Monday, May 24, 2010

Aye, Aye, Ayelashes, Lucy!

I’ve written that I was prepared for losing my hair, which I was.  I have way cool wigs.  And, I’d thought that I would be ok losing my eyebrows & eyelashes.  Which, I really am, since there’s so much help out there, no one ever need to know that your eyelashes & brows are becoming extinct. 

Getting the knack to apply false eyelashes is another thing entirely.  Even before cancer, when I dressed up to go out, I tried to put them on.  I was never able to, but back then, it didn’t really matter.  Now, well, let’s just say I can count every lash I have left.  Coupled with my disappearing eyebrows, false eyelashes are no longer an option.

So I purchased a “starter kit”, which promised to be a foolproof way to take your lashes to fantasy lengths.  Groan.  I know for a fact that there is nothing foolproof in my hands.  Anyway, here’s what the kit looks like:
Can you see the little claw thingy?  That’s the applicator, for “ease of use” – giggle.  I’ve had 5000 piece puzzles that were easier to do.  But, I pressed on.  Below are the actual instructions.  Unfortunately, I didn’t read most of them before my first attempt at fantasy length eyelashes.  I mean, really, how hard could it be? 

Oh, yeah; I’m Lucy – duh!

1)    Gently peel off the lashes from the lash stand at both ends.
There’s nothing gentle about getting those lashes from the plastic restraints upon which they’re glued.  Let me rephrase that – SUPER glued. 
You have to put some elbow grease into the process, which generally results in some tearage of said lashes.  Either that, or some of them get tangled or maimed in some form or another.  Getting a prisoner out of solitary would be easier.

2)    Flex lashes a few times before application.
They should probably say that you should flex them in the SAME direction, & with no force whatsoever.  I ended up with one that was twisted so badly, one half was looking north & the other south.  Sigh.

3)    Trim lashes to fit your eye.
This would have been useful information to read (or, actually paid attention to) BEFORE I put the lashes on.  The pair I had must have been made for a pair of Cyclops.  I applied the glue (more information about that next), but had about half an inch left at the end of one eye.  At first, I thought I looked rather exotic & almost pressed on with the second one.  Then I stopped kidding myself & realized I looked ridiculous. 

I tried to peel off just the right amount of lash, & held a pair of cuticle scissors to the side of my eye with the sharp sides angled up.  Safety first!  However, being nervous, as soon as I began to snip, the whole eyelash became unglued (or, slid across my eye, taking most of my eyeliner with it), & I cut the stupid thing in half.  Along with whatever remained of the eyelashes on my right eye.

Another reason to trim the fantasy lashes is that you might not want them so long you can see them – all the time.  I spent a great deal of time looking up at them.  Every time I blinked, it was like a pair of wings was swooping down upon me.  I made cross dressers look demure by comparison.

4)    Apply a thin line of glue to the lashes, & let dry for 30 seconds until tacky.
Let’s see, where to start with this one, as there are two lines of thought about this.

I truly think that there should be a CLEARLY marked line where one should snip the tube.  Had I snipped it closer to the top, I might have had a nice, thin line.  Snipping it in the middle, however, produces a big GLOB o’ glue.  Trying to turn this massive amount of glue into a thin line is no small feat. 

Additionally, after one squeeze, you’ve dispensed at least half of the tube’s contents.  There’s no way to stuff it back in or put it in a small container & cover it tightly with saran wrap,  No matter what you do, the glue will win & you’ll end up with a nice, but small, ball.  A useless ball of bouncy, bouncy glue.

At this point, I should probably point out that one of the printed tips I actually paid attention to was that it was best to have your makeup on before the lash applying epic was to begin.  This would eventually both hinder & help me.

There are pros & cons to applying the lash while the glue is wet as water, & to waiting until it’s tacky.  Let’s explore!

