Sunday, March 24, 2013

Let's Talk About Hair: St. Baldricks' Day

Yesterday, I was just another bald head in the crowd.
Yesterday, I was mistaken for someone healthy who made a choice to shave her head as a statement.
 Yesterday, I ALMOST got a free burrito.
Yesterday was St. Baldrick's Day.

The St. Baldrick's Day  Foundation seeks find cures for childhood cancer through research so that all children can go on to lead happy, healthy lives.  Just a few minutes on their website shows the funding gap between money for adult cancer research and childhood cancer research.  Money given to St. Baldrick's Day goes directly to research.

The last time I was a teacher, I had a student named Audrey who had Leukemia.  As a sixth grader, she was going through treatment, taking a break and coming back to school without missing a single assignment.  As teachers, we'd move heaven and earth to make sure she succeeded.  Audrey expected none of that.   Yesterday, at the St. Baldrick's Event her family organizes, I got to see Audrey, in 9th grade now, with a full head of flowing hair, healthy, happy, and so course, an straight A student. 

My friend Mike, at last year's event
I went to the Proctors Event on the invitation of a former colleague and friend, Mike Pletman who gets his head shaved for Audrey every year.  This year, he added me to the list of people he was getting his head shaved for.  It was a huge event where over 100 people got shaved.  Among them, a few middle school girls who I think are incredibly brave.  Middle school was not a time I would have wanted to stand out and I know that I would not have been so brave. It was also incredibly touching when a group of 2nd grade boys came up for the second year in a row and got their heads' shaved in memory of a their friend Ila, who passed away just three weeks after last year's event.  St. Baldrick's Day is something anyone can participate in, regardless of their age or gender.  The simple act of shaving ones head makes an incredibly strong statement. 


Dan and his awesome wife Nicole!
There are St. Baldrick's Day events all over the country, you can find them by zip code here.  In Johnstown NY, a bunch of friends were getting their heads' shaved as well.  The Johnstown PBA held an event with the Lanzi Family at Partner's Pub.  Some of the Amsterdam FD came out to join in the fun, including Dan Soper who raised over $1,000 which ended up being ONE QUARTER of the money raised at this event.  We had a blast and can't wait until next year.
You might recognize these two baldies!!

OH, back to the free burrito..
Bombers Burrito Bar, across the street from Proctors, offered free burritos to the shavees.  Your bald head was all that was need to cash in on the deal.  I was tempted, very tempted (and very hungry) to go over and get one but I just couldn't do it. We did have an awesome meal at Partner's Pub, you should check it out!

 Pictures were taken from:
St. Baldrick's Day at Proctors Facebook Page
St. Baldrick's Day Foundation Facebook Page

Thursday, March 21, 2013

Let's Talk About Hair: Short and Sexy

Photo credit Hiedi Hays Photography

Let's talk about hair.  You've all seen the picture.  It's great isn't it? There she is, taking the bull by the horns, controlling her destiny, giving cancer the middle finger by shaving off her hair.  Well as we learn in those "celebrities without makeup" sections, photos aren't always what they seem.  

Loosing my hair was a slow process, one I had a lot to time to think about and get used to.  Still, nothing really prepares a woman for losing her hair.  But if it had to go, I am glad it went the way it did. In phases, with love and support and just a few tears. Here is phase 1. 

Let's Talk About Hair: Short and Sexy

When we first made the decision to go with chemo, the only side affect they said they couldn't control was hair loss.  I asked Lisa, my nurse practitioner, if it would just be easier to get my hair cut shorter and she said yes.  So I took matters into my own hands, was a strong independent woman, took control of my life and went to my regularly scheduled hair appointment. 

My hair dresser Amanda is a friend I went to elementary school with.  She asked me what made me all of the sudden go short with my hair.  I told her the truth.  That is one thing that really sucks about the whole cancer thing.  Sometimes, people asked me innocent questions like "Why are you getting your hair cut short?" or "What brings you to Boston?"  Life goes into slow motion for a minute as I decide how to answer.  I decided from the beginning to be honest, it wasn't a secret. But it really sucks to answer a basic question people are expecting a "I just want to do something new" or "I'm in town to check out colleges" with "I have cancer."  Watching their reaction is heart wrenching, why add this to their day? Why add to their burdens?   Still, I opted for the truth and told her I had cancer, was going to lose my hair and thought I'd just get started.  Amanda didn't miss a beat.  She told me she understood, she told me that she had other friends she helped through it, she said come back anytime, whenever I needed or she'd come to me.  But for now, she was going to give me a kick ass cut.  This is what I ended up with....

I LOVED it.  Was sad I was going to lose it and definitely going back to it. 

Jewelry made by my friend Kim
As I've said before there was a delay in chemo, even an uncertainty that I would need it.  So I kept quiet to most of the world while I waited for more information.   I thought it would be a dead giveaway when I returned to work after my second surgery and before chemo. 

