MY SKINCARE JOURNEY

THROUGH BREAST CANCER

BY LINDA PITT

LEAD MASTER AESTHETICIAN

EXPLORE POSTS

 

MY BEGINNING: PREPARE AND PROTECT

This is only the beginning of my journey and I am trying to prepare and protect my skin. I will change my routine based on observed results and the effects of the treatments as I have them.

Note to self: Drink LOTS of water! 8-10 cups per day. Hydration is key, both internally and externally. I have also started taking a multivitamin for hair, bones, and nails.

MY CURRENT SKINCARE

AM

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CLEANSE: iS CLINICAL® Cream Cleanser

Non-drying, yet powerful cleanser for sensitive skin loaded with bio-nutrients, antioxidants, and restorative ingredients

 

HYDRATE: iS CLINICAL® Hydra-Cool Serum

Hyaluronic acid that provides intense hydration and helps to reduce redness

 

TREAT: iS CLINICAL® Reparative Moisture Emulsion

Full of antioxidants to help prevent environmental and stress related damage

 

And last but not least, a good SPF to protect from sun damage and burns…

 

PROTECT: iS CLINICAL® Extreme Protect SPF 30

Broad spectrum UVA/UVB protection that helps against DNA damage and both protects and repairs collagen

 

PM

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CLEANSE: iS CLINICAL® Cream Cleanser

 

HYDRATE: iS CLINICAL® Hydra-Cool Serum

 

TREAT: iS CLINICAL® Poly-Vitamin Serum

Promotes cellular regeneration and metabolism, improving the overall health and integrity of the skin – highly recommended for individuals undergoing cancer treatment therapies

by LINDA PITT

During my many years as an aesthetician, I have helped clients undergoing health issues maintain their skin through often aggressive treatments and medications. Now, it is my turn to use my own expertise. Drawing on 30 years of experience, I want to take you on my personal skin journey through the treatment of breast cancer.

 

As I go through this, I thought it might help others to share tips on how I am managing the side effects of the various stages of my treatment. At a time when we feel so much is out of our control, I hope this helps to give something back.

Lead Master Aesthetician

my SKINCARE

iS CLINICAL®

Cream Cleanser

Hydra-Cool Serum

Reparative Moisture Emulsion

Extreme Protect SPF 30

Poly-Vitamin Serum

my MESSAGE

Thank you to everyone here for the love and support I have received! You are amazing.

 

ROUND 2 OF CHEMO: TAKING BACK CONTROL

Through it all, I am happy to share that my skin is holding up well. I have added Avene Thermal Spring Water Spray to help hydrate and soothe. This also helps with the constant hot flashes.

ADDED TO MY ROUTINE
 

by LINDA PITT

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my SKINCARE

iS CLINICAL®

Cream Cleanser

Hydra-Cool Serum

Reparative Moisture Emulsion

Extreme Protect SPF 30

Poly-Vitamin Serum

Avene®

Thermal Spring Water

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Having had my second round of chemotherapy, my hair is falling out. Nothing prepares you for the emotions that come with this. You know it’s going to happen and you feel you are ready, but the reality is much harder. My daughters are helping me with creative scarf designs and morale.

AS NEEDED: Avene® Thermal Spring Water

Contains a unique active ingredient that has been recognized for over two centuries for its healing and anti-inflammatory properties

I have also had to really increase my use of sunscreen cover as I find even a small amount of sun exposure has resulted in a slight burn to my neck and shoulders. Be sure to reapply SPF regularly!

I will be shaving my head tonight, taking back control. I plan to use essential oils on my scalp to help keep it hydrated, paired with vitamins to help encourage healthy regrowth.
 

