Tuesday, August 26, 2008


even though my hair has been somewhat of a trademark for me, i thought i was mentally prepared for the time when the chemo would cause it to fall out.

i was not.

i braided my hair this morning, and as i separated each side into three sections, i noticed that quite a bit more hair was coming off on my fingers than usual. had the Day arrived? i went for a walk with my mom afterwards, and i could feel myself becoming more and more uptight and less and less tolerant of...everything. i was suddenly anxious to get home and deal with this hair issue. as soon as we got back, i went into the bathroom to shower and wash my hair, knowing that that would be the real test. as soon as i closed the bathroom door behind me, the tears started. i thought i was being so brave, but as soon as a few extra hairs started leaving my head, on came the waterworks. suddenly, i felt exhausted and fed up and i didn't have the desire to deal with any of the challenges of having cancer, particularly forcing myself to wash my hair and not knowing if i'd have any left afterwards.

ej knocked on the door. after some hugs and a good cry, i felt better able to step into the shower. the shampooing went pretty well, but it was the conditioning and detangling that proved that i had not been imagining things. my hair was thinning at a remarkably fast rate. i made a pile of hair at the far end of the shower and when i was done, i still had some left on my head. hurrah!

i asked my mom to cut my hair short. somehow it seems that short hair would make the transition to baldness a little easier. my mom separated it into little ponytails, per the instructions on the "hip hats with hair" website. (i think i'm going to order the "scarfabulous". thank you, hanna, for discovering this!) of course, each step was documented with photographs.

this is the pile of hair i left behind in the shower. it looked as if some animal had crawled into the tub.

before the cutting began.

the ponytails

the first cut. am i laughing or am i crying? it looks like someone slipped something into my drink. or it looks like i need a drink.

luckily, i started out with plenty of hair, so even after the massive thinning, there was still plenty to cut off.

the Half and Half

the Harvest

cleaning it up

the Scarf Look.
i wouldn't mind keeping it this length.
let's see how long it lasts.

Friday, August 22, 2008

bullet points of the last 24 hours

  • yesterday, i went for walk and was quite light-headed the entire time. today, i went for a longer walk and actually felt as if my feet were touching the sidewalk instead of floating three feet above it. yay for small improvements!
  • i've had headaches every afternoon for the last three days, but not today!
  • i've noticed that in those quiet moments when i'm resting my eyes, my mind is no longer obsessively going over scenes from my hospital stay. since i got home, my thoughts would always involuntarily flash back on the events from while i was a patient, trying to find some sense in a nonsensical time of my life. moments would play and replay in my head as i tried to work out what exactly happened to me. that's not happening anymore. so i guess that's progress!
  • this morning, i wrote out thank you cards for a few hospital staff members who were particularly kind to me. it seemed a little strange to try and compose what essentially amounted to: "Dear Dr. So-and-So, Thank you for saving my life. I really appreciate it. Best of luck to you. Sincerely, Sandra"
  • it looks like my next cycle of chemo on sept 4 will have to be paid out of pocket because medicaid won't be approved, if it's approved, until the end of september at the earliest. this means that i have to ask my family to help me cover it. i don't care for that at all. i've never had a lot of money, but i've also never ever had to ask my family for a loan. it's bad enough that they have to fork out money to fly out here just to be with me. ( it's very difficult for me to accept help, particularly of the money variety.) there's a lesson there somewhere. sigh.
  • on a happier note, my sister is here for the weekend!
  • lastly, every time i wash my hair, i'm half expecting handfuls to fall out. i washed my hair this morning. i still have hair!!

Wednesday, August 20, 2008

when i'm feeling blue, i think of colonoscopies

there were many brochures and pamphlets available at the hospital, but only one made me giggle, and still does. this illustration attempted to ease the patient's mind about what to expect during a colonoscopy. enjoy.

Tuesday, August 19, 2008

and you call yourself a latina

my friend david is here visiting from california! just 24 hrs in nyc to say hello. he says i look the same as i always have (so does my mom), but i think they're being generous. i have eyes and i can see that any curves i used to have seem to have slipped right off of my body. my nalgas no longer provide any cushion when seated, but thanks to my mom's home cooking, my pansa is beginning to make a comeback. pretty soon you can call me ol' pot-belly chicken legs.

