"Don't spend time worrying about how you are going to die. Worry about how you are going to live today"

Wednesday, April 27, 2011

Full of energy but getting scared.

I am still completely surprised that I still have so much energy despite the fact that I have been going through chemo for eight weeks now.  I have continued to exercise five days a week since starting chemo and am glad to say that I have not missed any workouts!  I actually even got back into running again the last two weeks which I have not done since a few months before getting diagnosed.  Today I ran 2 miles, walked a mile and then got on the elliptical for 30 minutes before ending with weights (lower body) and stretching for 10 minutes.  I tell you  - it feels good!

I actually finish me chemo next week.  I just can't believe it.  I thought that day would never come.  As it quickly approaches, I am having mixed feelings on it all.  I am so glad to not have to put poison in my body anymore and have this stupid port in my arm, but a part of me is really getting scared.  I feel like for the last few months I have been doing everything I can to get rid of this cancer.  I have had tests, surgeries and now chemo.  I guess I am wondering what do I do after that?  I am no longer actively in treatment....how do I just live?  How do I not worry and panic that it is coming back?  I guess for the last few months I have been so focused on treatment that I have not had time to think about what my life will be like. 

I keep getting these little "jolts" of panic and I just get scared.  What if the cancer comes back?  They told me that breast cancer is not curable, it is treatable.  I can't get that out of my head.  I know many people live for a long time with no recurrence or never have a recurrence, but I am still scared as many people just like me also have a recurrence.  I just don't know how to process all of this.  I just feel a huge sense of fear living the rest of my life waiting for cancer to strike again.  The worst part is usually if it strikes again it is Stage IV and that's not good at all.   Time can be very limited for Stage IV patients.  I just get scared I won't be here to raise my young son.  That breaks my heart......

I don't know how to live as a survivor of breast cancer.  I can barely think about saying I am a "breast cancer survivor".  I just never thought this would be my life.  I guess no one does really. 

I know this will be a lifelong issue so I have to deal with it.  I am thinking that some professional counseling may be helpful.  I just have so many thoughts and fears that I just can't say to anyone in my life because I don't want them to know how scared I still am despite the way I act and live my life now.  I can't even write what I think...somehow just putting it out there makes it more real.  I hope I can find a way to move forward in my life without thinking the big, dark cancer cloud is over my head.  I just don't know how to live like that...........

Monday, April 25, 2011

Genetic Testing for breast cancer

I finally had my appointment with the genetic counselor today to discuss the possibility that my cancer was caused by a genetic mutation.  After they thoroughly reviewed my health history and family history they concluded that there is only a .4% chance that I would have a gene mutation.  Based on that probability, they have not recommended that I do the actual genetic test.  They usually only suggest the test if you are at a 10% risk with the probability test based on family and health history.  I guess that is good news.  I was fearful that I would have to tell my brother and sister that their young daughters would be at risk of breast cancer and have to be tested one day.  I can say finding this out it has been a relief.  I can't imagine having to tell them that knowing they have girls.  Another thing I found out is that if you have the gene it also makes boys in the family at a higher risk of other cancers too.  Being that I have a boy that freaked me out.  I guess I never really knew that - but then again there was so much I never knew before getting breast cancer that I know now. 

On another note, the medical oncologist that I met with today to discuss the BRCA tests was not my regular medical oncologist.  I had never met her before.  She could not believe that I had hair.  I told her about the cold caps and she told me she never had a patient actually keep their hair with them.  I don't know how that's possible if they are used correctly.  I know several ladies that kept their hair.  Now I am sure they won't work for everyone, but it seems that most of the people I have talked to that used them had success.  In fact when I went in to my regular medical oncology office for a blood draw I met a woman with a full head of thick hair that used them and finished just a few months ago.  Her hair was super thick...I was jealous!  My hair was not that thick before chemo!  It was nice though to see the medical oncologist just marvel that the caps worked and I had hair.  That made my day!  Cold caps do work!!!

Thursday, April 21, 2011

Hiding my stripper boobs

Today I took my son to the indoor waterpark for a day of fun with his cousins.  Normally I would think about putting on a bathing suit and get worried about my butt looking too big or something.  This time I was worried my "stripper boobs" would not stay put in my bathing suit! 

Here is the deal about tissue expanders.  They are completely ugly and unnatural looking.  They look like two coconuts under your skin.  They also are not close together like regular breasts.  They sit more towards the arm pits and sit further apart than normal breasts.  The tissue expanders when filled are also really hard and don't move like normal implants.  So needless to say getting into a bikini was causing me some serious anxiety!

