Tuesday, October 26, 2010

My Bloody Vampire

I had a blood transfusion yesterday—I came home from a Chicago and NY trip, had normal blood work the next day. Ta-da, I was super anemic (Hemoglobin almost critically low.)

That would explain the head-rushes, extreme fatigue, trouble concentrating etc. Well, those seem like appropriate side-effects since not enough oxygen is getting to your brain. Thought I'd video my first transfusion. Was at the hospital until 10 p.m. Don't watch if blood makes you faint.


video

Sunday, October 03, 2010

Still Kicking

I know it's been so long. Some of you have even emailed me to say that, which I love. I've been thwarted by the thought of trying to catch you all up, but I've got to give the short version of the loooong past couple of months.

Some of the most important things:

I got a port, making chemo much easier.

I've gained a shit-ton of weight; all in my belly and lower abdomen, which I found out Friday is attributable to my menopausal state and steroids. The chemo I'm on puts me in early menopause. No period, but all the WONDERFUL effects of PMS.

I had a fabulous 35th birthday weekend, with plenty of wardrobe malfunctions. I was a total bridezilla and Mom was a fairly calm mother of the bride.

Lucius is a dream, aside from his recent development of pissing on my couch when he's mad at me for leaving the house.

I got some really amazing birthday presents, and some incredibly generous donations to my Stand up to Cancer team, Dishalicious.

And perhaps the most significant development: Friday we got the results of my latest PET scan. After SEVEN MONTHS of chemo, usually with only a week or two in between cycles, the scan was almost totally clean. The only lesion left is on my sternum and that's too small to measure. Dr. Daryl is going to take another look, hopefully he will think the same.

So, chemo continues until we can't see this spot on my sternum. And I know we thought my life was Cancerous before, but now between bloodwork and treatment and scans, I spend about ten hours a week at the hospital—more on Carbo days. Tomorrow is a Carbo day. Have I told you that a Carbo (+ Gemzar + Avastin + Zomeda + anti-nausea drugs) puts my sessions at about five hours.

Tomorrow, Schwartz is going to cut down on the steroids and, oh shit, I just realized I don't have one of my anti-nausea drugs that I'm supposed to put on 24 hours in advance. Whoopsie. And then I have to call my gyno re birth control pills. Isn't that ironic? Birth control pills when I'm closed for business down there.

Anyway, I'm posting a video of the roast my friends did at my Bday celebration last weekend. I've talked a lot about how great my friends are, but now you can see for yourselves. Mind you, half of the people at this party were my parents' friends. You can see the photos on FB and the video in the post below this.

Stephanie Green's 35th Birthday Toast!

"Steph's Roast"
by Dana Eber Silver
Choreographed by Dawn Dizeo

All: We're Steph's best friends and we're here to roast
That's why we flew in from coast to coast
See there's eight of us and we know we're fresh
Party rockers non-stoppers
But we know you best

Lay: See the S is for snakes

Al: The T is for TITS

Erica: The E is for Emory

Dawn, Deb: The P and H hot

Lay & Erica: Standing over there is Cole the Hole
She's a great friend, but a crazy A hole

Dana: Now here's a little something 'bout Stephanie Green

Al: It's pretty complex and a little mean

Lay: Baby D [Dana beat boxing]

All: Super Steph [repeat]

Dawn: Super Steph's elegant and always understated
But everybody knows that her diamonds are upgraded
We know you like those pearls Roxy gave you as a girl
And you love those green earrings that just rock your world!

All: Super Steph [repeat]

Al: Super Steph has a way to get you all to listen
She writes on her blog and you pay close attention
You might not believe it, you might not even buy it
But when she shows pictures of her boobs,
You might even try it!

All: Super Steph [repeat]

Deb: Now all you Super Steph fans
She loves to write her book
You may think you're not in it
But take another look!
You better listen good to what we have to say
Cause when it comes to her book she's gonna have a field day

All: Super Steph [repeat]

Lay: Now she's the chicest JAPpy bitch from coast to coast
She's got Manolos and Choos but she don't need to boast
She's an ingrown crotch hair, but that's okay
Cause she's the bestest friend you count on any day

All: Hit it!

Dana: [Scratching]

Dana: It's finally my turn to rock the mic
Cause we've been best friends for all of our life
From sneaking out on New Years to riding in Hellrider
To raving at Simons and pulling crazy all-nighters
From sleepover contests to snakes in your shoes
To corn rows in your hair
And putting on our belts girls

All: Ha, ah, ha ha ha
Super Steph [repeat]

Al: Now you party people know
What Super Steph means
She is such a great person
And a little drama queen

Erica: But baby don't you know she means the world to all of us
But don't piss her off cause man she likes to cuss

Super Steph, ha ah ha ha
Super Steph

Lay: See the "S" is for sassy

Al: And the "U" is for unique

Erica: The "P" is for pranks, like pickles in car seats!

Dana: The "E" is for Ecstacy

Deb and Dawn: And the "R" is for RATS
So tell those nasty rodents just to stay the hell back

ALL: Super Steph—Dem big 2 kt earrings
Super Steph, we love her more than you'll ever know
Super Steph, Ya'll get the drill
Super Steph, We're all here celebrating in Jack-son-ville
So happy birthday Mark!
Happy birthday Steph
Let's toast to you, cause you both are the best

Peace out Super Steph






Thursday, September 09, 2010

You've come a long way, boobie

This is an older post I forgot to publish!













OMG, it's been so long, not even sure if I've got readers anymore. I've had blog burnout. And things are just happening so fast that I've got no time to devote to Dish. But I've got an hour before my love Lucius goes to the vet, so what the hell.

The thing that is occupying my thoughts the most right now—I really wish I could get over this Jewish Girl Obsession—is how fat I've gotten. I'm not exaggerating. I've gained 15 pounds this summer. Fifteen fucking pounds. This is despite 6 days a week at the gym and thrice weekly yoga. Shopping is now something I fucking hate.

Case in point: I got another port inserted Friday. A 'power port'—wouldn't it be nice if the Power Port patients actually had power over their bodies? The next day we went to the outlets for retail therapy. I'm having a fairly big 35th bday bash in Ponte Vedra on the 25th—cart blanche for a fabulous Oscar or Valentino dress. I wanted to shoot myself in Valentino. Couldn't really lift my arms; great way to shop. I left Sawgrass completely empty-handed. Soooooo depressing.

In this out-of-control life we Cancer Patients lead, our bodies are the one thing we can control. And usually chemo sheds weight!!! My Marinol addiction counteracts that, however. Quit, you say? Then what? Do you know how boring a single gal's life is sitting at home watching TV.

Everyone: "Why don't you go out then? You've got plenty of friends, are invited to the most 'fabulous' events etc."

Do you know how hard it is being almost 35 with Cancer, pretending to be happy amongst my friends, most of whom have fabulous, healthy, lucky lives. Moreover, I don't drink but like once a month now, and I hate going out to dinner cause I can't count calories. I told you I'm obsessed. I SO hate my body right now.

Saturday, July 17, 2010

Great news—the CT scan was vedy, vedy good! Major shrinkage, George Costanza would be proud. Start another four week cycle on Monday.

Check out this awesome video Duval Ditty about Jacksonville.

Tuesday, July 13, 2010

Check out my latest items on eBay: Marc Jacobs black patent shoulder bag, reserve is $200.



Louboutin gold platform espadrilles, which I lurrrve, but are 4.5 inches, ensuring that I will trip in them.


Luscious Lucius and the glorious sunsets. He loves the balcony. He also now has his own Facebook page! Add him, ruff ruff.










Yikes, you can see my 'nips' in this tank. Whatever.