 

IT'S NOT JUST HAIR by CHARLOTTE PITT, LINDA'S OLDEST DAUGHTER

Hair. Something that we don't realize how much of our lives and who we are revolves around. From the moment we are born, it already begins to define us. How much hair do we have? What color is it? Does it look more like our mum's hair or our great grandfather's? The questions go on and on. Our hair becomes a part of who we are. You know, when you have those mornings, or those nights, when you get ready and we already know it's going to be a good one because you're having a good hair day? Or when you get your hair done for a fancy celebration or event?

 

It's not just hair.

 

The funny thing is, I hadn't begun to fully appreciate the gravity of how something that is so often taken for granted daily can have on one's life and sense of who they are until the moments I saw it get taken away bit by bit from my mum.

 

Surprise. It was gone. It had only been two weeks since the diagnosis until inches were cut away in anticipation of what was to come. It was a shock to walk in and see my mother's long, curly brown hair gone, just like that; transformed into a short little pixie cut that my grandmother said made her look like a teenage boy. She still looked beautiful, and although it made me feel proud that she did this, I knew that the reason she did was because she had to do this on her own terms because eventually, she wouldn't have the choice.

 

The first round of chemo came and we all waited in anticipation for it to happen. Surprisingly, my mum's hair was as stubborn as she is and held its ground. I prayed that she would be lucky. Maybe she wouldn't be affected like everybody else, after all, she had been doing so great. The second round of chemo came. We got the news in the morning -- mum's starting to lose her hair. Saturday morning came around and an overwhelming feeling came over me that something was not right. I walked into my parent's room to find my mum and there she was; standing in the shower, holding her precious curly, brown hair in clumps in her hands, watching it slip through her fingers. It was one of the most heartbreaking moments of my life. I stood there. We cried. I couldn't find words. She was losing a part of her right before her eyes. A defining part of who she was.

 

It's not just hair.

 

Today is Monday. Specifically, Monday night. More specifically, the night that I watched my mum, once again, lose her hair.

 

We were ready. She was ready... well, as ready as we could ever be. We were a team and we were going to get through this together. I grabbed my mum's face in my hands and told her she was beautiful no matter what. Thankfully, Kim took on the burden of physically making the cut. I sat there by her side, holding her hand while my sister cut away bit by bit. Of course, we made jokes. We told my mum we could give her a Mohawk, or we could do what the Grinch did to the Mayor and shave her hair right down the middle. Or, we would even shave the sides of her head but leave hair on the top to give her a man-bun like Daniel had. We laughed. Then we were silent; as we realized that really none of this mattered, because either way, it would all be gone.

 

We stood beside her as she hesitated towards the mirror. And then we held her. And then we all held each other. It was one of the hardest moments of my life.

 

The reality is, it's not just hair. 

 

A BLANKET OF SUPPORT by LINDA'S SPA SISTERS

We are supporting Linda in the best ways that we know how – through prayers, positive thoughts, schedule changes, meals, cards, notes and small gifts to let her know that she will never be alone in this. Her spirit continues to be strong and positive. She is an amazing woman. 

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from LINDA

I want to thank my Spa sisters for the amazing blanket they made me. All your words of encouragement and positivity have given me strength.

 

xoxo 

 

ROUND 3 OF CHEMO: SCALP CARE

Having had my third round of chemotherapy, I have now lost all my hair so I've started using my skin care routine on my scalp. I figured if it is working for my skin then it couldn't hurt to help the condition of my scalp and maybe even encourage a healthier regrowth of hair.

MY SCALP CARE

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HYDRATE: iS CLINICAL® Hydra-Cool Serum

 

TREAT: iS CLINICAL® Poly-Vitamin Serum

TREAT: iS CLINICAL® GeneXC Serum

Clinically proven to help protect, revitalize, and enhance the foundation of healthy skin, while supporting multi-level protection and long-term visual improvements. 

