Bet you never though you'd be clicking on this tab. I know, me neither. Deep breathe. Gah, why is everything all of a sudden so HORRIBLY OVERWHELMING?!?!?!? LOUD VOICE.

I've been there. Sometimes I think it's good to just hear someone else say that. Let me say it again - I have been there. I am here now. It was never as bad as I thought it would be. My name is Dena, let's take deep breaths and send each other good energy. I'm a real person and I love hearing from other cancer babes. Let me know if there is anything I can do for you. Some people tell me that my story helps them, and so you can find it all right here. It's still being written everyday. 


P.S. If you want to watch me go from long hair to bald and back again you can do that here
P.P.S here's a bunch more things I wish somebody had told me right away....


Look into Fertility Preservation, Now

This is time sensitive. You need to find out what you can do and do it, in a limited time window. Better to know and make the choice not to do something, than wish you had done something after, right?I went to the UCSF Center for Reproductive Health and I would recommend Dr. RosenDr. Zamah and Audra to ANYBODY. Seriously, I don't care where you live, give them a call and ask them where to go.Also if you are worried about paying for it check out Fertile Hope, which subsidizes costs specifically for this and is a very easy process to navigate.

Apply for Disability

My hospital handled this for me, all I needed was to fill out a 2 page form but the processing time took forever and it's based on the filing date - not the day you got sick. Get on it ASAP, it's worth it I promise. 

Find and apply for any scholarships or financial aid 

Why the money obsession? Because Cancer is so freaking unexpectedly expensive. You will need help and if for some reason you have an extra 100k lying around to cover all these stupid expenses I bet there are things you'd rather be spending them on. I used the Livestrong Foundation, which has specialists in just about everything from financial assistance to battling your insurance (just fill out the online intake and you will get about a thousand phone calls/emails/pamphlets.)


Fundraising

I am incredibly blessed to be the recipient of an UNBELIEVABLE show of generosity and support which would not be possible without the help of my community and a fundraising platform like Standbuy

Make a budget....

I sat down with my boyfriend and did this very early on and it is something I already feel grateful to have since the fertility treatments (and of course, the general stress level associated with the Big C) really sapped my mental acuity. Having something that is both "liveable" and realistic is just a huge stress reliever - and stress is the enemy of being healthy during chemo! 

Other dumb things to do before you start chemo that someone might not tell you:

  1. Get a teeth cleaning! No dental work during chemo. You will also need special mouth care (see shopping list) for a list of recommended products that will be extra gentle on your ravaged mouth during chemo therapy. #1 rule, be gentle.
  2. Take your pets to the vet and get a poop test. They may carry something that could make you sick while your immune system is suppressed that is asymptomatic in them. (Fenway had Giardia ACK)
  3. Decide what your "hair plan" is going to be. Custom wigs take a few weeks to make and your hair will fall out at some point during your first chemo cycle.  They also recommend you go in while you still have your hair - so you can match it as much as possible to your natural hairstyle (or, if you are like me, the hairstyle you always wanted, because - hey, why not?)
  4. Automate whatever you can. Having systems in place will make things easier when you are exhausted so you can save your energy for important things. For me this meant setting up amazon subscriptions for household products and things like coconut water, finding help with dog walking, coming up with a "cooking" plan (and dishes plan) with handsome boyfriend, and getting my house deep cleaned by pros who specialize in hypoallergenic/chemo cleaning. I also did a massive closet reorganization and spring cleaning to try to get control of the clutter before it starts.