Earlier this week I went shopping for bathing suits and it was ugly!  Lord I could not find anything that would cover up enough of the ugly tissue expanders that I could wear in public.  After I went shopping I asked my husband "what am I going to do?"  He simply said "don't worry about it.  People will just think you just got a really bad boob job or you are a stripper".  Well that is exactly the message I was hoping to send at the family water park....NOT!  You gotta love a man's perspective though.  I admit it made me laugh a bit!

I searched through my closet and tried on every bathing suit I had from before surgery but my new breasts are so much bigger.  I took the pads out from the suits and I actually found one that fit me better than anything I tried on while shopping for a bathing suit.  What a relief! 

I did wear my suit today but I felt very nervous at first.  Since having surgery I don't really have feeling in my chest so if my bathing suit moves around from being in the water, I don't necessarily feel it or know that I need to straighten out my bathing suit.  I felt very worried about this but to my surprise I had no issues and didn't even flash anyone (which is a good thing since it is a family waterpark!). 

I also was worried that I would just look funny but I quickly got over that.  As I looked around I checked out all the other women's racks...yes, I did just say that.  I normally do not check out other women's boobs, but for now hair and boobs are my obsession!  After I looked around I quickly noticed that most women have saggy, flat, old lady boobs.   Mine were kind of saggy too before surgery.   This quickly made me feel better and I didn't worry about it anymore.  Then I just had a fun time with my son with boobs out of mind!

Monday, April 18, 2011

Chillin' with my hair

This past weekend I was completely lazy and it felt good!  I don't workout on the weekends.  I try to rest since I hit the gym Monday through Friday.  I can tell you that not working out does make me more tired and way more lazy.  I really did nothing to speak of this weekend.

The most activity I got this weekend was washing my hair...yes, washing my hair.  You know if you have been reading my blog that washing the hair is a very big deal for me since I am fighting hard to keep my hair every day while going through chemo using the Penguin Cold Caps.  So the update is it is now 47 days since I started chemo and I still have a full head of hair.  It is not particularly pretty looking since I can't style it like I normally would, but it is hair and I will take that!  Most people on my chemo lose all hair by day 18 after starting chemo so I know I am very lucky that I read about Penguin Cold Caps!

On Saturday morning I did wash my hair and of course I freak out every time thinking it is all going to fall out.  I did lose some hair, but it was less than I have in the past few washes.  It seems like the shedding has still diminished a little which is nice.  It's funny because I was so worried about losing hair during chemo I did not think about my hair growing during chemo.   I need to "get in touch with my roots" as my darker hair color and gray is coming in!  Yikes!  I am shocked to see that I have about 3/4" of NEW growth since I last dyed my hair (which was in February!).   I am so excited that I not only have my hair, but it continues to grow during chemo!  That's a good feeling given the alternative of being bald.

Friday, April 15, 2011

Steroid hangover

The day following the steroids is nearly not as good as the day of the steroids.  The excessive energy you get while you are on them is great...you feel peppy and get so much done.  The downside is that you can't sleep when you have to take a dose before bed.  I was up until 2:30am!  Yikes!  That makes for a long day when I have to get up at 6:30am to get my son ready for school!  So needless to say I am a little tired out today!

The other thing about chemo that has been disrupting my sleep is the night sweats.  I get them at least a few times a night and I wake up every time.  Last night though I must have had ten of them!  That combined with the steroid buzz which was keeping me up made for a very sleepless night.  I knew it wasn't going to be good when my husband bailed and headed for the guest room around midnight!  Poor guy!  I keep him up every night with my thrashing around while I try to cool off from the night sweats.  I love being forced into menopause due to chemo (also known as "chemopause").  It seems like the night sweats are worse right in the days following chemo so I am going to remain optimistic that slowly they will reduce back to only a few times each night.  One can hope, right?

I did manage to do my workout today - one whole hour on the elliptical and some upper body physical therapy exercises.  I was dragging a little today though overall I am sure from the lack of sleep.  I am planning on sleeping good tonight so I am feeling more perky tomorrow since it's the weekend.  I have been lazy all day other than my workout but I needed a good lazy day right about now. 

Thursday, April 14, 2011

Day after chemo - love the steroid buzz

It's the day after chemo three and I am full of energy.  I am still on the steroids which give you unlimited energy!  Oh if I could only have this kind of energy on a daily basis!  Today is the last day of steroids though so tomorrow I will only have my regular energy. 

