Well, here we are, the night before effin treatment begins (insert every single emoji of emotion humanly possible).
Today was an important day all around. I had an appointment at Sloan where I got ballooned again (injections to expand); no joke, the theme song in our house on these days are “DON’T YOU KNOW PUMP IT UP, YOU GOT TO PUMP IT UP (Danzel is the artist, and of course this is on my Positive Vibes playlist”)..” We dance, shake it, and get ready for Gab to slowly get out of the Itty Bitty Titty Committee. Tonight, Marc and I had our conversation with Riley, and after much back/forth, we opted to not use the word cancer. It went as well as it could for an almost 6 year old; we explained that treatment is necessary to heal, and that it means it is working if I am extra tired and lose my hair. We walked through when I am going to cut my hair, and how wigs/scarves/hats will be a daily fun dress up party. I showed her the wig pictures immediately and SHE LOVED the red one (best decision ever).
The last 6 weeks since diagnosis have flown by and I am PRAYING the next 4 months do too. Oddly enough this is always my favorite part of the year— school begins, Pierce’s birthday, Jewish holidays, my birthday, Riley’s birthday, our anniversary, Thanksgiving, and then it’s the holidays. I LOVE BIRTHDAYS; everyone deserves one day that is theirs, and we make it a big deal in our house (mark my word kids, this year it will be 100x!). By 2019, I will be Cancer FREE (knock on wood, poo poo, all those things you say to not jinx) and then the exchange occurs (watch out Gigi and Bella, I am going to have the nicest ones in the game).
I am breaking out my cancer journey into two BIG chapters—the DM and CT (chemotherapy sounds cooler when it’s an acronym). While part one certainly had its challenges (those damn drains, and oh yeah, recovering from a massive, massive surgery), part two will be more emotionally and physically taxing. I am as prepared as one can be for what is known, but of course I have anxiety about the unknown. For me personally, the unknown mostly focuses on which days after chemo I will be the most drained and when will I feel most energized. Last Friday I was with my Cousin Beth (my mom’s first cousin who had breast cancer a few years ago, no gene) and I asked her that exact question. Funny enough/interestingly enough, she did not recall; while I wish she did for my own research, I was SO happy she did not remember. That means this will all be a distant memory, and that gave such a rush of positive feelings (like Disney Land with the Quad Squad, and like skydiving in Interlocken with my girl Sam). Just another reminder that life continues on, and this will be a blip in time that sucks a fat one BUT will make me a stronger, more unique individual with a real story of courage behind them.
Friday marked the 4th week since the surgery, and I am thrilled with how I am healing and feeling (maybe that is a future Hallmark card?). The pain is so minimal that it is not even worth discussing/complaining about, and I swear, I don’t even remember what my old ones looked like (is that weird?). I am content looking like my 13 year old awkward lip bumping self (yes, I wore a lip bumper and it was HOTTTTTT).
One of the best parts of this entire experience is realizing how awesome I am. Let me explain before you think I am some self-loving, narcissistic a**hole. I think it tells a lot about the type of person you are if you have close friends from childhood, camp (I get its more of a Jewish thing), high school, college, work, your neighborhood, kids schools, etc. I know I am a lucky girl with how many close friends I have, but what I am beginning to understand more is that it is because of who I am. The energy you put out in the world speaks volumes about who you are, and I am SO happy that my vibe is a good one. That is SUCH a cool feeling to finally embrace; I am used to running a million miles a minute with zero time for myself and being able to spend time processing this has been such a blessing.
Outside of my closest nuclear circle which can’t be beat, the amount of outreach I have received is JUST beyond. My Camp Echo bunk put together the most incredible, memory provoking gift basket of all time; it contained a Hermes headscarf to ensure I am the chicest cancer patient, and Mad Libs, Pick Up Sticks, Jacks (I taught Riley all of them, and she OWNED me in pick up sticks). I have received so many cards in the mail from all over the US from friends, friends of friends, moms of friends, moms of old coworkers (Annie, your mom is the cutest!), kids of friends, you get it. I am so lazy with stamps and am so impressed you went to a mailbox for me. J.Nel, “you are my funshine” is JUST the best saying ever and is officially part of my mantra list. That card brought me a HUGE smile—byou are right, I am FUN and I promise to keep up that part of me throughout this (even on my worst days). Riley and Pierce, I vow to you to keep up our dance parties, to blast sonos with your favorite songs (even if I am sick of hearing KEKE do You LOVE ME and the Middle), as long as you promise to keep me a “cool mom”. Officially dominated the floss, and look forward to the next dance move being introduced.
This last week has been EVERYTHING. As I promised myself earlier, I wanted to enjoy every SINGLE day during the one week with zero doctor appointments, no prescription meds, and no toxic chemicals in this body of mine. Can’t thank my family and friends enough for trying to keep me busy, entertained, and distracted. You MASTERED it. A few highlights below of the “One Gab Week of Fun before CT after the DM”:
- Monday: Mani/Pedi with Meredith (the sweetest and best vibe girl out there); don’t worry Mom, no one is cutting my cuticles; trust me, I get it, I get it (love you!). Our friends Cliff and Jamie came out from NYC to have dinner with Marc and I (how NICE!!!) at Anchor Down. Love you guys so much, and so touched you schlepped out on a Monday after work to stuff our faces on lobster. YUM in the TUM (thanks P for the coin phrase).