Applying the glue while it’s wet is good in that you can move the eyelash around, & get it just where you want it.  This is the “wiggle room” theory.  However, even though the glue dries clear, moving the eyelash around results in messing up your eye makeup.  Your carefully applied eye liner is now both above & below your eyes, if you’re lucky.  If you’re not, it might migrate to your forehead & down to your cheeks & lips.

If you’re like me, you may end up with a big ball of glue in your eyes, effectively gluing your eyelids together & scaring the living daylights out of you & everyone around you.  I ran around screaming, “Call your father!  Call the poison hotline!  Call the glue hotline – wait, is there a glue hotline?  No, call the ambulance!  No, wait, don’t call the ambulance!  I don’t know if your father paid the association fee yet.”  (You don’t want to call the ambulance because that would definitely be in the newspaper under the “look at me, I’m an idiot” category [also known as the police report] the next day, in big bold letters:


Oh, the fun of living in a small town.

The tacky alternative is looking pretty good right about now, isn’t it?  Ah-hah!  There’re cons to that, too!

Once it’s sticky, it will stick.  And I mean, really, really stick.  You have to be pretty darned sure you have those suckers where you want them.  That can really be tricky, because if you have them too high above your natural lash line, you look like you’re in a constant state of surprise.  Too close to your nose & you walk around cross eyed all day.  Too far out & we get back to trying to kid yourself that you look exotic.

It’s taken some time, but I’m getting better at putting these dumb things on.  However, I was really nervous the other day when Matt came at me with a pair of scissors.  Apparently, I hadn’t trimmed that pair enough for him & he’s not keen on being married to a street walker look alike.

On the bright side, I only have two more rounds of super duper triple dose chemo left.  After that’s over, my hair & lashes should start growing in.  The only thing I have to worry about are the stories of women’s hair growing back a different colour.  But even if that happens, there’s always Nice & Easy for my hair & black mascara for my lashes.

Oooh, I almost forgot to tell you the best part!  When I lived out West, they had a line of makeup called “e.l.f.” (eyes, lips, face), & everything in their main product line is $1.00.  They’re the East’s version of Wet & Wild, or NYC.  Unfortunately, the East coast version of minimally priced (cheap) cosmetics has been gradually increasing in cost.  NYC carries false eyelashes, but they’re around $3.00, which sucks.  You can get brand name lashes for about $3.49 at Walmart, & around $4.49 everywhere else.  And when you have to wear them whenever you leave the house, that can get pretty expensive. 

Anyway, e.l.f. carries eyelashes for, get ready, ONE DOLLAR!!!  Seriously, folks, $1.00.  So I, in the interest of journalism of course, have purchased a butt load so I can tell you if they’re worth that huge outlay of money.

Ok, ok, I just got a butt load ‘cause I wear them & I’m not about to go wearing the same pair more than twice each.  It just doesn’t seem sanitary to me.  Plus, they’re ONE DOLLAR folks!

An even bigger yay for me, because I actually told Matt that I bought them.  He will, however, be a teeny bit surprised when the gross comes in.  Then, it’ll be back to the usual.

“Aye, aye, aye(lashes), Lucy!  You got some ‘splainin’ to do!”

Have Hope! And, My Sister, Jill & "baby" brother, Jared

My sister, Jill, said something when we were on the phone the other day.  She said that I write about my journey honestly, but I don’t scare people.  This, of course, got me to thinking about my last few posts & the telling of Captain Compassion & his trusty side kick, Nurse Nasty.

I don’t want any of you who are beginning chemo, or who are about to be administered Taxol (or any chemo drug), to think you’ll respond in the same manner as I have.  As I’ve stated before, my reaction & pain to Taxol is due in great part (my family doctor said possibly entirely) to my pre-existing condition, what with the scar tissue all over my abdomen & spine.  Statistics (70 – 80 %,) say that you’ll tolerate it very well.  So please don’t let my story trouble you in any way.  And, if you ever need someone to “speak” to, please feel free to email me at, & put the word cancer in the subject line, or any reference to this blog.  I’ll be more than happy to answer any questions you may have!  Or, if you need a cheerleader, I’ll bring the pom poms.  And if you just need a shoulder, or an ear, I’ve got two of each; you’re welcome to one or both.  After all, you’re the reason I’ve written this.  It's truly been my therapy.

