Chemo Brane

I didn’t opt for the regular brain MRIs and chemo brain study, so I don’t know for sure how my grey matter fared, but here’s what I’ve noticed:

  • memory leaks (I keep losing things because I simply can’t recall where I put them)
  • crazy word snafus (even though my brain says the appropriate word, my fingers type “duo” instead of “duel”, “link” instead of “leak”, and “your” instead of “you’re”; questioning spelling of simple homophones like “here” and “hear”; and even completely reversing words when typing)
  • word loss (when speaking, I know which word I’m searching for but just can’t find it)
  • balance burps (I have little balance challenges where I otherwise wouldn’t have had)
  • short attention span (I’m actually hoping this is just due to fatigue)
  • constant spouting of Arrested Development quotes (no, wait, I’ve always done that).

If this is the extent of my impact, I’ll consider myself lucky.

Winding down. Or, just whining.

Green tea, 70% dark chocolate and my little pooch. In bed.

Seems this may be the extent of my day today.

Am I actually being physically ground down by chemo or do I just need to give myself a kick?

I’m really not sure.

But with my heels too blistered for shoes/skates and my distressed digestion dragging into day six, I might just veg today either way.

Maybe part of this journey is learning a little laziness.

We Interrupt This Program

Ok. Maybe I’m getting bored of chemo or forgetting how absolutely lucky I am that I’m not throwing up or laying in bed moaning — but this round seems very different.

Digestive distress or no, the chemo cravings (for pizza, chinese food, big sloppy burgers) are just out of the park. Nauseating images of the chemo-pod (bleh!), the styrofoam cup of ice-chips (bleh!), the food I eat on chemo-days (bleh!) are just absolutely haunting me. And, though I’m continuing my daily walks, jog/skate and excercise, I’m feeling weak and dizzy.

Right now I seriously feel so loopy I shouldn’t even be allowed to blog.

But the sun is shining and the canal is open, so I’m heading out for a skate.

This might not be the best idea…

p.s. Dear reader in Don Mills, ON: Sorry you haven’t had a lot of luck searching here for “Josie”, “Josephine Ross”, “Keith”, “In-laws”, “Keith Ross”,”grandparents”, “Andrea’s father”, “my father”, “my mother”, “parents” etc.  This p.s. will give you some search results though!

Escape from Sudden Valley

Recovery from chemo2 has been miles better than chemo1. Correcting my inadvertently doubled steroid prescription allowed me to sleep the nights immediately following my infusion and to skip the hangover that kept me moaning on the couch days 5, 6 and 7 last time round.

Still, late Tuesday afternoon, I fell into a Sudden Valley of self-pity.

Maybe it was the lurking nausea that makes me gasp at smells, repetition and gross thoughts of all kinds; the accumulating isolation and detachment from normal, happy, healthy life; or the banning of all my favourite treats.

Whatever the reason, I fell fairly hard and spent most of two days in a smile-free limbo that included two temper tantrums, relentless grimacing and the frenzied consumption of a family-sized bag of Miss Vickie’s Salt & Vinegar chips.

And then they opened the Rideau Canal Skateway.

No sugar, no caffeine, no alcohol, no germs. Just the swish, swish of strong legs on blades on ice.

And life is good again.

The Supporter Experience #3: Applause

Today was Andrea’s second chemotherapy session. As always, she was a champ. I sometimes wonder how I would fair in the same situation.

Today, as I watched Andrea’s medicine bags drain I clued in to a celebratory atmosphere just opposite where we were sitting. It was a gathering of nurses making a happy fuss over someone as they were disconnecting all of the tubes; disconnecting for the last time as it turns out. Then there was a procession of nurses clapping and hooting as they followed the patient down the hallway of clinic for what will hopefully be their last visit there.

My focus for chemotherapy is to keep our heads down and power through. If we can keep Andrea healthy, she can remain on schedule and we can listen to the nurses cheer her on as we leave the chemo clinic for the last time on April 2.


Look what just arrived!

A peachy chemo-cap from our friends Katherine Matthews and Rob Lee.

My barren head will be nice and cozy thanks to our generous and skillful friends.

Thank you!!

Strip: Hand made head warmth from talented and generous women  1. Katherine Matthews, 2. Debbie Etherington, 3. Whitney Hoffman & 4. Whitney Hoffman. Thank you!

Head shaving party

It was 3 a.m. on the second day of her first chemo cycle and Andrea still couldn’t get to sleep. So she occupied herself with plans for shaving her head before her hair falls out — a certainty with breast cancer chemo. That’s when she pitched her idea to me (I was also awake). Inspired by a cancer blogger who lives in our neighbourhood (See going bald), Andrea suggested we invite a number of our family and friends over for munchies, drinks, cake and the opportunity to be a part of her head shaving experience.

That party happened last night (view photos). And with it, comes the launch of this website,

We invite you to follow our journey to making Andrea a breast cancer survivor. We’ll blog our experiences and thoughts and share audio, video and photographs of the process — from diagnosis on Oct. 6  to Survivor.

Opening theme prepared by John Meadows. Closing song, Session, by the Robert Farrell Band.

Click here to subscribe to our blog/podcast.