Want to Follow me even when I'm too yuck to blog?

Well, I am never too yuck to tweet (via my instagram @denajulia)

So you can see what it's like inside the chemo room, plus get about a million pictures of fenway!

Either by following me on twitter: @denastern

or by reading this handy dandy column right here------------------------> on the side of my blog!

Isn't technology amazing! tweet tweet

(Still feeling terrible, but not as bad as yesterday! woo hoo!)

Oh Hey - Friends with Benefit(s)

I have a very dear, very awesome friend who works at Benefit Cosmetics and when I was going through my "I feel hideously deformed - holy crap my eyebrows are going to fall out - I'm bald and my head itches - shame spiral" I gchatted her and I said, "Nger, remember when you did my makeup for Coachella and I felt so beautiful. Will you do that again?" and she said "F yeah, I will come over and do your make-up and bring you some bomb ass pho from turtle tower." And she did (and sadly, I could not keep it down, but it was the most delicious pho ever) and then she did my make-up and we had one of those amazing conversations that I still think about pretty much everyday. And then she wrote this super cool blog post about it called "How to... feel good"

And this is the truth - playing with make-up, eating pho and talking with a good friend is definitely how to feel good. Even if you are going through the worst thing anyone could possibly go through (or possibly even more so, because you appreciate everything good in your life so much more.)

Love you so much,

HOT Shave (Pun intended)

So, as you know if you have read this blog at all, I have been in an ongoing battle with my head. It's been really hard. In the eternal theme of man makes plans and g-d laughs, I developed a horrific scalp infection that made it impossible to wear a wig, let a lone a hat, or even a light scarf. It was terrible. I was a mess. I cried and cried and cried until it plunged everyone - me, HB, Fenway, into a funk that was heretofore unimagined.

My previous optimism was a forgotten shadow. My energy was low. My nausea and headache got worse. I couldn't sleep. It was a shame spiral of a snowball into hell. Everyday I stressed more and it made everything worse. The positive, shiny Dena that we all know and love was nowhere to be seen. Which only made me hate myself, which made me cry more. And on and on it went. Down, down, down I spiraled.

It was a bad, dark couple of weeks (month? who knows, its all a black hole of despair) and then, I finally found the right combination of antibiotics (vibra-tab every morning), topical prescription creams (tretinoin, aka Retin A .05% and clyndomyacin, for those of you who are wondering) and pampering (yup, I got facials on my bald head) and the rash went away. But I was still scared to wear a wig, scared that the rash (which was also incredibly painful and itchy) would come back.

And so I made this pinterest board - BALDSPIRATION. And I stared at it for awhile. I made some more jewelry. I meditated. And things got better. And then I realized something - I actually do look pretty OK bald. I wouldn't do it on purpose, but without the rash I did kind of bear some kind of resemblance to my hero, amber rose.

And so I decided to stop clinging to the tiny, patchy, thin, (blonde?) fuzz on my hand and take control of the situation the only way I could. I was going to treat myself to a nice, shiny, tight hot shave at the sick barbershop across the street from our apartment (HB goes there to get his hair did too)

And you know what? IT WAS FREAKING AWESOME. MY HEAD LOOKS AMAZING. PLUS IT FEELS SO GOOD. I mean, I wish you all could touch my head right now. It feels incredible. It's soft and smooth and shiny and healthy looking.

The place I went to was dope, Charles (the eponymous owner of Charles Blades Barber Spa) has the best energy, and I literally felt like he was massaging good energy into my scalp while he did it. Also, it felt so good - like every step was another level of scalp massaging awesomeness. Also the place is dope. I mean, I want to go there and just hang out. Charles has also barbered for some serious celebrities which made me feel extra cool. It was all I could do not to ask if I could bring him home to live with me and HB and Fenway.

Anyways, I hope you enjoy these awesome photos from my hot shave. Not gonna lie, it literally made me feel hot (as in sexy) for the first time since I had to give up my wig. And really, don't we all just want to feel hot sometimes?

Lots of love,

Fear & Loathing: Just Kidding It's Not That Bad

Oh hey - I went on vacation while on chemo
It's been awhile since I've written here. To say I've been busy is kind of like when my dog says he's tired - dude, you run for 20 minutes twice a day, and then you sleep ALL DAY & ALL NIGHT. But, well, chemo fatigue is some real shiz, and taking care of my recovering body is a lot more exhausting than I thought it would be. It has taken me some time to adjust to that. 