And. . . . . .

If you’ve read my blog for a while, you know that my sister Jill & I have been estranged for many years.  I haven’t spoken to either her or my brothers & my other sister, until recently.  Due to the fact that I have breast cancer, they’ve reached out to me.  At first, I wasn’t willing to accept their love.  But my sister, Jill, or my "baby" brother, Jared, wouldn’t let me ignore them (thankfully).

We’ve started calling, writing & becoming Facebook friends; more importantly, we learned what’s kept us apart or thinking ill of each other all these years.  Rumours were spread throughout our large family that were very hurtful.  They were half truths, lies of omission, or all out lies.  Period.  It’s a little difficult to wrap your mind around those things, or why it happened.

But, you know me – on to the bright side!

My family has just begun to get to know each other again.  But, unlike cancer, I’m excited to begin this journey.  More than anything, I hope that you don’t make the same mistake that my family & I have.  Don’t wait until a life threatening illness makes you reach out to one another.  Or in my case, open your arms to those doing the reaching.  I love you guys!

My story underscores the importance of communication.  If you hear something negative about a family member, no matter WHO is doing the telling, speak to whoever is being spoken about directly.  Don’t let cancer be the catalyst for you to pick up the phone, write a letter or send an email to a brother or sister, or someone else who’s been important to you in your life.

Life can be a stormy sea, but God sends family, friends & Angels to help you through.  Cling to whomever He’s sent you.  Like God, they’re a lifeline.

Thank you to my little sister, Jill, & my baby brother, Jared, for not giving up on me.  Thanks also to my sister, Katrina, & my brother Jason.  They've all pushed me to open the door.

Hopefully, tomorrow I'll have a "Lucy" story to tell you.  I've been working on it but got sidetracked.  It's about learning to cope with my body's changes during my battle with cancer.  It's called, "Aye, Aye, Ayelashes".

Monday, May 17, 2010

Captain Compassion

Yet again, forgive the length of time between posts.  So much goes on when you have stupid booby cancer!  But, here’s the update.

I had my first triple dose of Taxol.  I was supposed to meet with Dr. Seisholtz at 11:15 am.  We didn’t see him until 12:30 & all he said was, “Sorry I’m late”.  You know, if the rest of us lived our lives like that, we wouldn’t have a job. 

Anyway, I showed him my CAT scans showing the extent of my endometriosis & scar tissue.  I also brought him over 40 pages of research from women who’ve had the same painful reaction to this poison, & he didn’t even bother looking at it.  I can’t believe that I felt I had to do that, but, there you go.  He still seems to think that I’m exaggerating how I’m feeing.  “Nobody else is having this type of reaction”, he says.
In Steve Martin’s words, “Well, excuuuuuussssssseeeeeee me!”

I had my Neulasta shot on Thursday, & as usual, that hasn’t been a walk in the park.  In fact, I’d forgotten how horrible it was.  But, again, I’d chosen the express chemo option, so I won’t have to deal with the Earl of Empathy or his trusty side kick, Brun Hilda, ever again.  Even if I have to have further treatment, it sure won’t be there! 

The only thing is, I like the nurses.  They’re very sweet, & none of this is their fault.  In fact, they’ve been my confidantes about Captain Compassion.  And apparently, ol’ Hilda has herself a bit of a reputation around there.  I don’t want to say more, since I think she read my blog from last time.  I don’t want to get any of the nice nurses into trouble for conspiring with me.  I say that I think Brun Hilda read my blog because that would explain the glaring looks she was shooting my way, followed by ignoring me completely.  She may have thought she was “showing me”, but I thought it was extremely funny & had a hard time keeping a straight face.  In fact, Elyse & I about got ourselves into a car accident because we were laughing so hard when we got out.  I’ve been glared into my place & taught a lesson!  Apparently – giggle.

