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"3 Months Down!"






...the neon pink, orange, and green sign tacked on my door declared. My buddy, Dominique, and I were driving home from my last Taxol infusion when we saw the cluster of brightly colored balloons waving in the wind. I hadn't considered this date a milestone or cause for celebration until then. But seeing that sign and finding out who put it there made me cry. How grateful I am for friends like Kimmy and Brian. Because of their intimate knowledge of the toll cancer takes, they have been cheerleaders for me since the beginning of this journey. I called her three days after my diagnosis to tell her the news. Kimmy is positive, upbeat, and measured. When I said I had something to tell her, she initially thought I must be pregnant again. Ha! I wish, although strangely, that week I was diagnosed felt familiar to when I found out I was pregnant - that same fear of the unknown, being acutely aware of the fragility of life. But of course, with pregnancy, there was always joy and excitement- no matter how badly I felt pregnant, I knew it was going to be worth it. Three months in, fun and excitement have not been my emotions. Cancer is more overwhelming in both good and bad ways. The good ways- love and support. Cancer is so heavy, and my home feels that way too. It's hard to get excited about anything. But that sign and all my supportive friends remind me this is an achievement.


As I write this, I have finished all chemo infusions, but I want to focus on those first three months, as they were significantly different from the latter. During those first three months, I would cry about how much of a mind game the whole thing was: I never felt sick, but now I must make myself sick to get better. I was otherwise healthy, about to steadily poison myself- so I can live. Looking back at that first phase of chemo, every week was like Groundhog Day- with slight variance between the weeks in general, with my health on the slow and steady decline.


Friday Infusion Day: I loved going to COH to get my infusion. The nurses are kind and helpful. They give you attention, and volunteers give you snacks and warm blankets. During this chemo phase, my pre-medicine included an IV of Benadryl and a tablet. As the nurses tell me, this combo could knock out a 300-pound man. But not me. It relaxes me, and when I'm relaxed- I talk. No shock there. It's a confusing place in my mind on drugs. I get comfortable and happy, and then my mind remembers it's high, and I realize this won't last, and I get anxious and sad. But since I always have a friend with me, I get over the sadness and am happy again to be with someone I love and get attention from the nurses. We will talk about the latest gossip as the nurses prep my port, get chemo checks, and contribute to our conversation. Section one chemo consists of Taxol weekly, Carboplatin every three weeks, and Keytruda every 6 weeks- so the infusions take 3-4 hours. By the time I leave, that initial high is gone, and now I feel like I'm in a dream. I get home and do my best to take care of the baby for the rest of the day. Although I'm exhausted, I always aim to push through the dream-state to play with her, make her dinner, and bathe her. On most infusion days, I get this accomplished with Eli's help.


Saturday, day two: I feel great! The combination of premeds is still in my body, and it feels like bottled energy. I wake up early, prepare the baby for the congregation meeting, and get myself ready. Saturday is productive, and my mood is excellent.


Sunday, day three: I'm coming off the steroid high, but in the morning, I feel good. By mid-day, the brain fog sets in. I'm in a dream- is everything okay? Is someone mad at me? Did I do something wrong? Paranoia starts to settle in. My energy starts to wane.


Monday, day four: Hello, chemo! Did someone turn the heat on? Hot flashes- my body is on fire. It hits me in waves throughout the day. That paranoia from Sunday turns into panic and despair. My emotions are a rollercoaster, and tears are constant. Exhaustion takes over, and I must sleep. I sleep through the baby waking up from naps, and my body feels like lead.


Tuesday, day five: It starts to feel like chemo is leaving my body- and let me just say- take Imodium AD, and you'll be alright. Must stay close to home and close to the restroom.


Wednesday, day six: I start to feel mentally more stable, but my stomach is on edge; typically, every Wednesday night is a classic chemo night, i.e., bathroom- both ends. You get it, right?


Thursday, day seven: My one good day- this is the day that I decide I am better and do everything I can do. I feel almost normal until I crash. My job this day is to hydrate. Why is drinking water so hard? Back to Friday- infusion day.


Throughout the week, my appetite is good, the steroids have kept me hungry, and I'm bloated and chubbier than ever, which makes me mad. Being bald and skinny at least has a Jack Skellington vibe. Being chubby and bald has more of an Uncle Fester energy, and although that's a look, it's not really one I ever imagined sporting. We shaved my head after my first treatment. My eyebrows and eyelashes started disappearing by the end of the first three months. My nails, starting with my pointer finger- began to pulsate with pain, like I slammed them in a door. Everything hurts to touch. Half of them turned lime green, which faded to army green. It looks like I dug out of a grave, but it goes with my new look.




Enough of the bad- What's good? During these months, Delaney crawls, then stands, then walks. She turns one, babbles, smiles, says “Dada”, and occasionally “Mama”. I have a strong and healthy daughter. As my hair is falling out, hers is growing curly and golden. She is the only one in my life who doesn't care about cancer, and I spend my days with her. What a perfect thing with such an all-consuming illness to be with someone who never wants to talk about cancer. It's her world, and I'm just living in it. She doesn't seem to notice that with each passing day, my skin grays, my eyes darken, and my head is shinier. Most mornings, Delaney grabs my face, presses hers tightly against mine, slaps my head, and smiles. It's the best and the worst time to get cancer- I'm exhausted from having an infant/toddler, still new to motherhood and on chemo. Sometimes it feels like a nightmare. But she doesn't know and won't have memories of this time. She will be 2 when treatment is over. I hope all that stays with her is the love and attention she has been shown, as we spend our days together.



As for me, I will remember and carry the trauma with me for some time. Although I am grateful for those first three months, I had energy, and it gave me a crash course into chemo and what it is like to be sick. It foreshadowed the difficulties ahead, specifically, my dance with the Red Devil.


7 Comments


Virginia, it is a pleasure to see you are back and posting. thanks for sharing I am sending you love and healing NRG. take care my dear give my best to Lisa and the rest for the family. Your baby girl is such a ray of Sunshine and so Beautiful, like her mother. 😊

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Guest
Oct 22, 2023

Ginny thanks for sharing! Your story and journey is important to get out to the world. I agree with Jarred you better put this all in a book when this is over. Remember, looks fade but Stupid is forever. You are the Smartest, Bravest, most wonderfully made human being I know. You are beautiful inside and out my dear! Love from Texas 💟, Susan Colon

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Karen Bastedo
Karen Bastedo
Oct 21, 2023

♥️Love you beautiful lady! ♥️ Thank you for helping us get a glimpse of what you have been enduring! You are amazing! Most of us have no idea of this whole process, thank you for sharing! You are so encouraging!

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Jehovah loves you, and has gifted you with the ability to convey your feelings and emotions better than ChatGpt! I love you pretty lady.

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Guest
Oct 20, 2023

Warrior Princess Gin in full effect 💪❤️ stay strong beautiful ❤️

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