It's October 2015

It's October 2015
Have You Scheduled Your Mammogram??!!

Sunday, May 26, 2013

Hair, There and Everywhere....

Tuesday, May 21st:
I paid another visit to the first wig man and boy, did I wig out. I was grateful I'd asked Sandy to accompany me. After my last visit I had a feeling I was not going to be happy and I was going to need some support. 

This time I was not left waiting because I called and said I must be seen on time at 2pm. A lot of good it did me: I left that evening at 7:30PM with no wig. What was shown to me was somewhat improved but I still looked like I was married to a Rebbe from Boro Park. And what is sold (and patented) as the most lightweight hairpiece, increased my body temperature by 20 degrees and it felt like someone lined it with wood splinters. Ach... I cried and cried. The stylist and owner were trying to console me by saying things like, We understand you're going through a hard time.... you just cut your hair and now you've lost it, we get it.... blah blah. I told them, I have had my hair all different lengths and cutting it short was not that traumatic. What's upsetting me is that I came expecting to look better than Patch Adams (see below) and instead I look like I'm auditioning for Yentl. When the owner asked Sandy what I was so upset about, Sandy replied, She doesn't like the way she looks, to which the owner said, Well, I'm not a plastic surgeon. Sandy then stood up, and I swear, veins started popping out of his head and like the Hulk, his muscles got SO big he busted out of his clothes, collected all of the toupees in the shop and flung them out on to Madison Avenue! Rugs were flying everywhere, landing on the heads of women, men, and small children... cars were crashing when views were suddenly obstructed by these hairy flying saucers... birds mistook them for their nests and started building homes... it was madness!

The stylist tried about three times to restyle it and, again, there was some improvement, but I knew I would never wear it. In between the styling, Sandy and I decided it was time to set free what was left of my patchy hair and that's when he started buzzing. He actually did it twice each time using tighter clippers. I left without a wig but rather an appointment to come back and try to fix my hairpiece. I've yet to return.
Patch Adams
Hmmm, I think it's time.  

After Phase 1
The Barber Inspecting His Work After Phase 2

The Diagonal at Tufts University

Happy Camper
I had run out to get something to eat while waiting for the wig to be restyled and I passed the building where I had my first mamo and got my cancer diagnosis in the summer of 2007. Smoke blew out of my newly shaven head as I questioned the meaning in all of this.
In other news... I'd been suffering from a neck to toe body rash. Sandy treated me to a head shave and a butt paste.  The combo of the latter and a bevy of allergy pills and creams has since healed me. 
I love this sentiment. Thank  you, Dr. Banana, for all of your love and support.


The Hope bag above came with this wish card. Whoever wrote this should know his or her wish has been fulfilled.

I received this Tibetan Good Luck bracelet in the mail from a friend I met in the 5th grade and I've been wearing it daily. Just the fact that Jill is still in my life after all of these years means my luck has not run out.


At Paclitaxal treatment #5 this past Thursday, May 23rd. That crown may look fake, but it's a jewel as good as any.
The necklace I borrowed from mom and gives me good energy; the watch Sandy recently bought for me and is a  reminder that our time together will never end; and my Tibetan bracelet brings me luck and faith. 

Since last week, I did go back to the second wig place, Bitz n' Pieces to have my long hair wig adjusted for size. I've yet to wear it. I'm embracing the freedom of being me. Dana asked me if I thought I'd adjust to the baldness so well and I answered that as soon as Sandy was finished with the final buzzing I stopped for a moment and said, Well, that wasn't so bad, it didn't kill me. I've even come up with a top ten list of pros to being bald:
  1. No bad hair days;
  2. Shave, I mean, save on shampoo, conditioner, hair products and haircuts;
  3. No clogged drains;
  4. I can live out my punk rock fantasy;
  5. Baldness is an accessory that costs little or close to nothing;
  6. It shows off my earrings;
  7. A bald head serves as a sort of weather vane; from the back I can tell from which direction the wind is blowing;
  8. Strangers are extra nice to me;
  9. It forces me to say, life goes on......and
  10. I'm always buzzed!!
Finally, and I suppose this should've come first, my bone scan came back negative for bone cancer!! My MRI however, explained the reason I was having such bad lower back and hip pain. I have an extra disc and blah blah the L4 and L5, can't remember off hand, are pressing on a nerve, blah blah, bulging discs,  pain shooting down my leg, I need to go for physical therapy and/or get a cortisone shot (approved by my onc), do what I can to decrease the inflammation, yada yada yada. I just know it hurts but I'll do what I can to make it better.

