There are two types of people in the world—those who live their life in the green or in the red. My dad and my sister are 100% both “green” people, and my mom and I are “red” people. I met my match with Marc—he is red too (we really are two peas in a pod!). For those of you who do not get what I mean, explanations below:
- Life in the Green Lane: Your phone/computer/technology are always 100% charged; you have back up chargers for your back up chargers, and you know how to utilize every type of streaming technology (I just made that part up but you get the gist). Your ear buds or ear phones are always untangled, and you have the PERFECT little pouch container for them. You get anxiety when your battery is at 80% and when you have any unread emails at night (inbox must be 0 before snoozefest).
- Life in the Red Lane: As I like to call it, thriving on “chaos”. Your phone/computer/technology is always on “low battery”, and you play a sick little game to see how much longer you have before it actually dies. You have slight anxiety around it but can function in life knowing that you maybe have the appropriate charger somewhere in the vicinity. Your earbuds are always tangled, and I mean ALWAYS tangled and you have yet to upgrade to the new ones because why make your life easier. Your personal inbox is a MESS and has 29,238 emails; not your work one because you are an OCD professional and kick a** (every company needs those that live life in the red lane; they are often your best producers!).
The world needs both types to go round, and I am a proud member of the “Red” club. I can’t help but laugh thinking about my lifestyle, how I live in this lane, and how my first four treatments are known as the “Red Devil”. It is too ironic but it is Red Vs Red here–I refuse to let the RD win; as I said earlier. you met YOUR MATCH. As of 9/11, I am 25% done with all treatments, 50% done with the Red Devil, and I am ready for those next two; no one messes with this chickadee.
I will not lie—the days leading up to your next treatment are the best and the worst. You start to gain “normalcy” and feel like yourself for just a few days, and while you know you are one step closer to completion (insert whatever dirty joke you got), there is this looming anxiety around if this time will be the same, or even worse. All doctors and nurses tell you that it is cumulative and to expect it get more intense as it goes on but that the symptoms you experience are typically the same (for example, if you did not have water tasting like metallic the first one, it 99% wouldn’t happen the second). Sounds fun, right?
September 10th, 2018: L’Shana Tova to my people; unfortunately, this year I had to avoid temple like the plague. The Wasses minus Gab represented but it is far too risky with germs, people, and the desire for everyone to do the double kiss on the cheek and pass me whatever they got. To get in touch with my inner spirit animal that day, I saw a reflexologist for the first time; it was a day before my next treatment and this form of east meets west is believed to aid with healing, and to boost your immune system. I am always down to try something once (sorry Mom and Dad, I was your rebellious child) and I was BEYOND impressed/relaxed/happy I did it. For 60 minutes, Heidi touched pressure points on my body that are connected to areas that help with your immune system and it was the first time in 2 months I was 100% at ease (basically sleeping and drooling). Post reflexology and after my nuggets came home, we went to our best family friends, The Raphael’s. This is an annual tradition and no one had any colds/runny noses/coughs/sinuses/etc (these are the things I have to ask about before going anywhere now; so annoying!). Such a fun afternoon being with my parents, my family, The Mandel’s, and the Raphael’s; 34 years of friendship between all families (so cool!) and I just felt the best energy/love/support before treatment the next day. I say goodbye to the kids and explain that I am sleeping in the city and will be at my parents for a few days; it was beyond difficult this time because they know what to expect. Pierce gives me his gorgeous sad blue eye face and then smiled, and Riley is just sad/quiet/trying to be strong (breaks me into a million pieces to even see her like this). We are just so connected and very similar that being separated is beyond difficult for both of us. I give huge hugs, put on a brave face, and walk away crying in the pouring rain (as Pierce would say, the sun is crying; makes my heart melt).
My dad being a superhero drove my sister and I back to her apartment that night in NYC; yes, through the Rosh traffic and everyone schlepping their leftover brisket and matzoh ball soup. Thanks Dad! Trust me, I cannot wait to take public transportation again and to be on that LIRR for work (counting down). Mals and I spent the night watching Keeping Up with the Kardashians (we both are still obsessed!) and just being us; as much as I love sleeping next to Marc and having that comfort, there is something so special about being with my sister that just makes everything feel okay. I pass out, sleep through the night (of course with the aid of my ever so fabulous Adavant) and wake up ready to ROCK.