 

My colleague, Kelly Whitesell, found these great eyebrow wigs online and I have ordered a set. They are made from real hair and come in different shades and designs. I am excited to try them and will let you know how they go.

my SKINCARE

iS CLINICAL®

Cream Cleanser

Hydra-Cool Serum

Reparative Moisture Emulsion

Extreme Protect SPF 30

Poly-Vitamin Serum

Avene®

Thermal Spring Water

for my SCALP

iS CLINICAL®

GeneXC Serum

Hydra-Cool Serum

Poly-Vitamin Serum

by LINDA PITT

 

ROUND 4 OF CHEMO: SISTERS IN ARMS

I have now completed my fourth treatment of chemotherapy and my last treatment of “Red Devil." I was told to go out, celebrate - that this was a milestone. The next twelve treatments of Taxol don’t have as many side effects... but still, I was cautiously optimistic. Unfortunately, it seems this caution was valid.

 

Having had a second ultrasound, my doctors decided that they want to change my treatment protocol to include another type of more aggressive chemotherapy added to the Taxol. I said from the beginning of this journey that I want to take it one step at a time. I have learned in life that nothing is fixed, and to be too set on one path will only cause disappointment.  After a few tears (thank you to my family, who were amazing) I have made peace with this new treatment protocol. I trust my doctors and I know with the love, prayers, and support I have received from my family, friends, patients and my Spa Sister’s that I can face anything that I have to!

This is a verse from one of my favorite songs, "Brothers in Arms," by Dire Straits:

 

I’ve witnessed your suffering

As the battle raged higher

& though they did hurt me so bad

In my fear and alarm

You did not desert me

My brothers in arms

 

Thank you to my Spa family for always reminding me that I am not alone.

by LINDA PITT

Sisters in arms!

- Linda x

 

ROUND 5 OF CHEMO: DON'T GOOGLE IT

As I went into this treatment of chemotherapy, I wasn’t sure what to anticipate, as I was starting a new protocol. 

I made the mistake of going on line and googled Carboplatin. This is something I vowed never to do… Lesson learned! I expected the worst. 

The first thing my oncologist said to me was, “Wow! Your skin looks great!” She said I was glowing. Not a normal look for chemo patients, so thank you iS CLINICAL®!

Overall the treatment itself wasn’t too bad. They gave me really good anti-nausea meds, and those have helped. I have developed some neuropathy (weakness, numbness, and pain) in my hands, arms, and legs that is a problem. We are going to try to address this at my next treatment.

To my relief, I did find out that I only have to have four treatments of the carboplatin and they are every third week. I will continue the weekly Taxol - So that’s good news!
 

by LINDA PITT

37395446_10160563477200557_4939356185905

Thank you to everyone who has inquired about me or who is following me on this journey. I am truly blessed!

- Linda x

 

ROUND 6 OF CHEMO: OFF DAYS

So it seems that I have skipped or misplaced entry six of my chemo blog? I could blame it on my chemo brain (that is a real thing by the way) - But fortunately, that is not one of the side effects I’m experiencing, though I do feel at times I’m not firing on all my cylinders at the moment. It’s kind of like losing your spark. Maybe it’s the fatigue, maybe it’s the slower pace of summer, but I think it is nature’s way of telling me to relax more.

 

I have a tendency to always need to feel productive. Taking time and getting myself to relax has been a challenge for me. I think most of us can relate to this need to be super woman. We juggle so many responsibilities, that we find it hard to take time for ourselves.

 

This experience has made me reevaluate some of my priorities. I’m learning to let things go a bit more.  If I’m having an “off day” I readjust and move forward. I don’t let it get to me. We are all entitled to “off days”, so my advice is give yourself a break.  

by LINDA PITT

Superheroes

Take time to do something for yourself because even super heroes need a day off!

- Linda x

 

ROUND 7 OF CHEMO: LITTLE VICTORIES

When we think of cancer patients, we normally think of them losing weight during treatment. This is not true with breast cancer. Most women will gain 15-20 pounds during treatment due to the number of steroids we are given. Bald and 20 pounds heavier is not a good look, so I’ve really been trying hard to watch my diet. I have fought to resist my sweet cravings and desire to eat to help with the nausea (carbs help).

