Friday, July 31, 2009

Thank you Emily!!!

After I lost my hair and (somewhat) got over the initial shock. I wanted to document it. Just like how I want to document my journey by blogging, I wanted to document the baldness.

I thought about it for a few days before I brought it up to Chris. I mean lets face it, it is a little morbid if you think about it....

"Lets take some pictures of the hardest time in my life, during the hardest fight of my life." But as many of you know me, or are meeting me through this blog, you would see by now that that is exactly who I am!

So I brought it up to Chris and he was really good with it. He actually thought it was a good idea. He asked who I thought could do the pictures. This was too sensitive a subject to go to a Sears or JCPennys. We brought up the women that did our wedding photos, Darla. The photos were really good... But I wasn't quite sold yet.

I wish my sister could do them, she was not an experience photographer, but she has a good eye and is a little "quirky". But I couldn't afford her plane ticket and she couldn't take time off work. But I did remember one person...

I have spoke about my Baby Mommas. They are from the web site Baby Center. There was this one Momma that had a baby due the same month as mine, but she wasn't in my birth week. I happened onto the thread (online discussion) because Chris and I were looking for a camera and she was giving advice. Her name is Emily Southerland and the discussion was called "Emily's Little World". She had a wonderful blog and blogged about two of my favorite things, photography and cupcakes (this is a wonderful woman!!).

I looked up her blog (, I thought that if anyone could share my image for these pictures, it would be her. She lives in St. Louis, but has been out here for an event I think, so I knew that she couldn't take the pictures, but maybe she could recommend someone she trusted.

I didn't even have her email, so I went onto Baby Center and sent her this message:

I have a question, I am struggling/surviving breast cancer. I have gone through 4 out 8 chemo sessions and then will deal with radiation afterwards. I have 2 babies (3yrs and 1 yr) and would love to have "specialty shots" done with my girls and my bald head (in all its shiny glory). I have ideas in my head but unfortunately don't know of anyone who could do these tastefully (maybe in B&W). I live in the Baltimore, MD area. Do you know of or can your recommend anyone who could do these...

I would love if you could but you are so dang far away!!!! :-)

The next day, I got this response:

I have a WILD suggestion. I am actually coming to DC in three weeks. May 16-18. Crazy, huh??? I am super busy the entire trip, except for that Monday morning, the 18. Now, I KNOW Monday morning is a TERRIBLE time. But if you would be willing to drive to the DC area (Fairfax, VA) I could do a mini-session with you and your girls. The latest I could start a session would be 9:30 am. If this sounds at all possible, I'd LOVE to help make it happen!

And.... my heart aches for you and your chemo. I am so humbled by your bravery and your desire to EMBRACE this time instead of run away from it. Congrats, and BEST of luck.


Oh my goodness!! This would be fantastic!! For us Baby Center girls, she is a celebrity! I was so excited, I told Chris and he was very excited too! Fairfax is a little far for us to drive in the morning (DC traffic and all), so we got a hotel room the night before.

Unfortunately my 13 year old had her 8th grade class picture that day, so instead of forcing her to come with us, we gave her the choice (my Mom and Dad were at our house, so she could stay with them). She decided that she wanted to get her picture taken at school, so she stayed home. (I am really bummed about that cause our pics turned out really great).

We met with Emily the next morning and she looked exactly like her blog (I don't know why she would look different). She was one of the nicest people. We did our photo shoot, some in a make-shift studio (a.k.a. the garage of the women she was staying with) and some outside at a restaurant. The baby was in a pretty crappy mood, so I wasn't sure what the pics would look like. When I got them back... I cried, they were so... so... so... perfect!

I could not have asked for anything more and she gave me so much more than I asked for!!!

Up until now, I have wanted to keep my children's names and faces out of the blog, but as you will see that is really not fair to them (they are going through this too) or for you as a reader, cause my children ARE me, they are on this journey with me, and quite frankly these pictures are just TOO wonderful not to share....

Aren't they fantastic!!!

Here is a picture of me and Emily at the end of the session, Chris took it and he was VERY nervous (taking a picture of a professional photographer) but I think he did a good job too.

I will even share a secret with you... There are more pictures on her site. She let me have these for my blog (Thank you!!) So I can share them with everyone, but here is how you can see the entire photo session:

Go to her website
You can pick to go into her blog or her photography site, pick photography site (you can check out the blog later, that is cool too).
On the bottom you can click on "Clients" and then type in my password "threegirls"
And check them out (they will come up like a slideshow).

So... THANK YOU EMILY!! I cannot express to you how much it means to me that you were able to capture my family's journey in pictures. It was a pleasure meeting you and next time you come back to DC let me know, maybe we can do pictures WITH hair!!

What Was I Thinking?