- Tuesday: OKAY OKAY OKAY, I know, I keep talking about this and how great my friends are BUT get ready….Debbie and Dana, my Merrick sistasssss, kidnapped me at 9am and told me to pack a day bag with any essentials. I need to set the stage a bit more—they both took a day off just for ME, and Dana is almost 9 months pregnant (rockstar status). The surprise was a day at Gurney’s in Montauk—lunch overlooking the beach, a spa treatment, walking around the most magical place ever, and dinner at LUNCH (yes, the Affair restaurant). With them, the conversations are endless, and of course we had to get matching necklaces for us and the girls (our daughters are all besties). Ladies, I cannot thank you enough; you made me feel SO special and a beach is my happy place.
- Wednesday: Being home is so interesting and is taking some getting used to; as I mentioned earlier, I am a total workaholic. I love my kids, but I love what I do too and balance is something I strive for, but will never have. It is nearly impossible. Normally I would have to miss this, but I got to take Riley to a Lakeside Playdate at a local park. I love seeing her interact with other children, and every time I see it, it just validates that moving to Merrick was the best decision. She is so confident, so settled, and really owns who she is. After the playdate, I took a nap (yes, I know I am still healing and sleep is critical), and got ready for a date night with my man piece. Rare 650 in Syosset is AMAZING, and we had the best time/best meal; we spent a lot of it laughing, eating our faces off (not feeling guilty about it was quite liberating), and having a very serious conversation about what lies ahead the next 4 months. Being with Marc is my mental medicine; I always said he is the ying to the my yang but there is something just so soothing about him. He is so strong, supportive, and has my back.
- Thursday: Beach Day with my Beiner; boy oh boy, have we come a long way Elana. From finding the highest point at any bar or club to dance on a table to both becoming mamas of two nuggets. We just sat (it is an activity), chatted, listened to positive vibe songs, and got bit my 1000 bugs. Thank you for coming out during your maternity leave to see me and for spending the day; love you so much and so proud of us.
- Friday: Family day at my cousin Jill’s boat club; I am sure you are getting the theme but CANCER is a big part of all our lives given our history and that afternoon was a coming together of my aunt Eileen, kids, and cousins. It was so therapeutic (like writing is to me!); I have been talking about it so much but there is something about the conversation with my genetic support system that is different. Friday night I had my last sushi dinner (going to miss you so much) with my girlfriend Stacey (Party at Palmers) and Mals. Stac, I am officially covered in pink head to toe (sporting that tote tomorrow!).
- Saturday: My visitation rate (like that Placed?) to birthday parties will be exceptionally low in the coming months; kids = germs, and germs are no Bueno for this chick. I was so happy to take my kids dressed up to Riley’s friend Sloane’s superhero birthday (Marc even wore a superman shirt; how fitting considering he is “superdad” for quite some time). After the birthday party, we ventured out for a family day (just the 4 of us!) to Fire Island; the kids were obsessed with the ferry ride, and we relaxed at the beach. Watching them play on the beach with each other made my heart explode (they are seriously the cutest siblings ever, and actual BFF); so many tears behind my sunglasses (happy and sad). All I wanted before chemo was to make sure we did something super fun with just us; a memory that we will all be able to talk about with a smile. MISSION ACCOMPLISHED! After the ferry home, my amazing parents took the kids for a sleepover and Marc and I had our ideal date night (bottle of red, La Piazza Whole Wheat Bar Pies, a Greek Cove Greek Salad, and our reality TV shows). BEST DAY EVER.
- Sunday: Woke up our version of late (8am), went for foot massages at Orchid (holy sh*t), out for lunch at La Bottega with Rob/Hayley (best man!) and food shopping (got to prep for the week). Marc had his fantasy football draft with the guys, and I hosted Jen, Ali, Vanessa and their amazing kids. I was so happy to host; I know it is going to be a bit before I can do it again and I am someone that LOVES to entertain. It felt SO good, and I was SO happy to do it (thank you guys!!!!). XO
Outside of all the above, I binge watched the entire Younger series; it is SO damn good. 22 minutes of pure bliss with each episode getting more and more awesome. I was obsessed with it and HIGHLY recommend it. DO IT and let’s chat Charles vs Josh; BOTH SO HOT I can’t stand it (sorry Marc!). Next on my own list is Friday Night Lights, and Marc/I plan on watching is Dexter; keep those suggestions coming!
Before I go to sleep (thank you Xanax), I want to thank everyone again for their support. Tomorrow marks a new part of this journey, and while I know I will make it through it with my bald head held high, it is going to be a rollercoaster. In advance, thank you for being there for me, my kids, my husband, and for being there during the highs and lows. I know mental is a big part of this, and that is why I know I am going to kick this effin things a**. Day by day, and more to come post week 1 of CT. YOU GOT THIS GAB!!!
Gab (almost an A cup with freshly ironed hair!).
P.S. DryBar I will be your #1 customer again once my hair is even slightly back and can be done; don’t think I forgot about you. You have a piece of my heart!