hairloss

Caterpillar and worm eyebrow drawing adventure

It was a dark and gloomy morning and I was alone. The MOTH had flown off to work (the MOTH to the flame…or the firestation) and I was looking forward to a day of slobbing around the house with my arty farty self. However, the mild curry from the Indian restaurant the night before  confirmed the doctors wise words. Don’t eat spicy food. My stomach had given me grief all night with diarrhoea, nausea and severe burning pain along with a headache. Boo hiss… another chemo drawback.
I stumbled out of bed at 6am thinking some breakfast might help settle things but got distracted by the computer on the way. An hour later the power went out. I vaguely recollected the notice in the mail to say it would be off all day. In fact, it was off for 10 hours! So now it was cold, dark, gloomy and breakfast was not an option and neither was coffee since there was no milk in the fridge. No art for me in the dark house either as I couldn’t see! Waves of nausea and stomach pain were making me want to curl up in bed.
My pity party didn’t last long. I decided to go out and get a coffee and breakfast down at Croydon but glancing first in the mirror I was confronted by a scary sight. Erm. White face, bald head. No eyebrows or eye lashes, dark rings under the eyes and a kind if squirmish look on my face.  Oh… and blood shot eyes. So I went to work remedying it in the darkness of my ensuite mirror.

Self portrait

Self portrait

The day before I had forgotten to draw my eyebrows on twice. Once to go running and out to breakfast and once to go watch my son do a flying trapeze stunt.  Who leaves home without their eyebrows? So I did my best to draw them in the darkness and put on my other makeup and left home. At the traffic light I glanced in the mirror and discovered a horrible sight. One eyebrow was fat like a caterpillar with a surprised arch. The other one was pale and thin like a sick worm. My eyeliner was looping like it belonged on one of my art pieces. The rest was just as odd and disturbing.
I’m doing my best. Two nights previous, my daughter tried using eyebrow stencils (purchased on ebay) which resulted in much hysterics. Groucho Marx looked good in comparison.
Eyebrows. Who needs em?

Farewell to a fellow breast cancer sufferer

Josie passed away peacefully with her loving family surrounding her on Saturday. It was such a joy to know her and to watch her family fill her life with love and support.

My role in the flexible learning team at Swinburne gave me the opportunity to meet most staff across the Tafe at all campuses and Josies interest in elearning meant I got to know her quite well.  She was also one of my students in the Diploma of VET which I taught.

I wish her family all the best in the future and for this difficult week coming up. After 13 years of loving and supporting her through her battle I can’t imagine how they must feel.

Last week her husband asked me to draw a unicorn with her name on it. Knowing that she was in palliative care I went straight to work on it. I got it finished the night before she died but of course she didn’t get to see it (in the flesh). I created a little tag around his neck with her name on it.

Josie

Josie

Some of the art I’ve produced in the past 4 months have a huge emotional connection for me and this is one of them.

Those of us from Swinburne who have breast cancer right now can take the baton for Josie and run with it. Now go!

Progress photos of the unicorn drawing can be seen on my Facebook art page

My head says ‘who cares’?

10412182_10152212273964506_649321099_oI totally understand why people stare at unusual things. Our brains just wants to make sense of things that aren’t the ‘norm’. I manage to go under the radar and blend with the crowd in my wig and my creative eyebrow drawings but I find going to gym is sometimes quite uncomfortable. I usually wear a baseball cap and a little makeup to take the shock away. At any given session I am stared at by 30+ people for that 3 seconds longer than politeness allows. Even my friends stare until the flicker of recognition kicks in. I always respond with a big smile. So far NOBODY (apart from friends) has smiled back. I go to gym 3+ times a week so that’s pretty bad. It’s not the staring that bothers me it’s that NOBODY responds when I smile at them.  I know I look like an alien but aliens can be friendly too.

If I said I was going to shave my head to raise funds for cancer I imagine they would all be cheering and giving me a hearty pat on the back.

