Disneyland on Chemo

We usually plan a big vacation right after school’s out for Tina, and this year our plan was to go to Italy the first two weeks in June.  Then, cancer, mastectomies, and chemo (oh my!) joined the party and Italy was off the table.  When we were invited to join the Ladd family for a long weekend at Disneyland (way back in April), it seemed like a decent substitute.  Not Italy, by any stretch of the imagination, but certainly somewhere we could feel away from it all and experience a little “magic.”

Well…back home yesterday, just finished my eighth chemo session today, and I’m wiped out – not so sure Disneyland was the right choice.

We certainly had fun, though, so if I can just get through this workweek – muster enough energy to get to the weekend without any major mistakes – perhaps I won’t regret it.

For now, I’ll rehearse the positives:

  • Carrie and I got a “Disability Access Pass” that allowed us to skip the lines on the rides (along with up to 12 others in our party).  Sometimes that literally meant getting directly on a ride from the exit side, and other times, it meant going into the Fast Pass line without having to have a Fast Pass.  There were still time windows and waiting, like a Fast Pass, but at least we didn’t have to spend the time waiting in line (which was good for our limited energy level and compromised immunity).
  • We could see the fireworks from our room, so when we were too pooped to party by 9:30pm when the show started, we could turn on the music and narration on the TV and still experience the fireworks.
  • We had some firsts (not very common for Disney addicts)!  We saw “Frozen” at the Hyperion after watching “Aladdin” and loving it every single time for years.  Although not a Frozen Fanatic, I thought it was great!  Also…I got queasy about a ride!  Although I was fine on all the roller coasters, Tower of Terror, etc., Tow Mater’s Junkyard Jamboree made me want to hurl just looking at it!  On the final day, though, I was feeling up to it, and it was actually quite fun.  Luigi’s Rollickin’ Roadsters, a new ride in Cars Land, was also fun – adorable little cars (maybe Ferraris, Alfa Romeos and Fiats) with Pininfarina design logos on them – too cute!








Finally, I saw (or maybe just noticed, like when you’re pregnant and it seems like so many other people are pregnant!) tons of folks with the tell-tale bald head scarf wrap, or a homemade knit cap sticking out of their pocket indicating they were fellow chemo buddies. I want to go up to them and say something supportive. Something to let her know that they are a kick-ass cancer-fighting hero. And so am I – I speak chemo! But I couldn’t figure out a good opening line. “Excuse me, I notice you are bald and look like you may have cancer. May I offer a supportive ‘good job’ and a fist bump?”  Yeah, no.

So what is the appropriate thing to do?  Probably nothing. Perhaps just because I’ve been through cancer it doesn’t make it any of my business. But maybe we should have a secret handshake. Or a gang sign — maybe a hand in the shape of a “C” over your mastectomy (or other location) scar. Yo. Can we make that a thing?

Matterhorn Fun

Hair Today, Gone Tomorrow

It’s been so long!  I’ve literally had so much going on at work (event planning on chemo – NOT recommended) and now have my kids visiting from Hawaii, that my “spare time” is nonexistent.  But I’m doing okay – 7 down, 5 to go.  Over halfway!  I’m still experiencing only minimal symptoms like headaches, fatigue, and diarrhea, so I’m thankful it’s not any worse, but now…I’m losing my hair.  Here’s an average morning’s loss nowadays –

hair loss


Next week I’ll wear hats, and maybe even don a wig in the following weeks.  My hair has been thinning for quite a while, but I’ve managed to style it so that it’s not super noticeable.  But now my gray is coming through (and I can’t color it during chemo) as well as a few bald spots, so it’s time to let go of it and invest in a few head coverings.

But why can’t I lose my chin hairs too?  Nope, still plucking those!  How about my leg hairs?  Nope, still doing the shave thing every other day – what’s the deal?

It’s. Only. Hair.  But any of us who lived through the 80s and had that big hair, got perms every few weeks, knew the more hair, the better (right, Kathi Hunter?).  Those of us moving into our forties knew that a hair color every few weeks was essential to covering our gray.

We spend hundreds of dollars on hair products and hundreds of hours each year on the hairs that adorn the top of our head and maintaining our vanity.  Well, chemo has stripped my vanity for now. Stilettos, cleavage, and a bronze summer complexion are a bygone now.

Everything is a little bit harder, and takes a little bit longer –

Things don’t fit the same since my mastectomy, so choosing my outfits is complicated.

My head is tender, so shampooing, conditioning and styling my hair is a careful procedure now.

I have bumps and spots all over my face, so my makeup takes longer to conceal all this, and my eyebrows are also thinning, so I have to draw those in carefully.

I have to make exhaustive lists of things I need to do, ideas I have for everything from a birthday present for someone to what bills I need to pay when.

I’m directionally challenged anyway, but with chemo brain, I ALWAYS have to program my GPS before driving, even when I’m just headed home.

So…here I go into the final laps.  I’m surrounded by loving friends and family, including my adorable grandson right now, so it’s hard to get down.  Thanks to everyone for your continued support and prayers!

Bedtime stories with grandson Loren