I Started Chemo On The Most Gorgeous Day Of The Year

I started chemo on the most gorgeous day of the year.  I had just gotten the full range of motion back in my arm post-surgery a few days before and was ready to take on the next challenge.  My dear friends came in town from Philadelphia to support me.  My girlfriends in Copenhagen gave me a series of gifts to be opened at each treatment.  My parents sent family photos.  Not a bad start.  After my first chemo session, I spent the day enjoying the sunshine.  I even met Seth Godin who was vacationing in Copenhagen.

In fact, aside from the needles, it was a pretty great day.

I was told the nausea would hit me 4-6 hours after the first treatment.  I didn’t want to sit at home waiting to be sick so, under Anders’ watchful eye, I didn’t.  And in the end the nausea didn’t come until four days later!  All in all I’ve been pretty lucky with the side effects though the fatigue is pretty hardcore.  I was sleeping 13-15 hours per day for the first handful of days after treatment and I’ve had a couple less than glamorous episodes involving me nauseous on the floor but nothing super grotesque or horribly unexpected despite the warnings.

The nurse attributes my “luck” so far to 1) drinking close to a galloon of water a day and 2) being pregnant which apparently gives me some special powers.  I would also attribute it to the super nice weather and my friends being in town.

My mind was focused on not wanting to be sick alone inside when there was sun and fun to be had.

So positive mindedness aside, what have the hardest parts been?

Trying to be productive.  The word ‘awake’ used to be binary to me; the exact opposite of ‘asleep’.  Now ‘awake’ has far more variance.  Often when I am awake I don’t feel fully awake rather like I’m walking under water, in slow motion or on autopilot.  And if I workout, I have to expect that a few hours later my body will suddenly feel like I’m sporting a lead suit.  Everything takes more energy.  When my goal is simply ‘to be’ I’m good.  When my goal is to complete a ‘to do’ list I am coming nowhere close.  Often I do 1-2 things and then take a 2-3 hour nap!

Buzzing my hair.  My hair is likely to begin to fall out in the next few days.  Rather than wait for big clumps of it to start falling out, I decided to take my new already short style another step shorter. Anders buzzed it for me.  As I sat in the bathroom with my eyes closed taking deep breaths, suddenly I felt faint and nauseous and started to sweat.  I guess it was a physical reaction to a very emotional experience.  It took me a while to regain my composure before Anders could begin again.  The fact is the Demi Moore/GI Jane look isn’t so bad, it’s knowing that it’s yet another step closer to bald.  And bald is a big (and long) step.  I had my new short haircut for a couple weeks.  I’ll have my buzzcut for likely a week at most.  See you again sometime in 2018 hair.

Demi Moore’s iconic 1992 Vanity Fair cover doctored to also have her GI Jane haircut Photoshop credits: Lone Illum
Going, going…almost gone!


Follow Nora on her blog: Reflections: Being Diagnosed With Breast Cancer While Pregnant

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