Friday, December 31, 2010

Thank You, May I Have Another? Chemo #2

Cross Stitch Art at a Vacation Rental House
Although I've never given birth, I've heard enough horror stories and watched enough televised accounts of women writhing in pain, screaming for meds, and evil eyeing the sperm donor while vowing never to put themselves in the stirrups again.  That's pretty much how I felt as I was being driven to the hospital after the Great White Blood Cell Crash from round #1.

The great irony of early stage cancer is that you don't feel a thing from the cancer, but the treatment is a royal bitch.  The prospect of repeating this scenario another five times made me quickly realize why some people just can't complete the treatments.  Who wants to deliver sextuplets, one at a time, every three weeks?

By the time I was released from the hospital and had a day or so to shake it off at home, I woke up and it was like the sicko to human switch was flipped.  I got up craving pancakes, was able to drink coffee again, and reintroduced butter and half and half.  Thankfully the lactose thing was temporary.

On Christmas I made these phenomenal pancakes, Cornmeal Blueberry with Spiced Maple Butter; unbelievably delicious.

I had a great week.  Lots of energy, hit the gym nearly every day, including my twice weekly strength training class,  cooked and ate well, had a little wine (the first time the idea sounded remotely appealing, although apparently my cheap wine gene has been chemo zapped).  I even felt well enough to work, and did a 3 entree/6 side meal package for one of my favorite clients.

My hair, which did start growing back from the buzz cut, is now falling out at an increasing rate daily; I've got hats full of fuzz.  And I am undergoing reverse puberty, if you get my drift.  (The Pocahontas artwork was in a house I rented with some friends last summer; clearly I will not need the help of woodland animals with my hair for quite some time).

My face was so dried out and scaly last week it was painful.  My Facebook fans suggested about every known remedy, many of which I tried, but it turns out the most expensive solution, a $43 tube of Kiehl's Centella Recovery Skin-Salve, has saved me from looking like an old man.  (Thanks to Teresa from The Dog Lived, and (So Will I) , for the tip).

Chemo #2 was uneventful on Wednesday. Yesterday, in what is hoped to be a solution to the Great White Cell Crash, I was given an injection of Neulasta, which is a white blood cell booster.  I didn't ask why I didn't get it last time.  Maybe because it's about $2,500 a pop.  Which is probably cheaper than the 3 days I spent occupying a hospital bed, so I am assuming my insurance had no problem authorizing it.  Neulasta's big side effect is bone pain.

While it's listed as 30%, a big deal is made about warning you.  I've decided to take the same tactic as for the nausea; expect to not have it, and you won't.  (27% of people who got the placebo claimed bone pain - what does that tell you?).  Of course, I had a shooting pain in my knee when I stopped at the market on the way home and nearly dropped the $8 Salted Caramel Dark Chocolate Bar I was examining. I took it as a sign to buy the chocolate (it's delicious).  Just to be sure on the pain thing , I've been taking Advil.

So we'll see how it goes next week.  Certainly hoping for a different (uh, much better) result than last time.  Two down, four to go.

Sunday, December 26, 2010

Pork Chops with Apple Ginger Cranberry Chutney

Pasture Raised Pork - Extra Thick Chops
I flushed out my vegan fans on Facebook this summer when I posted the photos of the pig who provided these awesome chops, from when I first met her as a baby piglet, through her growth to a happy 300 plus pounder. 

But the reality of eating meat, is that first, you have to remember where it actually comes from.  The deboned, defatted, hormonally deformed, chemical injected, shrink wrapped styrofoam trays stacked in supermarket grocery cases have made people forget more and more where in fact, their chops came from and how the pig spent it's days.

I enjoyed watching my pig grow, along with five of it's siblings.  They rooted every conceivable piece of vegetation in several fields, and dined on a steady diet of scraps from a nearby private school, and pails of vegetable and fruit scraps I dropped off when I picked up my eggs.

