5th chemo, exam and Halloween

Thursday, October 20th, it’s time for my 5th chemo.

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I bought some grey, black and blue masks instead of the regular hospital one. Not that it makes it look better but at least I have a feeling of trying  to be original.

I’m super happy because my white cells went up and I’m not in aplasia anymore. The doctor gave me the authorization to do the chemo instead of postponing it like it might have happen. So Yes, I’m going to Paris next sunday for sure!
Thanks to the injections of Granocyte that worked better this time! Last friday, I felt the pain from it so bad in my hips and pelvis. I was walking like a 90 years old grand ma, rounding my back.

14907744_10209875831866382_582932191_oBy the way, I learn how to do the shots myself !
Normally, I do them in my belly but when I took the video, my belly was hurting so I did it in my thigh.

After this chemo, I went home to sleep for two days straight like usual.

Sunday, October 23rd

My grandma arrived from Lebanon this morning for few weeks. I stay with her a bit before taking my train to Paris.
It’s pretty funny because I don’t think she really realized that she can’t give me a kiss or hug and so she went into full mode hugging and kissing me everywhere on my cheeks. And I could see my mom turning pale, scared that I get some bad bacterias or virus from this exchange. Hopefully, I’m not in aplasia anymore.

Once in Paris, I go find Paola. I bought her (and myself) a ticket for The Swan Lake on Ice for her birthday. It was really awesome to watch and made me relax and appreciate the beauty of a ballet on ice. Then we went to have diner before going to bed.

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Monday, October 24th

I have two exams at school today. Which I did not really prepare since I was mostly sleeping these past 4 days after chemo. Also, it was quite hard to focus and study in advance the week before that because I wasn’t even sure they were gonna allow me to do chemo on time because of the aplasia.But I don’t think I did poorly so good!

I have another exam early tuesday morning but I started to feel pain in my belly. I ended up not going that day to rest. I feel that this time, chemo really took a big hit on me and I’m just SO TIRED and hurting.

Wednesday, October 26th

I still feel tired but I try to go to a programmation exam (computer sciences). The teacher releases the exam material and I start reading the questions.

I know what they are asking and I know that I know what to answer but I just can’t connect to my brain to answer. It’s like the door to my memories is locked and I don’t have the key. I just hate the feeling and I start panicking.

I’m not the type of student to get poor grades. I don’t think I’ve ever had really really poor grades before…
My heartbeat starts going crazy and I start feeling really weak, like close to pass out. I know I should tell the teacher and reschedule the exam. Everybody would be understanding in my situation but I just don’t know how to quit. I never do !
So I stay !

I cover my eyes with my hands and start breathing slowly to decrease my tachycardia. After 10 minutes of pause, I go back to the exam. I’m still not feeling so well and remembering much but I just try to do my max. Never mind. I won’t get a good grade but at least I did it. I went to that exam while going under chemo treatment and I tried.

Memory problems are common under chemo. It’s called “CHEMO BRAIN” and it sucks! It does! It feels like I miss half of my brain and I often forgot things. I just hope I will regain my full cognitive functions once my treatments are over but I’m kinda scared I won’t.

I still can do most of the things but I used to have like a GREAT memory. And now, I can’t find my glasses or my phone or remember if I took my meds, every day.

Once home, I just start crying. I feel so exhausted and I just hated what I’ve put myself through today. I know anxiety is not good on my body right now which already has to deal with hardcore treatments. And I was so scared to go through this giant black hole of a brain.

I talk with my cancer pals, Soizic and Liza, who tells me that I’ve done already so much and that I should not hate on myself for having some difficulties, that everybody does and that I’m brave to try anyway. And I go to sleep.

Thursday and Friday, October 27-28th

I finish my classes and my last exam and I’m finally on weekend ! My friend Sabrina joins me and we go shopping for Halloween at some Goodwill and vintage stores.

At night, I have a Boston reunion night with my Boston mates! I’m pretty excited to see them. They witnessed what happened to me in live there but I didn’t see most of them yet since we came back to France!

Saturday, October 29th

furiosa

This week, I told Mika “Let’s celebrate Halloween” and it turns out he and his roomate, Antoine, are down to host the party. YAY!

