hair lossHello All,

I’ve been meaning to write this 5th installment for a while now and tossing around ideas in my head but sometimes the various side effects just get the better of me. Sometimes lying in bed with a book is all I can muster the energy to do.

I hope everyone had a great Thanksgiving and was able to spend some quality time with family and friends. Unfortunately for me, my hair decided to pick Thanksgiving day to bid me adieu. The falling out process was very odd this time around–my hair detached itself from my scalp but instead of falling out, it just formed a big beehive at the back of my head. Thankfully, this allowed me to fashion it into some sort of a bun and make it through dinner before having my brother-in-law shave it all off. My 5-year-old niece’s response? “Auntie Vera, why do you want to look like a boy?” LOL Hopefully she’s used to my boy look by now.

On December 4th, I had my 2nd round of chemo. I was feeling well enough to travel the week leading up to the treatment so at least that got my mind off cancer and treatment for a few days. Chemo was much of the same–you can read about the details here. I slept through most of the infusions but did have time to stop by the wig shop and snag the only real hair wig they had. I don’t like wearing a wig often since it’s hot, itchy and uncomfortable, but it’s good to have one around just in case.

The days after chemo have not been a walk in the park, to say the least. I did not get some of the side effects I got after the first round, but I’ve also had new ones sprout up. I try to remind myself that there’s a light at the end of the tunnel and that most side effects usually resolve themselves within a few days but in the moment – when I’m uncomfortable at best and in a lot of pain at worst – the “light” can be hard to see. I started keeping track of the side effects day by day to give myself an idea of what to expect so here’s a snapshot of the last 5 days:

  • Saturday: face flushing/redness, really sore threat, some body aches, swollen eyes, nausea
  • Sunday: sore throat, bad body aches, headache, dry mouth
  • Monday: dry mouth, metallic taste, headache, nausea, sinus pressure, abdominal pain; feet are swollen, red and painful
  • Tuesday: feet are very painful, making it hard to walk; headache, nausea, vomiting
  • Wednesday: feet continue to be painful, intense bone pain in the hip area

The bone pain I had yesterday – and it was awful – is a side effect of Neulasta, the shot I received after my chemo treatment to boost my neutrophil (a type of white blood cells) count and reduce the chance of infections. The painful feet may be a sign of the Hand-Foot Syndrome, a side effect of chemo. According to chemocare.com, Hand-Foot Syndrome occurs when “small amounts of drug leak out of very small blood vessels called capillaries in the palms of the hands and soles of the feet. This leakage of drug results in redness, tenderness, and possibly peeling of the palms and soles.” Thankfully, my hands have not been affected, I do not have any sores and my feet seem to be getting better with the help of some steroids and ice packs. But for the last few days, I’ve had a lot of difficulty walking and have pretty much marooned myself in my bed. Today, I’ve managed to do dishes and a few loads of laundry–progress!

Coming up:

  • I have my first post-chemo CT scans coming up tomorrow so fingers crossed!
  • I will be getting more blood tests on 12/18. These are standard for the trial I’m in but will also show whether or not my white blood count is normal (i.e. Neulasta worked)
  • My next chemo is on 12/23–sadly 2 days before Christmas

Some fun stuff:

Since I keep a mostly vegan diet, Hooman and I have been trying some new products to go along with the new lifestyle. I’ll be posting our hits and misses to save others looking for natural products some time :)

banana snakaroonsProduct: Laughing Giraffe Organics Banana Snakaroons

Cost: about $7

Available at: Heinen’s or www.thelaughinggiraffe.com

About: the Snakaroons are gluten-free, certified organic, raw, vegan and non-GMO. They come in other yummy flavors like Pumpkin Spice, Vanilla and Goji Maca. Most varieties have 8 grams of sugar per 2 pieces; the Vanilla flavor has 6 grams of sugar.

Ingredients: organic unsweetened coconut, organic agave nectar, organic almonds, organic extra virgin coconut oil, organic bananas, organic vanilla extract (gluten-free), Himalayan pink salt

Verdict: Delicious! I love regular macaroons so was very excited to find this more natural/healthy variety. The Snakaroons still pack some sugar – from natural sources – so I use them as an occasional treat, not an everyday snack.

Product: Quinoa Pasta Shells

Cost: about $5

Available at: Heinen’s

Verdict: Unfortunately I threw away the box before I could take a photo or capture the ingredients, but these were a huge bust. The shells tasted like cardboard and there is no sauce in the world that would make them edible. I am sticking with regular quinoa!

morning song gardens creamProduct: Morning Song Gardens Face, Hand & Body Bee Balm Cream, in Carrot & Calendula – Citrus

Cost: about $23 for 4 oz.

Available at: Heinen’s or morningsonggardens.com

About: the cream is made with pure Ohio beeswax, contains certified organic ingredients and is non-GMO. It’s never tested on animals and is available in various scents, including Almond Vanilla and Rosemary Mint. They also have fragrance-free options for sensitive skin and carry other products like soap, lip balms and candles.

Ingredients: cold pressed extra virgin olea europaea (olive) oil, pure Ohio beeswax, purified aqua (water), sodium borate (natural stabilizer) and essential oils of citrus paradis (grapefruit), citrus aurantium amara (orange,bitter) and citrus limon (lemon)

Verdict: I’m in love! After my first chemo treatment, my face became very dry and flaky and no regular lotions/creams seemed to make a dent. This cream is extremely moisturizing, smells awesome and has not clogged pores or caused breakouts. It is very rich so I only apply it to my face at night. I started using it the day of my 2nd chemo and my skin is still baby soft!

Till next time…