September 11th, 2018: I made Mal sign up for a FlyBarre class with me before treatment; yes, I am a lunatic but physical activity is a critical part of my life and I need it mentally. Figured it is the first class in the morning, and after I wipe all the weights a thousand times (things I never thought about before), I should be good to go! So our alarms go off at 5:45 (sorry Mal!) and we make our way to the UES studio for the Power class (taxi and Mal opened door/shut door, and I used my sweatshirt for arms). I looked around the class at all these gorgeous gals and thought about what each of them were doing today and oddly felt empowered knowing I was different and the only one about to do CT. As weird as that sounds, it made me feel like the strongest girl in the world and gave me exactly what I needed to take the Red Devil head on. Post class, we put on our FU Cancer Gear–my new custom trendy AF Wass sweatshirt from Oilman’s & custom “Tough as a Mother” shirts from Pixie and Lane–Dara and Jenn. Absolutely follow these gals on Insta and FB–they made these custom shirts for me after following my journey and dropped them at my house as a gift for my chemo squad and myself (so freakin sweet). https://www.facebook.com/PixieLaneDarandJenn
We made our way to Sloan for a packed agenda—8am blood prick, 8:30 Dr Robson (my angel of an oncologist; seriously most soothing man ever), a generous hour break to grab water/fruit/coffee, and 10am chemo. And guess what—-my blood count came back AMAZING (attributing to taking good care of myself and of course the reflexology!!!). Happy to share her contact info!
I know I am always boasting about how incredible my friends are (I know I know it is because of me and who I am) BUT round 2 demonstrated that. Jen and Seth, friends from Merrick (who at this point are family) were our “Uber” and kept me company; I mean seriously, how freakin LUCKY am I. In our fancy chemo suite, I had my sister, my husband, and two of our best friends. Only I could make it a party, but we had the BEST TIME. If you have not played “What Do You Meme”, I highly RECOMMEND IT. It is normally an amazing late night drinking game but it is guaranteed hysterical laughter; the 1.5 hour treatment flew in a blip and although the nurse thinks we are insane, it was one for the books. I am pretty sure it was marked in my file that I am the patient every nurse wants after how much fun and how loud our room was (after all, we are in a cancer hospital and it is a pretty depressing place).
The week after treatment went as expected; I retreated at my parents Tuesday-Friday afternoon, and returned back to Merrick Friday night. Unfortunately, I had to miss Riley’s meet the teacher night; schools are a giant petri dish of germs and a big no-no for Gab. Marc represented the Wasses and the teacher knows everything going on (Riley is doing great and is not showing any signs of anything at school; YAY! Makes me so happy and proud of her and how we handled it). This time around was easier for a variety of reasons—I slept a LOT (12 hour nights, and naps in between forcing myself to eat), I was able to work out (post 6 weeks; did long walks), and I took Claritin. WEIRD but Claritin happens to help with the joint pain you experience; so instead of feeling like I took 14 Barry’s Bootcamps in one day, it felt like I did two. I WILL TAKE IT. It was such a significant difference from treatment one and anyone who is getting the Nulasta shot should take it 5 days post infusion. I am so grateful as a person that I am open to sharing my story (so many hide and keep it private; to each their own) and being introduced to others going through this; I never would have known that tip and it changed my entire second experience.
Never again will my kids be home on a Saturday during my on-week; as much as I love them and their energy, it is my worst day (off sleep meds and off steroids), and mama bear needs her sleep/rest. Lesson learned from the first treatment when they were home, and it truly impacted my overall health and physical status. My parents being the superheroes they are exchanged me for the kids and took them for the full day/night. My dad grew up in Coney Island and thought it would be fun for the kids to see; they spent the day on rides, eating Nathans, walking the boardwalk, and visiting my dad’s old stomping grounds. It was a special day for them, and they today are still talking about it; thanks Mom and Dad (seriously; how you have this much energy is beyond me!).