This hair cut gave me a new spring in my step and was exactly what I needed after weeks of recovering on my couch, wearing sweat pants and t-shirts and feeling all around unpretty and of course unsexy.  It was a good first step, the right first step in this whole losing my hair thing. 

Tuesday, March 19, 2013

The Return to Health: HAIR!

For the next week or so, we are going to be talking about HAIR.  Why?  Because as human beings, we identify so much with hair.  It is a main descriptor when talking about someone -"you know that brunette that lives down the street?" We associate personalities with it - blondes have more fun and gingers are a little wild.  Styling, straightening, gelling and taming our hair can take hours out of our day. Hair has inspired everything from band names to book titles to political movements. Hair is who we are.  So we are going to talk about it - losing it, growing it and learning to love it. 

I was a little worried about growing back my hair.  I had massive amounts of it before chemo that I totally took for granted.  I had reason to be concerned about growing it from scratch given my track record:

KQ's first birthday, topless and rockin' the mullet

See that hair...took a WHOLE year to grow that tiny mullet! 
Need someone to compare it to? Check out this picture of me with my cousin Michael, he's just a few months older. 

That's Michael on the right. Trust me, he likes girls a little bit more now, and has much less hair.

Fortunately, my hair is growing like a chia a pet.  Check it out:

 February 28th, 2013 - after rocking the bald head at the Vagina Monologues
See that guy in the background? That's my husband Mike.  Trust me, he likes me better in real life!

 March 16th, 2013 - Okay, so maybe chia pet is a little extreme but there is so much more hair that before!  And I am rocking to HAIR of the Dog on St. Patrick's Day! What could be better?

See in the background - it's HAIR of the Dog.  I told you we were all about HAIR!

Hair is important.  It defines and describes who a person it.  It is an integral part of our daily routine. 

My hair is growing and changing every day.  It is pretty exciting to watch.  And while my ability to grow hair has changed, my ability to party with or without it, has not....

Oh yea!

Sunday, March 10, 2013

Succulent Saturday

I get daily emails from Etsy that usually have some type of picture of succulents looking, well succulent.  

Then I saw this post on on Centsational Girl - Terrariums Around the House and thought "I can do that."  Then my friend Steph said she wanted to come visit on Saturday and thought "She can do that with me!"  And so she did.

First, Steph showed up on my doorstep with some flowers, a sweet card and this:

That looked like this inside:
Well actually, there were a few more treats in the box..this is the after picture, not the before.  Good thing I went to the gym twice that morning!!

So we hit up Home Depot and Pet Smart and got started (I know I usually shop local but the green houses are not open right now and my go to pet store Country Feed doesn't have aquarium supplies).
From Pet Smart

From Home Depot
Here is what you need:
*Succulents (Home Depot)
*Moss (Home Depot)
*Cactus Soil (Home Depot)
*Activated Charcoal (Pet Smart)
*Aquarium Gravel (Pet Smart)
*A variety of apothecary jars, vases, bowls, coffee mugs, centerpieces from your wedding, that kind of thing.

Here is what we made:

 Here is how we did it:

 Assemble the troops:

Put a one-two inch layer of gravel on the bottom for drainage:
Add a spoonful or two of activated charcoal then soil:
 Fill up with soil and then arrange plants as you wish:
Stuff with moss:

Take a picture of your friend:

Water a bit and place in a sunny area:

Clean the all the dirt you spilled all over the table and floor (trust me you don't want a picture of this one!)

Supposedly they only need watering occasionally (I can live with that) and need lots and lots of sunshine.  If you need more information from people who are smarter than me, just google it.  You'll find more than you ever dreamed of!

Thursday, March 7, 2013

What's Wrong and Right

You know what's a bad idea?  Reading a magazine with Jessica Alba's "natural beauty" tips while working out.  The first tip should be "Look like Jessica Alba." But it isn't.  Instead it is a pretty complicated process of exfoliation, moisturizers, liners, stains, and sticks.  And that's just for the lips.  How very natural.  It got me to thinking about the bags under my eyes, the fact that I have no eyebrows and the sagginess in my belly.  All that wrong coming at me while I was actually doing right. 

What's Wrong:
Bags under my eyes
Weird eyebrows growing back
A constant chill
Feeling weak
Snug waistbands
Wondering what's next

What's Right:
The world's greatest husband
Hair growing
Strength returning
Sun shining
Weekend with sister
Deadlines met
Strength returning
Endless possibilities

The thing is, its okay to acknowledge what is wrong, just not to dwell on it.  I have to know what is wrong in order to fix it.  As long as its balanced with what's right, its okay.  It's part of the process, it's all natural...unlike Jessica Alba's lips.