Sunday, June 03, 2007

Hair Whack

I've been growing my hair for almost a year now. When I was almost bald (my peach fuzz phase) I wore a hat all the time. A couple of months after, I had enough gumption to take it off and spike my hair (hedgehog phase). As it grew longer, I just looked like a boy with a bad hair cut. Recently, it turned into a mullet.

So I walk into a random hair salon. We were on our way home from the car dealer. Near the car dealer was the Hot Head salon.

They primarily spoke Korean. I was hoping language was not going to be a barrier. Since they had no other customer, they had the guy take care of me. He spoke even less english than the girls. But the girl had said, "He good hair cut." while making scissor signs with her hands.

They showed me the picture book and they asked me to pick a style. I closed it and said I just wanted them to trim the back since my mullet was tickling my nape and driving me nuts.

So the guy comes along and again I said I just want him to trim the back. He said no and started to flip through the picture book. I tried to explain that I didn't think I had enough hair to style. But he was pointing to this pixie cut that was kinda long in front. I asked him if he could do that and he nodded. So I surrendered myself to his layering scissors.

So he trimmed here and there. He was deliberate. He seemed to know what he was doing. When he was done cutting, my hair had a different feel to it already. Then he was talking about Hair Whack. What?!?!? Hair Whack he repeated. Then showed me a tub of hair wax. AHHH. He showed me how to work it into my hair.

It actually looked styled. I was very impressed. So much so that I bought a tub of that Hair Whack - excuse me - Hair Wax.

For the first time in about a year, I felt really good about my hair.

Here's a picture taken 6/30.

Monday, May 28, 2007

A week later...

I'm doing very well. I feel 100% normal again. Thank God!

The worst of it was Wed, I'd say. I was nauseous. My stomach was stormy. The nosebleeds did not hurt but they were a nuisance. A friend of mine helped me through the worst of it. She does energy healing. It's Reiki and more. She got rid of negative energy and put in some healing energy. I was back in the office by Friday.

We drove to New Jersey in the weekend. We had a great time with family just bonding. The Blessed Mother visited (block rosary) so we all prayed together.

Tuesday, May 22, 2007

So far, so good...

I had my chemo treament yesterday (Alimsta) and I'm at work right now. So far, so good. No adverse side effects and I'm willing it to stay that way.

Thank you so much to everyone who said a prayer or just even sent me good thoughts, intentions or good vibes. That is helping a lot! Please continue since I'm not out of the woods yet.

Wednesday, May 16, 2007

Hard Blow

Just got my PET scan results. It's not good. My primary tumor doubled in size. Upside is that it's still confined to the lungs.

I'm starting a new round of chemo on Monday. Hope that side effects will not be too bad. But I've coped before and I'm going to just keep on going.

It's very difficult to hear after one year of the disease being stable. I had such high hopes with Tarceva. It just was not for me. Too bad.

In as much as this is bad, I'll continue to fight and live as best I can as long as possible. So, I'll need more prayers from you all.

Tuesday, May 15, 2007

Brief History

Some have been asking for a quick rundown so here it is.

In Dec 2005, I had a routine physical just coz I turned 30 that year. I was expecting a clean bill of health. But I did mention to the doctor that my father had a heart attack in his late 30's so they did an EKG.

Everything was fine except for the EKG. There were some abnormalities that they could not even determine with a sonogram of the heart.

Jan 2006 - So I saw a cardiologist. She did a CT scan of the heart. Turns out my heart was great. Although my lungs had cancer. So a pulmonologist verified it to be Stage 3B Non Small Cell Lung Cancer (Bronchio Alveolar Adenocarcinoma). It was inoperable since I had it in both lungs and it had spread thru the lymphatic system. (Usually a cancer grows in tumors. Mine had spread into thousands of tiny little tumors all over the lungs.) I started to see my oncologist.

I started treatment Feb 28, 2006. My first regimen consisted of Cisplatin and Taxotere on a 21 day cycle. I receive treatment at my doctor's office - Virginia Cancer Care in Loudoun county.

May 2006 - I had a CT scan that showed no change. My doctor and I decided to move to a gentler regimen so that I can work. My new regimen consisted of Carboplatin and Gemzar. Since the side effects were not too bad, I started to go back to work full time.

Aug 2006 - My doctor got insurance authorization to start me on Avastin.

Jan 2007 - PET scan showed no significant change. Again, we changed my regimen - Tarceva (since it has shown promising results on young, non-smoking Asian females) and Avastin. I'm not on chemo anymore. I'm on targeted therapy.

May 2007 - PET scan showed that the primary tumor has doubled in size. And that the spread of the cancer is now more dense in the right lung than before. We're changing the regimen again. Avastin and Alimta (chemo) every 21 days.

Monday, April 02, 2007

Birthday sigh...