Saturday, Marc and I seriously just sat, slept, sat again, and then slept again. The liberty of being able to take a nap at any moment is so powerful; it was like a pre-kids day except with a layer of chemo. By 5pm, the FOG was gone. I was BACK (play Ariana Grande “Break Free”). Now this is the comical part—on Saturday afternoon, Marc develops a COLD. I mean SERIOUSLY; it is our one day together, your wife is going through cancer/chemo, and you get the sniffles. Dudes are just so different than females (love you SO much Marc) but they cannot handle being sick; it is as if the world is ending, and they just need so much love/attention/help. As cute as it may be to be that needy and vulnerable, I cannot be near germs and every sneeze drove a bigger wedge on the couch during Bachelor in Paradise (obsessed with Astrid and Kevin!!!!!!!!!). Needless to say, separate beds for the night, walking around with Lysol the entire day, and THANK GOD I DID NOT CATCH ANYTHING. And yes, Markeeee is all better thanks to Advil Cold & Sinus and lots of sleep. Don’t worry, I am feeling good too! 😉
I wake up Sunday morning to part of my pixie cut on my pillow. Throughout the week it had started BUT like so minimal and non-traumatizing. I have spent so much time focusing on the hair factor, and promised myself the first minute it started, I would buzz it off. I swear to all of you I was not sad or upset; it actually means the chemo is working, and that I am a step closer to being done with this phase. Plus, I seriously have 17 wig options and each one is better than the next. I text Lisa immediately (my angel face of a friend and a huge part of this journey for me), and we booked it for first thing Monday morning after drop off.
Sunday afternoon there was the Merrick fair (outdoor activities rock and so does Purell), and we took the kids with several friends of ours; it was HOT AS BALLS out there and wearing a wig in 100 degrees is NOT FUN. I overdid it but that’s what you do for kids—I feel internal guilt all the time for having this, not being here during the on-week, and just want the days where I feel good to celebrate every minute. What matters most is that the kids had the best time, and that I had 10 bottles of water on me to stay hydrated. I put on as big as a smile as I could, and my friend Nicole saved me and brought me to an AC bar/restaurant where the lady gave me a ginger ale for free (she could tell I was hurting). Life lesson learned–do not overcommit to activities where weather conditions may not be best for you and ASK FOR HELP GAB. You don’t have to be a superhero, and people want to help YOU (pep talk I give myself). After the carnival, we retreated back at the Oilman’s, watched the games (let’s keep it real, the girls hung in the kitchen and chit-chatted for hours), the kids played outside, and most importantly, I hydrated and hydrated. I CANNOT WAIT TO HOST AGAIN and have my house be that house; SO SO SO SO SO SO SOON. Jen and Seth, thanks for always having us now and I promise to pay it forward (Cinco de Mayo and SO much more!!!).
You all know how much I love my bullets and I wanted to highlight a few things from the last week:
- 4 others stepped forward and told me they got genetically tested for the BRCA gene. YOU GO GIRLS! Knowledge is power, and it is what helped me catch this damn tumor so EARLY and to be A-OKAY. You have the opportunity to be in control, and do not realize how lucky you are to get to do things prophylactically. I am envious of you; that was supposed to be me!
- I truly can rock any hair style. First thing Monday Lisa came over and buzzed my head; it was the MOST liberating feeling in the world and my head is like a giant chia pet (kids are obsessed with rubbing it for good luck!). More importantly, I feel GORGEOUS and SEXY. I have never been so appreciative of my facial features, my eyes, my skin; my friend Elana joked that I could be on an app for changing hairstyles. Who knew I was so versatile?
- Earrings and hats are so wonderful and really help make you feel fabulous; BaubleBar & Bloomingdales has the BEST stuff. So accessible, affordable, and lightweight; please send me any and all recommendations for the best hats/earrings.
- I am getting better at asking for help; it is really hard for me. I am a VERY independent person and strong minded and have a VERY difficult time asking for help/admitting I need help. Thank you to all my friends, family, and support system who have given me no option and have offered to drive/help with kids/babysit; I NEED YOU and am so grateful you know me well enough to not allow me to say no. THANK YOU, THANK YOU! I am working on it!