July 31, 2009

What was I thinking?? I agreed to start a running program with a few of my Baby Mommas this week. AARRGGHHH!!!

The program is called "Couch to 5K". It is a training program that slowly gets you back in shape so you can run a 5 K within 9 week???

So everyone with me.... What was I thinking!!! Hasn't my body explained to my mind that I have cancer?!

The first week is a brisk 5-minute warm up walk (that is just the warm-up??) Then you switch off running for 60 seconds and then walking for 90 seconds. You do that for 8 reps (all in all about 20 minutes).

I did it on Monday and Wednesday, and I will be heading out in a few minutes to do today's....

So far it is not bad, sore but not bad. I don't know how long I can do this for (my left breast is starting to ache), but I will do what I can to get his body back in tip-top pre-cancer (pre-baby) shape!!

My loving and (sarcastic) hubby, asked me if I still run slower than I walk.... Uh, yeah, but who said you have to go fast???

PS. You all KNOW that I am running to New Kids on The Block right??? *wink wink*

Monday, July 27, 2009

Thanks Kim For the Eyebrows!!

Last week, I went to lunch with Nickie (my mother in law), her friend and neighbor Kay, and Kay's daughter Kim. I have known Kay for about 7 years, but have only spent a handful days with her daughter Kim. She always seemed very nice, and we have girls around the same age so I was excited to go to lunch and talk to her more.

The lunch was great (we went to Clyde's) in Potomac, and I really enjoyed the company. We talked about everything, from neighborhood stuff, to cancer, kids, families, even ex-boyfriends (that we had in common), it was really great.

Before we left, Kim said she had brought me something. Well you know that I LOVE gifts so I was up for anything. She asked me not to be offended but thought that it might be nice for me.... Um, Okay....

She handed me the best gift I could have ever received. An eyebrow kit by "Anastasia".

I laughed so hard, I had been debating about buying one, but kept chickening out. She said it was no big deal, that she received it the year before and never even opened it, but she though that I would appreciate it.


The next day, I used it. It is the coolest kit! It actually has stencils so I don't have to do any guess work on how to brush them on!! I do have to be careful though, one day I used to high of an arch and looked angry all day (hahahaha).

So thank you Nickie, Kay and Kim for a wonderful lunch and fascinating conversation...

And a special thank you to Kim for my new eyebrows!!!

The Radiation Suite

Hi everyone, a quick update..

I am doing okay, my skin is starting to show signs of sunburn, and my left breast aches a bit. But I am still plowing through.

I took some pics of the radiation room so I can explain better. This is Tammy, she is one of the techs. This is the table that I lay on. The blue thing is the stirrup that they put my arm in.

They cover the black part with a sheet, so it is some what comfortable. The circular thing above the table is the what gives the radiation. It comes a lot closer and rotates around me to get the right angle.

This is called a "block", it is a piece of Plexiglas and has lead shapes on it. It is inserted into the radiation lens part and it "blocks" the areas of my body that they don't want to get hit with radiations. This is pretty interesting since they hand make these for every patient (I have 2) in house.

This is called a "compensator" I believe it is brass. It is suppose to compensate and bend the radiation field?? I think? I just like these ones better (they are prettier). I know just like a girl. I have 3 fields that use these.

This is me on the table, Sharon covered me up, but in reality, I have to take my arm out of the hospital gown when we do the radiation.
This is my last field, my electron radiation field. This is the one that was giving everyone so much trouble. It is VERY close to me, we call it "my own personal mammogram" because the "cone" (the metal rodded thing) actually pushes my right breast down to correctly radiate my left.

So that is what I do everyday (Monday - Friday) for about 17 minutes a day. Thanks for taking the tour of my radiation suite, I hope to see you all back soon....

Tuesday, July 21, 2009


Join Team LJ and
Susan G. Komen for the Cure

As we Race For a Cure on
Sunday October 18, 2009,
Hunt Valley, Maryland

Let's get started!!!

  1. Sign up!! Register online at under our team name today! Your friends, family members and neighbors are invited to be part of the "Team LJ" team too. Please ask them to go online and register and be sure they choose Team LJ under "team name".
  2. Fundraise!! Tell your family, friends and neighbors about the Komen Maryland Race for the Cure and ask them to help by making a contribution to your personal fundraising page online. Or, they can write a check or money order to Komen Maryland. Strive to ask 10 friends for $10 to help us reach our team goal of $1.000 in the fight against breast cancer. Every dollar makes a difference.
  3. Race/Walk! Have a great time at the Race with Team LJ and enjoy a day filled with hope, love, encouragement, entertainment, fun and a LOT of pink!! It will be fun for racers and walkers of all ages.
  4. Feel Proud! After the walk, fell the pride and satisfaction that comes form knowing you were part of the largest world-wide effort to help find a cure for breast cancer. Contact Team LJ today for more information!!