Today I was up and hit the gym.  I did my 60 minutes on the elliptical and it felt good.  I did a few weights and 10 minutes of stretching.  I then had my last physical therapy appointment.  My range of motion is all back to normal.  Gosh I will miss my physical therapist....she's a doll!  I then went off to the Pandora store and treated myself to my 3rd Pandora ring...one for each chemo.  I picked out an extra special one for my final chemo which is in 20 days (yes, I am counting the days!!!).  I will proudly go and pick it up three weeks from today and gladly say "I am finished with chemo"! 

After that, I was off to get the "nasty" neulasta shot.  I hope it does not cause me any bone pain this time. Last time it somehow missed me and it was a pleasant surprise!  I am hoping for the same this time around.

Hard to believe I had chemo yesterday.  I had such a GREAT day today.  The sun was shining and I was busy and full of energy.  I never thought I could do this whole chemo thing.  I have been truly blessed.  I know I am over the chemo hump now and that just feels SO damn good! 

I hope the coming days bring me no side effects.  I hope the coming weeks bring a continued full head of hair and minimal shedding.  That would make this all so much easier! 

On another note, I went bathing suit shopping today.  ICK!  What in the heck do you do to hide these ugly tissue expander coconut boobs?  I don't know how I will plan on going to the neighborhood pool in May and early June before my final implants are put in.  Lord...these things are ugly!  I am going to have to really shop for a bikini with good coverage of the coconuts.  I have a feeling this will be getting expensive to find something to hide this look. 

I told my husband about the bathing suit shopping and panic and how I was going to cover up these things.  He said "don't worry about it...people will just think you got a really bad boob job".  Nice...gotta love a man's perspective (smile).

Wednesday, April 13, 2011

75% done with nasty old chemo!

Today I completed my 3rd of 4 treatments with taxotere and cytoxan.  It feels GOOD to have one more session down and done!  Only one more chemo to go!  I never thought I would get here.  When I started chemo, today seemed so far away. 

Today was uneventful.  Chemo went as expected which is good.  I met with my medical oncologist first to review blood work.  All looked OK so that was good news.   I got the nerve to ask her when I could teach aerobics again and she gave me an OK!  She said I have done so well through chemo and she does not believe she is looking at someone still doing chemo.  She said "you don't look or act sick".  I am going to get myself on the aerobics schedule as soon as I can in the next few weeks.  I have not taught a class since late January.  I can't wait to see all my people again and do something "normal".

After meeting with the oncologist it was time for chemo. I started with my usual pre-chemo cocktail including benedryl and ativan.  I started my cold caps...they were a bit chilly at first but then I could not really feel that so much.  Quite honestly the part that is MOST uncomfortable is icing my fingers and toes during the taxotere portion of chemo.  Oh my God is that horrible!  It is ten times worse than wearing a cold cap.  The total amount of time I ice fingers and toes is about 1 1/2 hours and seems like an eternity.  I kept asking my husband "how many more minutes?" over and over again.  I felt like a kid in the car asking "are we there yet?".  I could not help myself...it is just that bad for me.  Thank goodness I only have to do that one more time..........

I remained a little doped up and out of it for chemo. The meds even made me a bit tired.  We were there all day as the cold cap protocol lasts for hours.  By the time I got home it was 5pm.  We had a quick dinner and then went outside to play in the yard with our little one (it finally felt like spring here today!).  I am feeling fine.   My appetite was a little off today but that usually happens each time.  I know I will be starving in the next few days and eat way too much (that happens every time too!).  Oh well.  I will hit the gym in the morning and try to work some of it off!

I can only hope this round goes as uneventful in the coming days as the last round of chemo went.  I am going to remain hopeful and optimistic on this!!!

Monday, April 11, 2011

It's been 4 months since I got breast cancer

I just realized today that this week it will be four months since I was diagnosed with breast cancer.  In some ways the time has gone by slow, but in other ways the time has gone by fast.  Regardless, I still can't believe this is my life.

So much has happened in the past four months.  It started with all the tests to try to figure out what was going on and what needed to be done.  Next there was a sentinel node biopsy, lumpectomy, oncotype dx test, bilateral mastectomy, chemo port surgery and chemo.  When I stop and think about all that I have been through, I still can't believe this is my life.

I remember when this started I just wanted to be through everything that I had to do.  Now I am through so much of it.  I look back and can't believe it.  This week I will be 75% done with chemo and then I just have my exchange surgery (for permanent implants) in June.  I don't know how I got through everything I have done, I really don't.  I never thought I could do all of this.  I was petrified and had huge anxiety over every single step too.  I cried so many tears Kleenex sales should have skyrocketed! 

