Toothpaste revolutionized my day yesterday. I know, that is such an odd statement, but here is the deal: When I met with the oncologist and nurse practitioner for the first time, back in the blur of February, they told me I needed to start using a different toothpaste. It was a toothpaste that was designed for sensitive mouths, and since chemo kills the inner lining of my digestive system from top to bottom, they recommended a change. Since I began chemo, which was merely six days after meeting with the first oncologist, I have had little time to process. I am mostly one who will follow directions as given (from doctors especially). This toothpaste may be the root of all evil. Many people experience odd, metallic or lack of taste in their mouth related to chemo and boy has that been true. I have described it to people as “sour, tart exhaust fumes”, which is a pretty gross taste if you really try to think about it. I have never tasted exhaust fumes, but I am assuming this is what they might taste like. In an odd way, I felt like I could also breath out exhaust fumes after chemo. The special concoction they give me makes me really think I am leaking some odd fumes. (Roy says that I am not, but he also won’t even say a normal husband-slightly-negative-comment to me, so I am not certain he is telling the truth.) Finally, after weeks of brain drain, I got an idea yesterday. Yes, just one. “Is this special toothpaste coating my mouth?” The answer is a resounding, “YES!” I saw a stinkin’ commercial about this very toothpaste, which is odd because I never watch commercials. Their catchy slogan was something about making unhappy people happy. I almost jumped off the couch and shouted, “LIAR!” I went back to my tried and true toothpaste and my mouth feels better and the exhaust fumes appear to be gone. Maybe it is the time of the post-chemo cycle, maybe happenstance or maybe it was the toothpaste. My vote is toothpaste.
Many people ask, and about just as many people are afraid to ask, how I am doing? It is just as tricky of a question to answer. My go-to response this week has been, “I am managing,” which is about as accurate as it gets. After chemo I am given quite a few options regarding my anti-nausea medication and when to take them. I have never done this, so I don’t know when to take it or how often. Although it does come with directions, the frequency is up to me. This anti-nausea medication comes with its own list of side effects which require me to take two additional pills. The challenge is to try to figure out if the side effects are worth not being nauseated. I am not quite convinced they are worth it yet…
My hair loss may be leveling off, but I may also be just a bit hopeful. I had a dear friend fly out from Seattle last week right after chemo. I had my infusion on Monday, and then we drove off to Denver on Wednesday to check out wigs. I know my last blog shared some of my sentiments on wigs and hair loss, but the actual shopping experience was quite a bit different from my expectations. We started with a risqué, probably taboo salon in Denver, and ultimately had a great shopping experience. The gentleman who helped me gave us some great suggestions and “knew the perfect wig” for me. It was a pretty good cut, so I agreed with his expertise. I wish I wanted the long, blue wig, but unfortunately I was not in that mood that day. We had a yummy lunch at Chipotle and a facial. Then we headed off to a much classier, uptown wig salon. The price reflected their location, and although we found another good wig, I was not ready to jump into that purchase. Ultimately, I am still waiting. I am waiting to see what my head is going to do. I asked Roy if he wanted to see my first real, little bald spot and he adamantly told me “no.” I am hoping Dr.Lininger can give us some guidance about what my hair may do over the next few weeks given his expertise. One thing I have learned already is that every patient, every cancer, every regiment, every outcome is different.
I got to start out this week with a great visit from my sister Jessica and her family of five. We had an excellent time of fellowship which does any soul some good. We stayed up later than we know we should have as parents, but we just couldn’t stop talking. We laughed and laughed and simply enjoyed one another’s company. My little niece, Camryn is infatuated with horses right now (and Uncle Roy hopes forever), and she maybe said, “Excuse me, Branee, (there is no “d” in my name currently), can we go see the horses?” about eight dozen times. If you could see her deep, dark, large brown eyes, no one could ever turn this child down. She is a thing of beauty, as are her other siblings. Holding my four-month-old nephew was about the best medicine I have received since starting treatment.
I continue to see the Lord work through this situation in my life and many others. I had a major meltdown on Wednesday night after wig shopping. I was crying hysterically in the shower. I did NOT want to do this any more. I did NOT want to find a wig. I did NOT want to have cancer. I did NOT want to feel like exhaust fumes were coming out of my mouth. I wasn’t certain it was going to be worth the challenge. I was so tired and I was already tired of feeling tired. I was sick of feeling sick and it is just the beginning. The Lord reminded me of the coming Easter season. Although I may think this is pretty terrible, it is a drop in the bucket in comparison to what Jesus suffered on the cross and on the road to the cross. He suffered such torture and pain for our sins although He remained sinless. John 3:16 is likely one of the most well-known Bible verses for both believers and unbelievers alike. It is our family memory verse this week.
God loves you. He loves me. God gave His only Son for you. He gave His only Son for me. God does not want you to perish. He does not want me to perish. God wants you to have eternal life. He wants me to have eternal life. Although the waves of life seem to be crashing around me, I stand firmly planted on the solid rock of Jesus Christ. I pray that if the waves are crashing, you are able to find your footing and stand on the same solid rock. God does not promise that the waves will stop, but He promises to never leave us nor forsake us. The rock NEVER moves. The waves will come. The crashing may seem severe, but He will not leave us there. This storm will pass and He will calm the waves. I pray that you feel the love, grace and compassion of Jesus as you venture out this week.