Tag: wig


A once in my lifetime donation….hopefully!

February 23rd, 2012 — 4:41pm

A few months ago I talked about wanting to find a place to donate all of my wigs.  Given that I’ve been wig free for 8 months now, I figured it was time to officially cut the cord and give away my beloved wigs. 

It was a rough few first weeks, but I eventually came to love my wigs.  I primarily wore the one on left in the photo above, Upstage by Raquel Welch.  After I had it trimmed a few inches, it was perfect.  It looked incredibly life like, so much so that I used to get compliments on how cute my “hair cut” was all the time.

I bought a second wig, Scene Stealer by Raquel Welch, because I missed my long hair so much.  Little did I know, a long haired wig was nearly impossible to keep tangle free.  The hair turned into a rat’s nest within a few minutes of walking around with it on.  As a result, I’m pretty sure I wore that wig less than 5 times.  As much as I wanted to have long hair again, the thought of having to brush it out every few minutes wasn’t feasible.

And finally, my third wig, which I have no idea who the manufacturer was, was a purchase made out of desperation.  I realized 5 hours into my drive home to Michigan for the holidays last year that I forgot to pack my wig.  I was incredibly self-conscience of all my family seeing me without hair, so not having a wig to wear for the week I was home wasn’t going to work. 

I found a random beauty parlor that sold wigs and purchased the cutest thing I could find.  The hair style of the wig was cute, but the quality of the hair itself was really low.  I felt extremely self-conscience wearing that thing and only ended up wearing it once I think the entire time I was home.  Upon returning to Charlotte, the wig went on its styrofoam head where it sat for the last year.  I unfortunately don’t have any photos wearing that wig, but it’s the one of the right side of the picture at the top.

Upon returning to Charlotte after spending the holidays back in Michigan, I finally got around to packing up all my wigs and wig accessories and made the trek over to the Buddy Kemp Cancer Support Center.  This is an organization in Charlotte that loans wigs and other support services to cancer patients free of charge.  They have a lending boutique which is open to all cancer patients to go to and borrow hats, scarves, wigs, etc.  I spent so much money on my wigs (thank goodness for healthcare flexible spending accounts!!), it was important to me that other’s would be able to use them without having to spend another dime on them.

I’ve had a few people ask how it felt to donate them….and honestly, it was a little scary.  I pray every day that I’ll never find myself in the position again where I would need my wigs, but know that there is always a possibility (regardless of all of my past and present treatments) of my cancer returning.  At times, I feel like maybe I’m tempting fate by getting rid of them so quickly.  While from an outsider perspective it may seem like I stopped wearing a wig a long time ago, it still feels pretty new in my mind.  The only thing that helps bring me peace about the whole situation is that instead of sitting on a shoe rack in my bedroom, my wigs are out there bringing hopefully as much self-confidence and happiness to someone else as they brought to me.

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I can’t remember if I’ve talked about this in a previous blog or not, more so out of embarrassment and not wanting to draw attention to the situation…..but the puberty-esque acne that’s been wreaking havoc on my face (primarily my chin area) as a result of the tamoxifen finally got to the point where I needed to seek professional help.  I had an appointment with a dermatologist last Monday.

The dermatologist didn’t really tell me anything I don’t already know….when you mess with your hormones, your face is going to suffer….but she was able to prescribe me a few topical gels.

I’ve been using the new gels….religiously….for the last week and a half and (knock on wood) I think they are actually working.  I definitely notice a difference on my face and am cautiously optimistic that I’m finally starting to get the situation under control.  I’d like to thank all of my friends and Andrew for helping me maintain my self esteem the last few months by pretending like they don’t notice it.  I’m a lucky girl and I appreciate the kindness :)

And because I’ve been such a slacker (I know I sound like a broken record), I actually had another haircut since I wrote about in my last blog……waaaaaaaaay back when almost a month ago :(  I was getting ready for work about two weeks ago and it become abundantly clear to me I was on the verge of having another mullet again.  The back and sides are growing so quickly….and unfortunately the top is continuing to grow at a much slower pace.