Ooh, ooh, ooh, wait, I almost forgot to tell you!  While you’re sitting in the chair getting chemoed up, the nurses make your upcoming appointments for you.  Turns out, since I’m going for the rapid fire version of chemo, I have to see a doctor at each of the last two visits.  We were setting up the time, & I was told I’d be seeing ol’ Hilda, or whatever her name is.  I sat up & said, oh no, I’m not!  I gave a very brief explanation as to why I’ll never be in a room with Nurse Nasty ever again. 

Now, girls, you know how when a group of you know something negative about someone or simply don’t like them?  There’s that “look” that travels between the lot of you when that person is brought up, but for some reason or another, you just can’t say anything? Well, that looked went around the room faster than measles in Kindergarten.  I could be wrong, but, I got confirmation from one of the nurses later.  ‘Nuff said.

Okey doke, complaining is done for tonight!

I have good news (for me)!!!  I don’t have to do anything or go anywhere the rest of this week – yee haw!  Yet, when I think about it, after a week of not having anywhere to go, I get all antsy & decide that I have to get out.  Man, I’m SO hard to please!  Sigh.

Saturday, May 8, 2010

Not the best week ever!

Forgive me for taking so long in between updates.  It’s been a lot more difficult than I had expected.  Tuesday, the 4th, was the worst day at chemo ever.  I’ll explain, but I’ll have to start with a little background first.

I’ve fought a bitter battle with endometriosis for years.  In fact, all three of my children are bona fide miracles.  I’ve had numerous surgeries for it, each time thinking that I’d get better.  I did, for a brief period of time, but then it would come back – really, really angry.

Something that has made my endo even more atrocious is the fact that I have massive amounts of scar tissue all over my abdomen, & a ton on my back.  In one of my last surgeries, a specialist was called in to try to take down as much of the scar tissue that’s entwined on my spine.  He couldn’t, because it was so twisted in & around my spinal column, he was afraid he would paralyze me. 

As such, all the rounds of chemo have been extremely painful, especially in my abdomen & back.  But my spine has been on fire constantly.  I’m thinking that the poison is making tissue gripping my spine terribly inflamed.

I really haven’t been out much, other than to go to chemo, or to other doctor appointments, due to pain management issues.  I did venture out to our cyber school fair, but Matt ended up taking me home early.  He could see the strain of the pain on my face.  Michele about booted me out right along with him.  She’s really taken his side through this whole ordeal in terms of keeping me home.  I mean, it’s like she & Matt are taking care of me or something (she says teasingly & most importantly, gratefully).

The first rounds of A&C, followed by the Neulasta, were killer.  Of course, I asked for pain management meds, as it was horrible.  I was so happy when the doctor told me that the next round, Taxol, was going to be a breeze in comparison.

Well, it wasn’t.  Not even a little bit.

My back still hurts, & there’re many days when I don’t manage to get out of bed until 12:00 or 1:00 pm.  And even then, there’s a bit of crawling involved.  I went online, & found that other women, without the extenuating circumstances that I have, also find Taxol to be painful.  I’d say out of the American Cancer Society’s message boards & other breast cancer boards, approximately 25 – 30% of women have a great deal of pain with Taxol.  So, of course, I still needed help with pain management.

I can’t take NSAID’s (Aleve & other drugs like that) as I’m EXTREMELY allergic to them.  Sadly, they seem to really help some women.  But, again, not all women. 

Whether I like it or not, I have to continually ask for pain medicine.  And that’s where I’m really getting mad.  The doctor & his “nurse practitioner” are making me feel like I’m doing something wrong.  It’s as if they think I’m some type of drug addict that had the good fortune to get cancer.  Woo Hoo!  I can get narcotics now.  Um, riiiiggggghhhhhttttt.