I had my chops cut extra thick, and they are so flavorful and tender, they barely need any dressing up, so tonight I made a bit of chutney to go with them, based on this Fine Cooking recipe.   I used dried cranberries instead of raisins (I wanted to use fresh cranberries, but mine had gone a bit over and I couldn't risk eating a moldy one).  I also gave it a few glugs of red wine in honor of the holiday.

I had some baby Bok Choy from the farmer's market that I sauteed in some Blood Orange oil and sprinkled with Maple Pepper seasoning.  A perfectly delicious seasonal meal.

Chop with Chutney, Baby Bok Choy and Baked Potato

Friday, December 17, 2010

Well That Didn't Go Quite as Well as I'd Would've Liked....

Gizmo my crazy Tortie, Missed Me

Wondering why you haven't heard from me in awhile?  Well wonder no more.  It went from good to bad in rather record time, I thought, but I lived to tell the tale, and here it is.  *Warning: Not for the particularly squeamish. I debated on giving you the details, or sparing you; you're getting them. Abort now, if you must.

Chemo #1 was Tuesday, Dec. 7th, you'll recall.  I did not burst into flames, nor did my head spin and spew forth pea soup a la The Exorcist (Extended Director's Cut & Original Theatrical Edition) [Blu-ray], right there in the hospital recliner, as I think my friend who came to gave me a ride home secretly feared.

I woke the next day and I was fine.  Took my preventive nausea meds, went to the gym and worked out, ate more or less normally.  Thursday and Friday, same.  Felt lucky, yet a little scared of when the other shoe was going to drop.

Saturday, other than a few cases of the runs in the morning, I felt good, and I was looking forward to the indoor winter farmer's market, which this year are being held at Old Trail School.  Went to the market, got some things, visited with some nice people, and came back home.

Big winter storm was predicted, so I thought I would be a good idea to gas up the car, plus it was filthy and I was willing to wait out a short line at the car wash.  Even though everyone in Northeast Ohio seemed to be in Montrose shopping, I managed those two tasks without a problem.  Then I hit Giant Eagle for a few supplies and that's when the wheels fell off.

I was almost done shopping, but in the farthest corner of the store from the door, when digestive issues reared themselves (quite literally), with no warning.  Hadn't happened since the first grade, when I told my teacher, Mrs. Schick, that I'd 'thrown up in my pants'.  A statement that certain members of my family enjoyed pulling out when they wanted to inject a special dose of humiliation.

I bee lined to the self check-out and applied my usual professional speed to the process, while the line grew behind me, and I operated under the veil of denial - maybe it's not that bad.  I got home, and well, it was that bad.  At least it stayed contained.

I didn't feel too sparkly the rest of the evening, and managed to get a handful of crackers and a small cup of applesauce down, called it dinner, and went to bed.  Sunday, I mostly just felt crappy (pun intended) all day, but managed to eat a little bit more, including a delicious quiche I'd gotten from The Humble Pie Baking Company at the market.

Sunday night was bad.  I was up at least a dozen times with waves of gassy pains, and I wasn't taking any chances, so I had to get up make sure it was nothing, before going back to bed.  The snow started piling up.

Monday I was scheduled for my first free house cleaning (of four total, 2 hour each sessions) via Cleaning for a Reason, whose local business is Jo Ann's Professional Touch.  My cleaner, Jim, braved the snow, and was here from 11 - 1 and got the bathrooms sparkling, and swept and dusted.

I called the oncologist's office since I still had the runs, and they called in a prescription, because Imodium was  like spitting in the wind.  The prescription meds didn't really seem to slow it down either, but I gave it some time to work.

That evening I had some dinner, and I didn't feel any better or worse than I had, when around 9 o'clock  I remembered I had some Hartzler Dairy chocolate milk.  I had a small glass and some animal crackers. Now I was back to first grade.