Before I was diagnosed with breast cancer, I was working out three times a week. Since starting treatment, I have been scared to go to the gym for risk of infection, not to mention I’ve just been too tired! I think being at work has helped me stay active and has been good for my emotional state but is also tiring.  I have been off this past week to spend time with family, and I found my energy level was higher - so much so that the day after my seventh round of chemo, I was able to go on a three-mile bike ride with my daughter Charlotte. I felt so alive! 

It feels good to be able to get that part of my life back!

I know that there will still be days or weeks when I won’t have the energy to work out, but I have to hold on to the little victories - however small!


 

by LINDA PITT

P.S. I got my braces off this week and my mouth is so grateful!

- Linda x

 

ROUND 8 OF CHEMO: HALFWAY POINT

Eight treatments down and I am at the halfway point! Mentally, this is a big deal for me. I feel I’m nearing my treatments end and can see the finish line. I’m still working, which is amazing. My doctor is pleased with my progress, thus far. If I can keep my white blood cell count up, I shouldn’t hit any delays. 

Apparently I have text book side effects from the Taxol - neuropathy, fatigue, and a bothersome rash (though they don’t normally hit so early on). They offered to give me something for them, but they came with their own side effects… So, I declined.  Better the devil, you know!?
 

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by LINDA PITT

So far I am managing. I never knew ginger came in so many forms! Thank you to everyone for all the different edibles.

 

- Linda x

The best medicine I found this weekend after Friday’s treatment was these two little guys! My husband and daughter found Darden (the grey kitten) while out for a run in Darden Towe Park. He took it to the SPCA to be checked out and came home with Towe (the black kitten)!

 

ROUND 9 OF CHEMO: FRIEND INDEED

I’ve officially completed nine rounds of chemotherapy now. This treatment was the first time I went without a family member. I had my friend Hannah accompany me.

 

I've had offers from people to come sit with me (thank you to those that have offered) but I haven’t really felt comfortable.There is something about sitting there with leads coming out of you and having to push a machine along to the toilet that makes you feel very vulnerable. Not to mention, when those drugs and Benadryl kick in, I start slurring my words and find it difficult to hold a coherent thought.  Not a pretty sight and really, kind of boring!

 

Anyhow, my friend Hannah offered and she has experience from sitting with her younger sister through treatment for leukemia. So I accepted and we had a great time or as good of a time as you can while having chemo! Hannah was very upbeat and entertaining. The time flew by and I was out by five. I was a little shaky on my feet. It’s like being drunk without the fun of drinking and a worse hang over!

I’m not sure if many people know, but one of the side effects of chemo is that it affects your taste buds. So not only do the drugs make you crave carbs and sugar, but nothing tastes as it should. I went from drinking 4-5 cups of tea a day (a true Brit) to not be able to stand the taste of tea. It tastes like chemicals. Now, I’ve started drinking coffee! My oncologist warned me this would happen and to avoid favorite foods, as they would be forever ruined for me.  Fruits and vegetables practically have no taste for me and most things taste metallic. This makes it difficult to cook. I’m not sure if I’m seasoning enough or too much.

This week, I went on a cooking lesson at Pippin Hill Vineyard with my daughter, Charlotte. We had it booked since last March, even before my diagnosis. We had a good time, but I’m not sure how good my effort was, as I couldn’t really taste anything. We all sat down family style afterwards and shared our dishes. My apologies to anyone who ate mine!

by LINDA PITT

- Linda x

 

ROUND 10 OF CHEMO: DETERMINATION

As I go into double digits of chemotherapy, I am definitely feeling more tired with less energy. But thankfully, I’ve still been able to work.