REMEMBER - Sunday, October 18, 2009


Monday, July 20, 2009

An Itt'l Bit O' Hair

Hi everyone!!

My mom wanted me to send her some pictures of my hair growth, so I thought, "Heck I will just post it for everyone." Who know who else is curious...

I have now lost all my eyelashes and eyebrows, I asked the nurses why this is, they told me that they think it is because the new lashes and eyebrows are pushing the old ones out. I am for that if it means that I will be having new hair soon.

But my hair is slowly growing back in.

Love to all!!!

Thursday, July 16, 2009


Today will be my 10th day of radiation. I really have wanted to update you all on it, but it is so boring, that I don't know what to say... But I will start at the beginning...

July 1, 2009 was my first day of radiation. After finally waiting (a lot longer that told) the physicist and my radiation oncologist agreed on treatment (yeah...right?) On that Wednesday, I had to come to the office twice. First at 11:40 am so they could draw an me and make sure that it would work. THAT took about two hours. My left arm (that was above my head in a stir up) was killing me. Then I had to come back at 4:50pm (my appointment time) for the actual treatment. It went pretty smoothly that day. They had drawn an island on my chest and told me NOT to take it off. Well, when you use auquaphor on your skin at night (for those of you who don't have babies and don't know what aquaphor is, it is like Vaseline) the marker comes right off. I was a nervous wreck! I knew that Craig (the pissy tech) would snap at me again....

Day 2 (July 2, 2009)
Richard the physicist was there and he said that something looked wrong, so I all of my photon radiation (not proton) and they just took xrays of my electron radiation field. I still didn't get home before 7:10 at night.

Day 3 (July 6, 2009)
Both Dr. S and Richard (the physicist) were there to "make sure" they had the right spot. So for another two hours I am on the table in pain. They rechecked every mark, every tattoo, and then finally finished up and agreed that Dr. S had been correct on where the island was suppose to be (thank god). I begged to please put my arm down before my treatment started, they obliged and saw 2 patients, let me back in and gave me the rest of my session.

Since then it has been going rather smoothly (at least the actual session). Let me give you a breakdown....

I show up at the Radiation Oncology office and sign in. Then I sit in the waiting room for god knows how long (there were some days I was there for a few minutes, but most were an hour or two). There is a speaker in the room and they say, "Mrs. N____ you can come back now." So get my stuff and go through a hallway to the end where there are two bathrooms. I choose one and take off my shirt and bra and put on the hospital gown. Then I take my purse and sit in one of the two chairs outside the radiation room. There I wait until they call me.

When I am called I walk into the room and they are getting the table ready for me. They set it up to my specifications. There is a place for me to put my head and my left arm. Like I said before it is like a stir up for my arm, so it is in the same spot every time. I take my left arm out of the robe exposing my left breast to the machine (and all that are in the room).

Side note: Many of you are wondering what hurts so much? It isn't the radiation, it is actually the position of the arm. Leaving your arm there for 10-15 minutes isn't bad, but 30 minutes to an hour is painful... I swear I feel like I am trying to win an immunity challenge on Survivor!! So if you are thinking that I am a pansy-ass for complaining, please place your arm (any arm) above your head and watch the clock and let 30 minutes pass by, now 1 hour, now 2 hours, it is excruciating!!!

After my arm is in place and my head is turned away from it (they don't want to radiate my throat) She start moving the table (called a gantry) and the radiation beam to line up with my tattoos. When I am lined up both techs leave the room and the HUGE 2 foot thick door rolls shuts and I am in there by myself. Then I here the buzzing from the radiation. There is no light, no pain, nothing, just this sound. After is goes off for about 21 seconds (yes I have counted) the door slowly rolls open and the two techs come in again, and get the radiation beam set up for the next position (called a field). They get me set up and leave again. I have six fields, so this goes on for about 10 minutes from field 1 through field 5.

When it is time for field 6, which is the electron radiation, everyone comes in to get me lined up. There is a square piece (they call it a cone) that they use that elongate the beam and then I have my own personal block to block out the good skin. It is so tight that they have to put me in position and then slide the cone into place, while pushing down on my right breast to make enough room. It is very tight and Craig has called it my own personal mammogram. But it is very tedious, cause if they are off even one millimeter they could damage other parts of my chest (like my heart).

After that buzzing is done, they come back in and I am ready to go. I put my sleeve back on, go back into the bathroom and get dressed. When the process goes smoothly I am only on the table for about 15 - 17 minutes. Then I leave to do this another day.

The actual radiation doesn't hurt, but already 10 days into it (25 days to go) My breast and under my arm is sore when the evening comes. It is definitely accumulative.