I didn’t see much people, especially during aplasia, so now that I can, I’m pretty psych by celebrating and doing social activities when I can!

I choose to do Furiosa, in the Mad Max movie. I did everything by myself and for less than 20 bucks! Pretty proud!

Sunday, October 30th

I’m already back to Marseille. Next chemo is wednesday, November 2nd. I’m not very excited but it’s my LAST one!!
I kind of want to do something funny for the occasion but I’m not sure what! If you have any suggestion, you’re welcome !!

Back to School in Paris

This entry is part 21 of 21 in the series Oldest to latest posts

Sunday, September 18th

I arrive at the train station in Paris.

My friend Paola and her boyfriend come and welcome me back. My parents insist that I wear the mask because there is a crowd of people and a lot of virus during this time of the year. So I’m watching out carefully and it’s a bit stressing to be on constant warning for infection risks. Hopefully, once I see my friends, I feel better and reassured right away.

We go to Paola’s boyfriend appartment, eat some pizza while watching The Voice Kids. It’s funny that they watch the show too!

Around 9pm, I order a Uber to go to Mika’s place. He has a media company with two co-founders. They also are roomates and during the day their employees and interns come to work. The appartment is big, with 3 floors in the South of Paris, near my school and the 13th district.
At the entrance of this big flat, they have an independant studio with its own private bathroom, empty. So Mika proposed me to move in when I need a place to stay the time everything settle down with the treatment and everything.

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Their company is called Purée Maison (French for mashed potatoes). They do love potatoes tho and even tattooed themselves with a super potato.
If you need help with photography, filming, communication campaign or website creation and management, they are great and you should contact them!
It’s insane to witness how fast their company grew and the quality of their actual clients, sometimes big brands name!

screen-shot-2016-10-05-at-11-21-23-amPurée Maison

When I arrive, we decide to watch an episode of Black Mirror before going to bed, a weird but very interesting TV shows on all the extremes that could potentially derives from technology and the web.

Then, I go to bed! Tomorrow, it’s the first day of school. At 9.45AM.

I’m doing the last year of my French master in Accounting. I have class two weeks in a raw, every two weeks. (So two weeks per month basically)
It is made this way so my classmates can both study and work for a company on the other free two weeks. The good thing with this format is that companies actually finance you the whole year. That’s kind of what I was planning to do so I don’t have to pay tuition, but Bob the lump decided another way. My parents had to pay another $9,000 and it made me feel bad. (Last year for BU, I had already done a student loan so …)

Also, while I will have class two weeks per month during Sept-Dec and April-July, I have off January-mid April for the tax season so I can normally work an internship. I was supposed to go back to California and continue my internship with the public accounting company where I worked last Fall but with this happening, I decided to make them aware of my situation and put this project on hold.

I’m not sure what I will do yet during that time. I’m first waiting to hear if I’m the right road to remission once I have the PET Scan. Pretty soon actually!

Monday, September 19th

I’m very pleased to be with my good friend Corinne, with who I was studying at BU, in class. The school did it this way so she can get me the class notes when I can’t go and so I have a moral support in class.

I went to class with my shaved hair. With just a beanie for outside so I don’t get a cold.

In my class, we are around 30. Most of them are a year younger as I took a gap year in the program to do the master with BU. But I have 4-5 friends from my promotion, a nice little group of friends!
The first class goes well and so we decide after it, to go to a friend’ apartment and cook some pasta. We buy beers and apple juice (for me) to celebrate the start of this school year.

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After classes in the afternoon, I go meet a friend at a café and go shop for some jewelry, ear cuffs and hair accessories. I kinda stop wearing all of those lately. Didn’t wear ear cuffs since like 3 years or so. I don’t really know why, just felt it was overwhelming my face. Now that I don’t have hair, I feel it helps boost my feminity because I look like a tomboy.

Then I go meet up with Mika and Paola at the apartment for a photo shoot.

We talked about it few weeks ago. I told him that I would be pretty excited about a photo shoot with my shaved haircut so I can have souvenirs of how strong I was going through this situation.

 But as soon as I arrive and see the big scene and all the camera and photo materials, I feel not very at ease. Over-exposed. Especially without my hair behind which I normally hide.

