The day had come. The day that my “new hair” had arrived. I anxiously drove to the wig shop with thoughts of Lady Gaga, Madonna and all other proud Wig Wearing Women. As I sat in the “fitting chair” at Feke Wigs, I felt like a child on Christmas morning. I waited with breathless anticipation for the great reveal. Ta-da! There it was, MY new hair……long and luxurious. She put it on my head and it fit like a glove. Perfection! As she continued to talk to me about how to brush my wig, wash my wig, care for my wig my thoughts wandered…..who was this person in the reflection? Like an actor playing a part I felt like a different person. A vixen with a long lioness mane, sexier, younger…..Me but not me. I still had my own hair which is thin and short in contrast to the thick luxurious locks I had just acquired, otherwise known as the $600 “la fancy wig”. I walked out of the store trying to manage my long tendrils blowing in the wind, getting stuck in my coat, getting stuck to my face…by the time I arrived to my car the wig was pulled off my head and placed on my passenger seat. This was just the beginning of my love/hate relationship with “la fancy” wig.
Wigs (Photo credit: modhousewife)
I am surprised at how quickly I seem to be recovering from surgery. My arms are still sore to lift at times. My port in particular seems to be the most tender. Alethea, Gabriella, Isla and my mom are all headed out for wig shopping today. Heading to a place that was recommended by a couple of women who have been through this. It was a small shop and although the shop owner herself has never had cancer she obviously loves wigs. She wears one all of the time.
So we begin trying some on; we quickly find a favorite–the long brunette. I ask her how much it is and she says $600. $600!!! I can’t believe I am about to spend that amount of money on fake hair. It almost seems like highway robbery. The wig shop owner goes onto explain how the wig will only last me for 6 months or so and that I will definitely need another one before my wedding in June. I nod my head as if I agree with her but I am thinking to myself is she nuts?!? I am NOT going to spend another $600 on another wig. This will be the wig that is only worn on special occasions, sorta like the church coat or the fancy dress. I will wear it if I am going out on the town, that’s it; otherwise you will be seeing me in a hat… Lucy at the deli counter or Bill at the pharmacy….no wig for you folks.
Gabriella, Alethea and Mom all give me their nod of approval for the wig. They like it. I sorta feel like a vixen in it. My hair has never been this full and luxurious. We talk color, we talk length, we talk about how to take care of the wig….then it is time to pay. I know that insurance company will not cover the wig or what they term as a “cranial prosthesis”. They deem it medically unnecessary. So I swallow the hard pill, pay the money and place the order. My custom made wig will arrive in 2 weeks.
So off we go to lunch, later we go pumpkin picking, and eat amazing doughnuts and drink cider. It was a perfect fall day. Family, pumpkins, doughnuts, cider, hay rides, mud, and laughter. It was now time to say goodbye to Alethea and Isla before they catch their plane the next morning. I say goodbye to Alethea with tears in my eyes and hold her tight. I don’t know when I’ll see them again and I don’t want the comfort of them being here to end.
OK, I’m beginning to lose it. The worst part of cancer is the waiting. Take the test and wait. Take the test and wait. I’m waiting for the genetic results; They are going to run a BRCA 1 & 2 test. If that test is negative the lab will call me to ask if I want another test run. I never got a call. So that could only mean one thing; that I’m positive. I’m freaking out.
I call Nurse Angel Karen and tell her how I’m freaking out and I’m convinced that I am genetically positive. It’s been over 2 weeks since I gave my blood, the lab never called me thus that must be what it means. It’s only logical.
Then I get a call from the lab. My heart stops. What are they going to tell me? They tell me ……they tell me they haven’t run my labs yet. WHAT?!?! I’d rather hear that news then I am positive but they have had my blood for 2 weeks and it’s still just sitting there. The woman from the lab had no explanation. Someone obviously dropped the ball. She said that may not have the results till Tuesday, maybe after. These results were supposed to determine my surgery. So now I have more waiting….
Soccer games, birthday parties, laundry etc.. Life activities don’t stop just because you have cancer. Although, it feels like it should. Today I feel better, because at least now I have a plan. BUT, chemo?!?! I hoped beyond hope that I could just have surgery and radiation, like my mom did. Chemo makes me very nervous. More then everything else. I am feverishly doing research to figure out how I can avoid it; because I know more then the doctors, right? Alethea, has a friend who works for the company who makes Herceptin. She tells us about TD-M1, this new drug that works on HER2 positive cells and without the negative effects of chemotherapy. I do everything to find out how I can use this TD_M1–then I hit the roadblock when I find out that the FDA has not yet approved it. So the glimmer of hope that I had to not do chemo is over.