Saturday, August 16, 2008

the visuals

when i was in the hospital, i was not taking photos at my usual obsessed rate. i actually turned the camera off during surgeries and other unattractive procedures. here are a few that i managed to snap in my more lucid moments.

day 1: i had no idea what was awaiting me.

i let my hair down. i was figuring this hospital business was a piece of cake.

the support crew enjoying some daytime television.

self-portrait #1: hair tied with gauze, the Fountain Look.

mama crashes at home.

self-portrait #2: wandering the hallway of the 8th floor

one of my many beds.

the exciting view from that bed.

if you stood near the window and leaned toward the right, you could see manhattan.

daytime drama

dear sweet gypsy visits.

self-portrait #3: don't let this happen to you.

there are always calls to be made.

breakfast in my fancy single room.

even a window-washer visited me.

self-portrait #4: puppy love

debating on blogging about the food.

exhaustion was rampant.

but the support team was always ready with a smile.

dear david visited me from the far away island of manhattan.

and harry was a ray of sunshine. he was very excited to read the menu from five guys burgers.

ej's mom, hanna, was a godsend.

here she is as flower arranger in my bathroom.

the bobsey twins.

if you stood near the window and leaned toward the left, you could see the brooklyn waterfront and nyc's first ikea store.

self-portrait #5: when can i go home?

the nurses' station on the cancer floor.

my last day in the hospital! i was hooked up for my first round of chemo, but a girl's gotta eat.

dr. weinreb came to see me! he performed my first two surgeries. he's one of my favorites.

there was some sort of hullaballoo right before my first surgery. it was the middle of the night, i hadn't eaten since midnight the night before, i was waiting outside the operating room when it became apparent that someone wanted my surgery postponed until morning. dr. weinreb vehemently argued on my behalf and because of that, i was able to start this whole process that much sooner.

i may not have been smiling when he first told me i have cancer, but all the other times i saw him he made me laugh.

side view of some of the surgical handiwork. the smaller taped area is where they removed the tumor and my right ovary. the larger gauze is covering the incisions for the lung biopsies.

the alpha and the omega of my team of doctors: dr. yunayev. this is the person i met the very first time i entered the er and this is the last doctor i saw before i left the hospital. he constantly kept tabs on me no matter what floor i was transferred to, was present for my first two surgeries, gave me hugs, encouragement, listened to what i had to say, and one night, personally delivered a gorgeous cheeseburger, cajun fries, and coke to me just to help me feel a little more human. needless to say, i'm a big, big fan.

my first cycle of chemotherapy. when i was done with this, i went home! see how easy?

strength through nana's recipe

my parents are in my kitchen making tacos de papas con chorizo. it smells heavenly. after a light-headed, wobbly morning, i'm feeling fortified by the coming vision of a plate of those savory, homemade delicacies. the aztec gods are jealous.

Wednesday, August 13, 2008

my new life

yesterday i took my first shower in two weeks. hot water and soap are a magical combination. throw in some shampoo, and all is right with the world. well, kinda.

my little trip to the er turned out to be more than i bargained for. i've been diagnosed with ovarian cancer, and it has spread to my lungs. in the past two weeks, i've had three surgeries, countless iv's, shots, probing tests of both the manual and hi-tech nature, a very nasty encounter with a long, wide tube that was aimed for my stomach, but entered through my nose, my first colonoscopy (i need to eat more fiber), my first mammogram (all clear), assorted catheters (not so bad), and my first cycle of chemotherapy (better than i feared).

i've also encountered so many wonderful doctors and nurses that i've been overwhelmed by more than their professional dedication, but also by their genuine kindness. one doctor brought me magazines that he knew i'd like. another brought me a cheeseburger and fries. others were giving me bear hugs and visiting me and researching support groups for me. these were my doctors! i could cry just thinking about it.

i'm home now. my body is battered and bruised. i took a good look at it yesterday. it looks vaguely familiar, but with the wounds of what looks like i was in a knife fight, or perhaps kicked around by a horse. i'm exhausted, but i'm surrounded by people who love me, and that makes all the difference.

it looks like i may have to change the name of my url from curlywithglasses.blogspot.com to "curly with cancer". or eventually, "bald with glasses".

photos to come.