Penny’s Blog

Chemo Day 2

Posted on: November 13, 2008

When I visited my mom last weekend, I told her I’d be honest with her about how I was feeling during all this. I told her that I’d write at least one time when I was feeling bad so that she’d know I wasn’t sugarcoating things. So here it is: I did not want to leave the house this morning.

Mainly, it was the hair thing. Between yesterday evening and this morning, the hair-loss experience crossed the line from “Ha ha, this is bizarre,” to “Oh my god, I look awful.” I pulled out a substantial amount of loose hair last night (while watching The Sound of Music on DVD). Then I looked in the mirror and almost cried at the newly-exposed expanse of scalp. Every spot, wrinkle, line, extra chin is emphasized when there’s no hairdo to distract the eye. I can’t do anything about my face, but I can get rid of the weird hair arrangement that’s left. I have an appointment at Moshi Moshi tomorrow to get the remaining hair buzzed off. (The show starts at noon—come on down!)

Goodbye, pride. And goodbye, hair. See you in the spring.

And even though I had a better idea this time about what to expect, I was anxious this morning about going in for today’s chemo infusion. Edgy. Afraid of feeling sick. That’s probably just how it’s going to be on these mornings. Everything went fine, of course. Still, I was glad to get out of there at 5:30 and breathe some fresh air.

Although I haven’t gotten sick, I do get passing twinges—of a metallic taste in my mouth, or discomfort, or not-quite-nausea. Whenever I get a twinge, I think “Tour bus going by.” Some people visualize their chemo drugs as sharks, ferociously gobbling up their cancer cells. I visualize each twinge as a little tour bus in my blood stream, filled with clueless tourists. The tourists—cancer cells—naively think they’re getting driven to see some Mayan ruin or something. What they don’t realize, until it’s too late, is that the only place they’re going is on a one-way trip out of my body by way of the urethra*.

*I never thought I’d be mentioning my urethra in a public forum. I guess there’s a first time for everything.

*P.S. Also, both the shark and the tour bus visualizations are inaccurate. As I understand it, chemo doesn’t actually kill cancer cells; it keeps them from reproducing, so they die of old age without leaving any heirs. But any analogies or visualizations I can think of involving involuntary sterilization are just too depressing to pursue. I’ll stick with the tour bus.


5 Responses to "Chemo Day 2"

I am glad that you were willing to share when you felt cruddy. “This too shall pass” is a great phrase to live by. May your day improve steadily, may the hair going be OK.


Penny, even when you’re feeling bad you can make us laugh (and hopefully yourself, too). Chin(s) up. People don’t care about your hair, they care about YOU.

Hi Penny,

I just got caught up reading your entries; you write so creatively and openly (and with humor) about your experiences. You are brave and funny and wise. It was good to see you in church this morning – we don’t care about your hair, but about you. Though, I admit I’d have a hard time losing my hair. Despite (or maybe because of) all you’re dealing with, you really looked radiant! It will be good to be together Thursday evening


In beauty I am not a star.
There are others more handsome by far.
But my face, I don’t mind it,
Because I’m behind it.
It’s the people out front that I jar.

An old limerick, one I used to recall whenever I felt bad about not being drop-dead gorgeous.

You are da best.

I’m glad you’re keeping that sense of humor. I guess renting Hairspray is probably not a good DVD right now! In spite of the waves of nausea, I’m glad to hear you’re doing OK. Hair grows back. Just think how excited you’ll get when you start feeling the first “peach fuzz.”


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  • None
  • dswope: I just happened by after my I received an email from a close colegue that he was headig for IVPalooza. All I knew was that it was a form of chemo.
  • Brian: Hi Penny; When I was diagnosed with non-Hodgkin lymphoma I found your site. Reading about what you went through was incredibly helpful to me. Tha
  • Tricia: Still here; still caring; still rooting you on!


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