So, in Cancer news. My veins are as bad as those of the Heroin addicts you see on Intervention. As of Thursday, when I was scheduled to have my CT scan, not a ONE in my right arm was useable. We can't use the left arm because of the 11 lymph nodes that were removed. In short, my veins are FUCKED. So, I put off the CT scan hoping that the veins would recover somewhat in a week. I had the head nurse, Michael, an awesome gay I'm friends with, try to shoot me up last Thurs before the scheduled CT. When he tried to go into the vein we used for Tuesday's chemo, this is what happened:

And it looks even worse now. At this rate, should I get more chemo, I may be looking at another port. That bites my asshole, as the tissue that surrounded the previous port isn't even fully recovered. My life sucks, no? Having a port is the creepiest feeling in the world.

I'm going to pop in to the chemo ward tomorrow to see if Michael can find a vein. If not, well, CT gets postponed another week.

Monday, July 05, 2010

Lucius Jackson!

video

Meet Lucius, who came my way via Facebook connections, Betsy, Lou Lou and Wally. I think they sent him to me from doggie heaven. Seriously. He's a mostly-deaf, three-year-old Havanese. His first mommy rescued him and unselfishly brought him to me. He's a joy and even though it's soon, it just felt so right.

My final chemo of this cycle is tomorrow. I'm pretty fucking tired of this shit y'all. Physically, mentally and emotionally. My hair's thinning. My white counts are shot. I just need a break. I have a CT on Thursday; Friday we get the results.

There are three possible results. One: Chemo is still working, Cancer is shrinking. Two: Chemo has plateaued and the Cancer is stable—no worse, no better. Three: Chemo is not working.

Schwartz feels scenario three is very unlikely—no jinx—however, the first two outcomes are problematic as well. Good problems, but still.

Scenario one, which I'm hoping for, means more chemo. I want the shit Cancer to have remissed even further, but like I said, my body needs a break. A real break. My veins are shot. My teeth are horrible. My eyelashes are at half-mast and I'm really depressed. The L.A. vacay was supposed to be that break, instead I found out Wally was at death's door and spent my last day there gorging on baked goods from Whole Foods and the marijuana dispensary. I need a restorative break. A beach, cocktails, rest and relaxation.

Scenario two, results are stable. This is the most difficult outcome to interpret, Schwartz says. In this event, we must make the decision either to continue chemo—hey, it can't hurt!—or stop chemo and transition to Avastin only. Mom is coming in Thursday to endure the horrific, agonizing 24-hour wait between the scan and seeing Schwartz Friday. Though I'm pretty much off the Benzos, the Xanax will be making an appearance come Thursday.

Scenario three: Let's not even go there. I'm going to bury myself in writing, editing, eBaying and adjusting Lucius this week.

Saturday, June 19, 2010

Ha-Choo!

For once I'm having luck on eBay!! Forgot to give you guys first look. (All 20 of you.)

Never-been-worn Choos. I bought them for my Heeb reading and never wore them. Oh, lol, I'm a sicko!! And I'm donating ten percent to the American Cancer Society. Have a look-see. They're a size 7.

Wednesday, June 16, 2010

RIP Wally Pierre Green Oct. 12, 1995—June 5, 2010

Pierre was Wally's given name, lest you think he was merely a frou-frou, poo-poo lap dog. We didn't find that out until after we'd picked the name Walter, while thumbing through our temple directory. He was an old soul; the name seemed to fit.

Wally passed June 5. I hardly got out of bed for a week. It has been the most gut-wrenching, painful experience of my life. No joke.

Here's how it went down. I was in NY the week of May 17 for a Norton checkup. (A-okay, in significant remission. Now in second round of chemo with two more treatments, then another CT scan.) Wally came with me to NYC, and Mom took him home to Jacksonville to keep while I was away in Los Angeles the following week. He hadn't had much of an appetite for anything but turkey and chicken, which I attributed to age/tummy troubles. He'd been up-to-date with vet checkups and they'd pronounced him healthy. I never thought to run preventative blood work to see what was going on with his organs.

I left for L.A. the Friday of Memorial Day weekend. Where was my first stop? A marijuana dispensary. More on that later. On the 5th day of my vacay, Mom told me that Wally's health seemed to be declining.

"Why the fuck didn't you tell me?" I demanded, sitting in front of the Pacific Ocean with my friends. I felt my world caving in. It was Tuesday; I would get back to Miami Thursday morning. I had chemo on Friday. I will cancel chemo and come home, I told Mom. Realistically, I couldn't do that. I'd already had a nearly three-week break between the last round and Friday's treatment was the first of this new cycle.

He was listless, depressed, slow, with little appetite and little desire to go out. Oh God, I knew this wasn't good. Mom promised to take him to the vet Wednesday morning, have blood work done, put him on IV fluids if necessary and keep him at the vet overnight, do whatever the vet said. (We've been using this vet in Jax for about 20 years. He's great.)

By Wednesday, when I was set to fly out on the red-eye, he hadn't improved. Mom and I thought that she'd drive him down Friday so he could be with me here. In my gut, I knew that this was probably The End. He was almost 15 after all. I spoke to the vet, who confirmed my worst fears, saying if the fluids didn't jump-start his kidneys, he had maybe seven to 10 days. I barely left the hotel room that day and flew home in a daze. I cradled his photo and spoke to him, telling him to hang on and that Mommy would be there soon to take care of him. Thursday night he came to me in my dreams and let me know that he needed me; that he was waiting. I bolted out of sleep and spoke to mom, who had already been looking into flights for me to take directly after chemo. I repacked, Hemley shuttled me to chemo, and I was booked on the 8:45 p.m. flight to Jax. After having to switch planes—losing precious hours—I arrived home at midnight. I was terrified and heartbroken at his condition. He was lying on a towel on my Mom's lap, and barely lifted his head at the sight of me. He was so weak. When I put him in my lap and kissed him, he snuffled and sighed, as if to say, "Finally."

I knew it was the end. So did he. Within a couple of days, he'd become incontinent and barely able to walk. I had to hold him up to pee. That night, I placed him next to me in bed and talked to him. I held him until I fell asleep. He was on his blankie next to me. Around 8 a.m. I woke up to him screaming in pain. I was beyond horrified to see him experienciencing a grand mal seizure, covered in feces and urine. His tongue was bleeding. I rolled him on his side and put my finger in his mouth for him to bite down on. Too painful. My brain kicked into Mommy mode and within moments I had shoved a chicken strip in his mouth for him to bite down on. That worked like a charm. And at least his last taste was of his favorite treat—organic chicken strips from Whole Foods. I had his feces all over my arms and didn't care. I ran with him downstairs panicking, waking up Mom and Dad.

"Call the vet!"

"Honey, I think it's time," Mom said.

"I know, call the vet!"

We cleaned him up with a towel, cleaned myself, and were off to the vet. I held him and soothed him and talked to him during the five minute ride. Told him it was okay to let go. He'd held on for me as long as he could. Hell, he'd even psychically communicated to me that it was time. Even though I was sobbing, I tried to soothe him and kiss him and squeeze in every last thing in his last moments.

We went in with the vet and he explained the euthenizing process. First he would get some kind of injection a la twilight—I'm still a little confused what that was—and then the poison that stops his heart. No pain. We were all in the room. I was holding his little paws and my mug was the last thing he saw.

"He's gone," Dr. Nash said.

I kept trying to close his eyes, like they do on TV.

"They won't close," the doctor said.

"Let's give her a moment," the doc said.

I don't really remember exactly what I said. After they took his body away, Mom and I picked out an urn. Retail therapy.

Three guesses what we did next. TJ Maxx. I wanted to buy something to honor his memory. (Fucking insane, I know.)

So Mom and I were wandering around TJ's looking at the pet stuff.

"What if we got a bed for Stella and Tessie to lay on instead of that rug?"

Nah, we knew they wouldn't use that. Then we saw some nice dog bowls.