Perhaps I need to get over my bad self. Let me just say… if you see someone who looks ‘different’, give them a smile regardless. It may well make their day.

images-1

 

Chemo news

If I had the choice I would not choose Tuesdays to have chemo. It takes 3-4 days for the side effects to kick in which means I am feeling yuk by the weekend. Monday to Friday I feel pretty great. Then the weekend I am tired and ‘weird’ feeling. It doesn’t stop me running 5k on the athletics track and socialising my little heart out but I have to force myself and take naps. This weekend I had ‘flu like symptoms’ that are common with Paclitaxol. Aching joints and tiredness.

Apparently it’s ‘have a whinge day’ at the Wood Hood. Ha ha

Two more sessions of Paclitaxel to go and then 4 cycles of AC. I’m almost half way through the chemo woo hoo!!

 

 

 

Frida Kahlo eat your heart out

Gee I thought losing my hair would be bad but it hasn’t worried me as much as I thought. However, now that my eyebrows and eyelashes are disappearing I frighten myself in the mirror each morning. I’m not sure if I have a fear of aliens or if it’s the ‘classic chemo patient’ look that shocks me.

Screenshot 20:06:2014 6:58 pmTo top it off I can’t seem to do anything to fix it. You would think that being an artist I would be able to draw my own eyebrows on but according to my beauty consultant (daughter) I’m hopeless. Somedays one eyebrow looks surprised and the other one looks angry. Other days I look like Frida Kahlo’s doppelganger.  Maybe I’ll start wearing a balaclava or a disguise from the $2 shop.

 A week off chemo

I had last week off chemo so the MOTH and I went to the Peninsula for the week. We had a lovely time together and also a lovely time apart. Unlike most married couples we actually spend a lot of time together so time apart gives us something to talk about over the BBQ dinner. I completed multiple art works while the MOTH managed 45 million holes of golf. The golf course was attached to the timeshare resort so that was handy… and free!

As well as that, we had my two sons and their wife/girlfriend for one day, Sophie for another and 4 of my lovely friends came down for a day and we went shopping, ate lunch and then soaked in the hot springs. The other days were spent in wineries, cheese factories, restaurants and running (with Screenshot 20:06:2014 7:04 pmthe MOTH) from Safety Beach to the Dromana pier and back along the beach (twice).

At least producing all this artwork has given me an income now that I’m not working and it’s soooo relaxing! Most times I sell the work before it’s finished thanks to Facebook and Instagram. If it doesn’t sell it doesn’t matter diddly squat. I just love creating it. I have 2 exhibitions coming up so there’s art everywhere at the Wood Hood!

The fault in our stars

I know some of you will be surprised but I read ‘The fault in our stars’ while I was away and when I was half way through it I went to see the movie with the MOTH at Rosebud. I recommend that you read the book if you haven’t, regardless of whether you have seen the movie. It adds more layers to the story and fills gaps that the movie leaves.

I am always a sook at that type of movie (so is the MOTH… shhhhh), but I had a strange desire to watch it. The focus is on a condition which was known to be terminal and the patient was only 17 years old, so I didn’t identify with many of her feelings.  Aside from the many thought provoking aspects of the book/movie it attempts to remove the stereotype attached to chronic illness and Hazel struggles not to be brutally honest about her feelings to those around her. The need to protect others from her harsh reality is something I identified with.

Anyhow, I won’t say we didn’t shed a tear but I cried much worse when I watched ‘My sisters keeper’, ‘Beaches’ and a few others. Perhaps the fear of cancer is worse when you haven’t experienced it? OR maybe I’ve just turned to ice and nothing moves me. Ice Queen?

Back to the turban factory

My running gear for Winter in Dromana!

My Eskimo running gear for Winter in Dromana!

 

I’m back this week for my fourth cycle of chemo having had a couple of days with less energy last week. I wondered if my blood counts had (finally) dropped but I seem to be fine again this week so I’m roaring to go back to the turban factory for more drugs… erm… not.

My running distance has dropped off a bit because I’m getting breathless. This is to be expected as I push through the cycles but the nurse thinks it’s to do with the cold air in my lungs. I’ll go back to the treadmill this week and see if being in warm air helps. Running 4k along the beach in the winter was pretty brisk! Brrrr.

No other symptoms other than eyebrows dropping like autumn leaves, wonky sinuses and looking like an alien. I’m good… but then I explained what ‘good’ meant in a previous post:)