Wednesday, December 8, 2010

Goodbye Hair, Hello Chemo Session #2

    It finally happened!  My hair started to fall out last Tuesday, Nov. 30th.  It was just a little at first.  I could pull a single strand and it would come out way too easy.  I started to worry because I knew I was going in to the hospital on Wednesday, and didn't want hair all over my room and bed, but I also didn't want to jump the gun and shave it off any sooner than I had to!  Somehow I couldn't remember how quickly it came out at 16, so I decided to wait.  

   The hospital called to tell me they may, or may not, have a room for me on Wednesday, maybe Thursday.  Supposedly a lot of people put off chemo over the Thanksgiving holiday (can we really blame them??) and it was causing a bed crunch in the cancer wing.   So now I was even more concerned about the hair... to wait, or to shave...?  Papa Skip was needing to plan which nights he'd stay at our place to help with the kids and when to go back to the hotel, making things a little stressful.  To top it off, the hospital doesn't tell you when they have a bed available until several hours before.  I know, it doesn't actually sound too stressful, but it felt like it at the time!  

   While waiting to hear from the hospital, I sat at the table with Skip and Adam and showed them just how easily my hair was coming out now.   Within 24 hours it had gone from pulling one strand out to a small handful with one swipe!

Brings back memories of my Dad's stache!
    Finally, Wednesday at 5PM I received the call, "How soon can you come in?"  Oh no!  Of course I wasn't ready!  Hadn't packed, showered, eaten dinner, or decided on shaving!  I said I could come in at 8 and that seemed to work for the nurses well enough.  Knowing how easily my hair was coming out within such a short time of it starting, I decided to take it all off!  Adam got out the clippers...

    Papa Skip held the video camera while I pulled up a chair in the kitchen and sat the kids down to a snack (so they wouldn't step all over the falling hair).  Within ten minutes it was done!  All shaved up, like GI Jane or my personal favorite, Evey Hammond (V for Vendetta, thanks for the analogy Alison ;)  Mykee and Evan were so cute!  They kept saying, "You look like a BOY!"  And laughing like it was the funniest thing around, as toddlers tend to laugh at anything remotely silly.  We are a little concerned about the kids getting hold of some scissors and deciding they want to look like Mommy, so we're keeping the scissors out of reach for awhile :)  

   Everyone has been extremely kind in complementing my new look, thank you so much!  I have to say though, I still don't know how to respond when I'm told, "You have a nice-shaped head."  Can I really take credit for genetics??  But thank you all the same, it's nice to know my head shape doesn't make me look weird on top of bald!  

Adam's good luck charm
   I made it to the hospital by 8PM to serve my time.  Because they had so many people in the cancer wing they moved me up to the eighth floor to a private room with a great view!  

Doesn't the lamp add to the healing ambience of the room...?
    Though the first night was terrible because the chemo didn't start until 3AM, the three days (and three nights this time) were much better than the first session.  I still felt weaker than I had the first time, but having my own room made a huge difference.  The only people going in and out were there for me, so I wasn't being interrupted or woken up for anyone else.  I slept much better, and the nurses on this floor seemed much more calm and collected than on the chemo floor.  If all goes well over the next couple of weeks I'll be back to this floor for the stem-cell transplant.  Something to look forward to right?

View of NYC from my room
   Recovery after chemo has gone similar to last time.  Feeling much better today than the first 3 days.  It was a little rough coming home on Saturday- I came home to Mykelle having a fever of 105!  I set my bags down and Adam and I rushed her to the doctor where they determined she had two nasty ear infections (probably from swimming in Papa's hotel pool) and put her on antibiotics.  Thankfully she's doing very well now!  

   The next step in the cancer fight is to get my blood back to normal healthy levels and get another CT/Pet scan to see if the tumors have shriveled up.   If the scans come back looking good, I'll go in for 2-5 days (outpatient) to have my own stem-cells removed from a catheter that will be put in my chest (gross!).   The cells will be frozen and I'll go back into the hospital (8th floor, private room- woohoo!) for a 6 day session of high-dose chemo followed by the actual stem-cell transplant and 10-12 days of recovery in a hospital apartment (to keep me away from outside germs that could cause serious illness).  

   I had a friend tell me the other day after reading this blog that I made cancer and chemo look easy (something about smiling in all of the pictures :)  I think she knew it is not truly easy, but I've been thinking about her comment- it must look easy because I, along with my family, have been the recipients of a tremendous amount of assistance, taking all sorts of forms- from cards with kind words of encouragement, to baby-sitting two unruly kids, to washing my dishes and everything in between!  The sincerity of the people surrounding me in sharing their time, money, affection, and talents has made this journey easier for me and my family to go through.  There is no way to repay the kindnesses shown to us over the past month, but I can tell you all that I am extremely grateful for everything.  With the steady outpouring of love, prayers, and support from friends and family that I've received in plenty, I know the events over the next month can't go anything other than perfectly well!   So to all of you out there supporting me in my fight to kick cancer's butt, thank you for helping make it easy(-er) on me! 


