On Monday I received an email from Dr Rajakapal. She was the plastic surgeon I had been seeing for botox injections when I first moved to San Francisco. I haven’t seen her in over a year. I’ve been sick. Dr Rajakapal sent me an email to notify me she was offering a 20% discount for any service $200 or more. I have to admit, when I saw that I secretly wished I could take advantage of her offer. Especially since the effects of chemo have not only affected me physically and mentally, but the affects have really aged me also. It’s hard to look at myself at times in the mirror. But it is what it is.
Later that morning I met with my oncologist to discuss the rest of my year long treatment. Radiation will begin soon and my infusions will resume next week. I will be done June 2015, however I will begin hormone therapy for the remainder of my life at that time. As my oncologist and I went over my treatment plan we discussed the side effects I have continued to experience from my chemotherapy treatments. The worse ones are the stomach and joint pain, the neuropathy in my hands and toes (I succumbed to sporting the Napoleon Dynamite look while in Washington wearing snow boots every where I went! Very sexy) and the toll it’s taken on my brain! I’m confused, forgetful, paranoid, nervous and most of the time I have no idea what day it is. It’s a horrible feeling. I’m also very weak. The list goes on. My oncologist offered words of encouragement by saying things would get better in 6 months to a year when the chemo effects would subside. 6 months to a year?!!!! Are you kidding me?!! I’m a loopy mess!! I looked at her and asked her how in the heck would I be able to work. Needless to say….she disabled me. Thank god! I can’t imagine trying to find a job and going to my interview wearing snow boots and trying to answer questions that just aren’t registering. In my opinion, not an employers dream candidate.
On the drive home I kept thinking how long 6 months to a year seemed. Especially experiencing side effects. My hands and feet hurt so much and it’s so humbling to be so confused and forgetful. Not to mention just plain sick. It reminded me of the first time I had my first botox treatment. I was scheduled to appear on a TV show with a client so naturally I wanted to freshen up my face a bit to look awesome on the show. Keep in mind the episode featured my client and I fishing on a boat. Granted it was only a fishing show but hey, it was a chance to be on TV! I went to a friend of mine on a Saturday and not only had botox injections, I decided to bite the bullet and have her inject my lips with juverderm. I thought “why not have perfectly plump lips too!” After my appointment, I walked away feeling like a million bucks! My lips looked great, that is until the following morning when I woke up and my lips were so swollen I looked like Daffy Duck!! I was a mess. I called my friend and her response was the swelling would go down in about 3 weeks. By the time Monday rolled around my lips looked like I had been hooked up to a helium tank. They were so swollen I couldn’t even sip from a straw. Worse was I was scheduled to meet my client to tape the fishing show. I tried to get out of it by demanding that my partner Brian went in my place. While Brian was willing to be on the show, he refused to be on the show without me.
Brian and I met my client Dave at the agreed time. I was dying of embarrassment and dreading the moment Dave saw me with my puffy lips. We saw Dave get out of his truck and hurriedly run towards us. The closer he got I could see a very shocked look on his face as I was looking towards him sitting in our car with the window rolled down. When Dave finally approached our vehicle he asked in a very loud and shocked voice “my goodness! What happened to you?!” I was so humiliated the only response I could think of was “is it noticeable?” Dave’s reply was classic “hell yes it is!” I was mortified. We taped the show that day but much to my dismay, Brian was the star of the show and the only footage of me was the sound of my voice as I was lying on my back in the boat the entire fishing trip with ice packs on my lips.
I managed to survive the humiliating 3 weeks it took for the side effects of my injections to go away so I’m confident I will get through the next 6 months to a year. My girlfriend who lives in North Carolina sends me a text every morning to offer me encouragement. This morning she texted me this song by Estelle. When I heard the song it reminded me that we all have a little conqueror inside of us. I’m sharing the song as a reminder to anyone experiencing a challenge today to not give up. Cancer has brought me to my knees, more so than a little reaction to Juverderm. The only thing to do is to stand tall and fight and strive to be the Conqueror we all have inside of us. And when you can’t stand tall reflect on a past experience that you were able to get through. Find the humor in it and remind yourself….this too shall pass!! So tune in next time when I share my story about the time I had a bad hairdresser experience!! If you think puffy lips were bad, fried hair and chopped bangs is worse.