Have a great Memorial Day Weekend, everyone! Enjoying being out east with some of my favorite peeps. Will report back soon.

Lots of love,

Buzzy Belson

Sunday, May 19, 2013

House o' Hair...

My apartment looks like the floor of a barber shop. Hair is everywhere. My carpet, my couch, my bed, the bathroom floor. There's barely any human carpet left to match the thinning drapes. (C'mon, you wondered.) I try to style what's left on top just by lightly wetting and gelling it; one run of my hands through it and my hands come out looking like those of an Ewok.

As instructed, last Thursday, the moment my hair started coming out, I called the wig salon. They screwed up and my wig was not even started. I had to wait until the following Tuesday to try it on for size. I waited 45 minutes with my friend Dana while it was being steamed. What was given to me to try on was a long mass of hair that resembles that of my old Cher doll after I tried washing and drying it. It's really quite versatile.....if I was doing improv for an audience of none:




I was told the cap needed adjusting and the stylist and I reviewed pics I brought to show how I wanted the wig cut and styled (shoulder length, moderate wave, can still pull it back). I returned yesterday, Saturday, and had to wait while "she" was being set in curlers and dried. I asked to see it (below) and have the stylist demonstrate on another wig, how to put in curlers (knowing I'll never do it myself, I'd probably pay to have it styled).


Loretta resting at Joseph Paris


Once dried, I try her on. Well, what can I say. I looked like Loretta Lynn lost on  the set of "Fiddler On The Roof." It was a disaster and as nice as I could, I told the stylist I would never be seen in this thing. I said I'm leaving for an appointment and can return in a few hours allowing her time to make it look more like the pictures I brought. They couldn't accommodate me and I have to return on Tuesday. I am miffed.

I cab it to my next appointment at Lenox Hill Hospital. The oncologist wanted me to get a bone scan and MRI because my lower back/leg is still bothering me. Although I didn't think any mets (metastasized cancer in the bones) would be discovered, Dr. B. wants to be very cautious so I agreed to do it. 31/2 hours later (pre-register, get radioactive injection, wait two hours, get scanned) this lovely nuclear medicine doctor, Stephen Scharf, MD, personally reviewed the images with me and said my bones are FINE. This morning I went for the MRI and I'll get those results on Monday. 

Following yesterday's bone scan I hoofed it to Bits n Pieces, a more contemporary wig store across from Time Warner. I explained to my stylist JT that I have a shoulder length wig (let's call her Loretta) being made elsewhere but I'd like an alternative, perhaps one to look like my new short cut. JT lets me try one on and explained that I can't cut it quite as short as my current do, but we can work something out so I can spike it, gel it, etc and it'll look chic. He also convinced me to try on a synthetic long haired wig which I wound up purchasing.
Modeling my new locks at Bits n Pieces.

OK, I know, I went for a short wig and left with a long one, but the quality of this seemed very good and this made me feel like my old self. I have to return when I'm close to being hairless or have the courage to get my hair buzzed, which ever comes first, so I can have it made a little tighter (the less hair, the tighter the cap/lining). When I return, I may  purchase the short wig. Unlike the first wig place, JT can cut and size it for me on the spot.  What will happen to Loretta remains to be seen. If she's still a horror when I return on Tuesday, I will try and get my money back. 

In addition to the world of wigs there is also a world of scarves. While getting my treatment this past Thursday I told Sandy I'm concerned how I'll look on Sunday (tomorrow) at his niece's Bat Mitzvah reception since it'll be expected that we are photographed and my wig won't be ready. He responded by  taking me to Hermes to purchase some scarves! Cool! In my world of chemo, this is a rite of passage. Hermes? Me? Our salesperson, Shannon, was so compassionate and helpful. For those who don't know, the Hermes knots are not patented but might as well be. The largest size scarves (170 and 90 cm) come with a book which features the many ways to wear them. Sandy and I chose two beautiful  70 cm patterns and if I still have enough hair on Sunday I will wear one like so:

The world of chemo scarves...