"Ooh look, that one matches the urn!" Mom said excitedly.

"Oh-kay, Mom. Let's get a water bowl too. And then we saw a lovely white water bowl depicting the New York skyline with a dog prancing through the city. It was made for Wally the sophisticated, city-dwelling, world traveler. And his last trip was to New York as well.

I went home, got in bed and stayed there till Tuesday, when I flew back to Miami. In three weeks I'd finished chemo, been to NYC and L.A., started chemo again and put my beloved companion to sleep. Pretty rough three weeks, even by my standards. I was gutted. I hibernated here last week as well, and still have not returned most phone calls.

"There is no set period of grieving for something like this," Dr. Laura said. She also happens to have her degree in veterinary medicine and teaches a course at the L.A. Zoo. She spoke with me for 20 minutes out of session, affirming that Wally was more than a mere "dog accessory," that he was my man, my companion, my comfort and a huge part of my mental health. Only people who have been through this experience can fully appreciate how utterly devastating this is. I finally ventured out of the apartment this week, got back to the gym and booked a massage with Chad today.

I cannot imagine getting another dog at this moment, but I am going to look into fostering.

Wally, I love you beyond words. You were my soul mate, my caretaker, my main man, my best friend, my sounding board, my fierce protector, my savior, my life. There will never be another you. I hope you are up there somewhere romping with Betsy and Lou Lou, and I hope when you are reincarnated we will meet again. I miss you each and every second of every day. I wish you were sitting here on the patio with me now, giving me the "Mommy, it's too fucking hot out here," look.

You are remembered fondly by so many people who will never forget you. Thank you for waiting for me.

Wally's last moments below.
The night before.

The morning of, after he'd stopped seizing and we were about to leave for the vet.

At the vet.
In the room.
Mom and I trying to comfort.

One last good-bye.

And in recent happier times.




This one I'm having blown up, mounted and hanging on the wall above where his food and water was.

Tuesday, May 25, 2010

Holy crap, I can't believe it's been nearly two weeks since I blogged. I've actually begun to dread blogging, feeling that it's run its course—in my mind at least. Giving it away for free and all that when I have 320+ pages of my now-untitled manuscript to edit. I think I'm just totally burnt on the blog. But I like to let you all know that I'm not dead yet. I updated you on the good CT scan results. I headed up to NYC last Monday for a consult with Norton. Which was really kind of unecessary, as he told us upon entering the room.

"Why do you keep coming up here just to see me?" He said sarcastically.

"You've got a great doctor down there and he can talk to me anytime. Unless you're already up here anyway. But you don't need to keep coming here just to see me!"

Was he firing us?

"I was in Miami last weekend actually, I could've seen you there."

"Really? Where did you stay?"

"The Mondrian."

I laughed out loud. The second and last time I'd patronized Asia de Cuba there, this total hooker was wearing a skirt so short Ben, his folks and my folks got a glimpse of her vjayjay—and I'm not kidding. Dr. Larry Norton staying there? No way.

"Oh. My. God. You did not! I live on that street!"

"Oh really?"

"Omigod! That place is like call girl central. I can't believe you stayed there! It's so beyond. It's disgusting!!!"

"Yeah, you're right. And I'm like the perfect target for them—older, well-dressed man traveling alone. They were all over me."

"Shut up!!!"

Even the stoic, female doctor in Chanel ballet flats, who he'd sent in to examine me before his entree, began cracking up. I was dying. This hotel—picture Vegas-style hookers casing the lobby, with worse implants and yellowed extensions.

"Oh my god!" said the other doctor. "What did you do?"

"Well, you just don't engage them." Like, all in a day's work for the good doctor. I would love to step into his shoes for a day or so.

Man, what I wouldn't give to have seen that scenario. Just. Beyond. Well, Norton agreed with Schwartz's next protocol. Do another four treatments; two Carboplatin with the Avastin antibody and two Gemzar. With a week off in-between. Maybe it wasn't worth the trip after all? Actually it was. I get this Avastin antibody along with the Carbo treatments. That's the one harvested from mouse DNA. Sloan and Norton have now found that a dosage of 7.5 mg every four weeks is more effective than a 10 mg dosage every three weeks. He wanted to know whether I've been getting 10 or 7.5. I didn't know, but I'd definitely been getting it every three weeks. So, I was to talk to Schwartz about it and obviously change it up to the Sloan protocol next time 'round.

Yesterday, I popped by the hospital just for fun—to get a CBC before dental work cause my fucking nasty-ass, root-canaled tooth is still giving me headaches—and told Schwartz what he said. So he and Schwartz will talk, and I'll switch it up. Now, Schwartz said, this will mean me going to the chemo ward an additional day, separate from the chemo. But what the fuck do I care? The chemo ward is so non-traumatic for me. In a way, these people have become like family. It's like high school and I'm the popular kid. They all know my name, and shamefully, I don't know all of theirs.

Doc Norton did say—and I don't quite remember the exact medical reason for this—that complete remission is very, very, very rare. (So if your doc tells you you're in complete remission, I'd have a CT scan to see whasup.) Something about cells, and the bones taking a while to regenerate. He talks a mile a minute and we didn't take notes. But it's good to know—I'll never make the mistake again of saying 'I'm cured.' Or 'I'm in full remission.'

But I am definitely in remission, yay! I wasn't really sure whether I was or not. But Norton confirmed that yes, I'm in a pretty, pretty, pretty good state of remission. (BTW, when the hell is Curb coming back?)

I begin cycle two, or whatever the fuck it is, Friday June 4, a day after I get back from L.A. (I leave this Friday.) And this time, I'm going it alone. I'm going to be a Big Girl—in more ways than one; I'm a complete fat ass right now despite my diligent gym-going. There's just no need—no jinx—for Mom to come in for these treatments. It's only two of each. And it's not worth the self-imposed Jew guilt for me. Sure, in an ideal world she'd like to be here to take care of her daughter and it's uber-comforting for her to be here, knitting and drinking her red wine while we watch The Biggest Loser. But in the real world, she's got a job and has more than used up her vacation days. If this is something I'll be dealing with for life, then I need to learn how to deal with it on my own.

So, New York was good, despite the weather, which sucked my asshole. Cold, rainy and windy in May. Weather like that makes me sooo glad I don't live there anymore. It's so nice to be able to put your Winter wardrobe away in April like clockwork as opposed to having a schizophrenic one—with no closet space to boot—like you need in New York. I actually had to buy rain boots to survive the wacky weather. And since I had to buy them anyway, I may as well have gotten these:

So very practical for hurricane season. I've never even owned rain boots. despite a lifetime in Florida. They came in handy—I had Wally with me. We stayed on Central Park South and I had to actually enter the park to walk him. Despite that, he decided to pee on the hotel's bed and chair. Poor guy. He's now with Mom, Dad, and StellaCaTessie. I miss him sooo much already. The Loews Santa Monica is dog friendly, but he's happier at home. Anyway, I wore these beauties yesterday to the hospital over leggings, and I've never gotten more compliments on a clothing item. Props to Meredith for introducing me to them.

But I digress. Monday night I got to hang with Laura, of Ben and Laura, who's in living in the City while studying at the prestigious International Center for Photography. We had drinks at the Ritz on CPS, where the pappers were actually waiting outside. Within an hour we spotted (rapper?) Akon, Scott Bakula, Greg Gruenberg from Alias and Jesse Metcalfe (who held the door for us) of Desperate Housewives.

At the Ritz bar with Laura.


And the following night with Michael—thanks to Mom for not telling me that fucking annoying strap thing they put in garments was showing.


Laura, Brother, Mom and I went to Buddakan for dinner, which was fabu as always. And I drank for the first time in months. Oh, wine, how I've missed thee! Tuesday night we had dinner at Kefi with my lovely, lovely, lovely cousin Will Schwalbe and his equally lovely partner David.