Today is Gabriella’s bday party. Thank goodness, my dear friend Michelle made cupcakes and frosting for this. I didn’t have any energy for more baking-baked out. Kathy comes over and we open up a bottle of wine and begin the “Cupcake War” themed party. These 3 little girls have a future in baking. I really was impressed. Tonight, I actually had 5 minutes go by where I didn’t think about cancer–refreshing.
5:30 A.M. alarm goes off. It wasn’t a bad dream. I lay there and think about going to work. I had every intention last night of going even for a half day. BUT, now that I remember my bad dream is real, I don’t want to get out of bed EVER. I lay in bed crying. I feel so angry at my body. BETRAYED. How can my body betray me like this? I have nourished it with nutritious food, worked it’s muscles hard, sweated, stretched……………..all for what? I joked with Travis last night that I am going to start eating cheeseburgers and bacon again. I may as well. Right? My way of life; being a vegetarian; obviously had zero positive effect. Instead, now I have cancer growing inside me. CANCER. Every time I say it, my eyes fill with tears and my ears push back the word like they don’t believe it either. CANCER. My brain can’t comprehend. My heart sad. CANCER. My body–what about you? You shake with fear, but you betrayed me after I have taken such good care of you.
Who knows so far? My sisters, Travis, Kevin, Ann…………… Alethea keeps checking in with me. I can tell she is worried about me. The phone never stops ringing from 8:00-5:00. So many conversations–my head is spinning. Then an angel appears–Nurse Sharon. 2 hours I spend on the phone with her. Tears flow like a stream. She has answers. She has reassuring words. She understands because she is a breast cancer survivor. What does she know?
Tumor: 1.5 centimeters
ER and PR positive
Appointment of September 21st to meet with the Cancer Team at St. Joe’s
She tells me that I must have angels from above watching over me; because I am getting mammograms at 38 and because the radiologist noticed the abnormality. I begin to think yes I do have things to be thankful for. But, it’s very hard to be thankful when less then 24 hours ago I found I have cancer.
Then I call my obgyn to find out her take on the pathology report. She says “Based on all of the calcifications I am sure you will need a masectomy”. Did she say masectomy? Masectomy? My breast being cut off my body? But, the tumor is small!! My mind starts spinning out of control. I immediately get on the phone with my sister, Alethea. She is livid. She can’t believe that she would even guess the course of action when she’s not the cancer doc. I know Alethea is right, but I also know what I heard. The word “Masectomy”– on the list of “Top Ten Words A Woman Never Wants to Hear”. And she said it to me like she was telling me I was having chicken for dinner tonight.
I told the kids tonight. First mine. Later Travis’. I didn’t shed one tear. I jumped into my Wonder Woman costume and put on such an act of bravery that it was Oscar worthy. I cut straight to facts; that it wasn’t their fault, its not catchy like a cold, that we are going to do everything to not have their lives change…. Gabriella started crying; not because of my cancer, but because she thought we were going to cancel her birthday party. Travis’ boys worried about missing soccer. How do you not love their egocentric kids responses? So normal. But now it will be my time to be egocentric—something that is the opposite of who I am.
September 18th, 2012–D Day aka C Day
The day where my life moving forward was never going to be the same. The day that I learned that I had cancer. The day that my phone rang from the doctor. The day I had a student run to get an assistant for my class; I stepped into the copier room my heart racing. The day the doctor said “You have breast cancer“, my heart stopped. The day that I ran to the school office, broke down and said I can and will not go back in my class. The day that I drove home needing windshield wipers for my eyes. It was a day that didn’t seem real. A bad dream. How could I have breast cancer? I run half marathons, I don’t eat meat, I eat organic foods, I live a healthy lifestyle, I’m only 38 years old. It doesn’t make sense. It’s doesn’t make sense.
FEAR. Nothing has ever filled me with such fear. So many questions. So many unknowns. Is it bad? Has it overtaken my body? What is going to happen to me? What is going to happen to my kids? MY KIDS. My Gabriella and Michael. The 2 pearls of my life. How can I tell them? What will I tell them? MY FIANCE. Travis. What will he think? Will he think I didn’t sign up for this? MY PARENTS They are traveling in Europe. I can’t tell them yet. They need to find out when they get back. How will I tell them? How will they react? MY SISTERS They won’t believe it. It won’t make sense. What does it mean for them? This cancer has not only planted its toxic cells in me but in some ways it has planted itself in all of the people I love and that love me.