New haircut photo
This is a picture of my new haircut. My friend Natasha chopped it off shorter for me last weekend, after my first chemo treatment. I finally got the hang of it by Wednesday. I figured out I had to use gel! Before that, I looked like a giant brillo pad.
I have 1-2 weeks left before the hair starts falling out.
A couple of people have asked if I definitely will lose my hair. The answer is yes. I am receiving four treatments of two types of chemo (at the same time) called Adriamycin and Cytoxan (cyclophosphamide). Then, I will receive four treatments of Taxol. Each one has the effect of hair loss, with Adriamycin and Taxol being the two worst offenders.
That’s hair on my head. I had some mixed information about other body hair, including eyebrows and eyelashes. So I asked at the oncologist’s office today. I was told the AC mix doesn’t always make people lose body hair. The Taxol tends to do that more. However, between the two, only 15% of people lose all of their body hair, but a whole lot of people have thinning and slow growth issues until the chemo is over. So, it’s more like patchy eyebrows for most people, rather than no eyebrows at all.
Of course, having shared that, as I was looking for links for the drugs above, I found several that said Adriamycin causes “complete and total body hair loss” for almost all patients. Whatever! I’ll let you know in a few weeks.
I had to go see the oncologist today. Well, really the physician assistant. I’m having severe pain in the small of my throat. It started after the port surgery and has continued, although until the last two days I wasn’t sure if it was chemo side effects or surgery side effects. I was also having reflux and heartburn issues and was confusing that problem with the throat issues. Those turned out to be chemo side effects and seem to be solved by taking a daily dose of Prilosec. However, the throat has not changed. Furthermore, the issue seemed to extend under my collarbone to my shoulder blade, on the opposite side from where the port was installed. I’ve eaten very little all week – probably averaged 300-500 calories a day. It hurts to swallow water. And sleeping is difficult, too, with the pain.
So, the PA felt this was a side effect of the port surgery — specifically, from being intubated unexpectedly. She suspected probably a two-stage problem — that something had been pulled in my shoulder from the severe angle they tilt your head and upper body AND some kind of damage has been done to my esophagus from inserting the tube. I was told to see an ear/nose/throat specialist pronto. I have an appointment for Monday.
In the meantime, I have found I can eat warm (not hot) potatoes, plain noodles, plain rice, popsicles and that’s about it. My lovely neighbor, Mrs. Jones, who helped her husband through chemo, brought me over warm vanilla pudding. It sounded great! Felt like acid going down. Even cold vanilla pudding made my throat burn.
Tonight, we discovered I could tolerate a little ice cream. So, since I can eat popsicles without a problem, we think the icy cold maybe is numbing my throat. I’m going to try making a very icy smoothie in the morning. I even have protein powder I can add to that and pretend like I’m getting some nutrition!
I think if I were able to eat somewhat normally or at least consume some vegetables, I would probably feel pretty darn good right now. I’m tired and I think that has more to do with the lack of food than with chemo, as my energy level has been mostly on an upward climb all week. The hunger is irritating, too. It’s not like when you have the flu and don’t want food. I’m actually hungry and can’t do anything about it. Well, I’m getting an aversion to eating because it hurts, so I am avoiding eating, too. That’s sort of like flu recovery.
I crashed around 1 p.m. today and just fell asleep while sitting in a chair. Moved in that half-asleep-I-don’t-remember-it state to the couch and slept for a couple of hours. I haven’t had to take a nap since Monday (not that there haven’t been days when I wasn’t dragging by 5 or 6 p.m., but who doesn’t?). So, I really think the current fatigue is a calorie issue.
Do you ever get the feeling that I COMPLAIN too much? I do.
Finally, here is my last haircut photo for comparison.