(David, I'm sorry if I talked your ears off about your secret for looking at least 10 years younger than you are;) Mom and Michael got to meet them for the first time, and we're all so happy to have a 'new' member of the family. Especially one as awesome as Will!



Equally fabulous is Will's new and hot culinary Web site Cookstr. Check it out, and cook something for me while you're at it. I'm begging you—Whole Foods prepared meals department is probably going to kick me out soon.

Back to me. I leave for L.A. Friday—yaaaaaaaaaay. My two big food outings are Katsuya—you guys know I MUST see TMZ—and the Foundry on Melrose. Dr. Laura has called the chef of the Foundry and he's preparing a veggie tasting menu for me! Not to mention seating me at her table etc. etc. Could you die??? Only a Jewish, Beverly Hills shrink! I may also have the chance to check out a marij-u-wana dispensary. And of course brunch at Geoffrey's in Malibu is a must.


Natch, wardrobing for this trip is unique due to the weather and West-Coast style.

My message for Lee Ann yesterday:

"Hiiii! So, I'm soooo psyched to come on Friday, but I have some wardrobe questions. Like, what do people wear during the day? Jeans? And at night—dresses or is it too cold? How cold is it? I mean, do I need a coat or will shawls work? Anyway, call me back! I've forgotten how people dress out there!"

I did make a concession in the shoe department—I'm only bringing two pairs of daytime ones. How did I manage such sartorial restraint? By ordering new Jack Rogers! Check these babies out—they arrived today and are Ah-dorable!

This color is called Platinum, and is a perfect neutral. The heels are two-inch, great for a shorty like me.
And both match the two daytime bags I'm bringing. (Black Chanel and pewter Balenciaga.)

What's also been keeping me from the blog is I've actually been editing the book. A little more every day. Almost up to page 50 by now. So fingers crossed that one day you'll have to pay for my words. For now, it's untitled. I still think Cancer is the new black—but, let's face it, the phrase is played.

Thursday, May 13, 2010

Raining CTs and Dogs

I've been busy and quite fucking lazy. Dana and Baby III have been staying with Wally and me since Saturday. I even baby-sat one night—she's eight months old, so there was lots of baby food, dog toys and goo-goo, ga-ga noises involved. It's been a whirlwind couple of chemo months. Only 10 weeks in this cycle, can you believe? I've been tired, mostly. White blood counts were borderline this week, so Tuesday was an interminable day at the hospital, starting with a CT scan (to gauge whether the chemo worked or not, no biggie, right?) and a Nuprogen shot to boost me enough for today's FINAL chemo. Of this cycle anyway.

So, yesterday, waiting on the results, I was quite the bundle of hay-wired nerves. To the point where every little thing grated on me. As I was on my way to Chad for some needle-and-massage relief, "Mammo" popped up on the Caller ID, and I knew this was the Results Show. Bigger than American Idol, natch.

"Well!" Joanne the nurse says without introduction or preamble, "The CAT scan was great!"

I started crying with relief, not realizing just HOW stressed I was in the waiting. "They're even better than he [Dr. Schwartz] was expecting."

"Oh, thank GAWD."

"Yes, so there is significant improvement in all the areas. He's very, very pleased."

"Oh god, thank fucking god. So what does that mean exactly; I mean, I don't really know how CTs work. You don't need to read me the report, but like, what does it say basically?"

"Well, it says (I'm summarizing), 'patient shows significant shrinkage [save the Seinfeld jokes] in all the metastatic sites'."

So, all the Cancerous sites have shrunk significantly; even moreso than Schwartz had expected. (Chad had predicted this, as my last 15-3 had dipped from a 191 to an 81 level. Normal blood work in a healthy woman would have a number between 5 and 40. Halfway there!)

I was crying from sheer relief and for the ability to exhale. I even let a car go in front of me whereas before the call I flagged off a pedestrian on a bike—with a kid no less—for crossing the street and causing me to lose a yellow light.

During Chad's session I even passed out a couple times. Unheard of for Stephanie Green. (Okay, so I'd popped a Marinol prior to session.)

Though not fully remissed, I think this is more than what my doctahs were hoping for. I have chemo in an hour+, so I will get the full report and the 'what's next' talk. I will need another 10-week cycle of this chemo, the theory being if it ain't broke, don't fix it.

Schwartz will consult with Norton; I fly up to NYC Monday and see Norton Tuesday. I return Wednesday night, then fly out to LA the following Thursday for my post-Chemo, The Sequel vacay. Five days at the Loews in Santa Monica, chilling on the Pacific with my friends.

So all is well, and I will report back with Schwartz's opinions later, I swear.

Meantime, below is moi, in my last Carboplatin-treatment-retail-therapy-sa-weeet-Manolos, drinking the Barium solution the night before the CT. Woohoo, I'm on the mend. And my hair still looks fab, no? I had a trim at Oribe a couple weeks ago. Thanks for hanging in for the long haul folks.
xoxo
Your favorite Cancer Patient

Monday, April 26, 2010

Yup, I've totally been avoiding you. I've got plenty of legit excuses. Intense Chemo. Fatigue. Dental related headaches. House guests galore. But the real culprit is writer's block. It all started a couple weeks ago when a Facebook friend posted the link to her new book, Orange Is the New Black, a memoir of her time in prison. Fuckity fuck fuck. I emailed my mentor, who is good friends with her as it turns out, and who told me he thought "XXX is the new black is kind of played out" anyway.

Just one more little-big thing to make me retreat into my non-writing, non-editing hole. So now my full-time job that doesn't pay and is pretty fucking grim and boring is Cancer Patient. Natch, I'm being hard on myself because the truth is that I have house guests three weeks out of the month. For every chemo session. And while I've got company I tend to neglect reality. I've completely detached myself from the now retitled manuscript, Breast Cancer at Bergdorf's, (eh, cut me some slack; I was really married to the first title). It's just a bunch of pages sitting in a box in my living room. What is my problem? I need a session with Dr. Laura. I'm also just not all there mentally. One of the lingering side effects of this Chemo is that I just feel high all the time. Lightheaded, dulled, slow-moving mentally and physically.

On the upside, the Chemo—I only have two sessions left!—is really working. Monday, for the first time, my CA 15-3 numbers were kick ass. It went from nearly 400 to under 200. We cannot even find the node on my neck that was previously the size of a peach pit. Yay!

Al and Nicole. We're in "my room," the corner room of the Chemo Ward.

But I'm sooo fucking tired all the time. I've not seen the inside of Equinox in weeks. I'm eating a ton, but may have a tapeworm cause I'm not gaining weight. The only thing I'm doing is a few yoga poses each day. I've been working on my tan though, which is progressing nicely thank you very much. The dolphins are out in full force behind my building. Yesterday one was only about 50 yards away from me and Wally on shore. Fantastic. Mesmerizing. Dolphins in my backyard—could you die?

So, I finish Chemo on the 10th and will have scans like the next day. Dana and baby JJ are coming in for that one. I'm gonna see more boobage that week than any gal should, Dana's a breast feeding Nazi. An infant in my apartment for five nights should be very interesting. The following Monday I head up to NYC for a consult with Dr. Norton. Just to see what to do next. I'm expecting another round of the same. Ugggggggggggggggghhhhhhh.

After the Carbo treatment two weeks ago, I went back to Jacksonville with Mom. (Note to self: Quit going to Jacksonville. It only makes you angry and insanely bored and thus resentful that your family lives in such a podunk town. The people are great; the "city" is like you're back in the 1950s. The food in my 'rents fridge was certainly from that decade before I had enough and cleaned it out.)