So I scheduled an appointment and got, I’m guessing, around 2 ½ – 3 inches cut off the bottom of my hair.  As much as I hate cutting off the hair I’ve been so desperate to grow back, I know it was necessary.  I’m getting closer and closer to a normal hair style as the weeks go by!!  I think the cut is a pretty noticeable difference between to the two side shots below….wouldn’t you agree??

Photos from 62 and 64 weeks post chemo are below…..

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The time has finally come…

April 25th, 2011 — 3:35pm

About 4 weeks after initially dropping off my prescription and 5 reminder phone calls from CVS (oops!), I actually made the time this weekend to pick up my first dose of Tamoxifen…..the hormone therapy drug I so lovingly spoke about in a recent blog that I’m being forced (against my will) to take for 5 years.  Ok, maybe that is a bit dramatic, but I feel it necessary to stress my extreme dissatisfaction with having to take the drug.

Why do I have to take Tamoxifen?  The medical answer to that question is because my cancer tested positive for estrogen and progesterone.  Simply put, my cancer cells needed hormones to continue to grow….which in this case has pros and cons. 

Pro:  breast cancer that is estrogen and progesterone positive is a generally a less aggressive form of cancer and slower growing.  By shutting off my hormone supply, you are essentially shutting off my cancer and its ability to continue to grow…or in my case re-grow.  Had my cancer been estrogren and proestrogen negative, it would have been more aggressive in strength potentially resulting in it having spread much quicker and more widely throughout my body.

Con:  enter Tamoxifen.  Tamoxifen is strongly recommended for all breast cancer patients with a positive estrogen and progesterone diagnosis.  It lowers your hormone levels so in the event there are any extremely stubborn teeny-tiny cancers cells that managed to stick around through surgery, chemo, and radiation, they will have not a whole lot to feed off of and re-grow.  Had I not received the diagnosis I did, I wouldn’t have to take the Tamoxifen for 5 years. 

Tamoxifen is widely known to have pretty crummy side effects.  Those on the label alone include:  hot flashes (which I had during chemo and were awful), nausea, hair thinning (I think we all know how that makes me feel), headaches (I’m already prone to migraines and get at least one a week), weight gain, loss of sexual ability/interest in men (oh wait, I’m not a man…or does that mean as a women I will lose interest in men?!)…..you get the picture. 

Plain and simple, it’s not fun stuff and you can see my reluctance to get started.  My 6 month post chemo check-up is in about two weeks (crazy to think it’s been that long already!!) and I know Dr. Frenette is going to ask how it’s going.

A lot of people have asked why I haven’t started taking it yet.  I don’t really have a good answer…other than that I just wasn’t ready to yet.  It’s been really nice leaving the world of doctors, treatments, drugs behind me the last 2 months…and I just haven’t been ready to jump back into the world of cancer treatment again.  I recognize that the sooner I start the sooner I’ll be done…but it needs to be in my own time.  No amount of urging from family and friends will change that….and until you’re in my situation, you’ll never understand my reluctance.  I know I need to start soon, definitely before my 6 month post chemo check up because I don’t want to disappoint (or have to lie to) Dr. Frenette…..so cut me a little slack :)

Nothing new really to report on the “auditions” front.  Semi-finals tryouts are tomorrow night, and I’ll find out Wednesday morning if I make it through to finals.  I’ll do a special mid-week post if I make it.  I’ve been super sore from all of the dancing we’ve been doing…which is great because I think dancing is a great work-out.  Bonus picture for the week is below.  We had to take a recent head-shot into our interview with us last week.  Since I’ve been avoiding camera’s like the plague for the last 8 months….I really didn’t have any to choose from…and had to resort to the staged, bathroom self-portrait.  It could have turned out much worse…..and I actually think my wig looks great!

I finally finished my most recent book, “Bitter is the New Black”, last week.  Overall, entertaining read with a good message.  I’ve started re-reading the first two books in a series that I started two summers ago…because I finally purchased the third and fourth books in the series.  I re-read a lot of books when they are in a series because I like to be fully aware of what’s happened previously before starting the remaining books.  I’d tell you what books they are, but I’m a little embarrassed.  My book selections are typically in line with that of a girl 10 – 15 years younger than me.