They had told me the side effects are accumulative and I am finding that to be true. Having said that, I have also recently had a third ultrasound and my doctor is very pleased with my results. She says the tumor is almost completely gone! So at least we know the treatments are working. This news has given me additional determination that will help me get through the next six treatments (along with the side effects).

This weekend, I will be standing on the side lines cheering my sister and my daughter, Charlotte, on at the women’s four miler. I wish everyone who is participating, going through treatments, survivors, and those supporting them, a safe and fun run!

I want to thank everyone again for all the love, support and prayers during this journey. It reminds me every day of what I’m fighting for and how blessed I am. 

- Linda x

by LINDA PITT

 

ROUND 11 OF CHEMO: I CAN AND I WILL

After eleven treatments of chemo, I am definitely feeling it! My recovery from this treatment is taking longer. I’m more tired this week. This could be because I had the double Carboplatin and Taxol last Friday or it could just be because it’s number eleven.

 

Overall, my oncologist is very pleased with how I’m doing and she said my body is actually recovering much better than they would think. It’s just the buildup of treatments.  She said I have very good bone marrow. That’s a compliment you don’t get every day!

 

It’s always good to see the doctor and get positive feedback. It’s like getting a really good report card. So, even though I am feeling tired and this is definitely going to get a little harder before it gets better, I still feel very positive and blessed that I am getting such good treatment.

 

I went with my husband to watch my sister and daughter Charlotte run the women’s four-miler and I was overcome by emotions as I saw all the lives this disease has touched. From little girls running alongside their mothers to women not much younger than my mum, the gathering of such strong, beautiful individuals from all walks of life was an incredible sight. It gave me hope and reassurance that I can, and will beat this.

 

by LINDA PITT

Thank you to my sister and my daughter for doing this for me. Hopefully next year, I will be there right beside you. 

- Linda x

 

ROUND 12 OF CHEMO: TO MY HUSBAND

Wow, twelve treatments already - only four more to go! This is both exciting and kind of scary. 

When you know something is working, you are scared to stop having it. I know that the surgery will remove the remaining tumor and the radiation will take care of anything that’s left, but those weekly treatments and visits have become routine. As much as I hate having them, it’s reassuring. I’ve spoken to others who say they have felt the same way, particularly when they are given the “all clear” and “get back on with your life.” You’d think that everyone would just have a big sigh of relief and jump straight back to normal. I’m starting to sense that this is not the case. 

It’s important to remember that this has affected my whole family. They have been on this journey with me.  I think my husband has had it the hardest. He has seen me at my weakest. He has held me tight, dried my tears, and made runs to the pharmacy late in the evening to get me something to help with the pain of my mouth ulcers. He has had to accept that all he can do is be there for me. 

My husband and I will be celebrating 25 years of marriage on September 24, with all our family beside us. Just like I know I will get through this, I know we will be stronger as a family for it. 

by LINDA PITT

I want to dedicate this blog to my husband, Mick. I love you with all my heart!

- Linda xoxo

 

ROUND 13 OF CHEMO: NEW CHALLENGES

I’m a bit behind getting my blog out this time.  I was feeling under the weather last week, so I wasn’t very productive

 

It seems every week now I’m faced with a new challenge. My doctors assured me that this is to be expected. Everything is accumulating towards the end of my treatments.

 

I’ve finally just recovered from my mouth ulcers. I have a new found respect for people who suffer with those regularly. I’d rather go through labor again then have mouth sores! This past week, I lost my voice and developed a cough. My husband thinks my voice sounds sexy, but I suspect he likes the fact that I can’t raise it more. I am looking forward to getting these last few treatments over and hopefully start to recover and regain my energy.

 

When I first lost my hair, I was shocked by the impact it made. After all these months, I really don’t mind being bald. In fact, I just ordered some really cute cashmere beanie caps for the winter to keep my head warm. I find that what I miss most is my energy and my zest for life. These days I just get home from work and I’m done.  I know all of this is temporary and I will get through this, but sometimes I wonder what I will be left with on the other side?