Now that I look back I have learned a few things.  I have learned that you have to read about everything and become your own advocate.  I have learned you better completely understand your pathology report and ask lots of questions (even if the doctors and surgeons don't like it - who cares?).  Exercise is the thing that keeps me feeling good and emotionally sane (at least on most days).  I have learned to "problem solve" for myself.  What I mean is, my biggest fear of chemo was losing my hair.  I did research and found a solution in Penguin Cold Caps.  I was worried about losing eyelashes and eyebrows so I found some help with Latisse.  Reading and talking to other breast cancer patients has been very helpful to prepare myself for what was to come and know how to handle any issues that came up.  By far the biggest thing I learned in this is that the anxiety of everything I have had to endure before it happened was more difficult than actually going through it.  I have to say this whole journey has been easier than I ever anticipated.  Don't get me wrong...this has not been fun at all, but I have been able to get through everything and most of it hurt less than I ever imagined. 

I am not done with my journey yet as with breast cancer it is a life long battle, but it does feel really good to have so much behind me right now.  I will look forward now and focus on getting through chemo (only 3 more weeks and I am done!) and figure out how to put my life back together.  I finally feel like I will get to a place where breast cancer WON'T define me. 

Sunday, April 10, 2011

It's chemo week.....again

This week I will have chemo treatment #3.  That means I will only have one more to go.  I never thought I would get here, let alone that it would happen so fast.  The weeks have flown by since starting chemo.  I can't believe it has gone so quickly. 

I have managed way better than I imagined so far.  I keep waiting for the shoe to drop and to feel awful.  It just can't be this easy getting through chemo.  It just can't be.  I want to remain optimistic that it could be this easy, but I am having a hard time buying that!

I am thinking about doing chemo again on Wednesday and having a little anxiety over it.  I just hate waiting for side effects or the possibility of feeling bad.  Oh and the eating non-stop for days following chemo due to the steroids. I just can't stop eating carbs in the days following chemo.  I don't know how anyone can be that hungry! 

I am counting my blessings that I have felt so good.  I have not missed a workout since starting chemo other than infusion days.  I have not taken any naps.  I have not felt nauseous at all (I have not taken one pill for that).  I pray that I continue to feel this good and just get through this OK.  One can hope. 

Saturday, April 9, 2011

Why is washing the hair so traumatic?

I use to wash my hair every day.  I would wash, blow dry and sometimes use a curling iron or hair straightener and never gave it a second thought.  When I think about all the styling products - gels, mousse, hairspray and more that I would use....I never paid attention to what was in it or if it was harmful.  Now everything is different.

Since I am doing the Penguin  Cold Caps to keep my hair through chemotherapy the whole hair game is different.  Now washing my hair is completely stressful and emotional.  Yes, you read that right...stressful and emotional.  I said to my husband earlier today "I have to go upstairs and wash my hair and freak out and cry for a while so I have to allow time for all the drama so I will see you in a few hours".  Yes, you read that right too - I really said that to my husband.  This is my new normal, unfortunately. 

So here I sit with a towel on my wet hair waiting for it to dry a little since the hair dryer is now evil.  I hate washing my hair now.  It is torture seeing ever strand fall when I wet, wash, condition, rinse and comb it.  Ugh!  I swear it is going to make me nuts by the end of chemo.... 

The funny thing is that my hair pretty much looks normal to everyone else.  No one really knows (except me) what comes out when I wash it.  So if I stress about my hair, no one understands.  I have never spent so much time and energy on my hair!  It's exhausting!

I guess the good news is that I am almost 6 weeks out after my first chemo and still have a full head of hair.  Normally hair falls out almost completely within 21 days of starting the chemo regimen I am on.  The people at Penguin Cold Caps told me "if you still have hair at day 21 it will work for you."   I guess I am lucky about that despite the stress of all of this. 

I am definitely still shedding more than I did before starting chemo.  I soooo wish that would slow down more but that will take time I am sure.  For now I barely wash it.  There is minimal styling since you have to be so gentle with your hair.  I am lucky I have long hair so I can gently pull it back in a loose ponytail.  I do miss styling it my normal way, but I am so dang happy I have hair, I will take it!

Wednesday, April 6, 2011

Enjoying feeling good before more chemo

Time flies when you are having chemo!  I can't believe next week I will be ready for chemo #3!  After that I will be 75% completed.  It seems like the weeks in between chemo just fly by so fast.  It's funny because when I started chemo it seemed like it would last forever.  Now I can barely enjoy my time in between because time goes so quickly.

