The other day I was driving my son to a friend’s house when he looked at me and said, "What happened to your eyebrows"?
"What do you mean?” I blurted out as I grabbed the rear view mirror to check my brows. They looked OK to me.
"Mom, can't you see that your eyebrows are falling out? You look so weird!"
As any parent of a teenage boy knows, compassion is at the bottom of the list of their attributes. The chemo I am on is called Xeloda and the supposed "beauty" of this poison is that your hair will not fall out. So I go home, and run to the bathroom to look into the magnifying mirror, and I quickly find out that, damn, he's right.
That confirmation leads to another thought. Since I now wear reading glasses, I am now going to have them on in the bathroom to see myself in the mirror so I can monitor the falling apart of my body. This is not a good thing because with the reading glasses, I can also see all my wrinkles. Just another thing to really piss me off about cancer.
I have been feeling very up and down this past week. My energy level is low, which isn't that unusual, just annoying. But I'm feeling strange things, like my chest tighten every now and then, and I have been clearing my throat all day long, which I know annoys my fellow co-workers because they keep asking me if I want water or tea. None of which makes any difference.
I've also had a strange charley-horse feeling in my left leg after I've been sitting for a while. And of course, in true form, I'm entertaining the thought of adding another chemo pill to my regimen. I've got that wild Irish streak that makes me want to make executive decisions without calling the doctor – it’s crazy. This is the first time since I started chemo that I really started to get nervous. My next PET scan is the second week of July, so I'm trying to talk myself into chilling out until then.
I started my new exercise plan today. I am walking to and from work and I am planning to use the car as little as possible. I know that after a week of walking, that charley-horse issue should be solved. I have been inspired by my cousins college son who is living with us this summer while doing an internship. He is a track athlete attending University of California, Santa Barbara (UCSB), and has an incredible understanding of combining foods for optimum health, increased energy, and strength – so I have benefited from his knowledge and his cooking, as well as the sweetness of his personality.
I need to get fit. I need to strengthen my stamina, and I plan to do it this summer. I wish it were only for reasons of fitting into my bathing suit. Life was pretty care-free in those days. Yes, those good old pre-cancer days.
Well, it is what it is, this life of mine. I am a fighter and I am a survivor and I have made it 10 years with this cancer, and I hope to do another 10.
Happy Fourth of July to all of you. Focus on family and friends this holiday, and make sure you tell everyone you love how much they mean to you, and how much you love them. Life is short.
Please join me in this fight by joining Men for Women Now. We will send you updates on upcoming events, relevant news and ways that you can help. It will allow me to stay in touch with more of you so that together we can make a meaningful difference.
Click here to read more of Noreen Fraser's Staring Down Cancer column.
Noreen Fraser is living with Stage IV metastatic breast cancer. She is co-founder of STAND UP TO CANCER and co-produced the TV show, which raised 100 million dollars for cancer research. Noreen went on to create the Noreen Fraser Foundation to raise money and awareness for women's cancer research. The 'Men for Women Now' program enlists men to ask the women they love to make appointments for their mammogram and pap smear. Noreen can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org
Noreen Fraser is living with Stage IV metastatic breast cancer. She is the Founder and CEO of the Noreen Fraser Foundation, a 501(c)(3) non-profit organization dedicated to funding groundbreaking women's cancer research. To stay in touch with Noreen, please 'LIKE' The Noreen Fraser Foundation on Facebook and follow her on Twitter. Noreen can be contacted via email at email@example.com.