And more ways to wear them...

If I cannot conceal my bald patches, I'll wear it like a doo rag or a pirate (see "ways to wear them" link above). I ventured out today for the first time wearing the pirate look and I have to say I was a bit self-conscious for a few minutes until I said F it (hmmm, H it?).

OK, enough about me. More about me.

Dad's wife of 22 years, Arlene, passed away this past Monday, one day after Mother's Day. She fought to the bitter end. Over two years of surgery and chemo treatments. 23 days in hospice. 23 days of the doctor saying, Any day now. People like to say she's in a better place. I suppose compared to her last weeks she certainly is. Is that what people mean by that? I really never thought about it until now. I wanted to support my Dad at the funeral but I had to get my treatment. Arlene of course would have understood as did my family. Thankfully I was back in the office in time to watch it via Skype. Yes, I Skyped into a funeral.  Technology has its advantages. I shut the door and shades in my office and sobbed but the funny thing is, there were few tears shed there (that I could observe on screen), mostly sounds of laughter while celebrating Arlene's time here on earth. Everyone that spoke did so very eloquently and there was no shortage of stories reflecting Arlene's inability to sensor her opinions, desire to party and flirt, her tendency to put the pedal to the metal, her love for animals and most certainly the love for her family.


And so, life goes on. Chemo, hair loss, life, death, celebrations, friendship... this past Tuesday I had dinner with several friends dating as far back as nursery school. My friend Amy flew in from Chicago with her two beautiful daughters and arranged everything just so we could share this brief Wonder Women moment. We caught up on our lives, laughed at the past and toasted to the future. Tears well up in my eyes as I write this because it reminds me how much I cherish my friendships. 

At Beauty & Essex
Well folks, that's about as much as I can share for now. It's been a draining week but as long as I'm here to write about it, I'm not complaining. 

Love and locks, 

LB

Friday, May 10, 2013

Honey, It's Time...

Thursday, May 9th, 2013

8:30AM Human alarm clock goes off late.

8:31AM Take shower and wash hair.

8:32AM Clumps of hair are coming out. It happens so suddenly. One day you feel "it won't happen to me" and the next you realize it's time. As much as you prepare, you're not prepared enough.

9:30AM Have my weekly exam minutes before my 3rd treatment of Paclitaxal IV. I start whimpering like a baby. The day before I had my blood drawn and some bizarre shooting, burning pain went up  my forearm. The waterworks started. I was primed for lots of tears thereafter and I cannot get them to stop. The good news: my blood count is very good--no signs of infection or anemia, both a risk from the chemo.

10:00AM While in the IV chair, I make appt to see Janet Waddell to have my hair chopped off. I cannot think of another day of hair coming out. Still, all day I obsessively run my fingers through my hair to see how much will fall out and collect it in a Baggie.

6:15PM Arrive at Janet's studio and the fun begins. I tell her just do what you want, just make it look cute. I might as well have fun with a cut, even for a week, instead of buzzing it all off.

Before.






The Bell Jar look.

Pile o' pony tails.

Pony tail harvest.

Jasper, the coolest dog downtown. 






The Ed Grimley.






Hair in addition to the pony tails!

After.



Dr. Dana Banana offers moral support.

Le Artiste, Janet Waddell, the sweetest, most talented Brit on this side of the Mississippi.

I feel like I lost five lbs. It's weird to have no hair weighing you down. It's liberating too. Why does it take cancer to try out a new, fun haircut? By the way, I very well know that this haircut will only be around for a few more days but I'm enjoying it while it lasts. My new wig will be cut and styled on Tuesday at 2:00PM. I'm considering getting a second one styled like you see it now.

7:30 PM I celebrate the new do by walking with Dr. Dana a few blocks to my cousin's restaurant, The Redhead, on 13th b/w 1st & 2nd. I have fried chicken once a year and this is the place to go. I'm offering you a money back guarantee to get you to try it. It's that fabulous.

Meanwhile, throughout the week I've been experiencing lower back pain--what seems to be sciatica. I paid a few visits to my chiropractor, David Williams. When I got to Janet's the pain started getting a lot worse, I think aggravated by one of my favorite pair of Miz Mooz shoes. By the time I got home from haircut and dinner, I was in excruciating pain; I could barely walk.

