I knew it was going to happen. I even had my hair cut really really short two weeks ago to lessen the impact. Maybe I thought that with it that short, I wouldn't notice it coming out. But last night big clumps came out by the handful. I was horrified! Somehow I imagined the hairs would come out little by little, not all in big clumps. But when they come out by the handful, you can't help but notice. It's like watching your toes fall off, one by one.
I realized that cutting my hair short wasn't proactive enough. And there was no way I wanted to watch it fall out by clumps. Besides, having hair everywhere would be really annoying. So yesterday I had my head completely shaved, as close as could be done. Basically down to my scalp. Before my haircutter got started, I pulled out a clump to show her and she started to cry. Poor thing, I didn't mean to upset her. She probably envisioned the horrors of losing her own long, thick, and lovely hair.
I don't have a lot of ego around my hair anymore. Or so I thought. I've had it short about 6 months and love it that way. But there's something about losing what keeps your head warm, something that gives your unique identity, and losing what you're used to looking at in the mirror and fussing with your whole life that's upsetting.
I got over it pretty quick though. As long as I didn't look in the mirror!
|Before. First attempt to|
minimize hair loss.
|After. Did you really think|
I was going to expose my
bald head here? Maybe
So next step -- shave my head with a razor smooth down to the skin. Could I do that? Another new skill I never thought I'd need to learn. But I'd shaved my legs for 50 some years so I gave it a go. It wasn't that hard, although it took a couple days to practice and get rid of the sandpaper stubble. I can now put lotion on my skinhead!
I'd always wondered how Buddhist nuns and monks felt when they got their heads shaved. Now I know what it feels like. It's very humbling. To not have that stuff on your head that partly gives your identity. I also realized I had just answered one of life's biggest questions that all of us, men and women, ask ourselves every day of our lives.
How does my hair look?
With no hair at all, that question is now fully answered. As Janice Joplin sings: freedom's just another word for...nothing left to lose. It's kinda that way with hair I think. And it's very freeing. I no longer have to spend one ounce of energy toward wondering how my hair looks, and I can do other things instead. There's also no longer time needed to dry my hair. So I'm seeing lots of advantages to this new situation. And I'm starting to rather like it!
Other silver linings. I handled the first round of chemo 3 weeks ago fairly well -- only one day of nausea after. I attribute this to the three days of fasting I did before and during. I'll talk more about this important strategy in future posts. Basically, fasting puts normal cells into protective mode, a kind of hibernation. Because few nutrients are coming in, normal cells start prioritizing functions and shut down a bit until food starts coming in again. This is an instinctual process that we humans have had since Day 1 because early on food intake was never reliable or guaranteed.
Cancer cells however do not have that inherent mechanism so the chemo drugs affect them much more -- they're not in protective mode. So my normal cells get by with less side effects. I love this!
What I didn't handle well was the shot they give me a week after to stimulate white blood cells to grow back faster. Bone pain is a common side effect from this drug, and for me, two weeks of intense bone pain ensued. I thought that was quite excessive!
So I decided I didn't need it and told my oncologist that I refuse to have it again. Unless my labs show that I need it. I insist on being treated on a case-by-case basis for what my body needs. We all should do that! If I don't ask for what I need, and let my doctors know when things aren't working, then I become a cog in the medical machinery. And I refuse to be that, ever. So I actually look forward to the next round of chemo knowing I won't have to go through the bone pain again and might have a more pleasant three weeks. The severe fatigue is probably unavoidable though.
The upside is that my blood is doing well! For a blood cancer like lymphoma, there's a lot of attention placed on what's happening in the blood. There's a fall in everything in your blood after the chemo infusion -- red blood cells, white blood cells, hemoglobin, etc. then they gradually come back up in the following weeks (hopefully). Mine have. Just in time to go again. Next Tuesday.
More new and wonderful things. On Friday I picked up my new ozone generating equipment, replete with oxygen tank (needed to make the ozone). Ozone treatments are growing in popularity for cancer treatments (especially outside the U.S. like many things I do -- the U.S. is fairly backward in these things because of it's reliance on big pharma). Ozone treatments really boost your energy, and have a detrimental effect on cancer cells because they don't like an oxygenated environment. I'd had ozone treatments several times, and even though I didn't expect much at first, I was astounded at how good I felt the three days after. There's new research now showing that ozone during chemo treatments can help improve fatigue greatly. So now I can do the ozone treatments at home and not drive 45 minutes to Roseville. I can't wait!
Second round of chemo is next Tuesday. After that, only four more to go! Please keep me in your prayers. I appreciate all of them so much.
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Donations. Many of you have asked what you can do to help. Most all of the cancer-healing supplements and alternative treatments that help me feel better are not covered by health insurance, sadly, no matter how well they work! Health expenses are way over and above my monthly resources. Amazon Gift Cards are so so helpful -- that's where I buy most of the supplements. To donate an Amazon Gift Card, go to the website below, click on the "Wishlist" to donate an Amazon gift card, of any amount:
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Healing Intentions, Thoughts, Prayers, and Support Needed.
Thank you all for your healing intentions and thoughts, your emotional support, and your well wishes -- all these I appreciate more than I can ever say. It means everything to me. And please feel free to post your comments below. I'd love to hear from you!
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Thank you so much for reading this blog and passing it along to anyone you feel may be interested. I can feel your support, and I need it! I'm so aware that I'm not doing this alone. I'm connected to many many others online, in my community, in my family, all my friends. Where I get the inspiration, information, support, encouragement, and the energy to keep going.