But I digress. I went there because my two Chemo companions for last week were Nicole and Alison, who live in Jacksonville. So the plan was to ride back to MIA with them on Sunday. Well, they wanted to leave Saturday, which was fine with me. But Friday Al called—one of her daughters had come down with a 24-hour bug and had been throwing up. We couldn't chance Al being sick around me, so it seemed like she'd be unable to come. Meanwhile, Mom and Dad were at a college fraternity reunion at UF, where Alison's dad was as well. So my health care was in the hands of Nicole, and we planned to make the drive the next day.

(In a major Southern accent) "Steph, we just gotta make a stop at the Bloomingdales in Aventura on the way home. I got a $200 gift certificate and Courtney put some Louboutins on hold for me."

Court is getting married soon on the Amalfi Coast and Nicole is the maid of honor, so I didn't think it so odd that Nicole had something wedding-related to do.

"Well, it'd be a lot easier if we could go to Aventura tomorrow since it's so late."

"We gotta go there today. They're holding them for me."

"Okay. What do they look like?"

"You know, they're big and chunky."

"And?"

"That's all I know. They're big and chunky."

"Why don't you call Bloomingdales and see if they'll hold them till tomorrow."

She's on the phone with Bloomies for like five minutes and she hangs up. I start asking her about the shoes, just cause I wanna know.

After about 20 questions from me, Cole starts cracking up. "Stephanie, we gotta pick up a big package for you."

"Big package? Uh oh."

Let me back up. Nicole, Lee Ann—who lives in L.A.—and Dana have an exceptional history of embarrassing me in public. Without fail, whenever we're together at a schmancy restaurant, they tell the waiter it's my birthday and cause a big scene. I've come to expect it now.

"Okay, well, as long as it's not living or a birthday cake, that's fine." I was expecting some sort of beauty gift box or something.

We're on the phone with Lee Ann, Dana and Al for the whole ride down; again nothing unusual. All of us go back for three generations and like I said, Alison's dad Jeff was with my dad in Gainesville at the time. Well, Alison was feeling better, so Jeff was going to drive her down the next day. So now we've got two generations involved in the transportation of us to Miami. Finally, we get to Aventura Mall, and finding Bloomingdales is like locating the Lochness Monster. What a clusterfuck that place is. We pull up in front of the store and Nicole kind of stops the car in the middle of valet.

"Just go down this row."

She's like out of it and so am I, so I'm still completely clueless. To the point where she has to tell me to look through her window. Well, who do I see coming towards me but Lee Ann, flown in from L.A. to surprise me! Tres, tres cool. Accompanied by our good friend Erica from college. What a feat for them to pull off in a notoriously incestuous group. Mom and Dad were even in the know. When Al and Nicole picked a date to come in, I proffered the idea of Lee Ann coming as well, but when she told me she had a work conference that weekend, I dropped it. Plus, I'm seeing her next month in L.A. so it was doubly surprising.

Anywho, we had a crazy few days in Miami. Sunday night we went to Joe's, which was the first time I'd gotten out of gym clothes in about a month.

The real housewives of Miami Beach

Al, Erica, Lay, Nicole and me in my apartment
And they of course told the waiter it was my birthday, which I knew was going to happen. Monday we went to the hospital not knowing whether my white counts would be high enough.

They were psyched to meet Schwartz, after hearing about him for two years. So we piled in there, got the good news about the 15-3. He looks at them and says, "So lemme ask you, how come you all have Southern accents and she doesn't?"

Hahahaha. I guess I'm so JAPpy that I escaped that fate. I don't know. Maybe cause I spent so much time in NYC growing up. But it was pretty funny. We chilled for the next couple days and they were great nursemaids. But after a couple days, what started as a toothache had morphed into a constant, pounding, debilitating jaw and headache. So Lee Ann had to accompany me to the dentist—who happens to be my shrink's wife and went to Hebrew school with Erica—on the day she was flying out. I had a massive cavity filled and may need a root canal on another tooth.

"When did our friends start becoming our doctors?" Lay wanted to know. "When we got old." I said.

Thus, the chemo side-effects were nil this past week compared to this tooth/headache combo. It's finally abating, but it was to the point where my left side was swollen a la wisdom tooth removal and I was popping Vicodin every six hours.

Sooo, that's the latest. Dana's here in less than two weeks! Then it's NY and L.A. and after that, the great unknown.

Tuesday, April 06, 2010

Cause Every Woman Wants Parachute Hips

Hmmm, wonder why these two dresses didn't sell and are now more than half-price at Neiman's.


Temperly of London (top) and Fendi

Friday, April 02, 2010

Ding Ding! Round Two

In popular Cancer jargon, I think we can all agree that we've become accustomed to people using the term "round." E.G., "round one," "round two," "round fucking infinity," in my case, it turns out. (Some also say cycle; I think the two are interchangeable.)

Well, in the high-falutin world of Dr. Norton's Sloan-Kettering that I've become a part of, not only is it a pedestrian term (!), but one that's actually sort of incomprehensible and unfamiliar. In trying to schedule my next checkup with Norton, I had to find out how long I could wait between round one, and round two. (In this instance, I'll embrace being pedestrian.)

I ended up getting in touch with Norton's nurse Karen before Schwartz. I'm not sure if she's a nurse practitioner or even a physician's assistant, but Karen is one smart cookie.

"I'm trying to figure out how much time should elapse between my first round and second, so I know when to see Norton."

"What do you mean by 'round'? I'm a little confused."

"Uh, well, you know I'm done with this treatment cycle May 10th. Then whenever I start again, that will be round two, right?"

"Oh, okay, I see what you're saying. We don't really use that term."

"Oh. Well, I guess I was confused about this treatment cycle being a finite thing. I didn't really ask Schwartz about needing another round. Didn't realize that you keep doing it until I'm in, like, full remission?"

"I'm still confused. We don't think in terms of stopping and starting again."

"Ummm, well, like, the first time it was a four month cycle, so I assumed that this time it was the same type of thing."

"Oh, I see. No, it's different when there's a recurrence. In that case, we just keep going until we have the response we want. I mean, you can have a small break between the treatments. And we'll look at how you're doing in terms of quality of life, and then adjust the dosage or change the schedule. Maybe you'll have one week on, one week off [etc.]. . . ."

BAM! Reality punches me in the punim and it's a total fucking TKO. 'I'm going to be one of those women in constant chemotherapy; one of those women I said I'd never want to be like. With no quality of life. Shut up Stephanie, stop thinking like that. You were doing so well with your mental state.'

Ugh, Wally just farted, so that's my cue. I will finish this later. I've got to go to Shrink, where likely I'll break down telling him this. Luckily I'm treating myself to a massage from Chad afterwards.

Tuesday, March 30, 2010

I know, I know—It's been way too long. I'm not dead. My mom didn't leave until Wednesday, and Brother arrived on Sunday. When, I drove on the white-knuckle-inducing I-95 to Ft. Lauderdale airport and, distracted by Howard Stern and Wally, missed the exit. I've only been to the airport a million times.

I totally get anxiety attacks driving on 95. I've been to hell and back in the past month, but I get more tangibly panicky driving than I do at the hospital. On that note, even though I tolerated the chemo well last week, I've been ex-fucking-hausted. Beyond tired. Stopped the steroids on Thursday and thus had post-Cocaine-like crash over the weekend. I actually made it out of the house over the weekend; dined with all my Gays Friday night. And had dinner with Joni at Canyon Ranch Saturday night. (Canyon Ranch is my favorite property here. So chic and non-Miami-ish.)

Okay, I'm pressed for time. So two things: First, longtime readers will know of my myriad and major mice issues. Therefore, it's with supreme irony that I found out that the Avastin Antibody that I receive during the Carboplatin Chemo is culled from mice DNA. Yup. Only me.

Now for the not so good/scary part of the week. Yesterday Brother and I arrived at the hospital for the easy chemo session, had my blood drawn and then saw Schwartz.