I am going to ask Sharon (the nice tech) if I can take pictures of some of the equipment so it is easier to explain....

Saturday, July 11, 2009


July 11, 2009

Oh my gosh!! So I wanted to have my next blog be about radiation, cause I have been doing it for a week now and haven't blogged about it yet, but the strangest thing happened to me last night....

My last chemo session was over 3 weeks ago (almost four) last night as I am rubbing my eyes (there is something in them) I look at my finger and there on my finger and on my shirt are my friggin' eyelashes!!! What the hell?? Now it is like a car wreck that you just can't help yourself from stopping and looking.... I pull my eyelashes again, my come off in my fingers... What the hell??

Seriously??? NOW they fall out? So I run to the bathroom and realize the I now have approximately 3 eye lases left on the top of my right eye. On top of that, my eyebrows are almost gone!! I am scared to try the left eyelashes, I do pull one set, and they come out in my hand... I stop right there! I was on the phone with my sister and she was freaking while on the phone with me.

"Stop pulling them Laurie Jo!! You have not eye defenses now!"

"I can't it is like an accident, I am just touching them and they are coming out!"

I call my mom, "Don't touch them!" She yells at me, but the damage has been done and I cry to my husband.

WHY?? I am suppose to be one of the lucky ones that didn't loose their eyebrows or eyelashes.

I was suppose to be one of the lucky ones!!

his morning I put on eyeliner (you have to do something with no eyelashes) and there was not line for me to follow. I feels like just when you think that you are past this, this cancer thing comes back to bite you on your ass!!! Damn you CANCER!!!!

Loooking at me it is my right eye, and any eyeliner left from this morning (it doesn't stay on as long either).

Side view, see no eyelashes...

Damn I miss my eyelashes!

Saturday, July 4, 2009

Some Chemo Odds and Ends

July 4, 2009
It has now been 4 weeks since my last chemo treatment and my hair is SLOWLY coming back in. I was excited however that I had to shave my under arms for the first time in months. So now that I am on the back end, I thought I would share some little tid-bits of info that I have learned thus far in my journey....
  1. You WILL loose your hair (at least for breast cancer) on Day 16. That is the day after your second chemo treatment. Yeah, you think that you have beaten the odds when you show up for your second chemo treatment. You look around to those poor bald women and feel a little superior and a little sorry for them because you have SUPER HAIR and it has decided not to fall out.... Nope!! The next day you ARE one of those poor bald women.
  2. Your hair doesn't all "fall" out... Okay yes, the hair on head falls out, but the rest of the hair on your body just doesn't grow. I couldn't figure out why the rest of my body hair didn't fall out, but I found out that once I (finally) shaved my legs, it just didn't grow back.
  3. You loose all your hair: legs, under arms, nose hair (and yes even pubic hair).
  4. You might not loose ALL your eyebrows and eyelashes. I didn't (see picture below), But I lost about half, I didn't know whether I should even bother with mascara or drawing on my eyebrows.
  5. Chemo doesn't hurt going in, it hurts about 2 1/2 days later.
  6. Chemo is accumulative. So be proud of yourself that you are able to get back to "normal" a few days after your chemo treatment, next time it will probably take longer.
  7. If you are unsure what to do or say to a friend that is going through chemo... BRING FOOD!! A Frozen dinner made (or bought) by a friend is the best gift you can give. The nights that we had an already prepared dinner would not only bring a smile to my face, but the whole family! During the whole meal, we would thank the friend (even though they were not there) and talk about what a great cook they are. Trust me, your ears will be ringing with compliments.
  8. Talk to the rest of the "poor bald women" that you have chemo with. They are probably as scared, irritated, pissed, or just as bored as you are. Enjoy the company.
  9. Finally, just because you are finished with your chemo, doesn't mean that chemo is done with you. I still lost some eyebrow and eyelashes two weeks after my last treatment. I remember just saying to myself when my eyebrows would pull off in my hands... "Seriously?? Now your falling out? Seriously??"
And lastly, there were some pics that I wanted to share with you..

The first picture, was before I lost any hair. My Mom took this first picture before my first chemo treatment, just in case I lost my eyebrows (so I would know where to draw them in).
The second picture was taken a few nights ago when I realized I was missing some eyebrows and eyelashes (mostly bottom eyelashes).

When I first shaved my head I thought I looked like Robert Irvine, from the Food Channel's "Dinner Impossible".

Lastly, One night after loosing all my hair, I was staring in the mirror and had an epiphany. I looked like that old cover of the Weekly World NEWS "BAT BOY"!! I told Meg at one of my chemo sessions, she laughed at me, until I took off my glasses, whipped off my wig and showed her... She had to avert her eyes. She said the image was burned into her retinas. Hahahaha

Love to everyone!! Enjoy your life, your kids and your hair!!