Nursing my way back to health

Today, I had my last radiation appointment.  Physically, I feel pretty tired but emotionally I am euphoric!  Treatment officially completed.  As I was rolling out of the CT scan tube with which I have a love/hate relationship, I started to cry and shout at the same time.  My nurse/technician (named Hope no-less), started to hoot and cry with me.  It was a great moment.

My husband came with me.  He is a superstar.   We brought cupcakes that the girls and I had made to give to all the nurses and medical staff who have been so kind to me these last weeks.  My nurses have been amazing.  In the past seven months, I have been tended to by no fewer than 30 of them—I wish I could remember all their names.  I have been overwhelmed by their support and nurturing and have benefitted greatly from the advice they’ve shared, including such pearls as how to buy a wig, how short hair works, best post-cancer yoga class, how to train for a marathon, how to make a vein pop out (okay, that’s not fun or crazy, but necessary), and how to make your doctor answer ALL your questions before he/she turns around and walks out of the room.

There is a shortage of nurses.  It is no wonder.  It is not for the meek of heart or stomach.  They see and take care of some ugly situations, yet rarely have I run into a nurse who hasn’t done it with a smile.  I’ve asked some of my nurses why they stay in such a difficult profession and, without exception, they all say that they wouldn’t trade it for anything.   I hope that the nurses who have helped me know how much I have benefitted from their choice.

One of the companies with which I have had the privilege of working, Johnson & Johnson, has helped with program to promote the value of nursing.  In it’s eighth year, “Discover Nursing” is a great way to get a better appreciation for the field.   From this patient to all nurses, thank you.

And You Stand

I’m not much for cheesy music.  Okay, I love cheesy music.  During the darkest moments last fall when I needed to chase away what Churchill called the “black dog,” I listened to a song that really helped turn it around for me.  It works for any number of challenges we all could have at any given time and should be on everyone’s playlist.  Thank you Rascal Flatts, you get me.

“ Stand”

 

An Eight Year Old’s Wisdom and the Gift of Hair

Because she is just like me, my eight year old has been fixated on my hair-loss.  Last week she asked me if she could donate her beautiful long brown hair (which she inherited from her dad) to make a wig for a child with cancer.    I am continually blown away by her depth and empathy.

So this weekend I researched Locks of Love and two lesser-known organizations, one called Beautiful Lengths, run by Pantene in partnership with the American Cancer Society, and another called Wigs for Kids, a non-profit based in Ohio.  All the organizations supply wigs to those who might not otherwise be able to afford them, but Beautiful Lengths and Wigs for Kids supply the wigs free of charge.  Locks of Love, per their website, charges on a sliding scale.  We’ve decided to donate to Wigs for Kids, because as my eight year old said, “my hair didn’t cost me anything, so I don’t think anyone else should have to pay for it either.”  She likely will not be invited to speak at the Young Entrepreneurs Club, but I am so proud of her.

To read about these organizations, visit: http://www.livestrong.com/article/23544-donating-hair-cancer-patients/

Grey Matters

My hair is here.  So thrilled.  But it’s @#$%%@# grey.  Are you kidding me Chemo Gods?  Is it not enough that you robbed me of my hair but now you’ve taken the color too?  Sure, a few grey hairs would be expected, maybe even a cool Anne Bancroft stripe a la The Graduate, but the whole head?   Muther.  Or should I say Grandmuther.

Talking to My Kids about Cancer

While I may never know the full impact my diagnosis has had on my children, they have been a great source of strength for me—always—but especially these last few months.   The two year old has shown her support by nuzzling the few remaining feathers on my head and by expressing her dissatisfaction that the chemo box I had to carry during treatment was often in the way of a good hug.  She is a happy, capital “T” toddler and continues to provide us with great comic relief.

My eldest, an old soul of 8 years, has been a pillar of strength.  She is old enough to understand all that surrounds this disease and has taken it all in with genuine grace.  She has shed very few tears and has been my strongest and most vocal cheerleader.  I know all mothers think this about their children, but she is a special child.

Talking to her about cancer was very difficult for me but after reading and talking to several experts, we believe that telling her frankly, without too much detail, was and is the best course.  She understands that I had cancer, that the medicine would make my hair fall out, and that I would get better.  I did, it did, and I did.    I am glad that we chose to be honest with her and so grateful that the events are turning out as we had promised.