What about wine & sex?

These were the only two things I had questions about when I met with the Oncology Pharmacist, back earlier this month after my chemotherapy treatment schedule had been officially put into motion. In all fairness, she had covered literally every other topic, question, and detail that existed. Except for what I considered to be important stuff, clearly.


My husband and I had about 34 minutes before I had to be at my next appointment at the hospital – I was practically putting in full work days leading up to my first treatment getting all of the diagnostic imaging they needed, my PICC line had to be inserted, I had to meet with multiple professionals for multiple different areas or specialty – it was long.


So we talked a mile a minute – totally my style – which helped make me completely comfortable to ask what I really wanted to know. I remember I looked at my husband, put my hand on his leg, and apologized to him saying  “Sorry, I have to ask… “ then turned my attention back to her and said “what’s going to happen to my sex drive?”.


What. Do you blame me? We’ve all seen the episode of Sex and the City where Samantha, who was also battling Breast Cancer, of all people – didn’t want to have sex with her hot, younger model boyfriend. If that isn’t concerning I don’t know what is… this is real life people.


First she told me it was a great question (gold star pat on the back for me!) and then smiled and told me the good news, that it probably wouldn’t change. As long as I’m feeling well, get it on. Not in those exact words. BUT, wear a condom and dear lord don’t get pregnant. Again I may have exaggerated her wording there, but that’s what I heard sooooo… On it.


My second question was about alcohol. Can I drink wine. How much wine. What about all of the wine. And here is the low down – I can definitely enjoy wine, and other beverages, with this in mind. I need to avoid alcohol a couple days before and after my treatments because alcohol and chemotherapy are both metabolised in the liver, and I need to save that important organ power for the chemo. Makes sense. After those days it slows down, and a couple of glasses won’t hurt.


Naturally, I asked “What about a whole bottle, or more? When can that happen?” She was very professional, barely smiled and told me that when a ‘party situation’ comes up, here are the best days for that – check! Noted, memorized, and good day mam. The more you know. Am I right?


After my next couple of appointments were over, I went home with a handful of prescriptions, all the knowledge in the world, and quickly ordered two boxes of condoms off Amazon. Because no matter how old you get that shit can still be so awkward at the Shoppers Drugmart. Admit it.

Chemo Schmemo

Almost two weeks ago I had my first round of chemo. And by the time I got to my appointment, pretty much all of my anxiety, anger and negative feelings had disappeared. By the time I got there, I was ready to just get it over with, do what I had to do, and was determined to make the best of it. I had 16 weeks of treatment ahead of me, and I will not waste that amount of time in a bad mood.


My chair was in an insanely sunny area of the ‘Chemo Suite’, and for those of you who know me you know that sunshine is my THING. I live for sun, the sun is my spirit animal, and on vacations I soak in ‘every last drop’ – meaning I literally stay in the sun until every last drop of the rays have turned into shade… it’s not crazy, it’s my thing. I took the fact that I had to wear sunglasses through my treatment as a very positive sign, it was the universe delivering exactly what I needed.


I didn’t feel much during the treatment, physically. It lasted just over an hour, and the nurse administered two different chemo drugs during that time. It honestly didn’t seem like a big deal. I did however have a couple of emotional moments, which is probably pretty normal. Although, I’m not very emotional personally, so it caught me off guard.


The first time was when the nurse was telling me how sometimes it’s hard for them to get some grown adults physically through the chemo suite doors – like some people won’t walk through – the nurses have to take them by the hand and physically get them into the chairs, and really work at getting them their treatment.


This hit me hard because the visual popped into my head and I suddenly realized ‘Holy crap, this is a super scary thing for people, and it’s happening to me’. The grossness of the whole thing seeped into my brain as I looked at my husband, who was there with me, and I practically whispered “I can’t believe this is happening right now”. He looked back at my sympathetically, I looked away, and forced my mind to get control, and get positive again.


But then there was a second time, when the nurse was injecting the first medication into my PICC line. It was bright red, we talked about it a little bit, and then she told me “this is the one that makes your hair fall out’. It hurt.  A lot. Like I know that it’s going to happen, the doctors made it very clear it was a guaranteed side effect… they didn’t want me to get my hopes up because ‘some people don’t lose their hair during chemo’. That wouldn’t be me, and now it’s in my body, and there is no turning back. My little emotional moment didn’t last too long, because again I looked at my husband and very clearly said “fucking ew”. He laughed, I laughed, the nurse laughed.. And we all lived happily ever after.


That was abrupt. Here’s the rest. If you’re still with me.


The side effects following the treatment weren’t too bad. I had a medication schedule after my treatment to battle the nausea and vomiting, I had a nurse visit my home for three days to hook my PICC to a saline hydration treatment, and an immune booster shot for 7 days to help keep me healthy. They definitely set you up for success, and do everything possible to make it bearable. For the first week following the treatment I was fatigued, I could feel my heart beating in my chest and my body just felt heavy. I was nauseas, had a pretty major headache, some body aches… felt generally not great. But all of which could be helped with Tylenol or extra anti-nausea pills. It wasn’t anything major.


By the time the second weekend rolled around I was feeling like my normal self again. I had a ton of energy, I was happy, positive and borderline hyperactive haha. Like, it felt so good to feel normal – I felt way above normal! I caught up with friends, drank wine, went to a large event with colleagues, worked out, went skating with kids and friends, organized my whole house (literally decluttered every closet and kid toy shelf that existed), meal prepped, met with clients and friends, got to work, and did a full Bootcamp class! It was a great week.


And I still have all my hair.


Tomorrow I go round 2, and I’ll consider myself lucky if things go the same way! Wish me luck.


Side note: For those of you who were thinking to yourself ‘the sun isn’t an animal’ – yes, I realize the sun is not an animal, you get what I mean, that’s just how much I love the sun.

The Cancer.

So, I have Breast Cancer. Turns out that is a thing that can actually happen to you, at the age of 33, seemingly out of nowhere. As I sit here and type my first blog post on the subject, it still feels incredibly strange that this is happening. It doesn’t feel real. And by that I mean exactly what it sounds like… it simply doesn’t feel like it’s happening to me.

I’ve had a bilateral mastectomy, with partial reconstruction – my body is forever changed – plus I have chemotherapy – what most would consider to be the scariest and worst medical treatment out there – currently running through my bloodstream – and it still doesn’t feel real. I’m in a place where every day I just do what I have to do what’s next, and then I wake up again the next day and do whatever is next again. I’ve been calling it business as usual, except I have a new usual.

The new usual consists of me making it my full time job to do everything I can to get me out of this situation, in the best shape possible. Visits to the hospital and clinics are now a part of my job, taking medication on a meticulous schedule is now a part of my job, arranging for childcare, taking care of administrative crap, dealing with insurance companies, home nursing and managing my symptoms are now all just a part of my full time job.

I’ve definitely had better gigs in my day, but never a more important one. So here I am, making the best of a difficult situation, taking it all one day at a time and focusing on maintaining a positive mindset through and through. That’s my plan, that’s my job, and this is my life.