Yup, I've turned 32. I'm very thankful for another birthday. Didn't know if I'd make it this long.

I was blogging a lot in March - then my birthday came. I thought I ought to say something reflective about the last year. Honestly, the only nice thing I can think of is - Thank God, it's over! That was a difficult year.

On my desk is a calendar from last year. It was stuck on December. I had not ordered a new one coz I had Outlook. Well, I flipped it so that it shows Jan again. Then it dawned on me that when I was jotting down on that page last year - I had no idea. If I flipped through the months, I know I'd relive the moments as I saw each doctor's appointment. I'd remember how scared I was. How utterly terrified. Looking a month ahead was uncertain.

Months later, as my life was more normal and my illness had stabilized, so did my panic.

Thank God, it's over!

Friday, March 23, 2007

No more mushy armpits

I've just tried Eucerin the last couple of days. It's better than petrolium jelly. I feel the moisture just seep into my skin. It's not hanging out on the outside like the other jelly. It's greasy for about an hour or so but no mushy armpits.

The other night, I tried sleeping in just a big shirt. I'm a restless sleeper so I really move around in my sleep. In the morning, my legs were very dry from rubbing against the sheets. Then I tried wearing leggings at night. That seems to work. PJ's roll up to my knees so I'd be dry from the knees down.

One more thing I do at night is sleep with a humidifier. Keeps the skin moist. Especially inside your nostrils. It's not fun being dry in there. If you need more moisture, rub some lotion with a Q-tip.

Sunday, March 18, 2007

My love/hate relationship with petrolium jelly

Yes, my skin is not hurting and I'd like to keep it that way. Vaseline helps it stay that way. But it's really uncomfortable. My armpits are mushy. EEEEWWWW!!!!

I love it... I hate it... I'm looking for something else!

Friday, March 16, 2007


Yes, my last post was bad. It was very difficult. I'm much better now.

Two weeks ago, I started applying moisturizing foundation on my face over my regular stuff. At first I was self concious because the foundation was slightly darker than my actual skin tone. And I laid it on. You could really see it. At least, I could. But I started to get compliments that my face cleared up. I'd confess that it was make-up. Nice to know that people notice.

My face felt really great! I had no problems with it. The foundation did provide extra moisture plus sunscreen. It actually cleared up my face. My face does not sting anymore when I apply Eucerin. I think my skin has healed.

My back was another story. I can't properly moisturize my back simply coz I can't reach everything even if I'm really flexible. I mentioned in an earlier post that I would apply grapeseed oil all over my body after my shower (morning and night). My skin would just dry up in less than an hour. It was worse than baby oil. That at least lasted a couple hours. So I started to moisturize every couple hours with various lotions. I found that Lubriderm with Shea and Cocoa Butter was the best. It stung a little while I was still extra dry. Apply aloe gel first then the lotion will help lessen the sting considerably. So most of my body was okay... except my back which started to really hurt. I would move slightly and it would feel like the skin was about to tear.

I had just bought Burt's Bees Body Butter. It was great on most areas of my skin (that had already started to heal since I was moisturizing every couple of hours). I had my mom put it on my back. Bad idea. It was made with honey and orange wax. It felt like someone whipped my back then squeezed oranges (limes even) on it. That lasted a good 10 minutes.

The next day, I put on the grapeseed oil again in the morning and was very dry by lunch. Don't ask how it felt in the afternoon. I don't know how I did any work, honestly. Anyway, that night, I asked my mom to apply Aquaphor on my back. That's a burn remedy. It's main ingredient is petrolanium(?). Yup, major petrolium product. I've been avoiding this and Vaseline petrolium jelly because they feel so yucky on the skin plus, they are by products of refining crude oil. But it's the only product(s) that have relieved my skin. I now only moisturize twice a day (morning and night) with Vaseline Petrolium Jelly. It's greasy as heck. I don't know how I'm gonna cope in the summer. But at least I'm not hurting.

Friday, March 09, 2007

It's tolerable or at least it isn't abject suffering...

I've posted somewhere on one of the cancer boards that the side effects of Tarceva was painful but tolerable. At least, it's not abject suffering. That's my position about 95% of the time. Twice a day, as part of my daily routine, I exfoliate my face. That's where the rash is the worst. At that time, it is abject suffering. It stings like anything. Of course, it varies, sometimes it's better than others. But usually it does sting. (Tonight was a good night. It was not too bad.)

Applying oil (Vitamin E oil) on it is okay. Then the Eucerin to seal in the moisture. I use this special Calming Creme that Eucerin just came out with for people with very sensitive skin. It's anything but calming. It feels like I have many small cuts on my face and the lotion just gets into them then burns! As soon as I apply the lotion, I need to do 2 laps around the house reciting the Memorare and asking all the Saints to intercede for my petitions. After that, I'm good for about 8 hours.

