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Posts Tagged ‘chemotherapy and hair loss’

Sorry for the delay yesterday. Here you go for real this time! ūüôā http://youtu.be/EFKA5ECs0I0

Please let me know if you run into any problems.

All the best for a great week ahead!

Cheri

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Hi! Before I turn in on this Saturday evening, I want to get the word out that I’ve created and posted a new video for YouTube (and beyond). This one is very personal, in which I give my own demonstration of how women can fix their eye makeup to look very natural even though chemo has taken (temporarily) their eyebrows and eyelashes away.¬†And yes, I actually start the demo with my bare face, for those of you who are curious. ūüôā

This is the first step in my plan to start giving back, in the wake of my rather extensive cancer journey over the past two years. (You’ll find lots of posts on the subject in this blog, if you missed them, to give you more information on that journey). And before too much longer there will be another book, this new one falling into the nonfiction category¬†(a very different experience for me than my novels)¬†and designed to be of immediate help to women who’ve just been diagnosed with breast cancer. I will continue to keep you current on that book’s development and publishing¬†progress, both of¬†which should start zipping right along now that my chemo treatments are complete.

But the main thing I’d like to see happen with this new video is for everyone who views the film, and wants to be¬†of help, to forward¬†the video’s link to women they know are going through chemo or are about to do so. Forwarding the link to loved ones and friends of those women would also be useful. Missing eyebrows and eyelashes will not be a big deal for every woman undergoing treatment, but I’m hopeful that those who would¬†like a little help will find at least one thing (even if that’s just support and commiseration) in “Chemo Eyes” at http://youtu.be/0C_rC5lamSw.

Thanks so much, in advance,¬†for your assistance with this! Hope you’re all having a great weekend!

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Write-A-Thon Presents Fresh Approach to the Familiar

As mentioned in earlier posts,¬†I’m proceeding with Write-A-Thon–Write Your Book in 26 Days (and Live to Tell About It) by Rochelle Melander. I’m¬†trying out this method to jump-start my nonfiction project on the subjects of mastectomy and reconstruction. The first part of the book involves “training” and includes lots of reading (underlining and highlighting),¬†writing exercises (consolidated in the recommended dedicated journal), and preliminary organization (I’m not there yet). The second half of the book launches the 26-day write-a-thon¬†and guides the writer through the entire process. My goal is to be at that launch point by November 1.

So far, the training portion has been more compelling than I expected.¬†For example, one of the¬†early writing exercises sounds familiar, on the surface, to all of us: “Write down where you envision yourself being in five years?” How many times have we heard this technique throughout high school, college, technical training classes, job interviews, etc., almost to the point of being a cliche? So, at first, I wasn’t too impressed, nor was I¬†eager to answer the question yet again¬†(especially given the fact that I’m currently going¬†through chemo and am focused, at the moment, at much earlier target dates, such as losing my hair this week¬†and my final chemo treatment next February). As I read further, however, my attitude began to change,¬†largely¬†due to¬†the¬†imaginative twist Melander¬†applied to¬†the question, making the exercise specifically¬†relative to writers:

“Imagine yourself five years from now. Everything has gone as well as it possibly could. You have worked hard and succeeded at accomplishing all of¬†your writing goals. Write about your accomplishments–what degrees you have earned, what articles and books you have written, what talk shows you have appeared on, the awards you have won. Write about your daily writing practice. What does it look like? Where and when do you write? How much are you able to accomplish¬†each day? Envision your writing community–who do you connect with, who buys¬†your books, who reviews them, who is interested in the ideas you are sharing and the stories you are telling? Write about anything else that is relevant: where you live, what other work you do, or how your day unfolds in addition to the writing. Use as much sensory detail as possible.”

WellI really liked the part about everything going “as well as it possibly could” over the five-year period. ūüôā Sort of started me off in an exceptionally¬†happy mood.¬†But the big surprise showed up when I started answering all of the individual sub-questions.¬†Apparently, my subconscious must have been working on some of this stuff during the years I’ve spent writing and publishing two novels¬†because I had no problem identifying immediately where I would be¬†in five years, complete with all¬†of the surrounding details. According to me, by then I will have written three additional¬†novels plus three nonfiction books. Some of them will have been self-published and some will have been¬†picked up by mainstream houses. My talk show appearances, which I was totally making up in my imagination,¬†were¬†of particular interest to me. Surprisingly, I did not have myself on Oprah but instead¬†logged appearances on all of the national morning shows, in addition to local affiliates. And, with five novels and four nonfiction books under my belt at that point, I wrote that my very first novel–The Truth about Cinnamon–was “the one garnering the most attention” five years out. Interesting

Keep in mind that my writing¬†in the prescribed journal just poured out of me, without the slightest hesitation or pause to think things over. And, as I wrote, I didn’t feel as if I were projecting into the future. Instead, the words felt more like reality being captured, making the exercise fascinating on one hand and hysterically funny on the other.