Except after a few minutes, I had my first wave of nausea.  At first it was intestinal, but then it became quickly apparent that I was going to need to break-in the Chuck-It Bucket.  Fortunately, after about 15 minutes, both ends of the devil were expelled.  I broke into a light sweat, checked my temp, which was ok, and I zonked out on the recliner for most of the night after taking the last Zofran I had in the house.

Tuesday I definitely felt worse, and I sent a friend for a Zofran refill. The other nausea med that they gave me , which I took one of, knocked me practically out.  (Which I was told was normal later.)

I napped on and off, and I was working myself up to a badly needed shower, when my temperature started going up.  I did shower, and by three o'clock it hit the magic 100.5, which the number my oncologist has drilled into me is the no fooling, you must call me now number.  So I did and was told to get myself directly to the inpatient admitting desk asap, my bed was waiting for me.

A friend picked me and took me in,  and got to witness the second time I "threw up in my pants" while I was sprinting to a bathroom that was just a little too far away.  And when I wasn't collected in a wheelchair to be hauled off to my room as quickly as promised, informed me she was going Shirley McLaine in Terms of Endearment on them, and God love her, she nearly did.  And it worked. 

Pluses: Cancer ward has private rooms, mine had a brand new bed that I broke in personally, when the door is closed it's pretty quiet, the nurses rock. The steady supply of Depends were a bonus.

Minuses:  The idiots who thinks patient rooms are great places to hold loud reunions and use their cell phones, who nearly always located directly across the hall from me - go home morons and let us rest,  the lack of a no fragrance on staff policy; the cacophony of colognes and lotions ran the range from mild to offensive, but in the cancer ward particularly, where people are fighting nausea, your lotion that smells like hard candies melted in a radiator made my stomach a little extra churny, the food, particularly the joyful liquid diet which consisted mostly of high fructose corn syrup (!).

They pumped me full of mega-antibiotics via IV, so that power port came in handy for that, plus the daily gift of blood I delivered.

I had no appetite when I arrived so I didn't protest the liquid diet the doc ordered, but I was rather appalled at what was delivered.  Usually a bowl of broth (although I got two chicken broth for breakfast yesterday, which was a real stomach turner), jello, black tea (which to me tastes like motor oil right now), and four 4 oz cups of 'juice', cranberry, apple, grape, and lemon-lime, one of which was usually frozen solid.  I swear to you I have not ingested that much HFCS or artificial flavor and colors since I was a kid.  This stuff is ghastly! Why in the hell is it being served in hospitals????

Also turns out the chemo has made me lactose intolerant, so that was a little extra fuel I'd been throwing in the digestive fire, before I got that news.  Hell, that's probably mostly what I'd been eating. With a chocolate milk tipping point!

Fortunately I sleep like a rock, so as long as they kept the door closed I was good, and when I was awake that iPad came in super handy, allowing me to keep friends apprised of my progress, and I was able to download this week's Top Chef and watch it, since the TV selections were limited.

My blood counts were finally back up enough this morning that the doc couldn't wait to launch me.  Seemed she needed the bed for her latest batch of victims.

Next round is on the 29th, and on the 30th I will get an injection of Neulasta, which is supposed to boost the white cells, and hopefully avoid a repeat of this week.

I was joking with someone about losing my dignity today and he wrote back, "I wonder how the stripping of dignity changes people?  If at all?", and I promised to reveal the answer here.

I really debated on whether I was going to publicly reveal my 'accident' on Saturday.  But I've done it several times since (on the way to x-ray, a few other times at the hospital).  What seems mortifying at first, is mildly amusing now.  I couldn't have stopped it if I tried, anymore than I could have 40 years ago.

So if you're dumb enough to joke about me 'throwing up in my pants' now, I'll say come closer please. And pull my finger.

Wednesday, December 8, 2010

It Feels Like the First Time: Chemo Virgin, No More

National Cancer Institute Booklet

Today was chemo #1 (of 6).  Last week I attended a chemo orientation with a couple of guys who have different kinds of cancer.  The pharmacist and one of the oncology nurses went through a power point presentation (long time since I've seen one of those, and my auto response is to practically fall asleep when someone reads directly from the slides, but I paid attention).  

