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Drugs, Hugs and Losing My Jugs: A Breast Cancer Journal - May 20, 2015 - Chemo Prep

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Editor’s note: this post contains a graphic post-operative photo.

This is the fourth entry in a 31-day Breast Cancer Awareness Month exclusive series featuring the real journal entries of breast cancer survivor, Jessica Sliwerski. Read the previous entry here.

Chemo is Friday.

I have all these things I’m trying to do before then, as if I’m preparing for a very complicated and wildly depressing vacation.

Last summer I was miserably pregnant and fantasizing about “next summer” when my baby would be here and I would be skinny again and I wouldn’t be nauseous and I would drink beer and eat runny eggs and life would be perfect. And instead, here I am — recently diagnosed with breast cancer, recovering from a double mastectomy and about to start chemotherapy.

Isn’t it funny how life works? I still struggle to fully grasp that this is all actually happening…

On Monday Kyle and I met with my oncologist and finalized the treatment plan. I will do four courses of a “cocktail.” Sessions will be once every three weeks over the course of three months.

Kyle pointed out my sessions are on really great days — the Friday before Memorial Day weekend, the Friday before his birthday weekend, the Friday before Fourth of July weekend.

The oncology appointment was followed by a chemo 101 class with a hot nurse. Seriously, she was so cute, and I hadn’t even had time to shower that morning because I had an early physical therapy appointment (and because I was lazy).

Because the topic of the class was all the horrible things that were going to happen during chemo and how to manage such horribleness, I decided to handle my discomfort by cracking inappropriate jokes the entire time. This is a tried-and-true life coping mechanism of mine I highly recommend. These jokes made Kyle laugh and our nurse rather uncomfortable. So at least I won in the sense of humor category. When the nurse mentioned that chemo-induced mouth sores could be treated with a prescription of Magic Mouthwash, Kyle and I erupted in hysterics.

I suppose it’s easier to laugh about this shit than cry.

Since Monday, I’ve been trying to take care of all the other biznass that will help me feel emotionally and physically ready to inject my veins with poison.

Jessica Sliwerski breast surgery
Boobs: My boobs are looking less scary. I still don’t like looking at them and I’m absolutely disgusted by the thought of touching them. My plastic surgeon told me I need to get comfortable with them, but I can barely even soap myself in the shower without wanting to vomit.

I’m trying to get in as much physical therapy as possible. Not because it has anything to do with chemo, but because it’s a distraction and something to do.

I’m hydrating like a mofo. Coconut water tastes like ass, but I’m drinking it like there’s no tomorrow.

I’m filling prescriptions and figuring out which drugs I need to take when. I informed my pharmacy they need an app; I’m hyper Type A and even I struggle to keep track of all this shit. Then, because I’m not working and I can’t help myself, I said I would help design the app. They have yet to take me up on my offer.

I reorganized my closet so I have a specific shelf just for my hats. I’m planning my hair party and the dinner after the party. I’m washing, drying and straightening my hair every day while I still have hair as a reminder of what a tedious, time-consuming task long hair can be. I visited my office and Kyle’s while I still have hair so people remember me pretty and healthy.

I’m slowly packing my chemo bag.

Jessica Sliwerski chemo bag
Chemo Bag: I’ve packed my chemo bag! The little pink knit cap is the one Penelope wore in NICU. It’s my good luck charm. Oh, and yes, that is a vintage Gameboy Color that I just bought on eBay because I’m miserable not being able to work right now.

I watched the season finale of “Mad Men.”

I made Kyle do laundry.

I’m coordinating childcare logistics with the nanny and friends.

I went shopping for cute, overpriced headbands to wear on my soon-to-be hairless head.

I’ve been trying to get my Fitbit steps. I went grocery shopping so I could stock up on more ass, err coconut, water.

I’ve been liberally taking my anxiety medication and then reading and rereading all the papers the pharmacy gave me about my chemo treatment to make sure I don’t inadvertently fuck something up. (The pharmacy app-designed-by-Jess-in-her-infinite-spare-time would make this much easier, by the way.)

I’m eating more green foods — which don’t fill me up — so then I’ve been eating chocolate.

I moved shit from the freezer to the fridge so it is defrosted and ready to go by Friday.

I got a manicure and my nails look bitchin’.

I decided where Kyle and I will eat dinner the night before chemo, as I’ve been instructed to eat something salty (insert more immature giggles).

And most importantly, I’ve been planning my chemo outfit, as I’m determined to look fucking fabulous.

And now I wait for Friday, when one chapter of this nonsensical experience ends and the next chapter begins.

All photos courtesy of Jessica Sliwerski

Originally published: October 4, 2017
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