"Well, you're not getting Chemo today!"

Huh?

"Your white blood count is too low."

It's normal, especially for the mid-point of the Chemo cycle that I'm at, but explains why I've been SO tired. It also doesn't affect treatment. He can't risk trying to give me the Gemzar and further compromising my system, which would rule out the main Carbo treatment two weeks hence. Sooo, no chemo this week. Have this week and next week to recover, build my strength back up at my beloved, long-lost Equinox, and get my shit together. Saw Chad today and he says my energy levels, in terms of core energy that your body needs to function properly, are majorly low. My Chi is not being distributed properly, so he worked on that today. Since I am a total vegetarian, nutrition-wise, there's no quick fix for my blood. Though he did introduce me to the Whole Foods peanut-butter-maker, which I will definitely become obsessed with.

Alright, we are off to Ben and Laura's for a "Sedar." We are ordering in from Big Pink.

Wednesday, March 24, 2010

Kicking Some Carboplatin Ass


Waiting to be called into the Chemo ward.

I'm OVERJOYED and sooooo relieved to report that Monday's (formerly known as) Chemo Hell treatment, has been absolutely, 100 percent manageable. No nausea! No throwing up! No too-gross-to-get-into bathroom issues!

I awoke yesterday after Monday's treatment, popped a second-day Emend, a Dexemethasone (steroid pill), chugged some orange juice—my new addiction—and by the afternoon was out and about running errands with Mom. I even ran into gay bf at the Blockbuster/Smoothie King/For Eyes shopping center. (Thursday I finally got around to getting new eyeglasses and woke up Friday with fucking Conjunctivitis from trying on hordes of their nasty, germy frames. Just what I needed before chemo. But I went in to the doctor's Friday, got oral meds—coincidentally the same aforementioned steroid.

Dad was able to clear his Friday afternoon schedule, so Mom and him drove in, dogs in tow. Mom drove, dropped Dad at hospital and he was with me for the 45 minute Zometa infusion. Tired a bit that night. And Oh.My.God. we watched the Oscar-winning documentary The Cove. Utterly heartbreaking, inspiring, redemptive, admirable, informative and *unbelievable.* You will likely have to cover your eyes for just a couple parts. The good news is that the exposure the filmmakers brought to the evil town of Taiji, Japan worked. I immediately logged on to the film's Web site to donate, and their interface is whacked. Grrr. Anyway, PLEASE rent this film if you are an animal lover. Or a fish eater. Also, the Mercury issue is explained very clearly and is probably at odds with what you believe to be true. Anyway, we chilled all weekend. I did not feel good from the Zometa—fever, chills, bone aches and Saturday in bed. Sunday we did make it to a family lunch in Ft. Lauderdale, dropped Dad at the airport and came home. Sunday night, I wasn't really that anxious. I'd done all I could to prepare. Ate a bunch of whole grains and cooked veggies per Chad's recs. Got a good night's sleep.

On the way to chemo Monday, Dr. Norton's tres-knowledgeable and bad ass nurse happened to call. I ran everything by her. She said if I even threw up once to call Schwartz. Also, she said that my reaction to the first Carbo was indeed unusual; that it was likely the combo of the Carbo and Gemzar and the lack of steroids that did me in.

So we went into the Chemo ward armed and ready, nervous about veins holding up—remember no port this time. (My right arm is so bruised it's beyond.) Schwartz was so pleased with my progress. The largest node in the neck, per his palpation are already down from about 3 cm to about 1 cm! I've only got two Carbos left. Brother arrives Sunday for the easy treatment Monday; just the Gemzar.

I awoke this a.m. to an overwhelming stench of 409, finding Mom on her hands and knees in her Hanro nightie scrubbing my hall floors. NO ventilation. Just what a Chemo patient needs. Toxic fumes. I promptly opened the patio door and removed Wally's food and water bowl. Ugh!!
After she finished OCD cleaning—I actually hired a cleaning service on Friday and it's like they didn't even clean the floors! So not happy with them and will NOT be using them again. She's going to hit the road soon, since I'm feeling decent, but she's stepped out to go to TJ Maxx. [She's been gone nearly an hour now. It's a two minute walk.] Not that she doesn't deserve some retail therapy.

I heard he say as she was leaving (to the dogs), "I'll be right back girls! Gotta go get my fix!"

What I Did Differently This Time to Prepare:

• Put on a Sancuso anti-nauseau patch 24 hours before treatment
• Had Chad hit all my spleen points hard in Thursday's acupuncture session (He informed me that the spleen is responsible for ALL chemo side effects—nausea, loose stool and low energy!! Who knew?? He's so fucking smart it's insane.)
• Got a good night's sleep
• Ate healthy—lots of whole grains per Chad
• Kept uber-hydrated. Makes the veins pop. The last thing I want is another port. Water, juice, tea.
• Took the steroids Tuesday, today and through tomorrow
• Stayed in as positive a mental state as I could
• Ate lots of good food throughout the day Monday, knowing I wouldn't be so hungry afterwards

And that's pretty much all, folks. Not that it's not enough. It's totally more than enough. All my angels and pharmaceuticals were on my side. I must call Karen today and tell her how well I'm doing. The weather could not be greater, so I'm going to take my fucking pasty ass to the pool and get me some Vitamin D. Seriously, I look like I live in the Midwest. Thank you endlessly for all your love and support. I am so, so grateful. xoxo


The Chemo beeper, which flashes when it's your turn to enter Le Ward.

The very beginning of the infusion; not knowing what to expect.


Wally's biggest fans—my neighbors Dylan and Isabela.

Master of the house.

This a.m. in South Beach. I'm now especially on the lookout for dolphins. I don't see many due to the heavy boat traffic.

Tuesday, March 16, 2010

Written on the airplane from my should-be-a-writer realtor gay BF. Picture a thick Mississippi, gay-tinged drawl.:

Why did I find this so funny? LOL[ing] on a flight is not cool.

Here’s the scene. Flight from Mexico City to Miami. Sitting across the aisle from me is an elderly Mexican man. Big hat, even bigger silver mustache. Short stubby fingers on chubby hands that have not seen the likes of Vaseline Intensive Care lotion in a good half a century. Not sure, but it could be his after shave that’s been overpowering the jet fumes since boarding the flight. In front of him is young kid, probably being sent to Miami to “learn English” as is common for that set.

So you’ve got rich kid navigating between his multiple iGadgets sitting in front of someone’s grandfather wearing his Sunday best and a well worn leather vest. OK, he’s Mexican—this is someones’ great grandfather.

Here’s the part that got me going. Senior Juan, after completing his immigration card needed to return his tray table to its “original and upright position.” Problem is it wouldn’t stay. It kept falling onto his bean packed belly. With those moisture starved hands, he caressed the edges looking for, well I’m not sure what. But those big, crusty hands were on a mission. Whatever it was they were looking for, they didn’t find.

Light bulb! The trick to getting the tray table to stay up was to somehow slam it into place, as if something would catch and it would stay. Magic. Guess what, it didn’t work. So in a display of that generation’s determination, Juan decided try and try, and try, and try again…with a little force.

Finally, in disgust, the earpieces come out of the English student’s ears and he sat up as if…well, as if what?!

But determination prevailed! Fondling the seat back revealed a little lever that did the trick!

Everyone’s happy…maybe a little embarrassed from sitting alone and laughing, but happy.

Hahahahaha! D is so fucking funny. We went on a fairly long—for cripple over here—walk yesterday. I'm feeling pretty good, though I think I'm PMSing on top of all this BS. Friday I have a Xometa infusion.