- The Marvelous Mrs. Maisel is a GREAT show; thanks for the recommendation! Binge watching it and of course all my housewives are back (phew!). RHOD is SO great; watch it!!!! Next up, Orange is the New Black and Ozark 2!
- I added 5 more songs to my Positive Vibes Playlist on Spotify and thought I would share them and why they got selected:
- Omen by Sam Smith & Disclosure – I love Sam Smith and he was by far one of my most favorite concerts ever at MSG. I had to fake drink with my clients because I found out a day earlier I was pregnant with Pierce (my mannnnnnnnnn!) and could not stop replaying this song after. Just happiness all around!
- Rolling in the Deep by Adele — Mals, we know no one can touch Adele; no one should bother on American Idol or EVER. Inside joke BUT this song is just the best and always makes me shake my booty and pretend I am a Soprano (I am so a baritone).
- No Easy Way Out by Robert Tepper— Recommendation by Markeeeeeeee and although I have never seen Rocky 4 (I know, I know, I know; added to list of things to do while on leave), this song is such a PUMP UP and makes me feel strong on a daily basis.
- Nobody to Love by Alex Newell—one of my favorite business trips was to HOTLANTA with two colleagues who became family—Allie Cat and Brian Rosenberg. We replayed this song a MILLION times and climbed up Stone Mountain having this play. It brings me to a place where I just feel pure joy; it is funny how songs spark memories.
- Such Great Heights by The Postal Service—COLLEGE. Senior Year. Leah and Elana. Late night drives to IHOP (best whole wheat pancakes ever with boysenberry syrup). Enough said. Love you ladies so much and this along with so many songs are helping me throughout this.
- Candles are therapeutic. My girl Heather got me one from Leoben that’s mantra is “Today you will relax”. I am OBSESSED with it, and light it almost every single day. It gives me a sense of peace and makes my house smell so magical.
- I am CANCER FREE. I asked the nurse during my appointment when it will be gone, and she said, “GIRL IT IS. You are doing chemo as an insurance policy but after the double mastectomy, consider yourself healthy”. I AM NOT SICK (have to keep reminding myself that and everyone else who keeps using that word) and in just a short few months, this lady will be back and I am plotting all my most favorite outings/activities.
- First one is BOTOX. I know that makes me vein but it is just the best thing ever and mine looks natural. I still don’t understand why if I am putting all these other chemicals into my body, why I can’t do that. Apologies for crow’s feet in advance on top of my bald head.
- Second is absolutely a pregame at my house and then Mulcahy’s night for Big Shot.
- Third is the best omakase sushi dinner EVER. Going on a tour of Omakases; send me your favorites!
- Fourth is dying my hair bleach blonde; as soon as I have stubble, I am going for the Cara Delevingne look.
Breast Cancer Awareness Month is just a few short weeks ahead. Do a self-exam, make a doctor appointment, get checked. As females it is our job to own our bodies and to be in control! I have sent my blog to several publications and publishing houses. If anyone has an in and wants to share, go ahead!; I am pretty confident my story would resonate with millions of women out there on how important early detection and genetic testing is. Not to mention, I think they would love the wit and perspective and good vibe I got going on.
Next treatment is 9/25, and until then, I am going to enjoy the off week and time with my husband, family, friends. Love that during this season I can be outdoors (free game! No germs!) and soak up the sun and fall weather. I am giving all the extra TLC to my babies; Pierce does not really realize whats going on but Riley needs me more now than ever. She will not leave my side when I am home, and I swear she is getting sweeter and sweeter and more empathetic by the day. I am loving how some of the sass is converting to just pure kindness and love; I wake up in the middle of the night and she is right beside me. I am her comfort and her safe place, and I am dedicated to kicking this things a** for my family.
Thanks as always for all the support, the love, and for always checking in; I am doing great mentally and physically and it is because of YOU. And Markeeeee, thank you for being you; you love me unconditionally and truly make me feel sexy no matter what and that is all that matters!!
LET’S DO THIS. NEXT TIME, I AM 75% DONE WITH THE RD, AND 37.5% TO GOAL. WOOHOOO!!!!
Gab (who can rock any hairstyle and loves who she is)