Updated photos from 23 ½ weeks post chemo are below.  There is definitely a lot more curl in back and on the sides than last week.  It’s getting hard to tame….and is starting to come out the bottom of my wigs now too.  I may have to start wearing a cap under my wigs??  Not really sure how that works.  Hope everyone had a great Easter!

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Acceptance

April 18th, 2011 — 10:15pm

Dictionary.com defines acceptance in the following ways:

  • the act of taking or receiving something offered
  • favorable reception; approval
  • the act of assenting or believing
  • the fact or state of being accepted

I personally think those definitions are a tad bit deceiving.  It’s no secret that I’ve had a really tough time truly coming to terms with, or accepting, the fact that I have / had cancer. 

(Side note:  at what point does one transition from present to past tense in regards to cancer?  I’ve still never heard the words “remission” come out of my doctors mouths…and I’d hate to jump the gun and move forward full force with it being referenced to in past tense and potentially jinx myself….so for the time being I’ll continue with a combination of the two.)

The definitions above paint acceptance in such a positive light.  Was I offered the choice to take or receive cancer?  Did I favorably receive it when I found out I had cancer?  Did I “assent” to my diagnosis when it was given? (not entirely sure I’m using assent correctly there, so please forgive me if that sentence makes me look vocabulary-challenged)  Have I ever accepted that cancer was, and will always continue to be, a part of my life?

The simple answer to all of those questions is a big, fat NO!!  Who in their right mind would ever willing receive, assent, agree (insert any other synonym for accept here) to going through cancer?  NO ONE!  I think this is why it has been such a challenge for me to come to terms with the fact that I have / had cancer.  I wonder (A LOT) whether I’ll ever really be able to accept that cancer is now a part of my life…

There are times where I’ll still find myself willing the last 10 months to have been a bad dream I’m struggling to wake up from (because there’s no way this has all actually happened to me).  There are still times I find myself having a hard time saying that I have / had cancer.  And, there are still many, many times I’ll look in the mirror and can’t help but cry because I hate what I see looking back….and because I miss my hair so much.

Am I close to acceptance?  Not yet….but I’m fairly confident I’ll get there someday…because let’s be honest….I really don’t have any other choice!!

I talked in my blog last week about trying to decide if I was going to go through with trying out for the Carolina Panthers dance team.  I surprised myself, and probably some of my family and friends, by actually going through with it.  I think I went back and forth in my decision no less than 15 times in the 24 hours leading up to it.  It was probably wasn’t until I went and got a spray tan did I actually commit to trying out.  I wasn’t going to stink like cheese all night long for nothing!! (anyone who’s ever had a spray tan can share in my pain there)

Now that I have the first few days of tryouts under my belt, I’m glad I actually went through with it.  It’s been a lot of fun so far….and it has been a fantastic work out!  Nothing like dancing for hours on end in a room that’s way too hot to help you get back in shape!!  And I’ve met some really nice girls in the process.

I was fortunate enough to make it through to semi-finals…which was my goal going into this whole process…so I’m really happy with that.  We have interviews with the Panthers organization Monday – Wednesday this week, a business meeting Wednesday night, and then our last semi-finals practice Thursday night.  The actual semi-finals tryout will take place next Tuesday evening.  There are currently 70 girls still in the running for approximately 25 – 30 spots on the team….and I’m guessing that they’ll probably cut another 20 – 25 girls next Tuesday night.

IF I make it through the next cut, I’m not exactly sure what the finals process will entail.  I’m trying to not get my hopes up too high….because 1) I don’t want to be really disappointed if / when I don’t make it and 2) let’s face it, I’m no spring chicken and I’m going up against girls that are a lot younger than me….and it’s really tough to compete against a 22 year old!  BUT I do think I’ve paid my dues and deserve a little bit of good news….and I would gladly take it in the form of being picked for the team ;)   And really that’s just me being greedy because in all honesty being healthy again is good news enough!

I went with the tape instead of the glue to keep my wig on…and it worked pretty well!  I was pretty sweaty at times and it held tight.  The woman at the wig store strongly advised me against the glue because she thought it would damage my new hair….and that was all I needed to hear to nix that idea.  My hair has been getting partially stuck in the tape by the time I take my wig off….but I was able to find a cleanser that essentially allows me to pull my hair off of the tape without causing really any pain or loss of hair. 