We were each given thick folders with a print-out of each component drug in our chemo, what it does, and the possible side effects, which was nice.  The rest included several booklets from the National Cancer Institute, like the Eating Hints booklet, above, and Chemo and You.

It only takes a quick glance to recognize this is the work of the government, and is possibly illustrated by the original artist who drew the Food Groups Charts you were given to color in grade school.  I understand that these things need to be relatively straight forward, but the whole look and tone seems so retro and unnecessarily dull and uninspiring.

I saved this helpful recipe, for Banana Milk Shakes, for the future:

Banana Shake: Banana, Milk, Vanilla - Blend
 I thought I recognized it from my Betty Crocker's Cookbook for Boys and Girls: Facsimile Edition, but alas, a far more appetite stimulating version is there, for a chocolate fudge milkshake.

At Chemo Camp, we were given a guide to side effect supplies: Immodium, Senakot-S, Biotene Mouthwash, plus the recipe for a baking soda mouth rinse, and instructions to up the oral care to at least five times a day. The tissues of your mouth and throat are fast growing (like your hair, hence your ability to overcome the dreaded hot pizza roof of mouth burn pretty quickly - which of course makes them vulnerable to the non-discriminating chemo drugs).

Of course it looked like I didn't know if I was coming or going at the pharmacy check-out, and I couldn't get White Rabbit  lyrics out my head (One pill makes you larger, and one pill makes you small). 

I bought not one, but two thermometers, that for once are not destined to be poked into cooked meat, because I have to make sure that my temperature does not hit 100.5.  Or I could apparently die, as my straight shooting doc informed me.  If it does, I am supposed to call and I will be fast tracked to be admitted and pumped full of antibiotics, hopefully bypassing the germ fest and moaning known as the emergency room. 

Starting Sunday evening, the dreaded Lake Effect snow started heading this way.  If you are lucky enough to live in California and not experience this phenomenon, it works like this:  Mass of cold air moves over large body of warm water, drops lots of snow, usually in fairly predictable areas, known as the Snow Belt.

Akron is about 30 miles south of Lake Erie, so it's usually more like the Snow Muffin Top - it really depends on which way the storm sits (so to speak), as to whether we get the big, lumpy inches that our friends in the belt get.  Sometimes, with a good Nor'Easter it'll blow over Cleveland and land here instead.  It funny sometimes to drive on the highway and see the dividing line between the snow have and have nots.

It fell steadily overnight Sunday, and there was at least 6-7 inches yesterday.  My newly hired plow guy didn't show until around 9:00 pm (I called and gave him the heads up I had chemo today and needed out).  I did call my rides and debate moving my appointment to Wednesday.  I actually called and tried to move it; no dice.  This morning there were 2-3 more inches, but it was super light and fluffy, and my ride had 4 wheel drive.

I had already packed my Tami Goes  To Chemo bag with so much stuff my friend said I needed a chemo wagon.  A couple of new magazines, a notepad, a hand knit scarf/shawl, my new construction worker thermos with hot water for tea and oatmeal, tea bags, milk, cottage cheese, grape tomatoes, a can of lentil soup and a micro mug, napkins, utensils, disposable bowl, a banana and a clementine, and my iPad.

I was told to fast so I could give blood for my clinical trial (which is Acety-L Carnitine or a placebo, which I am now taking 3 times a day), so a friend picked me up so I get it drawn early, then eat breakfast.  Since my port had yet to be initiated, they attempted to get the blood from the same vein on the top of my hand as the last time.  No dice, well nearly dry,  and they barely got enough to make dirtying the needle worth it.  After a little hand wringing on the nurses part, I was allowed to eat, and they agreed to get more blood once the port was ready to roll. 

