September 8th - I cut my hair. I didn't quite have the balls to go full on Tamar Braxton and I wasn’t pulling any Bernadette moves either, but I did know that I could handle a cute bob.
My mother-in-law went to beauty school at some point in her early 20’s before deciding to become a school teacher so, tag you’re it, mom. I call and tell her that I’m ready for a haircut and that we were headed her way. We hop in the car and drive an hour to the Eastern Shore of MD where MJ is from.
She looks unsure at first. My hair is pretty long and we know how women feel about their hair. Especially black women.
But, you know why I’m here. Go ahead, girl. Snip,snip. She begins parting my hair and sectioning it off and begins cutting. For some reason, I assumed she wasn’t going to take much care since it was all going to fall out eventually. But instead, she carefully starts to trim it. There’s the problem. She’s trimming it.
I look down and she’s only cutting about 2 inches. 2 inches?! No, no, no. We didn’t come here for you to only cut 2 inches. More, please!
I turn around with desperation in my eyes and tell her she needs to cut at least another 3 inches. I have cried about many things but this haircut won’t be one. Voila! I feel drunk with power. Ok, buzzed with power is more like it. But I’m happy. Take that Cancer! You don’t get to call all the fucking shots!
10 or so days after surgery I can finally get my drains taken out. Hallelujah! If you know me, you know I’m scared shitless about it. Anesthesia, please?! Nah. There's been no mention of that. Ok. So how exactly are you going to take these tubes out while I'm awake? I've just gotta be a G about it? Gotcha. As you can imagine if you’ve read any of my previous entries, I damn near give myself an ulcer from the anxiety.
MJ and I arrive at my appointment one Tuesday morning. As usual, I’m sitting next to him in the waiting room, but talking to him in my full panic, whisper.
“Babe, do you think it’s going to hurt?” I say not taking my eyes off the TV on the wall.
“No, it’s going to be fine babe. Stop being a numbnut ok?” he responds in a tone that is equal parts gentle and miffed. It is somehow comforting though. It weird how that works. Like don’t be a crybaby and I’ll be here to hold your hand.
My name is called and I stand up. MJ remains seated. I jerk my head around looking back at MJ.
“Come back with me,” I say with my eyes widening in what I am sure is an urgent, helpless but snippy tone.
The nurse takes us back to the examination room. She takes my vitals and then has me go into a room and get undressed from the waist up. Well, that’s easy. I remove my go-to button up shirt and sit there on the edge of the medical table with fresh, white paper beneath me that rustles noisily as I swing my legs nervously.
Ooh! I hop off the table and walk a few feet away to the dozen or so different silicone implants on display. I grab one and hold it in my hand squeezing it like a stress ball.
I grab another and hold them both up to my chest and do a pretend shimmy in front of MJ.
“Alriiiiight babe. Can you put them away please before someone comes in here?”, MJ says trying to hold back a laugh.
“The fun police strikes again,” I say laughing as I put them back on their respective shelves.
I plop back down on the table, making the paper make that annoying rustling sound again. A few minutes later the nurse and nurse practitioner knock on the door and ask if it’s ok to come in.
They come in and the Nurse Practitioner who is strikingly beautiful and equally sweet comes in as peppy as ever. I’ve met her about 3 or 4 times now. So I make small talk with her like we’re girlfriends.
She asks me how I’m feeling as she removes the last of the bandaging and asks for the chart that MJ and I have been so carefully filling out over the last few weeks that tallied the contents of each bloody drain. MJ and I both look at each other like we’re deer in headlights. How could we be so damn dumb to forget the paper at home? That was the whole point. You fill the paper out that tracks the amount of blood collected each time and you bring it in so that the doctor can determine if the drains were ready to come out. Oops.
Either way. Fuck that. Our bad, but these drains are coming out TO-DAY. I’ve been walking around scratching my sides like a crackhead because the area where the drain comes out itches.
“Oh, there’s barely any liquid coming out at all,” I tell her in trying to sound as convincing as possible.
“Ok, we will remove them and just cover with bandages until the liquid is completely gone.”
“Is this going to hurt? How long will it take to remove them?”
“Oh, it will take no time at all. A lot of patients say it tickles.”
I roll my eyes in my head. They were clearly been doped up. Tickles? Yeah right.
Oh shit! It does tickle! Whew!
Week 3 at home rolls around as fast as lightning. I’m feeling much better. Having fun at home with MJ and still going on doctors visits. One of which is with my oncologist. Dun dun dunnnn. She sees I’m doing great and tells me it’s time to start chemo. Ugh.
She’s going down the list of drugs that will go into what most call a “Chemo cocktail.” Not the kind of cocktail I’d like. I like my cocktails strong, on ice with soda water and a lime wedge. But here we are with a cocktail that is supposed to save my life so I guess I’ll try putting on a happy face.
“This drug is going going to give you the ruuuuuuns.”
Oh...thats not so bad. Weight loss!!!
“And this drug is going to make you tired. This other drug might make you a little nauseated.”
She continues down this list. Spewing off a list of symptoms that I may or may not have to tackle. Honestly, none of them seem THAT bad. I’d like to say that I’ve beasted this surgery. I came out of a double mastectomy like a champ. Why would this be any different?
We have another appointment with a nurse that will cover more of what my chemo experience will be like. She hands us a bag of reading materials, talks about wig vendors and shows me marketing materials -- HORRENDOUS. She gives general guidance on how to make the process a little easier. She realizes that I am only 33 and then she turns into my cheerleader.
“You are so young. You will handle chemo so much better since you are young.”
My ears perk up. Self-esteem and courage have been activated. I am now a pink Power Ranger.
She recommends using ginger to help with nausea and taking a walk outside for a little exercise whenever possible. MJ is on the edge of his seat listening to her every word, asking questions and taking notes in his head. I, however, am wondering if we should get takeout or dine in when we leave here.
6 rounds of chemo, some nausea, tiredness, diarrhea and hair loss. Whooh Lord, please let me have a great head shape. Ok, I can handle this shit. Literally. And, time flies right?! I will close this chapter by the end of the year! Now let's kick Cancer’s Pink ass!