By the grace of the God of Jewelry, my folks were in NY last weekend and stopped into Chopard to see my Cancer partner, Vicky. Thank fucking god they did. I'd remembered that she had a very rough time after her first Xometa infusion. She texted me that Mom and Dad had stopped in but she was with a client so she missed them. And she was actually at Sloan getting the Xomeda that night! So I called her and got the DL. She is very sensitive to all the drugs, so we are hoping I will not react like her, but. . . . She said she had the worst bone pain ever; was like screaming in agony. Even her scalp hurt. She was laid up for an entire week. Couldn't work, her mom took care of her etc. I was scheduled for the infusion Monday; it was Friday night. So I call mom freaking, us trying to figure out how she was going to make it here by Monday when they just got back from NY Sunday. At this point, my mom's used all her vacay and sick days taking care of my ass and going on the usual vacays.

"You know what, fuck this. If I do have the worst-case-scenario side effects, then I'm going to need you here for 24 hours."

"We-ellllll," (Nancy voice), "I'll drive in Monday, we'll get the shot and then we'll drive back to Jacksonville after."

"Mom, it makes no sense for you to drive 10 hours in one day and moreover I don't want to be in Jacksonville all week!"

"We-elll, that's best for me for work."

"Look, we've got to find a compromise. I'm going to talk to Norton this week, cancel the shot Monday, get the downlow and I will either put it off till absolutely necessary or schedule it for late on Friday so you can work all week and then come in late Friday afternoon, stay through the weekend and be here for Monday."

Monday is another Chemo Hell treatment a la the first one—fingers double crossed, prayers sent to all the Gods in the world, that Norton's cocktail greatly improves the side-effects. Norton's out on Mondays, so I talked to Schwartz in-depth. He says typical side-effects are none at all or minor fever and joint achiness in first 24 hours. That Vicky's reaction is atypical and I shouldn't worry, but he understands my paranoia after Chemo Hell Week 2010.

So, Mom, Dad, the Shih Tzus Stella and Tessie—whom I've coined 'Stellacitessan'—will drive down Friday. Dad will fly out Sunday and Mom will stay until I don't need her. I'm doubling up on acupuncture this week; about to go now and Friday I'll have him prep me for Xometa shot and Chemo Hell treatment. I'll have about five seeds in my ear probably.

On a beauty note, did you guys know that acupuncture helps with wrinkles??? I kid you not! He's worked on my forehead line and It's better after just a couple treatments! No more Botox!! The benefits of acu are BOUNDLESS. I can't wait for Brother to try when he's here in two weeks.

Thursday, March 11, 2010

Glee!

This is my latest feelgood song/video—Lea Michele's cover of Babs' Rain on My Parade from Glee. This girl is the next Kristen Chenowith, mark my words. I'm having hand soreness/pain all of the sudden today; a side effect of the Jet Fuel (Dr. Laura's affectionate term for chemo) in my body I'm sure. Speaking of Dr. Laura, I booked my post chemo trip! This round—first chemo round was Four Seasons in Costa Rica with Jill and Lay—it's Los Angeles, where Jill and Lay live. (Ha! Wally just farted. Nothing better than dog farts.) I lived in L.A. after college with Lay. Moved out there before New York. Love L.A.—haven't been back though since I lived there 10+ years ago, so I'm *psyched*.

I was scheduled to fly up to New York on Tuesday to see Norton, which I obviously canceled. So, I had a Jet Blue credit and I got a fantastic deal at the Loews in Santa Monica. Esp fantastic since I'm going over Memorial Day weekend. This means that I'll have my first office visit with Dr. Laura since I moved away. She's in that famous building on Linden Dr. in Bev Hills where you always see TMZ stationed. Oooh TMZ!! I'm going to have to pretend to be a celebrity so I can say something to Harvey Levin! Yay!

Okay, I digress. Sooo, feeling better every day. Today's big feat—after sleeping through my acupuncture appointment again—was a solo walk to Publix. Publix is two blocks away if that gives you any indication of what we're dealing with here, people. (Ugh. I'm sitting here with my Tempurpedic pillow on my couch with the heating pad on my back, but since I've got hot flashes a la menopause, I'm sweating.) Okay, so, made it to Publix and back with a fairly heavy green bag. Woohoo. Baby steps.

I also called Oribe today. My hair's not been coiffed since the last time his Midas hands touched it. Hair loss—thank God, thank God, thank God, Kenahora (sp), no jinx!—not an issue this time. Though an added bonus seems to be that my leg, armpit and facial hair is growing at a snail's pace.

"Hi! Is Oribe in town any time soon?"

"Ayayay. I hope so but we don't know his schedule!"

"Okay, I was on The List for January but never got called so can I put myself on The List now?"

"He hasn't been back since December! He's been all over the world doing shows!"

"Omigod! You guys must miss him!"

"Yes we are wanting him to come back there are so many people who need hair cuts!"

"I know I haven't seen him since August!"

They expect him back sometime soon. Surely once awards season and the fashion shows are done. How the fuck is this my life? Waiting on my hairdresser to finish like the Oscars and Paris fashion week?

Next, I called Norton's office just to thank him and leave him a message. His receptionist Ariel is amazing. I may have cursed her out in the beginning when I was crazed. Oopsie.

"Hi! I just wanted to call and let the doctor know that I'm feeling much better and to thank him *so* much for what he did last week."

"Oh I'm so glad you're feeling better and he'll be so happy to know that."

"Also, I know he'll get a kick out of this [he has a killer sense of Jewish humor], but tell him that I have *never* seen that Cancer ward jump faster than when he called."

"Oh that's funny! He will definitely like hearing that!," she says laughing.

"Let me tell you, it was like Obama calling a small town mayor. I have never seen that place move so fast."

Giggling. "I will definitely send this message to him right away and definitely call him before your next [Carboplatin] treatment."

Again, how is this my life? I'm so lucky, Cancer aside. Another silver lining of Chemo Hell Week 2010? I'm completely detoxed from everything bad I was ever addicted to. You guys know I'm a Benzo whore. Well, those four days in bed forced my body to detox. No more Xanax, Klonopin, or even caffeine. Caffeine isn't something I necessarily wanted to detox from, but the smell of coffee made me so sick last week, that I can't bring myself to make espresso. I miss it though. And I gave in to my craving of the past week and drank Cancer in a Can today—aka, Diet Coke. I've had a fierce craving for that. Happens about once a year. So aside from the Jet Fuel, I'm cleaner than I've been in about five years. I'm still on one Benzo; Ativan, which to me is a baby Benzo and has the added benefit of helping with nausea.

Alcohol too, simply because the thought of it makes me want to hurl. No alcohol sucks though, merely in social situations. Like, I've got a good friend's wedding Saturday and much to toast, but no way I'm chancing it with a drink. The last thing I want is to be running to the toilet at the Ritz.

I scheduled acupuncture at 3 p.m. tomorrow so I won't sleep through it. I cannot wait. I'm sure Chad has his work cut out for him. Maybe I can book two hours. Must call about that in the a.m. Acutally, they may be open, so ta for now. Oh my god I'm sweating like I'm at the gym. Crazy!

Wednesday, March 10, 2010

From the 33480 to 32257?

From Evelyn Lauder to . . . me? From a lovely, generous, Breast Cancer survivor like Evelyn Lauder, who has armed guards outside her PB compound (out of necessity, I'm sure) to speaking to me the other day in my parents' house in Jacksonville? Yup. He's just that fucking awesome. I want to adopt him/clone him/have him adopt me as his surrogate granddaughter/daughter/pet/whatever.

It should be said that the Lauders are truly a great humanitarian family and should be role models to all Jews with money. Dr. Norton saved Evelyn's life and in return she's heaped gobs of fundage back to Sloan in his honor. Which must mean, I'm only deducing, that Ralf did her wigs as well. Evelyn, my soul sista!

Feeling good! More tomorrow.