 

I don’t think anyone can go through this journey unchanged. Whether it’s physically or mentally, there is a lasting impact. I am drawing on all my strength and courage, the support of my family and colleagues, to help me through these last few weeks. I am so blessed to have them at my back.

by LINDA PITT

 

ROUND 14 OF CHEMO: R & R

I completed my last round of Carboplatin. This is big!

 

My doctor wasn’t sure I would be able to handle all four. She said from the beginning that it could add an extra month or two onto my treatments, as it can take longer to recover. My blood work has been good each week, allowing me to stay on track. Only two more Taxol to go! This is when I really feel like celebrating. The treatments are working and I have nearly completed all my chemotherapy!

 

I feel positive and grateful for the care I have received. I can’t say enough about the staff at the infusion center. They make it as pleasant as possible. I am normally always the last one there, yet they are always patient and kind.

 

I am off work this week, spending some time with my husband. My mother-in-law is visiting from England. We plan to sleep in, go out to breakfast or lunch, and relax.

by LINDA PITT

This week, I suspect I will be doing a lot of this…cuddling Darden!

- Linda x

 

ROUND 15 OF CHEMO: REFRESHED

I had a wonderful week off! I slept a lot, had a night away with my husband, and of course, played and cuddled with our kitten, Darden, who we have now officially adopted. Towe, our second rescue kitten, was adopted by one of my daughter’s good friends.  We are happy to know he has gone to a good home. 

I’ve come back to work feeling more relaxed and everyone says I look refreshed.  It’s often the way that you don’t realize how much you need time off until you take it. Then you just collapse!

It’s interesting, but my blood work last week was the best it’s been in a while! This is probably due to the amount of rest I had all week.  I also found my treatment went much easier and my recovery took less time.

Overall, number 15 was good, as far as chemo treatments go. I am losing my finger nails and lashes now, which I was told would happen towards the end of the treatments. I started using the RevitaLash to help with my eyelashes and eyebrows and paraffin wax to help with my hands and nails. I’m continuing with my skin care and am really pleased with how my skin is looking. I could be a poster child for iS CLINICAL®’s Cancer Care Regime!
 

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by LINDA PITT

My husband Mick and I celebrating our 25th wedding anniversary!

- Linda x

RevitaLash

Ophthalmologist developed lash conditioner that enhances the look of lashes and protects against breakage, while improving health, flexibility and strength, for lashes that thrive, naturally.

 

LAST ROUND OF CHEMO: GRATITUDE

Wohoo! I did it! Sixteen treatments of chemotherapy completed.

 

Words cannot express how happy I am that this part of my journey is complete.  I’ve run through a gambit of emotions this past week – Happiness, relief, tears, a little fear, but mostly gratitude. Gratitude for those who have supported me along the way. Gratitude that I was able to complete treatment and GRATITUDE that they are working!

 

Now my body can start to recover. I know this will take time and it won’t just suddenly be back to normal overnight.  Some of the effects of the chemo will continue even after the treatments have finished, but I have three weeks to recover before surgery. I need to build my body back up as my risk of infection is very high going into surgery, even though my blood work was up last week. It was at its lowest it’s ever been this week, a significant drop in a week, so it seems I’ve finished just in time. I’ve been told I need to rest more and drink plenty of fluids.  

 

For now, I am just going to be happy and celebrate this victory!

by LINDA PITT

 

AFTER CHEMO: POSITIVITY

It’s been four weeks tomorrow since my last chemo treatment!

I must admit the side effects hit me pretty hard after that last treatment I’ve lost my lashes and brows now, as well as some of my finger and toe nails. My legs are swollen and my husband says I have “kankles.”  I thought my oncologist was going to smack him! 

On the positive side, I feel so positive!  I had my last ultrasound this week, prior to surgery. The tumor has shrunk so much so that they could only find it by the marker they put in. This is a very good sign that the chemo has worked!

