Monday, December 18, 2023

Post Cancer/Chemo Recovery-- Month 5

 Good morning and happy first Monday of break! Yesterday we packed the kids' suitcases and gave them to their grandparents for a few days, because Devin and I are on our way to Mexico-- woohoo!! This past July we celebrated our 10 year anniversary, but because I was feeling like trash in July we decided to postpone our anniversary trip until I was feeling well enough to enjoy it. I am thrilled to report that I feel GREAT and am very much looking forward to the next few days of being catered to at an all-inclusive. With no work for the next 2 weeks and no grad school for 3 weeks, I am looking forward to sitting in a lounge chair by the beach with a book glued to my hand!! Doesn't that sound like heaven?

It is time to do another monthly check-in for my recovery and I am thrilled to have all positive news again-- including a hair update! 

Mental/Emotional Recovery

I have been thinking a lot about the fact that it has been almost a year since my first symptoms started popping up. The first day I knew something was wrong was December 27th, and it has only been recently that I started feeling like myself again... meaning it has been a whole year of feeling crummy (in one way or another). While 2023 has been a year of lows, for obvious reasons, it has been a year of highs too. This was the year when I truly was afraid I might lose my life. I know Hodgkin's Lymphoma has a good response rate to chemotherapy, but when I heard "stage 4," my brain immediately went to a very dark place. Since then though, I have become much more appreciative of EVERYTHING in my life. 

Our trip to Disney made me cry happy tears DAILY.

This Christmas season has been 10x more magical with the kids. 

Those are just a couple examples of the many times I think to myself "I can't believe I almost missed this" and "how lucky am I to still be alive?"

Does that mean life is perfect and stress/problem free? Absolutely not. Of course we still have problems, everyone does. I just look at them differently now. Like all other problems, "this too shall pass" and when I look at the bigger picture, "how much does this really matter?"

Devin and I were talking recently about when to celebrate my cancer-versary. For any other survivors out there, when do you celebrate? From what I've read, it's whatever date is most significant to you. I have 4 significant dates:

-2/1- First time being told "you have cancer"

-2/8- When I got the call-- "It's Hodgkin's lymphoma, stage 4"

-4/5- Declared in Remission

-7/19- Last day of chemo

I think either 2/8 or 7/19 because they feel like "the beginning" and "the end". Either way, I am looking forward to an annual reminder of how short life is and to truly appreciate every single day.

Physical Recovery

I was nervous about all the walking we would need to do at Disney and whether or not I could keep up-- but I am happy to report I did VERY well! There was one day when I needed to take a Tramadol and sit on a bench for a half hour or so and rest, but only one day out of the whole week! And you all know how physically demanding Disney can be-- you're on your feet all day

I had been doing well with exercising daily and I could notice a difference in how I felt, but then we got back from Disney and life got busy again. I haven't worked out a single day since. Oops. Since I know what a difference that makes, it is a goal of mine to make it a priority over Christmas break and into 2024. I am still not running, but my plan is to start in January. I don't know when I'll be able to run a half marathon again, but I'm not in a rush. I have the rest of my very long life to do so. 😊

Look how long my hair is!!!!!!!!!

Okay, okay, I know-- "long" is not how most people would describe this. But it's long enough to cover my ears a little bit!  And long enough that I comb it in the morning before I dry it and put my wig on. It's hard to tell in the picture since I blew it dry,  but when I let it air dry it is wavy/curly! It's also darker than I remember my natural hair color being before (although I always got highlights, so that's kind of hard to tell). 

Also, feel free to zoom in, because YES, I do have sideburns. When my hair first started growing back, it grew back everywhere, including places I had never noticed it before. Ya'll, I'm not kidding when I tell you I had a slight beard and a mustache at one point (white blonde hair thank God!!!!!). The beard and mustache fell out on their own very quickly, and I was told the sideburns would too so I am supposed to leave them alone. They seem to be taking their sweet time falling out haha!! Luckily when I wear my wigs, you can't see them at all. 

My hair is kind of patchy still, so I'm hoping as it continues to grow, the bald spots fill in. 

Speaking of wigs...

I still have the same two. The shorter one (above at the school Christmas concert), and the longer one (below, while snow tubing).

I anticipate I will wear the wigs until the end of the school year (early June), and then my real hair will be long enough for a cute, short haircut.  

And I have to be honest, while the wigs aren't very comfortable, I am not in a rush to get rid of them. They are super convenient. I spend a grand total of 1 minute on my hair each morning, no exaggeration. I brush it, re-curl 1-2 pieces, and I'm on my way out the door. They also keep my head warm in the winter-- which is a nice bonus! Where I may have hated that they trapped the heat/humidity in the summer, I am loving it in the winter!

Well, I'm off to go read a book in the Mexican sunshine! I'll see you back here on Friday with the rest of our Disney recap!


  1. Going to Mexico, sans kids, sounds divine! I hope you have the best time. Happy Belated Anniversary!

  2. Enjoy your time in Mexico. What a journey this year has been! Tanya

  3. Love the positive update. Enjoy your trip, cant wait to hear all about it.

  4. Lauren, this update makes me want to cry. you look so damn good!!! I'm so happy for how good you are feeling! Have the BEST time celebrating - you deserve it!!

  5. Have the best time in Mexico!! I am so thrilled to hear another great update. Disney is no joke, so you must really be feeling better! Cheers!
    Sarah @ Sunshine & Books

  6. Oh that Mexico trip does sound wonderful. This whole post gave me such happy feelings. I am so glad you are feeling so much better and you look adorable; even with sideburns. :)