Thursday, April 18, 2013

Let's Talk About Hair - Their Hair, Their Words

I've always said do good things and you'll meet good people.  Somewhere along the way, I've met amazing people that I am blessed to call friends. Now, in order to be an amazing friend, you don't have to cut off your hair.  But these two girls did, and that is just one small part of what makes them amazing.  Meaghan is a counselor, a community volunteer, and the friend that everyone turns to in order to keep their sanity.  Meaghan is the girl you call when you need to shave off your hair, she's that kind of friend.  She has a cousin who is also battling cancer and she cut her hair for the both of us.  Karen is a Doctor who chooses to work with the sickest newborn babies, gets invited to more weddings than anyone I know, and manages to be a tremendous friend to many, regardless of all the miles between NY and TX.  Both of them would never say they were "writers" but I disagree.  The hair belongs to them so the words should belong to them.  Grab your tissues - here they are:


This morning I chopped off 11.5 inches of my hair, which is going to be donated in honor of my one of my best friends Kelly Quist-Demars & my cousin Diane Montanaro. Both of these strong, beautiful women are kicking cancer's ass & I couldn't be prouder to stand by their sides while they fight it!



So I know that many people are telling you how amazing you are and that the strength and courage that you give so many of your friends and family is unparalleled (to which I 1000% agree with)

As you and all of our friends know, I am not the writer of our group. Nor am I close to being good at it - So I won't pretend to write something awe-inspiring or anything of that nature.

I am however a physician ... I have diagnosed cancer, I have delivered that news to families, I have been a part of surgery talks and chemotherapy talks, I have watched the beginning/middle and end stages of hundreds of patients, from diagnosis to survivors and angels.  Each one of them has affected my life. I have always been taught as a physician - that we never forget the moment, that one moment when a person utters cancer. Life freezes. You may have experienced that one moment (or many), I know that I experienced a moment right alongside you the day you called. I lost my breath. I wanted so badly to climb through my phone and travel across the thousands of miles just to see you and be there. But alas, life doesn't always work at StarTrek like "beam me ups" and therefore it has taken me a little while to get to NY and be able to give you that hug.

However, I wanted to do something more. To show strength in another way - I once donated my hair just because, for kids with cancer, it was a nice thing to do. Kids that I now see and interact with often. But this is so much more. This my dear friend is a small show of strength for you and to stand beside you...I know it's not a lot, I know it won't go directly to you but I know that it will show and give courage to some woman and hopefully give that person just a small iota of your strength and determination.

Lots of Love always! So proud to call you my friend and one of my survivors! :-)

Sunday, April 14, 2013

Let's Talk About Hair: I Lost My Hair in NYC

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.   Check out everythng hair in Return to Health: Hair , Phase One - Short and Sexy, and St. Baldrick's Day. Here is Phase Two.

Phase Two - I Lost My Hair in NYC

I'd done everything I could to keep my hair as long as possible.  I read online to avoid using hair products and to brush your as little as possible.  I ditched the mascara in hopes to keep my eyelashes and stopped plucking my eyebrows.  My eyebrows and eyelashes hung on until the very end before the got chunky but my hair started giving way much sooner.

 After the first round of chemo my scalp started to ache.  It felt like it does when you tie a pony tail too tight and the hair has been slightly pulled over a long period of time.  It hurts all over, which is something no one tells you. I went back to Amanda on a Friday and got my hair cut even shorter.  She said it looked like it wasn't thinning at all.  And then just like that, it started thinning.  Brushing my hair led to tons of hair in the brush.  At the end of each shower I found more and more hair in the drain.

A few days later, on Tuesday, we left for NYC to see A Christmas Story on Broadway.  You might remember it from this post. We had an amazing time, all dressed up and looking sassy.  I tried my best to avoid touching my hair.  Each time I did more and more hair would be in my hand. It was nice to feel pretty one last time.

The next morning, I woke up to my pillow looking like this. 

It was time.  It was going.  Fortunately we were on the same block as the wholesalers who the street vendors buy their hats from.  So I walked down the street to a whole store full of hats at very, very cheap prices. I bought 8 hats and when I got back to the room, cleaned up the hair as best I could, and left a big tip for the cleaning lady.

On the train ride home, I texted Amanda, she said to come right in.  I texted my friend Meaghan and told her I needed her.   She came right over and drove me there.

When I walked into the salon, the only other two customers were two people I rode the school bus with every day growing up.  We exchanged pleasantries and fortunately, their sessions were up before it was my turn.  I just didn't know what to say or even how to speak at that point. 

As I sat in the chair, Amanda told me it would be alright.  Meaghan held my hand and handed me tissues as I cried. Amanda started in the back and the hair fell to the floor clump after clump.  I'd prepared myself, I talked to friends about it, I cried at a Siena game with Kaleigh about it, but I still wasn't completely ready. At this point, I still hadn't told a ton of people and it wasn't "facebook official" which we all know is what makes things true.  Losing my hair made it real, people would know was sick, I would have to accept I was sick.

As Amanda got to the front of my head and it started evening out Meaghan said to me, "You asshole, you even look awesome with no hair!" And the real reason I am an asshole is that was I thinking that same thing too!  So I lost my hair in NYC but I found my confidence to own my illness, to talk about my sickness, and rock my bald head that day in Amsterdam with new and old friends holding my hands, letting me cry, and even calling me an asshole. 
No sign of tears here!

Rocking the bald head!

Wednesday, April 3, 2013

WIP It UP Wednesday - Mike's Marriage Scarf

See this man...

At Jeff and Jen's Wedding!

Not only is he dashingly handsome and ridiculously funny, he is also patient. Extremely, incredibly, exceedingly patient.

We've spent many years together and he's seen a whole range of my crazy crafting projects. He doesn't complain that I leave the glue gun under the dinning room table for easy access.  He turns a blind eye to the corner of our living room overflowing with yarn.  He doesn't bat an eye when I go into the bathroom for natural reasons and come back out having changed the shower curtain, bathmat, and towels and started taping the walls for new paint.   And best of all, he doesn't mind when I ask him to drive places so that I can knit (I get out of driving lots of places this way!)  It may sound weird but I made about $50 crocheting St. Patrick's Day hats while Mike drove us out to Rochester and back to see my sister.  He drives and I knit the gas money, this is what makes a strong marriage people...take notes.

 After so many years of being together, so many miles driven together and so many projects on and off my needles, I'd still never made anything for Mike.  This came up in conversation one day and I admitted that I really never thought he wanted anything.  Turns out, he did. We came to the agreement that a scarf would be nice and that we'd pick out a coat to go with it afterward.

That was 2010 my friends...I had to check the date on the magazine I got the pattern from to be sure.     We weren't married, probably weren't even engaged.  And yes, he still doesn't have a coat.  He's the guy shoveling snow is a sweatshirt, who is still not cold. 

That is Inauguration Weekend was VERY cold and that's just a hoodie

Two weeks ago I picked up the project bag (out of the corner of yarn) and got back to work.  And I'm so very close.

Just have to finish the red and black part...

So this week's Work In Progress is Mike's Good Time Marriage Scarf.   Sure it took awhile, the stripes don't always match up and it curls a bit around the edges, but it's made with patience, perseverance, a whole lot of laughter and a whole lot of love.  Kinda like our marriage : )