The Many Faces of Cancer: Soul Over Ego

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Cancer and I have an interesting relationship, constantly playing tug of war over this body and the life I was blessed with. The perpetual balancing on egg shells as evil has made a home out of my insides, leaves me to feel as though my own flesh and bones no longer belong to me. On a day to day basis I find myself living under caution tape due to the illness that comes with chemotherapy, as well as side effects of medications. This naturally leaves me drained of everything I have to give.

There are many faces and personalities that come along with cancer. By looking at the curated aesthetic of my Insta’, 90% of the photographs would seem to showcase to the world that I am a “normal, healthy” looking woman, with a fairly active life to boot. Although that is true, I try to keep myself up and face the darkness, I’ve found that I have gotten away from showing how quickly I can become utterly debilitated. It’s truly amazing how one minute I am a bright, lively person and then in an instant I don’t recognize myself, nor this life.

You’d think after four years of living and fighting cancer, reality would have settled in. After all this time it would start to make sense, it wouldn’t still shock me or feel like a nightmare. But the truth is, it never makes sense. And sometimes when something doesn’t make sense, I feel everything so deeply. Conversely it can also be difficult to feel almost anything at all, until it dawns on me all over again that I could have never imagined one day waking up sick and never getting better.

Since my fourth bout of chemotherapy started up again in June, I am now six treatments in. The second week of September I have a CT and PET scan to determine if chemotherapy is working on my numerous tumors throughout my abdominal region and liver. This time around I am a bit more nervous than usual, being that it’s my first scan since the evidence of disease reappeared rapidly following my HIPEC operation. Demons take control of my mind pre-scan thinking of all of the possibilities, particularly because I’ve been having a rough go at it. In spite of all that, I wear strength and darkness equally well and it will be nice to know where I stand against the enemy.

On occasion it’s rather difficult not to have a pity party of one, especially when you are witnessing from the sidelines the progression of other people’s lives — i.e. babies being born, career accomplishments and general life goals. Whereas for the last few years, my main goal has been survival, which becomes a full time job. Comparison as they say, is the thief of joy, but the trouble is I am living in the thought of tomorrow. I’m not living now, I’m waiting.

Keeping pretty quiet this summer, I’ve spent most of my days with my head in the toilet or lounging around the house, thus leaving the path that I travel feeling isolated and unfair. Then I try to remind myself that whoever our maker may be, perhaps using both my good and bad experiences is meant to develop my character. A refined character.

Sometimes it takes an overwhelming breakdown in an effort for an unbelievable breakthrough. My body is broken down and I’m still waiting for that break through. Nonetheless I will press on, knowing that I have wonderful family and friends that steady me, as they are my gravity. It remains comforting to me that some of the most extraordinary people are those who have faced defeat, struggle, pain and suffering. Trusting life will only give me what I can handle, I’ll continue to believe this experience is most helpful to my evolution and remind myself that it’s always soul over ego.

PS- Always be kind to people, you never know what they are going through — even if they are dolled up, lookin’ healthy! One of the many lessons I’ve learned from this cancer journey.

Love,

Britt x

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Caboodle Spring Cleaning: Cure Diva

54ec6ff6731ffb6e3353b696b4e65565Beauty and cancer are two things that don’t tango very well together, particularly when chemotherapy is in the mix.  When you are being poisoned week after week, it’s no wonder that your skin gets dry, your cuticles scream for mercy and perhaps the chemicals in your makeup might not mix well with the toxins being pumped into your body.

Cancer or no cancer, it’s always nice to be in the know as to what is in your beauty products and I have teamed up with Cure Diva to discuss Spring cleaning as to what is in that kit and caboodle, as well as their expert advice on what goes into the products of our typical everyday products.

It’s all relative and can be applied to just about anyone that looks after themselves in the beauty depot.