Well, it got way worse Tuesday, May 4th, when I had Aubrie with me.  The NP, Brianna, ACTUALLY ASKED ME, “Are you usually this dramatic?”  Dramatic??  Is she KIDDING ME??

Let’s see, I just lost a breast, & for all intents & purposes, half of the other (the lumpectomy took a great deal of it).  I’ve battled a major infection, had emergency surgery 3 times in the last few months, &, oh, yeah, I’m facing a deadly disease.  So, maybe I AM a little dramatic.  I was stunned & said nothing.  Aubrie, on the other hand, was texting her sister, & was having a major hissy fit.  Of course, so was Elyse.  Matt was being told what was happening, & he was furious.

I guess that they, oncologists, really just want to get rid of me, as they’ve come up with a new option.  Instead of having smaller doses of Taxol, I’m going to have triple doses at one time, followed the next day by Neulasta.  This will mean that I’ll only have to see those people three more times.  But I’m a little nervous, because if I’m in pain having a single dose, this triple one is going to really, really suck.  Of course, I’ll have to do it with a minimal amount of pain medication.  But you know what, I’d rather do that than to ever have to see those people again. 

If you have any ideas of what I should do, would you let me know?  Matt’s coming on Tuesday to see the doctor.  He’s pissed, but I’m wondering if I have legal options or something.  I’m surprised I’m even saying that, as I’ve never entertained the thought of suing a sole – ever.  But, I feel that I’ve been treated badly, & have been put through a great deal of unnecessary anguish.  I especially never want to see that Brianna, who’s supposedly a woman. 

The problem is, I don’t want to interrupt my chemo.  If I take the time to find someone else, would it do irreparable damage to me?  I don’t know, I’m just very, very angry.  More than that, I’m dreading the triple dose treatment.  Obviously, it’s going to be killer.  Also obviously, Seisholtz has no intention of helping me get through it with a minimal amount of discomfort.  Soooo, not looking forward to Tuesday.

But, on the bright side, I still feel like I’m the most blessed woman in the world, & I’m grateful for what I have.  I have a terrific husband who worships the ground I walk on.  There isn’t anything he wouldn’t do for me.

I have three children that I never should have had.  The endometriosis threatened to keep me childless for my life.  But somehow, I have these amazing babies.  They’ve been wonderful throughout this ordeal.  We usually go away for a long Mother’s Day weekend at the shore.  This year, of course, I physically couldn’t do it.  Did they complain?  Nope.  In fact, they’ve done everything to make it seem that this is going to be the best Mother’s Day weekend ever.  And they aim to keep that promise by taking me out to a late lunch & then to the greenhouse to buy plants.  I’m hoping that I can do it all without having to cut anything short.

I have wonderful friends, who’ve been sooo supportive.  I’ve been given cards, homemade herbal heating pads, flowers, balloons, suppers, gift certificates, crocheted hats & shawls, & the list just goes on & on.  If I needed the smallest thing, all I’d have to do is pick up the phone & know without a doubt that I’d have someone there in a heartbeat.

There have been complete strangers who’ve given of themselves for me during this time as well (free bras, flowers).  People who have read my column & saw me at the pharmacy have come up & given me hugs.  I’ve been told that they feel like I’m their friend (through my writing).

The list goes on.  I wish I could thank each & every person who’s touched my life, but I’d be here for days.  I love reading your comments in my guest book, & I love that you write to me privately at my gmail account ( to tell me your experiences. 

So many of you have shared so much; it’s touched my life.  Life isn’t fair.  But even so, there are people willing to help you during the hard times.  I’m amazed at the chorus of Earthly Angels that have been sent my way.  And I’m quite certain that everywhere I go, I’m surrounding by God’s Guardian Angels.

Thank you to all my Angels & to all of you who’ve kept me in your prayers & hearts.  I’m a lucky woman.

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