11:00PM I got muscle relaxers called in and delivered by Dr. Dana and then Sandy came with the good stuff. Vicoden.


Friday, May 10, 2013
This morning I was scheduled to go to Florida to say my last good-byes to my father's wife, Arlene, whose battle with pancreatic cancer (now in several organs) is about to come to an end. She's been in hospice for 20 days and the doctors keep saying, Any day now. I had my thoughts lined up in my head. I'd say them to her with no other visitors in the room. I'd cry. She'd listen even if barely awake. We'd have closure. I think Arlene would understand that because of the pain, I had to cancel my trip. We fortunately had a long conversation just a day before she entered hospice. I have to move on.

Saturday, May 11, 2013
Today I rested with the help of painkillers and more icing. Sandy's been a great help and just fed me sushi. I'm walking unassisted now and the pain is more localized vs running down my leg. Ahhh, relief.

My head's itchy as heck. Little hair splinters keep falling out. The clumps are still coming out too, only shorter. I know I'll get through this. Everyone does. My friend Katia reminds me, it's just a season. Those words keep reverberating throughout my mind.

It's just a season. This too shall pass......................


I have several of these bracelets in various colors and charms, this one being the newest design.
If you're interested in purchasing one go to Halley's website: http://www.lovefnue.com
You can also find her at Bloomingdale's.

Thursday, May 2, 2013

Not so Live From Cape Town

Even with my new ties to South Africa, I still don't think I'll have the chance to travel to Cape Town any time soon. Alas, I must settle for wearing my super powered capes in the IV room at 110 E59th Street. There are no diamonds, no sign of the World Cup and it's certainly not a tourist attraction. But there is a chemolounger chair in which I spent a couple of hours today getting injected with some scary stuff that can potentially lead to fatal toxicity. Whew, I'm certainly glad that didn't happen. 

I reacted well to the treatment today; no allergic reaction at all which means future weekly treatments will not require the steroid and antihistamine prior to the IV,  just the anti-nausea drug along with the Paclitaxel. 

Hair loss supposedly begins after the second or third treatment. I've wrapped my head--ba ha--around this concept and know I will be just fine. My favorite store Fox's opened in NYC this year and they have a great assortment of summer hats for very little money (yes, more retail therapy, but this is warranted!!). I got a big straw Crocodile Dundee type of hat, the kind with the string so you can wear it around or your neck or adjust it to keep it secure on your head. I also was alerted today that my free Good Wishes head scarf http://www.goodwishesscarves.org has shipped. And last week I got free sunscreen soap from Bethesda. (Who knew such a thing existed?) There's lots of free stuff for cancer patients out there, a lot of which I found on my friend Bethany's website: http://breastcancerfreebies.com If someone else you know is going through chemotherapy, you may want to pass on the link. 

No other big news to report. My life so far is going on as normal, which is part of the goal.

Getting prepped today for IV #2.
Sandy mocks me and my wardrobe changes.
I say, Cher would be proud. I'm the new ChemoCher!

Look what's recently arrived at my doorstep....
 
Don't let the turkeys get you down! 
Dani and I were huge Boynton and Far Side fans in h.s. 
This was one of our favorite card-toons; 
we still reference the saying today.  
I can't believe she was able to locate this mug for me. 

Whitney sent me a Pajamagram with a cape!

The card reads, "Fuck the cancer. Love, Whitney"


Bethany's custom chemocare baseket with pink polish, Biotene, cozy sox, scarf...

Some words of encouragement arrived from Chicago today along with a happy Buddha.
He seems to be embracing his baldness so why shouldn't I? Thanks, Amy! 

Since it appears I'm the only person who actually puts on weight during chemotherapy (?!), this lovely book from Mom's (sorority sister!) friend Norma should come in very handy.... for Sandy, that is, who cooks me the most fabulous cancer-conscious meals with love and goodness.

Thank you Ben and Kelcey for the awesome Wonder Woman t-shirt, which coordinates with my new POP! Wonder Woman necklace from Joanie. Joanie says wearing a Wonder Woman costume every day may not be that practical so now I'm covered.

Regards from Cape Town, NYC,
Love you all!!!
eLiz.