I feel so good about the care I have received and I’m so positive about my outcome.  So many people have commented on how much energy I have. I don’t think it’s energy (I still collapse when I get home each night) but just a feeling of happiness.  I can see an end and I’m looking forward to getting back to my life.  My family and I have a lot to be happy and thankful for and we are looking forward to the holidays.

So, as I start this next phase of my journey, I once again want to thank all those who have supported me on my way.  All your love and prayers are reminders that I am not alone. 
 

by LINDA PITT

A special message for my sister, Kim, who has been with me every step! 

- Linda x

 

AFTER SURGERY: ONWARD

I've had my surgery and I am looking forward to a full recovery! Thank you to everyone for their prayers and best wishes.

 

by LINDA PITT

Linda x

 

RADIATION: PREPARE TO NOT BE PREPARED

I started my radiation treatments this week and I must say they were not what I was expecting.  I’m not sure exactly what I was expecting, but I had been told that compared to chemotherapy, radiation would be “easy.”

 

With radiation, you strip from the waist up and lay down on a bed with your arms above your head. You are in a big room with equipment all around you. Two technicians stand either side of you while they adjust you and make marks all over. They then leave the room during the delivery of the radiation.  They ask you to breath in and hold that breath for about 20 seconds. (This is to keep your heart and lungs out of the way.)

 

You would think that it is easy enough, but it seems that was not the case for me. I struggled to hold my breath, as I kept “leaking?” The more I tried, the harder it became. I basically ended up in tears. I felt like such a failure. It was very emotional and embarrassing. Although the staff were so nice and empathetic, they were still strangers. I had told my husband not to come with me, as I thought I would be in and out. I had even planned to go back to work.

 

The subsequent treatments have gotten better, though I still have some anxiety about them. I have at least 20 treatments and they are daily, so I’m sure I will get the hang of it. Everyone has been so supportive!

 

Moral of the story: Everyone’s journey is different, no two are the same. Be prepared to not be prepared!

 

by LINDA PITT

Linda x

 

RADIATION: PINK SKIN AND ZINGERS

I’m now two weeks into my radiation treatment and after a rocky start, things have improved!

 

I’m getting much better at the breathing, or at least the holding of my breath. The anxiety has gone and I feel much more comfortable. Everyone is so nice to me. (I think they are kind of scared after my meltdown at my first treatment).

 

So far, I’m not experiencing many side effects. My skin has gone pink, so I’m using the iS Clinical Pro-Heal and Sheald Recovery Balm to help treat and protect it. It’s hard to apply without rubbing off all the markings, so I’m probably not using enough. I have odd little stinging sensations that I call zingers. Feels a little like Ultherapy! All of it is manageable…

 

So continuing with the positive, my hair is really starting to grow back! It came in white at first, but it is getting darker. Still to be seen if my curls return... At the moment, it feels pretty soft. I’m using cold pressed castor oil on it, which is supposed to help it grow. I may just keep it short, we’ll see!

 

by LINDA PITT

my SKINCARE

iS CLINICAL®

Pro-Heal Serum

SHEALD Recovery Balm

Thank you for all the wonderful encouragement and support, I have received!

 

RADIATION: MY LAST WEEK

I am heading into my last week of radiation treatments. I am having what is called a "booster" now, where they treat just the tumor site and not the entire breast. So, this is a much quicker treatment and no special breathing needed!

At this point my skin is looking really good - slight pinkness, no irritation. I am still using my Pro-Heal and Sheald two times a-day. My radiologist said with the booster it might become more intense and to really take care of the skin. So, I’m slathering it on!

 

Overall I’m feeling pretty good, just fatigued. I am looking forward to having a break and spending some time at home over the holidays.

I didn’t get a chance to write out many Christmas cards this year, so I just want to wish everyone a safe, happy and healthy holidays!