My husband has asked me why I do this to myself. Can't I look for other products that won't sting? I have to admit that I should do that soon. But for now, I have to go through this twice a day because the alternative is actually worse. If I don't exfoliate and extra moisturize, the skin on my face will feel like brittle paper that will tear at any facial gesture. Even with the extra moinsturizer, I find it hard to open my mouth too wide. The skin on the sides of my mouth feel like they're gonna tear.

So, I cope. I cope with prayer. I've found that the pain makes the prayer feel more sincere. Or at least it's easier to really focus on the prayer. I offer my sufferings to Him for His greater glory. Then the pain seems insignificant then it fades away.

And He said,
"Cast your burdens upon me,
Those who are heavily laden
Come to me all of you who are tired
Of carrying heavy loads
For the yoke I will give you is easy
And My burden is light
Come to Me and I will give you rest."
Lift Up Your Hands - Basil Valdez
Based on Psalm 55:22

Wednesday, February 28, 2007

On the pill. My new regimen.

Here's the latest on my treatment. I'm still on Avastin (once every 3 weeks) and the new pill - Tarceva (once a day). I started this regimen end of January.

My doctor and I are very excited. I happen to be in the demographic that shows great results with this pill. Young, non-smoking, Asian female. I'll be scanned after 3 months (early May) to see how the cancer has reacted to this pill.

My life is still normal. I still work full-time. I'm still really busy. Although, I did get the rash which is the side-effect of Tarceva. The rash is a sign that the pill is working. I got it after the first week. It started in my face. I expected this because it was described to me by the doctor and I've read it on websites. But I did not expect it to hurt. The skin on my face was so dry. I stopped soaping for a while. Then it came to a point when it was just stinging all day. So, I searched online for some relief.

That's when I found Christine's site ( I explored her site and was inspired by her story and her wisdom. There was a section there that described a whole regimen that helped her look great while taking Tarceva. I'm on a regimen that is similar. I use different products but the regimen is the same. Instead of using Almond oil, I use Vitamin E oil (sesame oil base). Why? My husband had some left over that he wasn't using.

My rash has now spread to my chest. There's a little on my nape. I'm starting to see some spots on my arms and legs. So, for my body, I switched from baby oil which is a petrolium based product to grapeseed oil. (I feel like a kabob ready to be grilled every morning.) Why grapeseed oil? It's not petrolium based and it was on sale. I've only tried it today for the first time. So we'll see if that helps the new spots on my arms and legs. I have to say it's not as good as the baby oil. The skin on my legs feel like they are going to tear. I'm not sure if it's the grapeseed oil. I've been feeling drier and drier lately even if I'm drinking enough water to drown me.

I'm not much of a girly girl. I do not wear make-up. My skin was never flawless but I never let that bother me. I always knew that people were drawn to me not because of my looks. But there are times when this rash makes me feel hideous. I look in the mirror and OMG!!! So, I'm usually in a hat. Then I saw a picture of me. The hat makes me look like Chairman Mao - or at least, a Chinese comrade. So, tomorrow, I'm adding make-up to my morning routine. Full creme moisturizing foundation SPF-15 plus full gloss lipstick. (One of Christine's tips.)

Even if I look hideous, no one ever treated me badly or different. Even in the office or anywhere else. Well, those people in the office know me and they're like family. The only reason I'm doing the make-up is so that I don't have to feel too bad when I look at myself. I've got self-esteem up the wazoo but I have to say... I look hideous. That's just a fact. I don't feel bad about it because it's part of my getting better. And it's only temporary.

It's been a year since my diagnosis. For some reason, I have a very strong feeling that I'm going to beat this. I have faith. Many people who love and care for me are praying for me and cheering me on. Thank you so much!!!

Thursday, January 18, 2007

Happy New Year!

Happy New Year to everyone!!!

It's been a long time since my last post. I'll try to post more often. I'll even try to fill in the missing months. (Hoping that if I publish my intention, I might follow through.)

We (Mom, Michael, Burke and I) were in California this holiday season. I got to see my brothers and lots and lots of cousins. Thanks to Manny, Tita Hermie, Tito Bobby and family for driving up from LA!!! See our pictures…

Just got back the results of my last scan (Friday). The tumor is almost exactly the same. Stopping it dead in is tracks is not a bad result.

So I’ve got 2 options. 1) Continue with my chemo as it is and 2) Change to a maintenance pill that has shown promising results. I’m still researching and before deciding. Either way, it’s a gamble. I don’t know how long the current treatment will be effective. (Honestly, I don’t want to go back to chemo.) But the new pill is very new. Plus side effect is bad acne (REALLY BAD).

It's a tough decision...

That's pretty much where I am right now... Thanks for all your prayers. That means a lot to me and my family.