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Is it bed time? (04/11/2012)
By Frances Edstrom

I had my last weekly chemotherapy treatment (Taxol) last Thursday. Now I have to continue to go every three weeks for a year to receive Herceptin, a chemotherapy developed since I last had breast cancer that treats the exact cancer I have, which is what they call Her2, which I call hormone receptive. Then for five or so years I will be on a pill that is called an Aromatase inhibitor. I know, it sounds like something they’d try to sell you at one of those in-home sales parties, promising with faithful use your perfume would never smell bad. But it isn’t. It inhibits the growth of estrogen, which feeds my type of breast cancer.

You’d think that having gone through this 14 years ago, I would remember that it takes a while to get back to 100% (and you are never really 100%). My hair has started to grow back, and just like last time, it looks like cellophane noodles, no color. It took a month or so last time to get any color back at all.

The hair is also not quite long enough to pluck out with your fingernails, so I wore a wig to Reading at the Mall. There I met my granddaughters, Andie and Peyton. Peyton came to me and asked in a whisper, “Did your hair grow all back?” “No,” I said, “it’s a wig.” “Well, I don’t think you should tell anyone,” she whispered. I never did find out why. But on Easter, they both had a good time feeling the little prickly hairs on my head. Harry wouldn’t touch it. Didn’t find out why not, either, except that I think it freaks him out to see me with hair one minute and no hair the next.

I’m probably the only one in the Midwest who was dismayed that it got so hot in March. My sister’s hand-knit caps that I love so much are way too warm for a day in the 70s. But now it’s nice and brisk again, and the caps are just right. My baseball caps have to be cinched up so tight to fit they tend to obscure my vision, so they are not my preferred head gear.

My eyebrows had been hanging in there pretty well, until immediately after the last chemo session. The next morning I got up, looked in the mirror, and noticed that there were only around five hairs on each brow. I’m not much good at make-up, but on Easter Sunday, I got out all the stuff at the back of the drawer full of make-up. Over the years every now and then I’d pass the make-up counter and think to myself, “You could look like that if only you’d invest in more make-up.” I’d buy it, bring it home, and maybe, maybe, use it once, discover (not for the first time, believe me) that it didn’t make me look like Julia Roberts, and stick it in the drawer. But this time, it wasn’t wishful thinking, but lack of anything at all over my eyes that led me there. I found a little brush that looked like something you’d paint eyebrows on with, and a little box of brown powder. I took brush to powder, and voilá, instant painted-on eyebrows. They don’t look too bad if you stay at least six feet from me. Any closer, and you’d think I’d been rubbing my eyes after playing with the charcoal grill.

Oh, well, it will all grow. I hope.

I also haven’t quite recovered my stamina, and am in bed by nine o’clock most nights. Between that and work, I haven’t had much time to socialize, which I miss. I also haven’t gotten much reading done, as I fall asleep in the middle of the same chapter every night. I have to begin the chapter over each night to remember how it started, and can’t finish it. As for television, it broke, and we had to wait for Morgan to come visit to find out that the cable box was on the fritz. We got a new box, and it worked just fine during the Masters, but I haven’t watched since then, because after supper it’s bed time for Baldy.



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