About this blog

I was diagnosed with breast cancer on June 11, 2010. As a result of my treatment, I have lymphedema in my left arm. I draw my strength from the Lord, as well as my family's Scots-Irish heritage. Our Graham's were a tough and scrappy bunch of fighters on the Scottish/English border. They came to America and continued to fight when necessary: in the American Revolution; the Civil War; and my brother is a Captain in the U.S. Army. My ancestors settled this country against all odds. My great-grandmothers on both sides of the family were pioneer women who settled the West. Along with that heritage, and the full armor of God, I am walking the walk and fighting the good fight.

Thursday, August 12, 2010

It's all in (or on) my head

Today I am 3 weeks out of surgery and 9 days before chemotherapy starts. I realized yesterday that chemo is NEXT WEEK. Gulp. It's okay. I really am looking forward to it in a bizarre kind of way. Right now I'm swimming in a sea of unknowns. How am I going to react? What side effects will I have? Will I gain weight? Will I lose it? Will I be able to get the kids to school and put food on the table, or just want to stay in bed? I've read such a huge range of stories and every single one is different. Mine will be too. I just can't predict it. I'm going to make a "chemo calendar" for my growing breast cancer 3 ring binder. I can write down side effects and when they happen so I can report it to the oncologist. It's something I can "do" to help.

I've begun collecting hats and a few head wrap things. I found this site that sells head scarves called "beau beaus." I got a couple of them, they are kind of pricey, but very nice. They come with a matching scrunchie so you can knot the tail of the wrap into a bun and have different looks. Having to accessorize my headwear is going to be a pain. I'm not that good at accessorizing in general, so to have to consider what to put on my head is going to really throw me for a loop! I've got dozens of gorgeous silk scarves that Eric has gotten me over the years, but I've read that silk slips off your head. I've got a few hats as well.

There is always the wig option. I do want to get one, just in case. But I kind of feel a bit about the wig like I do about the fake breasts. Everyone knows I have cancer. I may feel like everyone is staring at the fake hair. I don't know. Maybe there will be times when I'm going out in public and people don't know me and I'll want to look like someone who is "healthy." On the other hand, going out with a head scarf may also get me some sympathy. Maybe not. Who knows?

I've also been pondering what to do about the hair I still have for the next few weeks. It has been falling out since Jean-Marc was born. Every time I wash, I lose a lot. We chalked it up to hormonal changes, but it now looks like it was a warning sign for me. Anyway, I will be glad to get post-chemo hair. I've read that it grows back thicker and even wavy. The "chemo curl." But in the meantime, how do I get rid of the hair I have? Do I do a short cut and then let it fall out little by little? Do I just shave it off? That could be shocking--almost as shocking as seeing myself scarred and breastless for the first time. If I do shave it off, when? Dr. P said my hair would start to fall out about 10 days after the first chemo round. Or, do I do nothing and then let it fall out little by little? That might be a little traumatic, not to mention messy. My bathroom counter has already got hair all over the place from the hair loss I've been experiencing. I don't know what to do. I have a fantastic hairdresser and friend who has offered to do whatever I want. I just don't know what that is.

I'm still off the pain meds, praise God. It will be 2 days today. I think I'll be able to stay off of them. I just pray that this sunburn feeling goes away. Last night, I slept without a camisole on underneath my pajamas for the first time. It felt good while sleeping, and was definitely not as hot. This morning it feels weird to have my silk pajamas brushing up against my incisions. Kind of tickly. I guess that is better than the chafing sunburn. I'm still swollen on my left side.

My prayer requests today:
  • Healing, healing, healing. My incisions really are looking pretty good. The swelling is going down, little by little. I'm even able to 'kind of' roll onto my left side in bed (with the support of little pillows). This sunburn feeling is the biggest thorn in my flesh right now. I would like it to go away. If that is not His will, that God would give me the strength and grace to handle the pain.
  • That I would find something "fun" to do with the kids this afternoon. They've been housebound and are bored. While a nap or just reading would top my list of things to do this afternoon, I would like to do something fun with them.
  • For God's grace and comfort to all of those people out there in cancer treatment. It's not an easy road. I am definitely not alone in this.


  1. Hi Tonya, How about a really cute short haricut to kind of ease into the possible transition of losing your hair. Your right about the trauma of losing the length u currently have, that might b a bit more difficult. I'm so glad about ur 2 days of no narcotics, praise God! As for the kids u know they are easy 2 please, how about a little walk, or a park trip, the big ones can watch Jean Marc and you can relax under a tree in a chair. That works 4 us sometimes. Just make sure ur feelinup to it.I pray for your continued healing and stength from God, I think of u often and hope your days goes well.-Talk 2 u soon Trish

  2. You totally have the face to pull off a great really short haircut! I think it'd look good on your facial shape.

    Only you can say what would be the best approach for you, but if it were me, I'd totally go super-short or near-shaved beforehand. I've seen women do that, and it looked good. And it's a stage in between the two extremes; gives time to transition.

    But only YOU know whether that would be better or worse for YOU. Try it on in your brain for a few days and see how each choice would make you feel.

    Glad to hear you were negative for the BRCA gene!