The instructions recommend repeating the journal entries a total of four times over a week’s period of time,¬†with each round focusing on¬†a slightly different visual of the situation in five years. Three examples of the variances include:

  • Write book jacket copy about yourself.
  • Write an acceptance speech for a major literary award.
  • Write an introduction for yourself and tell what sort of an event it is for.

I haven’t completed all four entries yet. But one thing I have learned is that my speaking engagements will have become a really big deal and a major source of revenue for me by then. That will certainly be something to look forward to! ūüôā

Even if you’re not interested in trying to write a book in 26 days, I highly recommend going through this exercise for every aspiring author (or even authors who’ve already experienced some level of publishing success). All of the details–and I mean down to the tiniest morsel–of what I want to do, where I want to be, and what I want my life to look like in five years are now being captured in this unique journal. And since I believe in the maxim that “luck is where preparation meets opportunity,” I’ll be all set in the preparation category, if I accomplish even half¬†of what I’ve written down! So, when the opportunity shows up, the journal will be transformed into a self-fulfilling prophecy. Yay!

Meanwhile … back to reality … the launch of my 26-day write-a-thon (for the third of nine books I’m supposed to have written in five years) is now only seven days away. Guess I’d been get my head out of that journal and the future, and back to work instead! Will definitely keep you posted on my progress.

Chemo/Hair Update

Last Saturday, I managed to attend a wedding¬†with all of my own hair. There wasn’t even a large of amount of thinning evident at that point, and I was beginning to imagine that I would be the lone exception out of millions who would get through this process without becoming bald. However¬†… I was told that the hair loss would happen during the first cycle–and now that I’m on day 13 (of 21) in that cycle, the thinning is increasing on a dramatic scale each day. My suspicion is that I will be calling my hair salon for the buzz cut appointment before this week is over.

Although I realize that I’m at the front end of this chemotherapy process–with plenty of side effect surprises undoubtedly ahead of me between now and February 2012–I’m doing remarkably well to-date. There was a sunburn-like flush on my chest, neck, and face from days 2-4, and I experienced a lot of dizziness (no blonde jokes, please) and fatigue for about a week. But other than that, I’ve been surprised by the absence of issues. The one exception to that has been the unrelenting trauma associated with the prospect of losing my hair. And I’m honestly beginning to believe that, once the hair is gone (and I’m able to open my eyes when looking in a mirror), I will be over the biggest hump of this whole eighteen-week¬†thing. Anticipating the “event” is consuming an unbelievable amount of energy and focus, an irritating distraction¬†that may very well accelerate my decision about when to finally face the music.

As I told you in an earlier post, I had originally scheduled myself to have my hair buzzed off on Saturday, October 15. But I chickened out and opted instead to just have my two new wigs cut and styled. Now I’m really glad that I was such a wimp, and I’m hoping this confession will be helpful to any women who might be a little earlier in the process than I am when they stumble upon this blog. Lots of people will suggest that you take a proactive approach and have your hair taken off before the follicles starting withering away and the strands start coming out in your hands as you brush or in the shower. Others will suggest that you wait, letting the process unfold gradually. One way or another–if you’re on a drug protocol that results in hair loss–your hair will be gone within three weeks of your first treatment anyway. So, how you decide to handle the difficult situation will depend on lots of personal variables.

For me, waiting has proven to be the right decision. So was the decision to get those wigs in advance and have them cut and styled to match me. As I brushed my hair this morning (I have a lot of long and¬†thick but fine hair), watching my scalp become increasingly visible, I was¬†comforted as I looked at those wigs on my vanity. I¬†realize now¬†that I’m going to look a lot better once I start wearing them than I’m going to by tomorrow (probably), as my disappearing hair makes me look older and less vibrant each day. With a wig on–one that’s been chosen to make me look like myself–I will, in fact, look just like myself. What a concept! So … to other women¬†in the same situation … decide on whichever approach feels most comfortable to you (recognizing that no approach will really feel comfortable as you anticipate your first view of yourself with a bald head)–but do have other hair options ready to go right at the beginning of your chemo. I have the two wigs, and I have also ordered two items called “halos,” which are hair pieces on sort of headbands that stick out when you wear hats, softening your face and the unmistakable look of no hair, regardless of what kind of hat you’re wearing. Knowing that¬†those hair options are there for me is going to make the trip to my salon this week a lot easier–although I’m guessing that won’t be the best day of my life, no matter what I do to prepare.

Attached is a photo I took of myself yesterday. You¬†won’t notice the thinning, but that was the day the loss first became really obvious to me. So, I decided to capture the moment. You probably won’t ever see my bald head (although maybe I’ll become more courageous as time goes on). But I will definitely post a picture of me in my new hair on whichever upcoming day¬†turns out to be Buzz-Day for me.

In the interim, as I said earlier in this post, I need to get back to work! Hope you’re all having a great week!

Cheri's Lingering Hair on October 24, 2011

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