T’was the day before Chemo, and all through the house…
My days and weeks just seem to blur together, our sense of time no longer what it used to be. We make life changing decisions hourly these days, doing our best to make the most informed decisions possible.
I’ve decided to stay at Shaare Tzedek for my treatment, under the direction of Dr. Ashkenazi. This was not a simple or easy decision to make but one that I am very confident and comfortable with.
Medically, we are still waiting on the bone marrow biopsy report but it will not delay the start of treatment. Tomorrow please g-d, at 9:00 a.m. Israel time, I will start on a 4-6 month treatment plan that will hopefully cure me of Stage IVA Diffuse Large B-Cell Lymphoma.
I don’t think I can ever truly mentally prepare myself for Chemo, but I am spending as much time and energy as possible to physically prepare myself and my family. There were specific moments I wanted to be here for: Tani’s Chanukah party on Friday (he spent the performance sitting on either my lap or his Nana’s lap), Sivan’s Chanukah party last night (she spent half of the performance sitting on my lap, but we managed to cajole her into joining her classmates and by the end of the party, she was having a fabulous time), and Yarden’s Asifat Horim (7 minutes of pure nachas shepping when we heard all of the wonderful progress she has been making this year). I am just so, so happy that I was able to be there for each of those occasions.
From a work responsibility perspective, tonight is my 2018 social media program reveal for one of my big brand clients. I’ve been working on the deck for weeks and this meeting with determine an entire year’s social media strategy and advertising spend. It’s my Super Bowl so I need to bring my A-game. I have another one scheduled for Thursday for a different big brand client and I’m just praying that I will be able to participate and lead the discussion. I’m spending the better part of today preparing for that meeting, so that at least all the information will be ready and I can have another person on my team present if I’m just not feeling up to it.
We are still looking for someone consistent to help us with the kids. I still need someone to pick them up from school three days a week, and feed them dinner, help with homework, and just be an extra pair of hands around the house. Mornings will probably be difficult, unless I’m able to drag myself out of bed and make Aruchat Esser and breakfast. I’m really hoping that I’ll have the strength and energy to continue to do all the things I’ve been doing so far – but I also have to plan and prepare for the likelihood that I just won’t have the same energy.
So what does one do to mentally prepare for Chemo? I’ve been trying not to focus too much on the side effects but it’s difficult. Dr. Ashkenazi warned us that I won’t be able to have more children. I also spoke to Dr. Nili Yanai this morning and she confirmed that I probably won’t have any more children, and that I also might go into early menopause. Now, we’ve pretty much decided we were done having children and we are so happy and blessed with our three kids, but it’s one thing to decide not to have any more kids and it’s another thing to have that ability taken away from you. Early menopause means lots of other unpleasant physical changes like night sweats and moodiness and hot flashes and weight gain, among others. I’ll need early hormonal intervention to help protect bone density, etc. But on the flip side, I think about the diva cup still shrink wrapped in the box in the cabinet underneath my sink that I have been petrified to use, and I feel a tiny bit relieved.
And then there’s my hair. I have been at war with my hair since puberty. I have been blessed with curly, frizzy, Jewfro hair. I have never had the ability to just wash and go and have it look nice. I’ve spent years and thousands and thousands of dollars chemically dying my hair. I have been blonde, brunette, Goth-black, and auburn; I’ve had golden highlights and face framing highlights and brown low-lights and after Sivan’s birth, I put in purple highlights that cost a month’s paycheck and washed out after four weeks. I’ve chemically straightened my hair using the Brazilian Keratin treatment that didn’t manage to take, but burned a big hole in my pocketbook. And the various hairstyles I’ve rocked over the ages could be a Wikipedia entry all of its own. I’ve had asymmetrical hair, short hair with layers, bangs and a bob, face framing layers, straight bangs with curls, long springy corkscrew curls that took bottles of mousse to create, and the famous “I just don’t have time for this Mommy hair” cut. I’ve been growing out my highlights for a while now and fortunately ombre hair is a hot trend these days, so I look trendy even though I’ve just been too lazy to deal with it. I figured I would just grow out these highlights, get back to my base color, and go from there. But at the recommendation of Shiko, our hairstylist, I’m going to be going all GI Jane on Friday. Earlier if my hair starts falling out in clumps after Tuesday/Wednesday’s treatment. He said it would be less traumatic for me to have it buzzed off then to have it all fall out. I’m not actually scared about my hair falling out, I’m petrified of seeing my bald head, of seeing a naked face. What will that do to my features? Will my face look puffier? Will my nose look pointier? Will I look like a bald alien with bags under my eyes and freckles dancing across my cheekbones? Sadly, I’m going to be finding out soon enough.
So, I’m trying not to dwell on the physical changes and discomfort that’s about to begin. Today, I woke up tired but physically I feel great. I want to lift weights today, and if the doctor says it has been enough time since the bone marrow biopsy, then I’m going to get in an upper body workout. I’d like to go into chemo with sore muscles and feeling strong.
Today is also about Chanukah presents for the kids. I’m crap at wrapping but half the fun of presents is opening them, so I’m going to attempt to wrap some of the presents we bought for the kids. The good thing about kids is that they don’t notice that the crease on the side isn’t perfectly uniform with the crease on the other side. They couldn’t care less that there’s an extra bulge of excess wrapping paper on one end of the gift. All they care about is making a mess ripping the paper off to get to the toys/books/PJ’s/lego inside.
The fact that my treatment is starting right before the first night of Chanukah is so significant to me. It’s a holiday of miracles, of light, and of life.
Thank you all for your continued tefillot: Shira Batya bat Chaya Yehudit