  1. Read the Label:
    • Use only hypoallergenic products, or those that don’t have harsh ingredients such as acids, emulsifiers, preservatives, fragrances, mineral oils, silicones, dyes or aminesYou want happier, more comfortable skin, so scan your products for these ingredients and restock your supplies with organic, chemical-free and sensitive items. CureDiva.com has an entire line of facial natural and organic skin care.
  2. Moisturize:
    • To prevent dryness and cracked, uncomfortable skin, be sure to moisturize immediately after washing and toweling dry. This means:
      • For your body, apply moisturizer after the bath or shower
      • For your face, apply moisturizer in the morning and at night
      • For your hands, moisturize after washing many times during the day
      • For your lips, use a hydrating lip balm throughout the day
  3. Blemishes:
    • Yes, some chemo treatments can cause acne on the face and scalp. Even if you suffered from acne before, take another look at your old acne ointments. They usually contain salicylic acid, retinol, benzoyl peroxide and other harsh ingredients that further dry and irritate skin. Try more natural solutions like Acne Clarifying Serum by Nurture my Body and a mild, natural soap.
  4. SPF:
    • Although SPF is used in the summer outdoors, it should become a priority when in treatment. Chemo skin is super sensitive, especially to sun exposure which can cause lasting damage even in the winter. Wear sunscreen whenever you go out, and protect your skin with UV-protective clothing (hats, gloves, long sleeves). With skincare and beauty products, choosing an SPF version is best.
    • While it can be overwhelming to find products that are safe on skin and look and smell great, asking your doctor or a friend who has been through treatment is the best way to receive a referral. Websites like CureDiva.com provide a great amount of information for those going through treatment to get the answers they need.
  5. Fingernail Care:
    • Some chemo drugs can cause finger and toenail damage. They become dry, cracked and may start lifting up. Apply cuticle balm and lots of hand cream. Checking out the label is relevant here. Switch to water-based nail color like CureDiva’s water-based nail polish by Acquarella which is my favorite when I’m dressing up!

 

Stay beautiful!

Love,

Britt x


Information: 5W Public Relations & CureDiva.com

 

Chemo Tomoz: LIKE EW 😭

LAB RAT

This week I have the pleasure of chemo.  I suppose I shouldn’t complain.  I am lucky enough to have a husband who works for an incredible company, which allows for us to go to Mayo Clinic.  When I went in for my lab work today my Nan overheard a couple that had to travel all the way from Nevada every other week for his wife’s chemo treatments.  I’m blessed to live in a location where a Mayo Clinic campus exists.  Everything is based on perspective and although I am realllllllllllllllly dreading the next week, I am trying to look on the bright side.  If I am a space cadet the next few days, I’m not sorry.  xx

Love,

Britt x

Buzzin’: A Nod to Sinéad O’Connor

Life is short, talk is cheap — so I did it.  I buzzed the hell out of my hair (or Steve did,rather). We were able to capture it on film, as well as audio and I’ll be sharing them both separately.

It was a tough call as to whether or not I should take the risk of buzzing my hair.  I’m extremely vain at times and wasn’t sure if I’d feel feminine enough.  But, this morning after pulling out a glob of hair out, I knew it was a CHOICE that I wanted to make.  A choice that I decided upon because I didn’t want to have to deal with globs and globs every day.  I want control.

 

Love,

Britt x

Chemo Update: 10th, 11th, 12th Round

I #BSMHB #BeStillMyHeartBlog I www.bestillmyheartblog.wordpress.com

I #BSMHB #BeStillMyHeartBlog I www.bestillmyheartblog.wordpress.com

I #BSMHB #BeStillMyHeartBlog I www.bestillmyheartblog.wordpress.com

Top o’ the morning to you and Happy Monday, friends.  I awoke early today as my bedtime was roughly 7 o’clock last night.  My schedule is becoming that of an old woman.  Nevertheless, as I lay there, awake before the sun had risen, I realized that I have been negligent with regards to my Chemo Video VLOG’s over the last few sessions.  I was really priding myself on keeping that up as a means to share how each chemo session went, as well as reveal any new side effects, symptoms or other important updates pertaining to treatment.  My failure in doing so has come at the cost of how my chemo has been making me feel since my 9th round (I’ll be going in for round 13 next week).  As I have disclosed in previous posts, my energy levels have taken a dive and just about the only thing I feel like doing is sleeping.  It’s gotten to the point where I am in too much pain to sit or stand, so sleeping appears to be the best option of escape, along with my pain medication.

