12.5% done (thanks Dad for doing the math); I LOVE PERCENTAGES. What can I say, I have been in Ad Sales for quite some time and thrive on knowing how far I am to 100%.
GAB = 1, Red Devil = 0; for those of you who don’t know, the A/C part of my chemo treatment is often referred to as the red devil. Sounds fun, right? The name alone is terrifying and sounds like a bad horror film. Well Red Devil, you met your match; Gabby Stoller takes no prisoners, and while you definitely had an impact, I kicked you’re a**. I will thank you for one thing—for easing my controlling Type A personality, and providing me with a template of how I can expect to feel each day after initial treatment.
8/28 was my first CT at the very fabulous Sloan Kettering, AKA, my new home and common GPS coordinates (lat/long is still the cream of the crop for location data). At the crack of dawn, Marc and I took the last of my LIRR train rides in (germ city!); obvs, I am in my FUCK YOU CANCER attire from head to toe courtesy of Amazon and Etsy. We arrive a tad early and went to our favorite UES breakfast spot, Gotham Café. GO THERE and have the Sinful Coffee (you are very welcome). We had such an awesome morning just being us, and right before walking into Sloan, we vowed to maintain the positive vibes/energy and did an adult version of a chest bump.
First appointment was a finger prick at 8am which is so unenjoyable but it basically checks your levels to make sure you are golden for treatment; hey doctors/nurses out there, there has to be a better way to understand what your blood counts are than someone squeezing your finger insanely hard to fill a vile. Next I met with Amy and Odessa, my two new best friends forever and ever and ever and ever; these are Dr. Robson’s right hand gals and will be holding my hand for the next 4 months. I try to use my sales skills and negotiate myself out of chemo but of course that does not work; a girl can try! They both reassure me that this is an insurance policy and covers if anything microscopic is in my body this will KILL it. I move on quickly and listen diligently as they LITERALLY walk me from head to toe on what the possible side effects are from my treatment—hair loss (can’t get out of that one), migraines, sinuses, mouth sores, metallic taste for food/water, sensitive skin, shoulder aches, my surgery area would hurt like hell, nerve damage, constipation, joint issues, and sensitive feet. AREN’T YOU ALL JEALOUS AND HAVE FOMO?!?!?! I look over at Marc who officially let this all sink in, and say, LET’S DO THIS. After all, I need it to begin for it to end and to be in the clear and to be happily dancing on the finish line.
I swear Sloan is the Four Seasons of cancer centers; their chemo suites are private, very modern, and comfortable. I got the corner suite (DUH!), squeezed the first of my squads in their seats (Marc, Dad, Mom, and Mals) and immediately befriended Thierry, the most amazing NURSE ever. The A/C treatment in itself is about 1.5 hours, and I got to be honest, it flew by; it sure helps that Sloan has a massage therapist who comes around (I mean seriously!?!??!!!). I am going to lock that in for my next 7 rounds; sign me up please! Besides the massage, we just talked and laughed because that is what the Wasses, Stollers, and Goldsmiths do. We “kibbitz” (spelling) as my mom would say. NOW, there are SO many things that I would say are the greatest feeling in the world (earmuffs Mom, Dad, Riley, and P), BUT, that needle coming out of my arm is UP THERE. It is my version of feeling like I won the MTV Challenge or Bingo (it is just such a fun game), and a sign of accomplishment.
My parents drive me back to Long Island and to Valley Stream (back in my childhood bed again) I retreat. What I find most interesting after chemo is the anxiety over the anticipation of when the side effects will kick in. Everyone is different and every reaction is unique for the individual so it is annoying to try and predict what yours will be. After the first day, I recentered and decided to have a DAY BY DAY approach; the unknown is scarier than what could actually occur. Since I love a good list, I thought it would be best to provide a daily summary of week 1 post CT:
Tuesday (day of treatment):Still on steroids which masks a lot of the side effects, feel like I am in a fog/daze (yet manageable), tiny hunger, and am drinking so much water. In and out of sleep until the night when I knock myself out with whatever antipsychotic sedation drug provided. There was a full moon on 8/28 which was a sign; full moons in my opinion are for healing, and what better night for that to be.
Wednesday: Same as above BUTAngel Nurse Nancy Jeuda gives me my Nulasta shot which is supposed to keep my blood counts stable (and also causes MAJOR aches across your entire body). I head back to Merrick to see the kids in the afternoon for an hour or two; it was so worth it but even that little of time made me SO beyond exhausted. I immediately have to go back to sleep, eat a tiny dinner, and then back to sleep again (this sedative is quite powerful and haven’t slept that good since college).
Thursday:Same as Wednesday minus the shot (rinse and repeat).
