Six months post-chemo

Feb 14

I passed my six month chemo-versary; it’s been six months since my last chemo treatment in August.  I know you probably think I’m crazy, but I’m still somewhat nostalgic for my friend Chemo.  I have good memories of Chemo.  Today, as I try to rise and Do Today Well, I feel proud that I can look back on Chemo Days and say, “Yes, I think I did chemo well.”  It’s a private, personal victory, one that no one will ever measure or evaluate.  Well, it was a private victory until I decided to over-share on the Internet about it.   Bottom line: I had Chemo and now I’m cancer free.  As with most of life, happiness is in the journey as much as it is in the destination.  I am thankful for those months of chemo.  Deeply, deeply grateful.

In the six months post-chemo, my hair has been growing; I have had two haircuts.  I have to get the sides and back trimmed while the top grows in… otherwise it gets… fluffy.  (Fluffy = not good.  Fluffy = helmet-esque.)  At the current short length, I get some serious bed head, which is unfortunate for Brad and the girls; I’ve never had a haircut where bed head was a possibility until now.  Also, hair grows s l o w l y, people.  It’s only since Brad’s last haircut that his hair is officially shorter than mine again, and it’s not like he is sporting anything remotely close to long hair, even by boy standards.  Strangers compliment my hairdo–which, this is funny, happens way more than it ever did before cancer.  I’m reflecting on my Haircuts of the Past with some trepidation.  In the meantime, I am experimenting with different hair products and spiky ‘dos.  People ask me all the time whether I am going to keep it short or grow it long, and at this point, I just have no idea.  And, to be clear, I’m pretty much still super-excited that my “problems” these days are bed-head-related.  Yes, being cancer-free gives me awesome perspective in that way.

My daughters have made subconscious adaptations as a result of my cancer treatment.  I have a very sticky-outy port (technical term, obviously).  My port is a raised one centimeter circle that protrudes just under my right collarbone.  It’s completely under the skin; to access it, the nurses stick the needle through my skin and into the “port.”  Maren calls my non-port side the “good side” and always wants to sit/snuggle on my left side since the port is on the right.  I think she just doesn’t like the bump that “pokes” her cheek/head as she snuggles.  Greta, on the other hand, puts her head on my right shoulder (because Maren is usually on the left side), and she traces circles around my port through my shirt with her finger.  Some babies twirl their mother’s hair, others play with her necklace.  My G has simply identified my port as another touchpoint that makes me uniquely her mama; she’s tracing me.  I am completely okay with how each girl feels about it, and I find it fascinating to see how differently they internalize it.  I see it as a small indication of the complexity and the diversity in which they will one day process and understand my cancer journey when they are old enough to understand what it all means.

Six months out, I can say that I am Doing Today Well.  I love my husband, and I bask in his love for me.  I am snuggling my girls, Maren on the left, Greta on the right, and delighting in being their doting mama.  My hair and my port are just two examples of how cancer made a mark on our lives and, I think, I hope we came out better, stronger on the other side.

But he said to me, “My grace is sufficient for you, for my power is made perfect in weakness.” Therefore I will boast all the more gladly about my weaknesses, so that Christ’s power may rest on me.  That is why, for Christ’s sake, I delight in weaknesses, in insults, in hardships, in persecutions, in difficulties. For when I am weak, then I am strong.. –2 Corinthians 12:9-10

12 comments

  1. Every time I come here to read your words, I thank God for NED. ♥

  2. Patty Wheeler /

    As always you have inspired AND amazed me.

  3. So happy for you! Best always from one of your silent supporters/praying people…

  4. suenitz /

    Good Morning my friend. I think your blog post today touched me more than any other one has. I think for a few reasons. 1. After I read about your experience and then read your bible verse, I know you are living it. You are living and loving God’s will for you under all circumstances. And you seek His goodness! Oh God is God!! 2. I laughed because I related so well. I did get to a point that I was like enough about the hair. I would prefer if you noticed I have my Father’s (God) eyes. 3. You have such a wonderful gift and not only do you Do Today Well you also are Giving Yourself Well. Much love to you my friend.

  5. suenitz /

    That is amazing Father Rob! God is so good and I love that He showed you that through Izzy. You are loved that is for certain!!

  6. Marsha Vonderwish /

    Thank you for sharing! I remember the ‘bad hair’ days and would tell friends that I was just happy to have hair! :-)

  7. Dave Schreier /

    Praying and will continue to pray!

  8. So good to hear!
    This August will be my 25th anniversary of my surgery, then subsequent radiation therapy for cervical cancer. My kids were 13, 7, and 6.
    I now have 8 grands, 4 girls, 4 boys. I am still loving life, and your attitude leaves me to believe someday, in its time, you will be blessed with a full quiver of grands too.
    Hang in there sweetie! Love your posts!

  9. You are a gift to so many. Thank you!

  10. Last January, I began reading your blog. In August, we found out that our 12 year old daughter had cancer. I knew immediately that your blog was one of the many ways that God had been preparing me. I haven’t read it everyday, but it always encouraged me to read about your successes. I enjoyed reading about your hair today. My baby finished chemo around Thanksgiving…her hair is coming back full force, but like you said….slowly. So I guess we still have a couple of months until a haircut is required?!

  11. Becky Palmieri /

    My favorite short hair product: BedHead “Manipulator”. It’s this blue sticky goo that makes your hair stand up without making it stiff like gel. Plus it smells good! I always used to put it on clean,dry hair but I’ve known others who simply applied it to the “natural” bed head first thing in the morning. Embrace the bed head :)
    P.S. I got to hang out with your girls (mostly Greta, but Maren too) in Quest last weekend. Delightful!