My journey - battling lymphoma

Recently I celebrated my 46th birthday. I love celebrating birthdays! Then I participated as a co-captain for our local "Quabog" Relay For Life and the Pack 57 Rocks! Cub Scout Team. This was the time frame that I had discovered an uneasiness in my stomach and growth in my spleen and stomach. After weeks of monitoring, my husband Steve took me to the doctor who felt the lumps and ordered a CT scan. The CT scan showed a massive area, my spleen enlarged to twice its size and an additional growth lower in my stomach. Next was the localized CT guided biopsy and subsequent PET scan. The biopsy showed positive for lymphoma and most likely Diffuse Large B-cell Lymphoma.

This is my online journal sharing my experience through battling this cancer that has abruptly entered my life for no apparent reason. The story is documented here if you want to start from the beginning, you can check the archives on the side bar.

As a top competitive master athlete this year winning my age group at the Marine Corps Marathon and placing 3rd in the New England Trail Running Championship I have been truly excited with my results of late and am a truly driven athlete. Driven by goals.... my goal right now.... to beat this "thing"!

Tuesday, July 27, 2010

Getting Wigged Out - Part 2

We made the appointment for the Pink Petal in South Hadley - home of Mt. Holyoke College - an amazing and beautiful town here in Western Mass, and right around the corner from our house.  Donna was recommended highly by Cheryl Nina Salon (aunt to Stephen & Samantha) and also by Dr. Mullally's office.  You drive up to this shop and it looks like a flower shop --- so beautiful and quaint.  Very "New England".  : )

I was definitely very nervous, this part of the the whole "cancer" thing doesn't make me feel very comfortable, as it is very evident that you have cancer and in chemo when you lose your hair.  Scary.  And while I still have my long hair (longer than it has been in a long time...) I am still in "denial".  Doesn't seem possible.  And when I feel good, I have a hard time remembering that yes, I have cancer, and I am in treatment.  Crazy.

My husband Steve is so incredibly supportive, he has been tight - right by my side every inch of the way.  His undying love is so strong, seems stronger now than ever, if I thought that were possible.... but it is true.  A true caregiver, he gives the strongest meaning to the word.  He holds me, monitors my symptoms, listens to my pains, prays with me, heals with me, loves me so so much.  This experience has brought us even closer than ever - he is an amazing man - dedicated to me each and every moment.  I start with that because I think he really wants me to continue to feel beautiful and like "myself" and knows that with hair that just may be possible.  :)  He looked into the wig opportunity right from the beginning by asking Cheryl and we were secure in the fact that Donna at the Pink Petal was it!  He held my hand as we walked up the steps onto the porch to the shop that was a renovated old home, and gave me a squeeze.  "I know your nervous, it's ok, it's all going to be ok..."  he said with his usual warm and loving smile.

The shop was packed!  Crazy.  There were about 5 women inside shopping --- wigs, clothes, prosthesis, "Save the Tatas tshirts, jewelry... and more.  What a cool shop.  I felt like I had been invited into a "club" - a club of cancer survivors, and most evident breast cancer survivors.  Working for the American Cancer Society, breast cancer is the most common cancer for women, women fighting breast cancer are very passionate and that passion comes out in events like Making Strides Against Breast Cancer - the ACS walk for breast cancer and others like Race for a Cure for Susan Koeman, etc.  That passion to fight breast cancer because it hits so many of our loved ones is just so powerful!  So there we were in the room - I had my 10 am appointment and I was just a little uncomfortable, but looked around at the wigs on the maniquin heads and the scarves and hats.  Donna was behind the counter, a very sweet woman with a really welcoming smile.  She said hello and the other lady got all my information and took my "hair prothesis" prescription.  You can buy one wig and your health insurance will reimburse you up to a certain amount.  Good to know - glad I have insurance, because the wigs range from about $300-900.

Donna brought us into one of her wig rooms -- about 5 shelves line the walls with approximately 30 wigs all around me.  A big mirror and chair as if you are in the beauty salon.  She talks to us about wigs, how they are made and the different brands and a little timeline of what most people experience with hair loss.  I brought up my research from Kathy  -- the tied cap, something to look natural, looking at real hair wigs, etc.

Looking around at the styles and the colors --- i just know that blonde would not look good with my skin coloring, but it was fun to try them on anyway -- all the wigs are on display and they order one after measuring your skull to fit you custom.  We looked at some of the long hair wigs and some short hair, a little red highlights and even some blondes!  :)  Steve laughed, Donna smiled, I thought this was just so crazy -- seeing my head with this odd hair on top --- just weird.  But fun in its own crazy way.  We liked a few of them actually and then Donna showed us this new technology that is more heat resistant now -- a new style just out.  The hair color I tried on was a blonde highlighted light brown.  It was beautiful.  Looked like my style hair and Steve was looking at me thinking and jokingly says "Hmmm -- Hey you wanna go out?  My wife may get mad, but you are gorgeous!" :)
Donna went out and got a brunette of the same long hair style and truly it looked like my hair.  I really liked it. And Steve thought we should get the blonde too --- just for fun --- and so he can go out on a date with that "blonde"  :)

Success!  We looked at the real hair wigs (they are much more expensive and more to upkeep as they are real) = $800 plus. but decided since this is a temporary hair loss from the cancer and hopefully by March I will have some hair back, I was going to go with the synthetic new technology hair -- it looked good and made me feel beautiful.  For running I will wear a cap, a hat hopefully something so it doesn't fly off....  but the wig will be good.  And the blonde one will be fun.

Jeff & Judy think I should go back to the shop when the wig comes in and get my photo with various wigs on my head and people can vote on what they think looks good on me.  :)  Pretty funny, crazy Relay friends I have ---- gotta love them - they are trying to make this fun for me too.

The wig should be in soon - Donna said it takes about 5 days.  Her shop is just awesome, people in there, the customers and the sales lady are so friendly and warm.  So glad we went to the Pink Petal..   More to come on this part of the story....  stay tuned.


Oh ya - side note --- Donna is the Look Good Feel Better coordinator in the area, volunteering for the American Cancer Society.

The Look Good...Feel Better program is a community-based, free, national service. It teaches female cancer patients beauty tips to look better and feel good about how they look during chemotherapy and radiation treatments.

 I asked her if she would show me how to wear scarves and all that the program has to offer for cancer patients and of course she will when I come in again.  Very cool.

I didn't bring my camera in the shop with me that day and will have to go back as I really want to share it with you all.  Such a great place - inviting, warm and welcoming place --- great healing environment and Donna's smile really tops it off.  :)


Me and My "Caregiver"

3 comments:

Wendy J. Matthews said...

Great pic of you and Steve, best caregiver ever!!

I can't wait to see you as a blonde!!

Glad to see all the :))'s in your post today.

xoxo
Wendy

Karen said...

I love the photo of you and Steve! That comment about a photo contest for your wig choice is hilarious! You're always in my thoughts and prayers... (((HUGS)))

Jane said...

So glad it was a good experience. You and Steve both look beautiful!