I have my weekly blood draws.  Last week they said the iron levels had dropped so I stared iron tablets daily.  This week they said my platelets were dropping a bit.  The levels are not too low for me to get the next chemo, but we have to watch the levels.  Unfortunately there is nothing I can do to help with platelet levels, but I continue to eat foods high in iron daily when I can to help with the iron levels.

I feel good for going through chemo.  I have continued to exercise 5 days a week since chemo started and the only days I have missed have been infusion days.  I do get some tiredness in my thighs at the end of the day (a slight burning feeling like my legs were tired from a workout) but for the most part that's the only side effect I am experiencing.  I can live with that!

The Penguin Cold Caps seem to be doing their job.  My hair is still hanging on.  When I look in the mirror, it's a full head of hair which makes me happy.  I continue to notice more strands than average fall out each day, but no clumps come out and I have no bald spots or anything.  My friends and family only notice I don't wear my usual hair style (blown out straight) so it looks different to them, but really it still looks like my hair.

I have 4 more weeks until I am finished with chemo!  I am over half way there at this point.  I am so glad to know I am pushing through it.  So far, it has been way easier than I thought.  I can only hope and pray that the rest goes just like that.  I am going to stay optimistic that this is how it will go!

Saturday, April 2, 2011

Let's talk fat...not weight but in food

Having a degree in Health Education and trying to be healthy most of my life, I focused a lot on a lower fat diet through most of my life.  Being Italian, I always used a lot of olive oil because it's good for you and let's face it, it tastes good too!  I never really thought much about safflower oil, soybean oil, sunflower oil or corn oil.  Quite honestly, I never even bought any of those oils for cooking that I can remember and never really thought about them.  Now because of breast cancer, I have to think about them and avoid them like crazy!  Who knew?

These types of oils are trans-fats or they are also called "hydrogenated" or "partially hydrogenated" vegetable oils.  These oils are usually liquid form, but through the hydrogenating process they are altered so they will remain solid at room temperature.  The benefit to changing the form of these oils is that it makes food stay fresh for long periods of time so they are used in almost every type of packaged food available in grocery stores.  Try reading the labels on chips, tortilla chips, crackers, cookies, graham crackers and any snack food and you will most likely find one of these oils.  It is almost impossible to find a food that does not contain corn oil, safflower oil, sunflower oil or soybean oil.  Trust me.  I have spent hours in the grocery store reading labels and it is so depressing!  Oh how I miss my favorite honey wheat pretzels.....boo!

I started reading up on these oils and their relationship to breast cancer and came away with a strong desire to eliminate them from my diet as much as possible for a few reasons.  First of oil, the hydrogenated or partially hydrogenated oils are much more difficult for the body to digest.  That certainly can't be good for anyone.  The other thing is that these oils can be much more inflammatory for the body. 

To understand the inflammatory part of this you have to understand the omega 3's and omega 6's.  The body cannot product omega 3 or omega 6 fatty acids so they must come from the diet to keep the body healthy.  Omega 3 fatty acids help lower risk of cardiac death, heart disease and can lower cholesterol.  A very important role relative to cancer is that omega 3 fatty acids can lower inflammation in the body.  There are other benefits too like increasing learning in children, decreasing blood pressure, lowering risk if blood clots and boosting the immune system.  Omega 6's also play an important role in brain function, growth and development, help with skin and hair growth, maintain bone health, and maintain metabolism and reproductive health.  On the negative side, some omega 6 fatty acids actually promote inflammation in the body.  So while there are many benefits of omega 3 and omega 6 fatty acids, there needs to be a balance, literally. 

A good diet that promotes health is balanced between omega 3 and omega 6 fatty acids.  In the average American diet there is a great in balance of of these fats.  The average American consumes 14-25 times more omega 6 fatty acids than omega 3 fatty acids.  When you look at the Mediterranean diet, there is much greater balance between the two.  Numerous studies indicate that the Mediterranean diet has a lower occurrence of heart disease and this diet is much lower in meat and much higher in foods containing omega 3 fatty acids (olive oil, garlic, fish, whole grains, fruits and small amounts of red wine). 