I barely finished my oatmeal, when I was summoned to Chemo Land, and weighed, then parked in the first chair by the door.  There are two areas, one on either side of the lobby, at the Akron General McDowell Cancer Center.  It's arranged cubicle style, each with a recliner, a guest chair, room for rolling/hanging IV stand, and not much else.  Including my running away from home supplies.  Partial walls offer privacy, and there wasn't a whole lot of action in there today, maybe 6-8 more people came in after I did.

There was some confusion regarding my orders which related to the clinical trial, and that took a bit to sort out, then more first date ice breaker visits by the pharmacist (aka Chemo Camp director), who went over my drug components, Taxotere, Carboplatin, and Herceptin.  I will be getting a total of 18 Herceptin injections, which is a targeted drug looking for HER-2 cells like Ms. Pac-Man, and doesn't cause hair loss and puking.  Speaking of which, pre-meds were doled out for nausea prevention, and instructions for staying ahead of it with my prescription meds were outlined for the days ahead.

I was also visited by the social worker, who I'd met with briefly before to talk insurance coverage (they checked), and various and sundry programs that might help me out with the bills.  Which are mounting.  I am hoping I can get some help when I have to meet my $2,500 deductible AND $2,500 co-insurance maximum AGAIN next year.  I'll break it all down in a separate post, but there are currently about $35,000 in bills for the surgery in process.

I had remembered to 'butter' my port with anesthetic cream when I first arrived. My main nurse of the day, disinfected the port, then initiated it with a bit of poke, then flushed it out with saline and attached the doohickeys (technical term) for the IV.  She collected blood for the trial and blood for pre-testing to make sure I was good enough to poison. Once I was done flirting with the pharmacist and the social worker, and the orders were sorted out, it was time to get down to business.

Drug #1 was hung by the stand with care, a dripped away without incident for about an hour.  My friend Lisa hung around for most of this fun, so I really didn't break into my stash as deeply as I'd anticipated, save a bit of surfing on the iPad, until the Wi-Fi got too sluggish. 

I had hoped to dig into my Kindle copy of The Emperor of All Maladies: A Biography of Cancer, which got great reviews in both the Akron and Cleveland papers, which threatened to suck me in for the duration when I started reading it after I downloaded. Company was nice and made it go faster.  I had green tea, and the banana, cottage cheese, and some grape tomatoes.

Drugs #2 and #3 each took about a half an hour each, and I had a friend change-up in between, when my friend Debbie, arrived. I met a few more of the nurses when my original went to lunch. So I am already like Norm at Cheers there.

My variations on the lime green theme, down to my OPI Shrek Forever After Collection Who the Shrek Are You? B92, pretty much brands me as memorable. I got a lot of compliments, but wouldn't be surprised if I was referred to as Kermit behind my back.  I sort of brought it on myself, I suppose. I got to show off those toes all day, because in an effort to keep the tootsies cold, and keep the circulation down, to help hopefully prevent a potential side effect of tingling tootsies, I went bare, except for the few times I shuffled to the bathroom, dragging my stand behind me.

Uneventful all in all, made my appointment to check the white counts and 10 days, and was out by 2:30.

We stopped at West Point Market on the way home, and the ready to cook Parmesan Cod looked like a safe bet for dinner.  But when we got it home, as soon as I reached into the bag, I was greeted with a not so fresh fish aroma, that permeated the plastic container.  At first I had Debbie put them in a freezer bag and put it in the garage fridge, then I defaulted to 'get that smelly crap in the trash'.  (Yes, I should return it, but carrying off fish in the car seems kind suicidal after you've just been pumped full of chemo).

So I ended up eating some already cooked pasta and sauce that was in the fridge, and I had a chocolate chip cookie from Mustard Seed, along with some tea and a lot of water.  Brushed and flushed with Biotene.

So far, so good.  It's still a waiting game.  Waiting for the actual chemo is over.  Waiting for signs of side effects begins.  It's kind of like riding the gondola through the haunted house waiting for the boogey man and the lady with knife sticking out of her skull to pop out and scare the pants off you. Or cranking the jack-in-box waiting for the punch in the face.