With all of that said, let me do a quick re-cap of my most recent chemo treatment and the effects I seem to be having.

  • Energy < No Energy
  • Small loss of appetite
  • Perpetually tired and sleeping ungodly amounts; morning, noon and night
  • Full-blown neuropathy in both hands and feet.  It has become difficult to type, as I am unable to feel my fingers/hands and has become extremely difficult to walk due to no feeling in my feet.  When walking, stumbling and wobbliness occurs and I look like a drunken person.
  • Continued low counts for both bone marrow and platelets.
  • Unfrequented urination (TMI, I know…)

The above pretty much sums up the more recent symptoms and side effects.  As for the neuropathy, the Dr. has prescribed me Cymbalta, which is an anti-depression medication, however it has been known to assist with alleviating the neuropathy.  I have been on the medication for about a week and I am not showing any signs of relief, but with most medications, it may take some time to see improvements.  On the plus side, it will also help with any form of depression.  Two birds, one stone.  Additionally on that note,  a friend and fellow cancer fighter advised me that her Dr, recommends B6 vitamins to assist with neuropathy.  You better believe I’ll be headed for the pharmacy today to purchase some B6 in hopes that it will help.  It’s so nice to be able to share tips and tricks with fellow cancer patients!

Second to that, I have continued to receive my bone marrow shots every Monday, following my chemo treatment from the week prior.  They still remain low, thus not helping my energy levels. I will be heading to the Dr.’s office in a few hours to get the not-so-lovely shot.  A little tip for anyone else who has to receive the Neulasta shot, begin taking Claritin twice daily, 3 days prior to the actual shot, alongside two Aleve with each Claritin.  This helps tremendously with the pain and makes it almost bearable for the few days following the shot itself.  Highly recommend, in an effort to not feel as though all of your bones are breaking.

Lastly, I contemplated sharing this one as it is a little personal.  I’m not one for talking about bathroom related topics, however for the sake of being forthright with all of my symptoms, I have decided to go ahead with it.  For anyone who knows me, or has been on a road trip with me, you can attest to the fact that I  frequently urinate.  I’m one of those girls with a pea-sized bladder that is constantly in need of going.  That said, for the last week and a half, my constant necessity for a restroom has been dramatically decreased.  So much so that I am now only able to urinate once or twice in a 24-48 hour time frame.  I have made my Oncologist aware of this new, strange issue and she immediately wanted me to go to the ER to have scans done, etc. but then changed her mind and wanted me to see a Urologist.  First of all, I never knew that “pee” had it’s own specialty Doctor and secondly, this is by far one of the stranger symptoms I have had since being diagnosed.  Low and behold, I followed my Dr.’s orders and went to see the Urologist last Thursday. He was able to scan my kidneys to ensure that they are stable, which thankfully, they are and then he sent me home with a worksheet so I can document each and every time I urinate over the course of the weekend.  This also includes the measurement in ounces of how much I am urinating each time.  I can safely say that it has been an extremely odd experience and I now know that I have urinated less than a handful of times over the weekend.  Once again, I’m sorry for the detailed information.  So, what’s next you ask?  I am seeing the Urologist again today to discuss next steps, whatever that may be and I will keep you posted, even if the subject is slightly mortifying.

All in all, that just about sums it up.  I’d love to tell you that I am in high spirits and everything is just dandy, but it depends on the day, the hour, the minute or the second that you ask me.  I’m continuing to take it one day at a time over here, as I believe that’s all I can do.  I’ll try to get back on track with the VLOG’s after each chemo round.  Wish me luck today with my bone marrow shot and my appointment with the Urologist (haha).

Until next time…

Love,

Britt x