I’m definitely not used to the long hair wig yet!  I had a really hard time keeping the hair out of my face.  It’s been a long time since I’ve danced and had to throw long hair around….so I’ve got some work to do learning to keep from inhaling hair all dance long again.  The long hair wig is quite a bit hotter too….so I am very happy to have a few days in a row of not needing to wear it.  My short hair wig has never felt so good!!

New pictures from 22 ½ weeks post chemo are below….

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…Back to Dancer?

April 10th, 2011 — 11:01pm

I have a big decision to make this week.  Tryouts for the Carolina Panthers dance team start this Saturday….and I’ve been toying around with the idea of attempting a comeback.  I was planning to try out last season for the team…but an unfortunate string of circumstances (a.k.a. the bobcats made the play-offs) prevented that from happening.  In the long run, that turned out to be a blessing in disguise because had I of made the team last year, I would have been quitting a month later when I found out I had cancer.

I’ve talked a lot in the last few weeks about how it’s been a struggle getting back to normal life now that my treatments are over….and about how I’ve been in a real funk lately.  Dancing has always been such a fun aspect of life for me, and in addition to helping me meet some of my best friends, it’s always brought me a lot of happiness.  So what better way to try to get myself back on the happy train right?  Sounds easy enough, but a few concerns weigh on my mind….

Am I in good enough shape?  Probably not, but I still have 6 days to undo the damage I’ve done to myself thanks to having spent an entire weekend in the control room at work.  The control room motto is “calories don’t count in the control room”…..so you know the food options were anything but healthy :(  If I eat super healthy all this week, and run before and after work every day, I can potentially be back to what would be considered in decent shape….but definitely not where I would want to be.

Can I secure my wig?  After last weekend’s alumni dance gathering, I now have the knowledge of how to secure my wig.  I just have to go out and get all the tools.  Using an adhesive to stick my wig to my head doesn’t sound all that appealing for several reasons.  First, I’m concerned the glue will damage the lace part of my lace front wig.  I spent a lot of money on that wig and the idea of having to replace it because of botched glue job doesn’t make me very happy.  Second, I have very sensitive skin and I’m afraid the glue will cause my skin to break out…..leaving me with a nasty rash.  Not cute!  Third, and most importantly, I’m worried the adhesive will ruin the new hair I have coming in.  The thought of damaging the hair I’ve been so desperate to get back is a little scary.  Everything I’ve read online assures me that I wouldn’t need to worry about that….but it’s still a huge concern.  Like I said before, I cringe at the thought of being in a situation where my wig falls off, so unless I can be absolutely sure it’s on securely, trying out isn’t an option.  But, Beyonce manages to toss her weave all over the place without it falling off….so it’s definitely doable.

Am I ready to be judged based on my looks?  This is probably the biggest reason I would choose not to try out.  The thought of putting myself in front of a group of people to judge me based largely on looks scares the hell out of me.  It’s no secret that the physical changes that accompany cancer have been a tough pill for me to swallow.  So putting myself on display for others to critique, when I am nowhere close to where I would like to be, is very intimidating.

Do I have enough confidence in myself?  I guess this kind of goes hand in hand with my comments above.  Am I really comfortable / confident enough right now to put myself out there?  My initial thoughts are “am I crazy, absolutely not!”  Cancer has been a real blow to my self esteem.  Long ago are the days of looking in the mirror and liking what I see….I literally turn and run when I see a camera come out right now.  So does it really make sense for me to put myself in a situation where having confidence is a key to success?

Can I handle the rejection?  You never know what the judges are going to look for.  I could be at the top of my game and not be what they want that time around.  Being rejected, for whatever the reason may be, is hard to handle.  And I just don’t know if I want to set myself up for that at this point in my life.

On the other hand, the whole experience could be really great.  I could go into with zero expectations, meet some new people, and just have a lot of fun.  And regardless of how it turns out in the end…I don’t make the team or I do….it could be just what I need to get out of my funk.  Who knows…….I guess I’ve got some serious thinking to do this week.

In really exciting news, my nails have grown enough that my nub nails look pretty much normal again.  In another week or two I should be able to get them painted.