December 7th, a day that will live in infamy. (I was actually at Pearl Harbor on the 50th anniversary for my honeymoon; a surreal experience which included taking Japanese tourists photos at their request).

I learned that Elizabeth Edwards lost her battle with breast cancer this morning, probably as I started chemo.  She fought a strong, brave battle, and had more than her share of other trials to deal with.  God bless her, and her children.

There was also another mouse massacre. Smokey, the elusive, always spooked kitty snagged one by jimmying the brick around a register and plucked one out like a pro.  Then disappeared. 

Staying pretty zen, and praying for the best. And hey, I've got bananas and non-lumpy milk, if I could only find that shake recipe.

Tuesday, December 7, 2010

Chrome Dome Chicken

In the count down to chemo, much guidance is provided on what to eat (and what not to eat).  Greasy, fried, spicy, and ice cream are not recommended, nor is it advised that you should eat all of your favorites prior to treatment, lest you develop an aversion.  (Think about the last time you vomited; you thought twice about eating that meal again, didn't you?  Let me just say, it's been over twenty years since I've had a spinach salad with hot bacon dressing (!) )

I've got the freezer stocked with plenty of benign ready to heat meals.  It was kind of nice once to cook up a storm and then get to keep the food, rather than leaving it neatly labeled and stacked in a client's freezer.

Last night I was in the mood for a good old roast chicken with vegetables.  I made a quick stop at Mustard Seed Market for an organic bird, and foraged the veggies from the fridge, including these carrots that I grew myself.  (My first carrot crop of any note). One of them is called Atomic Red.

Home Grown Carrots

I really wanted to do Michael Symon's Roast Chicken recipe from Michael Symon's Live to Cook: Recipes and Techniques to Rock Your Kitchen, but despite wasting about 20 minutes surveying all of my bookcases, I never managed to turn up the book, and searching for on the internet didn't turn it up either.  Thought it would make a nice tribute to our matching haircuts. (See my trip down Follicle Lane, if you haven't already. Note my current resemblance to both Chef Symon, and the above chicken).

So armed with the vague memory that his version calls for shoving a lemon in the cavity, a handful of chopped garlic and some fresh rosemary and thyme, my version, The Chrome Dome Chicken, was born.

I wanted to do an herb butter under the skin and give it a good rub on the top.  That's when I had a head smacking, Why Didn't I Think of That' sooner idea.  As I piled the rosemary, thyme leaves, and garlic on the board, and added some kosher salt, and started to chop it all together, I decided to slice off a couple of chunks of cold butter and throw it in the pile.

Herb Butter Gremolata!  Rather than softening the butter, chopping the herbs, then the garlic, then adding to the butter and seasoning it, my lazy chrome dome said 'Do it all together!".  The beauty of it, in addition to the simplicity, is that the chopping warms the butter, without making a melted mess.

I loosened the skin and rubbed most of this on the breasts, and rubbed a little over the veggies.  I gave those a little drizzle of extra virgin olive oil as well.  The organic birds don't have as much greasy fat when you roast them as conventional ones do.

It smelled so good when it was roasting.  And it was delicious too!

Monday, December 6, 2010

Twas the Night Before Chemo

My autographed Chuck-It Bucket
Twas the Night before Chemo Poem

Twas the night before Chemo, when all through the house,

The cats were snoozing, dreaming of mouse.

I wore my ‘kerchief, and doubled up in my cap,

Then settled my brain for a long winter’s nap.

When out on the lawn there arose such a clatter,
I sprang from the bed to see what was the matter.

Away to the window I flew like a flash,
Tore open the shutters and threw up the sash.

The moon on the breast of the new-fallen snow
Gave the lustre of mid-day to objects below.
When, what to my wondering eyes should appear,
But my newly hired snow plow driver, 'bout time he got here.

With a flick of his blade, so lively and quick,
I knew in a moment that I wouldn't be sick.