There are a few reasons why the American diet is so unbalanced in regards to these fats.  The first reason is that almost all packaged foods contain these fats so most people have no idea how much they are even consuming.  The other reason there is a large in balance is because of the way animals that produce foods (dairy cows, meat cows, chickens for eggs, chickens for meat, etc...) are raised and fed.  When animals are cage raised and not grass fed, they too consume large amounts of feed that contain high amounts of omega 6 fatty acids (soy, corn, etc...).  Therefore anything these animals produce are also in balanced in omega 3 and omega 6 fatty acids.  So not only do you have to avoid the sunflower, safflower, corn and soybean oils, you now have to evaluate what kinds of meat and dairy products you eat.  Oh how complex this is!

When it comes to cows for example, when they are grass fed and free range, they eat a proper amount of balanced foods (in regards to omega fatty acids) and therefore the ratio of omega 3 to omega 6 is better balanced in the foods produced from these animals.  Some studies also show these animals produce meats that contain less fat.  If the animal is fed mostly grains the ratio is completely off and then is transferred to the food they produce. 

The balanced diet has a ratio range of 2:1 to 4:1 of omega 6 to omega 3 fatty acids.  Since the omega 6 fatty acids are hidden in so many foods typically consumed it is best to focus on a diet rich in omega 3 fatty acids to balance things out, in addition to avoiding foods that contain omega 6 fatty acids.

Good sources of omega 3's include many types of fish.   Many dairy products are fortified with omega 3's such as eggs, milk, juice, yogurt, whole grain bread, cereal, whole grain pasta, oatmeal and wheat flour tortillas.  There are also many fresh produce options that contain omega 3s including brussel sprouts, kale, mint, parsley, spinach and watercress.

As far as avoiding some of the omega 6 fatty acids, it almost seems impossible to me right now!  I have been spending so much time reading labels on food in the store and most things contain these fats.  Here is a list of the common foods I use to eat that contain these fats: pancakes, waffles, whole grain breads/bagels/English muffins, crackers, pretzels, low fat biscotti cookies, animal crackers, tortilla chips, baked chips, flour tortillas, wheat pita bread, hummus, graham crackers, rice snacks, and more!  I have finally realized I need to start doing a lot of cooking and baking so I can use proper substitutes for the bad oils in these very common foods.  I don't know how I will ever find time to bake and cook all of these common convenience foods, but I am going to try. 

This is a big undertaking and right now seems very depressing to me.  For now I am snacking on apples, carrots, popcorn (popped in olive oil) and a few other things.  I have searched my stores and have been able to find some things that don't contain these oils but some are not organic.  I did find wheat pita bread, whole grain wheat tortillas, whole grain flat bread crackers and whole wheat English muffins.  So far I have not found any crackers or any low fat/low sugar cookies.  I guess it will help me keep my body weight down, right?

Still obsessing about the hair..yes, the hair

I am now 10 days past my second chemo and 4 1/2 weeks after my first chemo and still have a full head of hair thanks to the Penguin Cold Caps.  I won't say this week went by without stress over the hair, but overall it went well.  As I was told there will be shedding periods with the cold caps, but you will keep most of your hair.  They are right!

The shedding was definitely the worst last weekend.  I was so freaked out (read my previous posts!!!).   I have never cried over my hair before!  I can say calmly today that the shedding has continued to decrease each day.  That gives me hope that I can do this and keep my hair. 

This week I was to afraid to wash my hair and it is recommended to only wash once or twice a week during chemo if using cold caps.  I was so scared to wash but my hair got so gross.  I realized yesterday when I went to the gym that I was actually embarrassed to go with my hair looking like that.  I guess since most people go to the gym with gross hair, if you are embarrassed to go there because of your hair, it is time to wash the hair!  So I fretted all morning and most of the day and by 3pm I bit the bullet and washed my hair. 

With the cold cap protocol you wash your hair in cold/cool water so it's never relaxing....so I began and it was not that bad on the shedding.  I did lose some hair...more than I would lose before starting chemo, but when I got done, I still had a full head of hair.  I keep reminding myself that each time I look in the mirror. 

I realized this morning that it IS working well for me.  I went to my son's swim lesson (I never go because I am always teaching aerobics classes on Saturday mornings) and felt like every other mom in there.  No one would ever know I have breast cancer or that I am going through chemo.  My husband introduced me to another dad that brings his son to the same class and it was nice to feel "normal".  He knew I taught aerobics on Saturday mornings and can't usually come to class (apparently my hubby told him),  I simply said I was off teaching due to an injury right now.  That was way better than saying "I have breast cancer" and getting "the look".

So despite being worried over losing hair a bit, it IS working.  The Penguin Cold Caps are worth the effort.  I plan on ending chemo with my hair and dignity!