The back of my hair gets wavier with every week that passes.  I can run my fingers through the back and actually grab hold of something.  For some reason, the hair on the top of my hair is growing at a much slower pace than the sides and back.  If it continues to grow at the current pattern and pace, I’m on target to be sporting a pretty awesome mullet by this time next year.

Updated photos from 21 1/2 weeks post chemo are posted below.

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From Dancer to Cancer

April 4th, 2011 — 6:39pm

I went to the Charlotte Bobcats game last night where they had a special LadyCats Alumni gathering.  This was the first time they’d ever done an event for all the alumni dancers and was so much fun to see all the girls again.  It’s pretty hard to believe that a year ago I was still out there on the court dancing….and even harder to believe I was still squeezing into those tiny uniforms!  What a difference a year makes :)

Dancing’s always been a huge part of my life.  I grew up dancing….you could say it runs in my family with my parents owning a studio and every female in the family participating in one way or another….and danced for the Bobcats for 4 years before unofficially retiring after last season.  I say unofficially retire because I hadn’t entirely made up my mind to quit dancing after last season.  Cancer pretty much made it up for me.  My first surgery was scheduled the day of try-outs for the current season…and I was in no condition coming out of surgery to keep beat with an 8 count…or really even count to 8.  About the time they were announcing the group to make it to finals; I was stumbling to the bathroom for my first round of vomiting from my pain pills.

If you’ve read my previous posts, you may have a better idea now of why it’s been so hard for me to adjust to my new, softer (and temporary I might add!) body.  I wasn’t by any means the skinniest girl on the team….but I was definitely one of the more muscular ones.  Working out has always been a huge aspect of my life, so not having the energy all fall / winter to work out, and taking medicine that puffed me up like the marshmallow man definitely sucked!!  Going from this….

….to this….

…..over the course of a few months was pretty shocking.  Ok, so maybe that photo is a slight exaggeration, but that’s what I felt like 3 months ago!

I miss dancing a lot, but miss being a part of a team even more….so getting together with the girls I danced with at some point over the last 4 years was a very nice treat.  Here’s a link to the gallery of photos they took at the game.  I try to avoid cameras like the plague right now….or as much as my friends will allow….so I’m really only in the group shots at the end.

One nice thing that came out of the night was that I learned all about how to properly secure my wig on my head. Right now I just pull it on and off every day and say a prayer it doesn’t fall off.   A lot of professional dancers wear weave, or extensions, of some sort (shocker!)….so I had a pool of knowledge to pull from about securing my own hair piece. Which with the wind gusts we are having today in Charlotte, is very much needed!  I really thought my wig was going to blow off walking back from lunch this afternoon and I was going to have to chase after it like a tumbleweed rolling through the desert.  In which case I probably would have just let it blow away because 1) I have enough hair that I don’t look like too much of a freak without a wig anymore and 2) no one wants to be that girl chasing a wig down the street.  Needless to say, I’ll be investing in the all the necessary glues and cleansing astringents over the next few days to avoid any potential future embarrassments.

And seeing all the current girls on the court (in all their skinny, toned glory) was all the motivation I needed to turn down those french fries I wanted to order with my salad for lunch, and get my butt out for a nice long run after work today.  Like I said, I miss dancing a lot….and have thought about maybe trying to make a come-back….which is another reason why having my new found knowledge of wig securement (is that even a word??) is great!  Chasing after my wig on the street would be nothing compared to having my wig fall off in front of 20,000 people!!

I had my 1 month post-radiation check-up two Friday’s ago and forgot to completely forgot to report back on that.  The appointment consisted of a quick physical examination to make sure my skin had healed satisfactory….which it had.  Short and sweet and I was out of there with my next appointment scheduled for 3 months out.  One month post-radiation also means that I am officially supposed to start taking my Tamoxifen pills.  I dropped the prescription off at CVS about 2 weeks ago…but have neglected to pick it up yet.  I can’t really say I have a reason why I haven’t picked them up yet…..I guess it’s just a case of procrastination at its finest.  I’ll eventually pick it up….and I’ll eventually start taking them.  In my mind, when I have 5 years of ahead of me….a few weeks delay in starting isn’t really going to matter.

I’m about 100 pages into the book that inspired my post last week, “Bitter is the New Black”.  It’s actually pretty entertaining.  Decent read overall.

