Tuesday, February 15, 2011

Chemo Round 4

Hair status: Gone. I’m not big about having a bald photo of me floating around. But, maybe it’s the journalist in me, I feel like I should put it up to tell the story better.

Nails: I’m going with Halloween couture as their new color name. There are now close to three pinky-purple stripes stretching across some of them. Naomi, the other day, asked me why I painted them white. For style, sweet little girl, I said. Actually that’s not what I said. But my original answer was so much more boring.

Friday Feb. 11, 2011: It’s been 3 weeks since my last chemo treatment. Normally I would have gone in for another dose on Friday. I’m so glad for the break until the baby is born. Instead of a pre-chemo date night with the kids at the grandparents, we’re all sleeping in one bed. Or I should say everyone else sleeps. I feel like nights are my personal torture time. I keep staying up late, thinking that will help me sleep (and old habits die hard). It doesn’t. I wake at 1am, 2am, 3am, 4am, 5am, 6am, 7am. I wake at 8:30am, finally getting more than 45 minutes of sleep at a time. Every morning Steve tries to let me sleep till the last possible moment before he has to go to work. Thank goodness he can do some of that work from home.

Normally, I get to skip this part of pregnancy till the last month – the part where I wake every hour because my hips and leg joints hurt so bad that it wakes me until I struggle to turn my huge belly to my other side. The chemo made it start early this time. It’s been going on for weeks already but I’m so tired I can’t really remember how long.

I stagger downstairs as Naomi is getting ready to go to preschool. Her grandpa is taking her. Then he’ll come back and get Henry until Naomi comes home.

After they leave, I sit with Henry on the couch and tears just start dripping down my cheeks. I’m so frustrated. I thought I would be feeling better from that last dose by now. I’m so tired. I feel like I’m missing Naomi’s last year with me before school. I wanted to have more one-on-one time with Henry before the baby came. When is this going to end? I shout in my head. There have been some beautiful things I’ve seen and received during this illness that make me so grateful. But today, right now, I hate cancer.

Henry looks at me and says, “Mama, you sad?”


“Why?” he asks.

“I’m tired of being tired.”

“You do stamps with me. That make you happy,” Henry says with his uncanny ability to speak at two-and-a-half. We go to pull out his dinosaur stamp set. I can’t believe he remembers. That is what we did last time I had one of these melt-downs. I kept telling him then how happy it made me to play with him. It makes me smile.

Henry leaves soon afterward with Pops, and I take a short nap. Later on, Michele comes to help me clean. I get up to help put things away. Someone recently told me cleaning with young kids is like shoveling snow during a snowstorm. So true. But it’s nice to see things somewhat back in their place, at least for a few minutes. In an hour, the house is looking much better. Wow, I’m thinking, I am feeling better. Then about another hour later I realize I’m wiped out again.

That night it’s the same waking routine. I get up around 9 am Saturday morning. Tiffany and Wendy are coming to help me paint Henry’s new big boy room. Actually, they paint the entire thing while I scoot a step-stool around to sit on and help paint some green stripes. I thought I’d be able to help more. But my breathing issues kicked in that morning. I can only stand for a couple minutes before I get out of breath and start to feel light-headed, though I do a little better in the afternoon.

On Sunday, by some miracle, I sleep for a couple hours in the morning. We miss church. But it helps so much. The kids help us pull down the tape in Henry’s room. They hit the baseboard tape. I push the step-stool around again and pull off the stripes. Steve hits the ceiling tape. The room looks beautiful.

On Monday, I see the OB-Gyn. I see her write in her notes that the patient feels fine except for fatigue. Fine is a little bit of an overstatement, I think. But I don’t bother to correct her. Maybe I shouldn’t have smiled so much while talking to her. Whatever, I don’t care. She’s not going to tell me anything different if I had said something, I figure. As long as my lips and nails aren’t turning blue from my shortness of breath, I’m considered to be tolerating the chemo well. Go me.

I think about the people that don’t “tolerate” it well and wonder what that must mean. I feel grateful.

More importantly, this conversation helps me see the light at the end of the tunnel. I’ll get some steroid shots next week to help Kilean’s/Kilian’s (haven’t decided on a spelling yet) lungs develop faster. Then I’ll meet with her on Feb. 28, to pick a date to be induced. Right now, if it’s up to me, that date will be the next day, March 1, about 5 weeks early. Sorry Kilean. I’m holding out as long as I can. I’m hoping this treatment will be easier on me when I’m not pregnant any more.


  1. That is an amazingly powerful picture Kathy! I'm glad you took it. I'm sure it was hard to do.

  2. You look so beautiful pregnant, hair or no hair.

  3. You are beautiful Kathy! Inside and out. What a woman of utter strength, thank you for sharing.

  4. I ditto what Aly said. Henry's room looks awesome. I wish I could have been there to join the painting frenzy/fun. Can't believe Kilian/Kilean is only a few weeks away from delivery.

  5. You are such an amazing inspiration to me. Thank you for sharing your story - allowing yourself to be so vulnerable. It is beautiful. You are beautiful. Love you!

  6. Love your honesty. I cried this week too in front of the kids. I guess we are teaching them that you keep going no matter how tough a moment can be. Here is wishing your moment flys by. Xxoo

  7. I love the picture. You look beautiful Kathy...really you have a good head :) I wish I was there to help you out. I am hoping so much you will feel better soon. I am very excited to see this new baby! Ian was born 5 weeks early. It was scary at first, but everything turned out fine. {{hugs}} to you and tell Steve I said hello.

  8. Honestly? The picture floors me - I think it's the lover of photojournalism in ME that can't help but be moved by the story it tells. Thank you for posting it.

  9. I accidentally posted logged in as Ian...lol... Don't tell him!

  10. You are beautiful. I think you look so cute with your pregnant belly. Thanks for sharing your life with us. You are amazing! Truly an inspiration for me.

  11. Ellen - That is so funny. I was thinking, who in the world is this Ian guy who talks so much like a woman?

  12. KJ - you're amazing! I have to agree with Aly, you do look beautiful with or without hair...it makes no difference. Thanks for posting that pic and your story - it's inspirational. btw, I love Henry's room - it looks fabulous. Hang in there. You're in my thoughts and prayers girl. XO

  13. You are such an inspiration! Keep writing and posting because you are amazing. You are beautiful and powerful and strong. You are in my thoughts constantly.

  14. Sounds like you need a hug *hug* and several good nights' sleep. the others are right, you are still a beautiful woman, with an inner strength to match.

    And what a great kid for Henry to know exactly what you needed! I'm sure Kilean/Kilian will be just fine, whenever you decide to have him.


  15. Seriously, wow, that picture of you is amazing. I also love the pic of your family at the end.

  16. You are amazing, Kathy! Your writing and photos are incredible. I hope your body manages to muster up a little more energy - hang in there!