I haven't had to put a lot of effort into slowing down - I've just slowed down. 

I don't have a choice. I literally can't walk for more than 15 minutes without taking a two hour nap. Like, my body just SHUTS DOWN. It's crazy. You think that you are prepared, that you understand something, and that it happens to your body and suddenly it's real in a way that defies words. Or maybe that's the chemo brain. My mind is foggy. I can't remember things. I lose things. I never know what day of the week it is. I mix up words or sometimes forget them completely. I feel like I'm a thousand years old. I used to read 2-3 books a week. Now it takes me about a month to read one. I forget what I read before and have to reread it. 

It's exhausting - everything takes approx 10 million times more effort than it feels like it should.

But...it's not so bad. I don't have to worry about working, or really doing anything. I have so much love and support that if there's something I can't do, there's someone who will do it for me. Pretty much the only thing I haven't been able to do is find people to write my blog for me (j/k I did, HB & my badass survivor sista friend Alona are slowly being roped into guest posts, stay tuned) 

And now that I have adjusted to the new realities of my incapacitated life, well, it's not that bad. We humans are such adaptable little creatures. Don't get me wrong, I have my bad days (weeks, months) of feeling so frustrated with my deficits and disabilities but, I am already half way through my chemo. 

And I thought it would feel so long, and I was never going to be able to get through 6 months of this, and then I snapped my fingers and BOOM. I can't freaking believe it. Looking back on it, it was BAD, but it was not so bad. Could've been a lot worse. And the tumor is freaking melting away. And I can see the light at the end of the tunnel and I can do 4 more months of this. I really can. 

Since the very beginning I've been super stressed about the time when my eyebrows fell out... well, it's here. And... it's not that bad. It kind of just looks like when I was in high school and went a little crazy over plucking (remember that Gabi) 

And I think about the tears I shed and how worried I was about it and all of the stress I put myself through thinking about how weird and freaky I would look without eyebrows... and I am like, GIRL, why did you do that to yourself? Bless **

Now granted, the eyebrow thing may be slightly easier because when I noticed that my eyebrows were now missing big, patchy chunks, I just reached for the amazing Benefit Brows A Go Go  & Anastasia Beauty Express for Brows & Eyes I had already stocked for this occasion. I am still advocating for preparedness. It helps. Yeah, sections of my eyebrows fell out in weird patterns, but I got to skip the "oh crap what do I do moment" and just used the plan I already had in place. I'm sure that went a long way to mitigating my shame spiral to crazy town. 

Like all good stories, there is a moral here - worrying about something happening is usually worse than when it actually happens. Prob also "be prepared" but I feel like that I already hammered home for that one. Maybe prepare for the worst, expect the best, but well, you get the point. Insert your favorite cliche here, and then take a deep breath and stop worrying about it.

When you horde and covet my energy like the precious commodity it is, it becomes very apparent what is and isn't worth spending energy on. Fear of a situation you have absolutely no control over is a horrific waste of this resource. Obsessing and stressing out are just exhausting.

Now, don't get me wrong. I am working really hard on just not obsessing. It takes work to do it. I see myself getting worked up and I do a breathing exercise. Or I hug my puppy. Or I call a friend. Or I make a piece of jewelry (it's great, I have to concentrate so hard on the delicate work I can't think about anything else). Or I look at my baldspiration pinterest board. It takes work not to shame spiral - but I'm doing it.

And it's working. I'm being gentle with myself. And since having cancer gives me magical powers that allow me to tell other people what to do, I'm telling you not to obsess and stress either. Man makes plans and g-d laughs. It's never as bad as you think it's going to be. 

So now back to the writing. I just haven't had the energy, or the words, to write blog posts. So instead, a few nights ago I started writing poetry again. I haven't written poetry since high school. I used to write poems all the time (I still have some, they are all shamefully amazing hormone and angst soaked luv poems) and I remember being pretty OK at it. I even won a few awards. 

And now I find myself writing again. And it feels pretty good. And I have my lazy, fatigued chemo brain to thank for that. Look at me, I'm adapting.

So if you are reading this because you are about to go through chemo, know this - it really is not as bad as you imagine it's going to be in your head. I'm not going to lie to you, it's bad. But having lots of love and support and help makes it so, so, so, so, so, so, so, so, so, so much easier. (Friends, HB, Mama, Kostya, you guys are my rocks)

You can get through this. I am. 

Love you guys...

(**thank you Jules, for reminding me how much I love that phrase)