Monday, March 08, 2010

Chemo ran me over like a Mack Truck, y'all. Last Monday. Five-hour infusion; assured by nurse and doc that the side-effects shouldn't be so bad. I mean, they saw how well I did last time around and that's their basis for comparison. I went home Monday, slept—soaking Tempurpedic with night sweats—and woke up Tuesday Morning feeling like I wanted to die. Bed to toilet until Thursday morning, could keep NOTHING down, not water, nothin'. I nearly had to go back to the chemo ward to get IV fluids and nutrients. But mom nursed me, spoon feed me bites, literally bites, of Jello. I cannot describe how bad I felt, for I have never, ever been that sick in my entire fucking life. It was bad, like kept-asking-Mom "Am I going to make it?" bad.

There was NO WAY I could make it through the rest of the week by myself. So Thursday a.m. we left for Jax and I slept the whole five-hour car ride up. Slept more Thursday afternoon. By the time Mom and Dad got home from work, I was able at least to sit up in a chair and watch TV. I think I ate Jello and Popsicles that day. I lost 5 and 1/2 pounds, I found out at the doctor today.

In Jacksonville I called Norton. He immediately called me back and was not happy. He called Schwartz and they agreed to adjust the cocktail. When Larry Norton calls, the whole Cancer center jumps like they've been electoshocked. So we drove back to MIA yesterday, thinking, hoping, that b/c they were going to mix it up a little that I wouldn't get SO sick.

"Doc, why are you trying to kill me?"

He laughs.

"You know you're not in the will right?"

Laughs. "We had no idea you'd react this way. You were so good with side-effects last time."

And then we got some really good news.

I seemed to have forgotten that I only get the Carboplatin—the evil yet effective drug that tried to kill me—plus Gemcydabine (sp) and Avastin (sp) once every three weeks!!!! Yaaaaaaaaaaaaaay. So, week one, last Monday was the Bad Chemo. Three more of those. The cycle goes like this: week two, just Gemcydabine (sp), little side-effects so far and a short, 45-minute infusion unlike Bad Chemo's five-hour one; week three—off completely. Repeat until May 10th. Luckily, we organically scheduled it so that Alison, Nicole, Dana and Michael are here for the easy ones—yay, we can party! And Mom and Dad are here for the bad ones. What do people do without good parents? God I feel for those of you with shitty parents and know how lucky I am.

My God you guys, hearing that news was better than hearing that Bergdorf's was having a 90 percent off sale. Soooo happy!

And the better news? It's working. The tumors have already shrunk within a week and the liver is finely functioning. I'm already feeling pain relief around the tumor sites. So, good day. Lynn drove in from PB, so retail therapy after. Cute lil strapless, summer Chloe dress and chic black Escada shorts. But the best news to me remains that the toxic treatment will only try to murder me once every three weeks. Cause I had visions of me staying in bed for months on in, wasting away.

I'm still pretty tired. Certainly not 100 percent by any means, but at least able to get out and about a little bit. And by out and about I mean the barest things we take for granted—walking the dog, grocery shopping (and, okay TJ Maxx shopping), eating, talking on phone etc. I couldn't even talk on the phone it was so exhausting.

My friends and family have been amazing as usual. Thank you all so much for the calls, emails, texts, food, presents, more food (gotta love le yentas) and prayers. Love you all and am so lucky to be blessed by you all being in my life.

PS, all my friends and family friends, the best way to keep tabs on me and my health is Facebook updates. And you readers know you can always add me as a friend, just make sure to put a note that you're a reader.

Thanks for hanging in there with me.
XOXO

Friday, February 26, 2010

Turns out, tumors make you tired. I don't remember this feeling from the first go round with Breast Cancer. But the bottom line is it's all I can do to make it to the gym, put in a half-assed workout, take care of Wally and myself. I am sooooooooooo tired.

So much shit has gone down since I last blogged. I told you about the bone scan results. Well, Monday I had a CT scan, which I've never had. I picked up the results/report on the Bone and CT scans on Tuesday to send to Norton at Sloan. I've decided that the protocol this time will go from Norton down to Schwartz as opposed to Schwartz calling Norton, telling him his theory on treatment and Norton yay or naying it.

Well, if you had your own bone scan report, would you be able to resist reading it? I couldn't. So I sat in the hall of Sinai and read. My fatalistic interpretation—even my vocabulary and knowledge of Latin roots proved totally fruitless—was that I had mets to the liver and lungs. A new small tumor in my left armpit, and major growth on the ones already there—sternum, neck, clavicle etc. I was just numb. No bad news surprises me anymore. I'd already secured a spot with Norton. (I'm flying up the 8th, spending the night and flying out the evening of the 9th).

I still have some residual anger at Schwartz for taking me off the Xeloda. Maybe it wouldn't have spread so quickly then. But, whatevs. That was Monday. Tuesday, I spoke with Norton's nurse Karen, who, in my opinion is the most knowledgeable nurse I've worked with. I had her translate the report for me line by line.

No, there was no lung mets; yes there are spots on the liver, but very minute. They hadn't shown up on the PET a month prior. The spot on the lung the report indicated is likely the tumor on the left rib, pushing up against the lung or something thus causing my shortness of breath. Thursday I saw Schwartz, armed with the report and notes.

"So I got my report, faxed it to Norton and had his nurse translate it."

"Okay."

I felt a little bad, so my eyes were affixed on his Hermes tie. I love Hermes ties.

"So I spoke to Norton and it turns out he recommended the exact course that I was thinking."

Carboplatin, Gemcitabine and Avastin. The first two are chemos; Avastin is an anti-body blocker. No idea what these fuckin' blockers do.

Dana did some research on the hair loss issue; the lower the dose, the less chance of loss. If you lose it you lose a little at a time, nothing like last time's. I can't wrap my head around what that will look like or mean. Will my horse's main turn into gross, stringy, thin hair? So I asked Schwartz to please start me on lower dosages of Carbo and Gem. I'm not sure which dosage corresponds to which. But since I'm young and 'healthy,' Schwartz had me on the highest dosages of everything before. Well, it's been almost three years and my body has been to hell and back, so he was fine with that.

I'm not getting another port. Schwartz says that as long as they can find a vein, this cocktail is not that hard on them. I will double-check that with the nursing staff.

"Well, okay then. Do you think that since I have such thick hair that will help?"

"I think it will."

"Okay. I'm going out to buy the horse shampoo now."

"I think that should help too."

I went to Sally and bought the Mane 'n Tail Shampoo, conditioner and spray thickener. It smells like ass; it's no Oribe. Speaking of whom, I want to get a dead-end trim, but can't cough up $400 with that. And you all know I'm not trusting anyone else with my hair in Miami.

Oh, I also have to have Xomeda, which is a bone strengthener a la Boniva, or in Schwartz' words, "You know those commercials Sally Field is in."

Uh, yeah. Anyway, the reason my case is once again so fucking unusual is that even though I'm HER2NU+, my tumors are behaving like triple negatives.

So, I will begin Monday. Go to Norton March 9 for a consult/convo (one night at the Waldorf at least), then chemo #2 on the 10th. It's two weeks in a row, one week off. Eight in total. Two and a half mos, thus ending in May. Assuming it works. Though I'm not assuming shit anymore. It's not any fun this time. I have no desire to go to Neiman's, though the offers are a plenty. I'm SO FUCKING TIRED. I got a Tempurpedic bed and oh my god, you would not believe what a miracle worker this bed is. I slept 12 hours last night.

Chad prepped my whole body yesterday, and told me it's important to exercise this weekend—makes your veins pop—and carbo load on whole grains. My diet is so beyond boring. Even now I have to go to the gym and hate it. I can do about 1/2 of what I usually could do. Forty five minutes of cardio is a miracle.

I'm soooooo tired and I hate it. I've never been affected by a lack of energy. Fucking tumors. Anyway, that's the update. Why can't they come up with an IV form of caffeine????