Now Carboplatin! now, Taxotere! now, Zofran and Herceptin!
On, Immodium! On, Senocot! , on Phernegan and Lidocaine! (sorry, I can't rhyme this mess)
To the top of the bald head! to the bottom of it all!
Now dash away! Dash away! Dash away all!”

As dry leaves that before the wild hurricane fly,
When they meet with an obstacle, mount to the sky.
So up to the house-top the coursers they flew,
With the sleigh full of anti-nausea meds, and my Oncologist, too.

I look chubby and plump, a right jolly old elf,
And I laughed when I saw my reflection, in spite of myself!
I was warned there would soon not be a hair on my head,
and about plenty of side effects I am trying not to dread.

Drinking lots of green tea, glad for my pot with a whistle,
And rubbing my skull that's now like the down of a thistle.
Then I exclaimed,  as I dozed for the night,
“Happy Chemo to all, and to all a good-night!

Sunday, December 5, 2010

Hair Today, Gone Tomorow....

In the beginning, there is a baby.  Let's face it, babies are either cute, or they're, well, not.  You've been shown the photos (or handed the victim, er baby), of the unfortunate, wrinkly, unhappy looking newborn, and searching for something nice to say, exclaimed "Look at that full head of hair!".  Sometimes the ugliest babies somehow manage to come out looking like Chewbacca.  Not me of course, clearly I had Gerber baby potential.

Then there's the real live doll.  Whose hair you can cut.  Doesn't matter that you can't get the doll to sit still long enough to get those bangs straight.  You can just say "Hold still! Let me even those up."  (They never are).

Let the natural curl go for awhile.  Let her lick the brownie bowl.  With raw egg.  Before that was such a near life threatening treat.

After years of bad pixies, uneven bangs, and bowl cuts, let it do what it wants to do.

And then the end of 70's, the era of Charlie's Angels, the 'Farrah', the blow outs, the curling irons.  Hot rollers!  This photo still makes me laugh because under the sweater and the white shirt - torn jean shorts and flip-flops.  And a slightly creepy come-on from the photographer.

And then dear God, the eighties.  All I am going to say in my defense is that everyone more or less looked this way.  Even the men. I paid to have my naturally curly hair (!) tortured and permed (that smell!) on a more or less regular basis for years, and at the the time the compliments poured in.  I don't know what's worse, the hair, or that dress.  And let's not forget, I am a good 6' in heels....

With my friend Carl, who died from CF; RIP

I was rocking this version in 1988 when I met my husband to be, and somehow drug him to Olan Mills to record this do for all of history.

In 1991 when we got married it was probably closer to a mullet. Which was the same cut my hairdresser gave everyone.  It was Mullet town around here in the early '90s.

Then it started getting lighter (and grayer), and I started moving to a more low maintenance lifestyle.  No perms, no appliances.  Short hair takes more frequent cutting, and I succumbed to coloring for a long time.  And then I stopped.

It was blond...

And when it was silver, I stopped coloring it and let it be.  Even my hairdresser was dubious. But a short cut and about six weeks and it turned out the natural color was actually a pretty, snowy, silver.   Which requires 'blue shampoo' in order to not turn a weird color. (Pantene - you have a year to bring back a gray hair/blue shampoo).

And yesterday I said goodbye to it.  For at least nine months, my oncologist said.  Everyone said, 'maybe you won't lose yours...', but doc said 100% chance of gone/no tiny bit of hope .  I didn't want to have to deal with tufts of it  coming off in my hands.  On my pillow.  Drifting away.

So I said goodbye.  With a glass of wine (in truth, I will miss the wine far more than the hair), with some friends.  With a nod to Mark Forgione.  See I look just as ridiculous with a mohawk.

Everyone wanted to know if I felt lighter.  I felt lighter when the cancer was gone. For sure. I hope for good.  Hair, is just hair.  It's definitely chilly.  But I have lots of hats.

And a few rubs from friends.  So it's all good.

I think the earrings really dress up the look  (a gift from a lovely friend).