you want the down and dirty. I’m not here to make my posts puppies and butterflies. Cancer makes you get real, as do other life-threatening and lifestyle-changing illnesses and challenges.

Back with the results tomorrow.

Letting My Hair Grow Back

It’s gonna be hard growing my hair back! Two reasons: 1. About three weeks into the growth, I start to look like a porcupine. A white porcupine with dark and white stubble, but I look like I’m still bald where the white hair is. Not a good look. At this point, I am shaving weekly.

When I started losing my hair and was looking at wigs, the ladies at the wig shop told me I needed to keep about 1/4 to 1/2 inch of hair, or the wigs and hats would itch. Obediently I let them cut my hair, then put my chemo hat on and went out into the world, praying I didn’t have to take that sucker off in public. I looked raggedy! And those little hats screamed ‘Cancer!’ to me. I was miserable, hot, and itchy.

The best thing to happen to me about my hair is that the wig I ordered didn’t fit. My cheekbones are high (Czech blood). I had to decide: people looking at me comfortable vs. ME feeling comfortable. We know by my profile picture who won. I put my chemo hat back on to cover my stubble and left the wig shop to consult my resident expert: my neighbor Roger. He has been shaving his head for decades and makes sure I wear a hat in the sun when he sees me (I keep a hat in the car just in case I see him first!).

He plopped me into his car and took me to the local barber shop to get clipped. There I also met Walter, the man in front of me during our wait for the barber. Walter said he comes back every three week for a buzz. I wish! My hair grows fast. My reality is that I start looking skanky at the end of every shaving week.

Through lots of conversations with bald friends and strangers, I learned that I didn’t have to pay $20 a week to get my head trimmed. My neighbor and new bald friends coached me through shaving my head myself. I tried razors geared toward men, toward women (is there really a difference other than color and the fact that anything for a woman is more expensive?), soap, shaving cream. I worried about cutting myself and having to wear a bandaid, so I couldn’t get a close enough shave. Now I’m using an electric razor. My neighbor says the best way to go is a six-bladed manual razor, but that sounds like danger to me. I’ll have to screw my courage up for that one!

The second reason is that I like the attention. No one went out of their way to talk to me like people do now. Even babies! Babies claim me as one of their own. They talk to me like they expect me to understand. Yesterday at a coffee shop with one of my friends, we met a baby. My friend is cute, friendly, and has shoulder-length hair. We both talked to the baby, but when the baby looked at my friend, nothing. When the baby looked at me, she smiled and talked and drooled. It happened several times. It’s a hoot!

People stop me to talk to me, follow me around. It’s amazing! So in addition to looking scraggly, when I grow my hair back, I’ll just have hair again. Not many people look like I do right now. Most people assume it wasn’t a choice and want to offer me support. That part’s lovely. I guess I can wait until fall and decide!