We start and I don’t really know how to pose. I’m so bad at doing it. Feels unnatural.

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At some point, Paola tries to give me directions on how to do it. She shows me how she pose. It looks like pretty easy for her. I guess some people are just born with the talent Ha Ha. I try to do the same but it looks not very convincing.

She tells me

Sally, do like this with your hair. Play with it a little bit. Like this!”

I see her shake her very nice and long hair, bomba latina way. And I stop moving. Mika too.

Indeed, I do not have hair anymore so I don’t really understand her advice. Ha Ha! Thanks Queen Paola!
Mika tells her.
“Pao, are you serious ?? “

But that’s fine, it makes me laugh and helps decomplex. I mean I really am bold so let’s be at ease. We continue the shoot.

At one point, I try my wig on. Oh, I totally forgot to post about it. I bought a new wig! So much nicer than the first one and for so much cheaper!! I was walking with my mum in Marseille when I passed by an Afro hair care shop. They had ton of wigs in the window so I decide to check it out. Turns out they have beautiful wig with natural long hair with my original color for €150. Damn! I can’t believe all the cancer care stuff sells theirs for a grant!

I try one on and it fits and look very natural on me. Apparently, I can even curl the hair with a hair strengthener. Sick! We buy it!

14518241_10209557807835980_1149807410_n-2The Wig

During the shoot, I put it on and it sets me free. I play more with the camera, even Mika notices it. I think I still need some time to accept myself this way. I remember too much the “old me” and I fear people’s look while they notice how much I changed. I don’t want them to pity me!

Tuesday, September 20th

Classes go pretty fast! I feel great to be in there and focus on something interesting and learn. I honestly feel less the symptoms of the treatment this way and the fatigue. I feel like a normal young adult in the middle of all these other classmates. Not like the epicenter of the attention, like at home with my parents.

I know it’s normal for them to be worried. I don’t blame them or anything. I know my dad save my life! I know that. I’m like the never really worry girl about health stuff. I was never really sick and I can’t remember last time I went to the doctor for something. I don’t think I’ve ever really did before this. So my dad did, indeed, save my life by pushing and forcing me to go see the doctor and do the IRM.
I would probably turned in myself at the ER once I’m really already in a bad shape, like caughing crazy and feeling very very weak. Probably stage 4B  like a lot of people on the web forums or even never really show up… I don’t know I guess I don’t really want to imagine. He at least probably spare me from going through a harder and longer chemo treatment. Probably!

So thanks daddy! I love you!

At night, I go see Corinne and Barbara (who was also in Boston with me).

Wednesday, September 21st

After class, it’s already time to go back to the South of France at my family house. I will miss two days of classes. Thursday and Friday. But I have to! I have chemo tomorrow morning. Already.

I know it’s gonna suck for few days (I will mostly sleep so it will go fast) but, then, I should be able to return to Paris for the whole week of class on sunday night! Can’t wait!

Thank you ALL

This entry is part 9 of 21 in the series Oldest to latest posts

Thank you ALL! You are amazing!
It’s silly I know but I just thought that nobody would read my blog. Or just the close family and friends who would feel obligated to check on how the treatment is going. Ha Ha !
I was SO wrong! So sorry for doubting you!
I guess I just started with the idea that this blog would be for me mostly! So I feel better and more motivated to fight if I can see from where I came from!

I was really touched and surprised by all the comments and messages!
I will take the time to answer to all of you once I get more energy. (I’m juste sleeping most of the day at the moment haha, a real slow poke).

I will use your message like a cookie jar. Getting a cookie every time I get bored, or in pain and tired! So I can have something really positive to hold on. Plus I’ll be really happy to have fresh news from all of you!

The chemo went really well! It’s weird but I feel very liberated from sharing the blog. It’s like I was letting my print in this world. And so i was much more ready and confident to start once it was done! I knew my family and friends would have a piece of me on this blog if they needed too!

For the side effects, they are also much more manageable that I was expected, so I’d say I’m doing pretty well with that (thanks to the ton of medications my doctor prescribed me Ha Ha!)

I hope to be able to publish the following of my story in the coming days!
Thank you and I love you all!
Sally