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!"


"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


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.