Since it takes a bit to write each blog post about my Journey, and a bunch of you have reached out asking how I’m currently doing, I wanted to write a quick post about my status. I’ll go into more detail on everything in longer posts but this gives you a peak behind the curtain. I thought it would be nice to give you all an update on what’s going on with my Cancer Journey in case you’re wondering.
Let’s cover off some questions that I think will help explain how my fight is going right this second:
WHY DIDN’T YOU LOSE YOUR HAIR?
Oh I’m losing it – maybe not fully but it’s coming out in clumps all the time. However, I was fortunate enough to be put on a Chemotherapy regimen that doesn’t always cause full hair loss. Given the staging of my Cancer and Oncotype DX score (which I’ll go into in more detail in a post coming soon) my oncologist felt comfortable putting me on a less aggressive type of Chemo. A more aggressive type of Chemo would have only given me about 2% less chance of distant reoccurrence but the side effects associated with those drugs would have wreaked havoc on my body. The benefits didn’t outweigh the negative, so my medical team and I discussed and came to the conclusion to go with the type of treatment I am currently undergoing. If you’re reading this and saying “What?? Why didn’t you go with the more aggressive treatment and lower your chances even more!” I would be lying if I said I didn’t have those exact same thoughts. However there are some serious side effects associated with Chemo cocktails. Not to mention statistics in general kind of suck in putting Cancer into perspective. So I chose the path that’s best suited for me and my body.
Going back to hair – In some of my posts I actually have clip in extensions or I’m wearing a wig. I’m not able to style my remaining hair like I normally would like to so I solve that by using extensions or a wig that is pre-styled. I usually mention in my captions if I’ve used fake hair, but if you ever have questions about this topic don’t hesitate to ask.
HOW OFTEN DO YOU GO FOR CHEMO TREATMENTS AND FOR HOW LONG?
My current treatment regimen is one dose every 3 weeks. I have a total of 8 doses all together, and I am almost 3 doses in (This Friday is the third…ahhh). I’m in the chair for about 2 hours but that’s after I’ve done blood work and met with my doctors. Overall its about a half day that I’m there for my doses.
DO YOU FEEL AWFUL AFTER DOSES?
Short answer is a hard YES – for about 4 days after I feel my worst, and it slowly gets better from there, which makes it nice to have 3 weeks in between so I can feel somewhat normal at points. However for me, side effects come and go through out the entirety of treatment. It depends on the day, how much sleep I’ve had, my stress management, diet, etc. The other day I was at work and I had to leave early because all of a sudden I felt completely off and had general feeling of malaise, and this was well after I had the dose of Chemo. Unfortunately I don’t ever feel 100% myself during those recovery weeks but I keep a positive attitude which helps suppress the side effects.
WHAT ARE THE WORST SIDE EFFECTS?
This is individual to each Cancer fighter, but for me I would say the body pain is the worst along with the headaches. Both are pretty consistent throughout treatment as of right now, however they diminish a bit within week 2-3. Also Chemo Brain is real! This is a general brain fog ALL OF THE TIME. It’s right up there in the top 3 worst feelings. To any of my friends who text me and I forget what we’ve talked about yesterday, don’t take that personally. Remember I’m getting toxins pumped throughout my body so there are some cognitive effects (that hopefully are temporary!)
WHY DO YOU NOT GO OUT OFTEN?
Due to Chemotherapy drugs, my white blood cell count goes lower than the normal human. Due to this I am very prone to infections, viruses, bacteria, basically all forms of germs. My body can’t fight off sickness during this treatment like it normally does. I try to avoid things like the subways (if I do go on it I usually wear a mask or my scarf over my face), or overly crowded places that I think would be germ infested. I won’t be traveling anywhere on a plane for the next 4 months so I can avoid getting sick. It’s not ideal but it’s necessary and temporary.
HOW ARE YOU GETTING THROUGH THIS?
If you’re looking through my Instagram feed and seeing these happy smiling pictures of me it’s because of a few things:
- Overall I feel really positive – I believe in keeping a positive outlook on life especially going through all that I have. Switching our mindset to being present, accepting and looking at all aspects of life as fulfilling really does help with healing. I am truly a believer in a mind body connection and how important that is for our overall health and wellbeing. This goes for any type of hardship not just Cancer.
- Being creative with photography, picture editing, compositions, fashion and style keeps me busy and it’s something I really love! Finding something that gives you sparks of happiness along any kind of tough journey is a great thing! It doesn’t have to be as grandiose as taking on a Instagram and blog page (I’m extra), but it can be small things like getting outside if you love to be outdoors, watching a funny movie, taking care of house plants, experimenting with makeup, etc. There are so many fun things in this world, and if I can give you any piece of advice to take away it’s this. Try your best to make a fun time out of everything. If I can get poked and prodded on a weekly, sometimes daily basis and come out laughing, that’s a win for me!
- Laughter is the best medicine – my therapist always asks me “are you laughing enough”. She has a good point, ask yourself that. Laughing releases so many good chemicals into our body and promotes healing. It also sets us up for a positive mindset. Make sure you find things that make you laugh on a regular basis. I’m not talking about giggling, try to find some deep belly laughing moments if you can.
- I love connecting with people – I haven’t been doing this that long and I’ve already connected with some amazingly inspiring, knowledgeable and positive people. It’s great to have an outlet like social media to support those connections.
ONCE CHEMO IS COMPLETE ARE YOU CURED?
Sadly the answer is no. Once chemo is complete I start up additional adjuvant therapy (which is treatment given in addition to surgery) in the form of Hormone Therapy which I will have to be on for 10 years. Unfortunately this disease is never 100% curable but I’m going to try to do everything in my power to kill it with kindness (and some conventional treatments).
Social media is easy to misconstrue, I think a majority have common thoughts in there head about what Cancer “looks like”. I thought this post might be helpful to understand what goes on behind the pictures. Cancer treatment are really individualized and personal to each patient. For each person regardless of similarities it’s a completely different experience.
Thank you so much to all that have reached out and asked how I’m doing! I’m fighting through treatments and on my way to wellness. Let me know if you have any other burning questions to ask me in the comments below.
One thought on “CANCER UPDATE – MARCH 18′”
Danielle, so proud of you. I am in awe of your strength and honesty in this phase of your life. Your words are inspiring, uplifting and brutally honest. Thank you for allowing us to be part of this journey with you. I love you.