Photos from 20 ½ weeks post chemo are below.  You can see in the first one that I have some serious cowlicks going on around my ears.  That may be more related to how my hair was laying under my wig though….we’ll see!

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Last week of bootcamp

February 6th, 2011 — 9:19pm

My last week of boot camp starts tomorrow morning and I have to say that watching Fergie on the halftime show of the Superbowl has made me more inspired than ever to get back in shape.  Girlfriend has an amazing body!  I need to figure out what my workout regimen will be after this week.  I am contemplating giving crossfit a try. I’ve heard great things about it…and I need the group workouts to keep me motivated right now. I’m not even close to where I want / need to be, so I’ve got to keep my workouts up.  I was finally able to run 2 miles again comfortably thursday morning, so I think my lungs and cardiovascular endurance are finally building a little.  The first couple of weeks back on the treadmill seriously sucked!  It was extremely painful to run a single mile…and I was really hating myself for letting my phsical fitness get to such a sorry state.  It’s hard to believe I was running a 1/2 marathon just over a year ago.  I’ve got some work to do!!

My fingernails are continuing down the path of destruction. More then half of them are pulling away from the nail beds. I’m very concerned about getting food, dirt, bacteria down in there and it reeking havoc on my fingers….but I don’t really know how I can prevent that to some extent. I’m not about to walk around with rubber gloves on all day!! You’d be surprised at how easy it is to catch your nail on every day household objects.  In the last week, there were about 10 different times where I caught my nail on something and was fully expecting to look down and see I’d torn my nail off.  Fortunately they are all still in tact….for now.  They are trimmed down as low as I can get them….it will be a miracle if I’m able to get through the next few months unscathed!!

I have my 3 month post chemo appointment with my other oncologist, Dr. Frenette, on Wednesday Thursday. I say other because you have one oncologist for chemotherapy and another for radiation. I wasn’t aware of this going into this whole process…I thought one oncologist handled it all. It makes sense now though, one specializes in chemicals and the other in rays. I plan on talking to Dr. Frenette about the whole taking Tamoxifen thing.  Tamoxifen is a hormone therapy prescribed for women who’s cancer feeds off of hormones…which mine did.  It keeps your hormone levels at a lower then normal level in order to reduce your risk of recurrence.  I’m not 100% sold on making my life a living hell for the next 5 years because from what I’ve read, the side effects are pretty miserable.  I got a taste of the very similar side effects during chemo and it wasn’t pretty.  I need to understand how much the use the tamoxifen will lower my recurrence %’s before I sign on for 5 years of hell!

I’ve been told by multiple people that my hair is coming in nicely….which I appreciate!  It’s a little bit darker then I’d like, but like I said previously, I’d been coloring my hair since junior high so I really couldn’t tell you what my natural hair color was anymore!  I think I may have been the first person in my class to start highlighting their hair.  I guess that’s what happens when your aunt is a beautician!!  I distinctly remember the boys in 6th grade calling me Madonna for a period of time after I came to school with my new highlights.  I wanted to jump in my locker and hide until they grew out because I was so embarassed….at 12 years old, antogonizing attention from boys was more then I could handle.  I suppose I can always start coloring my hair again too.  I wonder how short is too short to start? :)  

I’m able to wear my wig pretty much all day now without too much discomfort.  I don’t know if my head is just getting used to it…or if  it’s the fact that my whole scalp has a covering of hair now protecting it from the cap….but I don’t really notice the itchiness anymore.  And not to brag….but I am told all the time that I have the most natural looking wig that people have ever seen.  I’ll take whatever compliments I can get right now!!  Example….I only wore a stocking cap in for my radiation treatment on Friday.  One of the women I see in there everyday asked me if  I had started losing my hair.  I told her that on the contrary…my hair had actually just started growing back.  She said to me “you mean that’s a wig you’ve been wearing every day?”.  I told her yes and she told me how realistic it looked.  What can I say…Raquel Welch knows how to make a mean wig!!

The last bit of exciting news to report is I’ve finally figured out how to get my comments link on my blog working.  So feel free to use to ask me anything you may want to know..or tell me how awesome I am :)  

Updated photos are below.

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