Friday of LDW: Back to Merrick for real life (hello children!); my parents somehow have the most energy in the world and offer to have my kids sleep at their house (phew!). Marc and I relax, chill in, and around 5pm, a rush takes over my body and HOLY EFFIN SH*T do I feel achy/sore. I promise you, every single vertebrae and every joint/bone from my waist up were on fire. It was as if I did Barry’s Bootcamp, Orange Theory, and Fhitting Room all in one day. Did I think I was really invisible dodged that bullet? OMFG…I go to sleep and just pray I feel better in the morning.
Saturday: Well if I thought Friday (it will be awhile before I say FriYAY) was bad, this is the DAY. This is the DAY they warn you about. Now, I have had MANY MANY MANY MANY terrible hangovers in my life that I thought could prepare me for this; Saturday was UP there except I did not have the most EPIC night ever before. I equate it to having 10 margaritas at Rio Grande (grain alcohol for non NYers) or 16 tequila shots and then throwing yourself in the middle of the street and having a bus run you over. I needed it to end quick, and could not have rushed the day more until night when I passed out.
Sunday:I sleep super late (thank you Markeeeeee; thank you Debbie for having Riley sleepover), and wake up with a headache but I WILL TAKE IT (2 Advil later!). I am just so grateful to have Friday and Saturday behind me and appreciative of feeling good enough to get out of my house. We take the kids to our beach club, enjoy a late afternoon there, BBQ with our cabana, celebrated all the summer birthdays, listened to live music, and soaked up the last of summer. It ended up being such a fun day and the kids loved having me back as “mom”.
Monday: My first day feeling like G$ and its PIERCE’S BIRTHDAY!!!! So call it cancer mom guilt, but I was determined to make this the best birthday yet. It was the first birthday that he actually understood what it meant, and when I asked what he wanted, he said to drive a fire truck. Well, at 9:30am, Captain Jack arrives at Casa de Wass in his MASSIVE fire truck. Pierce, Riley, and some of their friends got to get behind the wheel, spray the fire house, learn fire safety, and dress up. This was his version of being at a Day Party in Las Vegas (for those of you who know me real well, I LOVE DAY PARTIES in Vegas/Miami/you name it). Our families came over later that day, opened up gifts, sang happy birthday, and we prepared for first day of school Tuesday (R).
This brings me to Tuesday of this week and well, this week is MASSIVE for a variety of personal reasons.
- Both my babies went to school—Riley in 1stGrade (crushed it!), and Pierce to his 3’s program at Mill Neck (ran off so quick there was dust behind him).Normally I am not emotional about these days; I truly celebrate that there is structure BUT I got teary with both. They are just such good kids, growing up so fast, and are so happy/proud to be going to school; obviously I also just feel so bad that I am going through this and they have to even witness it. While I hate that I have to be home from work because of this (trust me, I am meant to be working and miss it tremendously), I am happy that I get to be such a part of these experiences for them.
- Today was a day I said FUCK YOU CANCER. Day 14-17 after first treatment is when hair is expected to fall out; instead of that being the deal, I cut my hair GI JANE style (with my BRCA sister, Angelina Jolie cut as inspiration). As you can tell, I have been obsessing about my hair AND it was SO freakin liberating. Lisa Amato, officially part of my inner circle forever, is a private hairdresser in Merrick and has a daughter Riley’s age. Prior to all this, I leaned on Lisa for lots of advice in regards to Mill Neck; fast forward to a few weeks ago, I asked her to be an active part of this journey and to style my hair through all the phases including the shaving/cutting super short one. She is an angel and amazing hairdresser, and honestly we had SO much fun. I would not have changed anything about today; I had my college bestie/sister Sam and Paulette there as my support team, and all of us just chatted and laughed (Dave Matthews in the background as well as my relaxation candles burning). I really thought it would be emotional and I just feel so free and so strong. I LOVE THE HAIRCUT and Marc was right, I can rock whatever style because its all about the face. I also got my wigs as back up, and am ready to have multi personalities (red or blonde; you will have to wait and see!).
- I CAN WORK OUT AGAIN!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!! I am normally a 4-5x week gal, so 6 weeks with NO real physical activity besides walking is just not cool. I cannot wait to do my Peloton bike, take a Soul (probably cry in the back row), and to get this BOD back
The odd part of all of this is that I have never felt more confident and strong. Not to mention, I am the most connected to my body mentally and physically. I literally can understand on a day to day basis how I am feeling, what is off, how I am responding, and detect what impact these chemicals are having on me. Next treatment is September 11th, and I am in a great headspace to take this to 25% and to conquer it head on.
Thank you so much to everyone for all the love and support; all the letters, emails, texts, calls, introductions to others are EVERYTHING and it keeps me in this positive mindset.
LET’S DO THIS.
Gab (Rocking this cut like GI EFFIN JANE)