Wednesday, October 20, 2010

Time to Shave...Time To Shine!

Alright. I'm ready to write about this now. It's been quite an adjustment, as you can probably imagine. Your hair is important to you whether you realize it or not. Whether you complain about it everyday or just throw it in a pony tail or under a hat. And it's not just important to women. Men also cherish their hair (hair club for men anyone?)...hehehe. So my hair started falling out. Slowly at first, but it only took a few days. for it to get really bad. Literally raining down on my shoulders and having to carry a lint roller with me so I can clean up chairs and places that I sit. This first picture is of one of the smaller clumps of hair that would fall out every time I brushed my hair or ran my fingers through it.

"Of course your hair is falling out Valerie...your going through CHEMO!" May be what some might think. Well, with the type and doses of chemo I'm doing it is VERY RARE to lose your hair. I talked to my Dr and nurse about it and they told me that when/if people lose hair, it isn't ever enough hair that others will notice. I took some reassurance in this, but felt uneasy about how much I was loosing all day, everyday. Sure enough in about 4 days since it started falling out, the hair ball grew. Leave it to me to be an over achiever and prove them wrong. This is a pic of my hair loss after taking a shower.

That was a hard shower to take. I knew in my heart that my hair was done. I couldn't live with all the hair mess anymore. Feeling like a shedding dog, leaving a trail of hair everywhere I went. I even had to sweep the floor after teaching Zumba one night because of all the hair on the ground. I felt so gross. I made the call to Brandi, my great hair girl, and scheduled a time for it all to go. Here is a picture of one of my awkward bald spots. I felt like having a head splattered with ultra thin hair spots made me look sicker. Made me feel worse even. It had to go. I had it cut off October 7th, at about 4pm.

She had to do some preliminary trimming. I was holding myself together pretty well until she pulled out the clippers...

A few videos can tell the story better than my words...

Feeling the clippers on my head was so strange. I didn't like it at all. The noise, the vibration, the hair falling all around me. I'll never forget it. Doubting myself the whole time. "Is this the right thing to do?" "Am I giving in to the hair loss, letting the cancer win?" Should I hold on to what I have for as long as I can?"

After the hair was gone I had a hard time. I wouldn't look in the mirror or let any one touch it. Which was quite a challenge getting ready to teach my Zumba class that night...but I successfully avoided all mirrors until I got my dome covered up. I did reveal my head to my class that night. They were amazingly supportive, of course, and I tried to look at myself again. That attempt ended in tears. I'm so stubborn sometimes. I didn't really look at myself for almost 2 days. Starting with just touching it at first, and looking at my shadow. Then seeing my reflection in my peripheral vision. It is a hard thing to get used to! Once I did accept the reflection looking back at me I was better, and the more time has passed the more comfortable I am with it.

Having no hair has changed me in so many ways. I never really appreciated myself before. Like many other women, I was super hard on myself. Pointing out and noticing my every flaw. My every imperfection. It is good to want to improve yourself, but I never appreciated myself PHYSICALLY. Always nitpicking. Now that I have lost that long brown hair that I used to hide behind there is nothing left to look at but ME! Pure 100% me. And how I was surprised by how much I liked myself. By how many pictures of myself I saw without hair and actually thought. "I look pretty!" (I used to try and avoid being in pictures. I hated 8 out of 10 pictures of myself.) So that is a HUGE step forward for me! And that's why I say I never appreciated myself. I had so much, and it took it all being threatened (and some of it taken away) for me to have this great growth in myself. Although I cannot pin point when I changed, when I saw things differently, I know that I see things as they really are now. I see what is important in life and I know that being unhappy about the shape of your face or about the size of your nose or thighs is POINTLESS! Don't do it! I see my beauty now. And it's not just in a physical way. It's like I can see my spirit too. I feel like I just want to SHINE!

Wednesday, October 6, 2010

Queen Creek Zumbathon

We had so much fun at the Zumbathon put on for me by my friend Nereyda in Queen Creek!
Hereis her and I warming up the group in the firestation that the firefighters kindly let us use.

Amanda and I...she is also planning a Zumbathon for me!

It was a hot Saturday morning, but a bunch of Zumba crazies didn't care...any reason to dance!

This is one of my favorite pics...

Unfortunately I had to rest a lot. I had come straight from my chemo treatment. But I still had so much fun watching people.

My favorite Zumba necklace next to my new port. Ouch!

Some great friends from the Copper Basin YMCA where I used to teach. They even made me one of those cool tanks! Go Val, Go! (Rachel, Kelly and Mailyn)

Hanging with Nereyda and SaraBeth...they made this possible. Of course at the end I cried. I just felt so much love and support. I can NEVER thank everyone enough for coming through for me.

Cooling down in a circle around me....that made me cry too.

Over $1,500 was raised in 2 hours! I am so glad the event was such a success!

Monday, October 4, 2010

Random Thoughts


Don't give in and let it win.

You have more power than you know.

Dig down deep.

It's there.

You think you miss the "old you".

Full of energy, feeling good.

Just imagine what the new you will be like...

Stronger, more grateful, more empowered.

Love them.

The kids will be fine.

They don't understand everything, but they know.

They know you still love them.

They know you miss playing with them.

They know you want to feel better.

Hold them and kiss them.

This will pass.

Pray for your husband.

He is doing so much.

You can see the stress he tries to hide in his eyes.

He is amazing.


It's ok.

Its not weak.

No one will think less of you.


In victory.

In love.

In miracles.

Ones that we've seen and ones that have yet to happen.

In healing.

In health.

Hair We Go...

My hair. *sigh* Don't get me started. I miss it so much. I have completed 3 full weeks of the GTF (Genetically Targeted and Fractionated) chemo. Because of the reduced dose, patients don't usually loose all their hair, but MAN am I loosing a lot. People keep saying that they can't tell the difference, but I think they will be able to see the difference soon. I had to get my hair cut again to try and camoflauge a bald spot where my scalp shows too much. It's upsetting. I'm not going to lie. I know it would be worse (probably all gone) with traditional full dose chemo, but for some reason that brings me little comfort as my hair rains down on my shoulders. It is getting EVERYWHERE! Kind of gross and very frustrating. I am determined to make the best of it and be grateful for what I have, but the loosing my hair does make me sad.

It is taking me forever to write this because my stomach is hurting so much right now. I keep stopping. So I'm going to rest now. It is only 9 am and I already need to rest....oh well. I will listen to my body and help it get well. Just one more thing...I hate cancer.