  1. Hey Tessa! I happened to check your blog right after you updated it! Cool! ;) You really do have a great shaped head. Seriously! I have never been bald, but when I feel my head, it's full of bumps and I know that it's not as uniform and smooth as yours looks! So even if it IS pure genetics to blame, you deserve the compliments! ;) I'm glad that you were able to have your own room this time for your chemo session and that you were able to rest a bit more. And I'm glad that your view was so spectacular. That's too bad about Mykee's fever of 105! That would be scary! Thank goodness for antibiotics, right? Anyway, good luck with recovering from this bout of chemo. And good luck with the next couple of steps in your treatment plan. I wish that I lived closer to you so that I could help watch your cute kids and scrub your toilets for you (my all-time favorite chore), but I don't. All that I can really do is pray...which I'm doing plenty of. Love ya! :)

  2. I have to say, if I ever need to be bald for any reason, I hope that I can be as pretty as you!! Good luck with this chemo recovery, and thank you for your testimony that the Lord takes care of His children and does not leave them alone. You are awesome!

  3. Holy hot momma! Tessa! You make bald look good! It makes your eyes and cheek bones stand out even more. Seriously beautiful! Seriously.

    Glad to hear that you have another round of chemo in the bag. I'm sorry it was so stressful, and that once it was done, you had to worry about a sick babe. I hope both of you get to feeling better very soon!

    Love ya! Still prayin'

  4. My Sweet Tessa! Very nice posting. It made me cry...just because I miss you. Your strength and courage is so inspiring. I hope if I ever have to battle a disease or trial, I can do it with grace, strength and beauty like you. I love you.

  5. I hope you don't mind but I've been following your story and I swear every time I read your postts it brings tears to my eyes. You're amazing, keep up the fight!

  6. I think it's so amazing that you are putting your story out there for all to see. You are touching so many people, more than you probably think. I also must thank you for your great example. Remember Heavenly Father won't give us more than we can handle so you seriously must be a tough cookie. You are an inspiration to many. You are in our prayers.
    Love, the Roe's

  7. Tessa, you are an amazingly strong and positive woman. I look up to you so much. You're brave and beautiful. You're in my every prayer. Sending you love today. xo Makie

  8. Oh Tessa, your strength is just amazing!! You are such an inspiration to everyone around you, thank you for that. I am glad you are starting to feel better again, and I am so sorry that I was not able to take your kids for the whole day as planned. Isaac is finally on the mend (crossing my fingers he stays this way) and we are not leaving town until the 18th so please text me and let me know if there is a day this week that I can have the kids over here. Abby was pretty upset that Mykelle didn't come over on Wednesday. We are praying our hearts out over here and please know you can count on us for anything!

  9. PS- I forgot to tell you that I took Evan over to Target and then to my house during joy school on Wed. and he is such a sweet little boy! So well-behaved. You are such a good mommma.

  10. Your devotion, strength and wisdom toward this Villain is astounding. Your post choked me up and followed with an overwhelming feeling of peace. Peace for you and your family from a stranger in Utah that Followed you from a mutual friend Andy Over. Peace given especially during this time of year from our older Brother who loves us and never leaves us alone. Peace that the Comforter is with you and with your loved ones. Peace of mind that you will be able to conquer that which is to be conquered. You inspire me and give me strength.

  11. So I commented on another post yesterday, but I just couldn't get you out of my head - ALL DAY. You are definitely an inspiration to me. I honestly applaud you for fighting this again, especially because the first time is no picnic and the second time is even harder. You're amazing. I realized while reading about you shaving your head that the reason I've kept mine short since chemo is because I'm scared to grow mine out and loose it again. And I'm not paranoid - the fear is real. And it was okay to miss my hair, as I'm sure you miss yours too. But it will grow back, eventually and we just get to be grateful that it can. (Have you ever heard Randy Travis' 'Forever and Ever, Amen' song? It'll give you a good laugh) And isn't it funny how people think this is all going by so fast and you're doing so well but they don't see all the behind the scenes yuck that goes on - which knowing what goes on makes me pray for you even harder. Do you have to have a port this time? On a side note, since you have little ones, today I saw a quote that said children who experience difficulties at a young age become more successful in life than those who don't. So don't worry. The Lord knows them and what this can do for them as well. I can see it in my daughter's life. She was 4 when I was diagnosed. I hope you continue to feel the Lord's tender mercies in your life as you go through this. May He bless you with extra strength each and every day!

  12. I wanted to wish your family a merry christmas, Tessa you look beyond gorgeous, i think you may start a new trend looking so fab! I am glad that you have so many people out there helping you, sounds like you guys are very blessed with friends and family. Merry Christmas, Love, The Hernandez Family