 

Linda x

 

by LINDA PITT

 

GOODBYE RADIATION, HELLO NEW YEAR

A lot of people have said to me that I must be so glad to see the back of 2018 and yes, I’m glad to be moving forward!

So I had my last radiation treatment just in time to see out 2018 and I have mixed emotions. Though I’m relieved my radiation treatments have finished, it is also nerve racking when you finish a course of treatments. You question if the tumor will start to come back, once you stop treating it. I’m told this is a normal reaction, and will subside.

2018 certainly wasn’t a year like any other.  It has been a very difficult journey, but I was not alone. My family and spa family have walked every step with me. I am taking away a lot of positive things from 2018 - The new friendships that I’ve made, the others that have been strengthened and old friends I’ve reconnected with. These relationships have given me strength.

So now I move on to the next phase of my treatment, nine weeks of oral chemo. I ring the bell for everyone who has been walking through a journey of their own! Cheers to 2019!
 

 

by LINDA PITT

 

A YEAR FOR HEALING

As I finish my first round of oral chemotherapy treatment, I feel I am getting away with something! So far the only real side effect I’ve experienced is nausea. This is one of the first side effects I had with my chemo treatments and have become proficient at managing it. I also found a stash of my ginger products!

I have a week off now before round two. My hair is continuing to grow back, as are my nails. I actually had to shave my legs for the time in six months last week!

 

I still have fatigue and have lost a lot of strength in my arms from the surgery. Between physical therapy and getting back to the gym, we hope this is only temporary. I’m continuing to be positive and grateful for the wonderful support I have received.

 

I told my oncologist, “last year was about surviving, this year is about healing.”

 

by LINDA PITT

 

A MISUNDERSTANDING

I had an appointment with my oncologist this week and she asked me how I was doing. I replied that I was managing ok, and was so excited that I had just started my last cycle of oral chemotherapy! She looked at me deadpan. I said, “You are not going to throw anything else at me, are you?” Whether it was by miscommunication or misunderstanding, it seems I got it wrong. Instead of the three, 21 day cycles I thought I had, it was supposed to be 6-8 21 day cycles. So it seems I have another 5 months until my treatments are finished.

 

This may not seem like a big deal. After all, it’s only 5 more months. Five months in the grand scheme of things is nothing.  On a rational level, I know this. My prognosis hasn’t changed. But emotionally… I was devastated.

 

I’ve been focusing on my end point, looking forward to getting back to normal - planning ahead, cleansing myself of all the toxins and moving past the side effects. To think of another 5 months of chemo treatments hit me hard!

 

After a night and day of grieving, I went on a two day training course; a masters class for Coolsculpting®. The class was very fast paced and engaging. It was just what I needed to take my mind off things. Ironically enough, I had attended a Coolsculpting University class last year, only two days after getting my original diagnosis.

 

Moving forward, I have pulled myself back together. My family and I have decided we need to not pay attention to end dates. Instead, we need to focus on the end game, which is me getting through treatment and living a long healthy life!

 

Again I thank all of you for your wonderful support and kindness. You are what keeps me going!

 

ONE YEAR ANNIVERSARY

One year ago today, I was diagnosed with breast cancer. To say that myself and family were completely taken by surprise would be an understatement. I guess no one is ever prepared for that kind of news.

 

It’s been a long journey and a hard won battle, but I am stronger for it. When I was at the Easter Sunday service (the one day of the year we go as a family to church) the pastor spoke of Jesus' resurrection, and he said it gave us hope of new beginnings. A second chance... I feel I have been given this.
 
I am looking forward to getting back to my previous health and fitness, and live my life full of love and gratitude. I could not have made it through the last year without the love and support of my family, friends and my Spa Sisters!

I was thinking of a way to express how this all feels and to thank everyone again for all their prayers love and support, when my daughter sent me this message. I think she says it perfectly:

 

Shocked and in disbelief.

Heartbroken.

I couldn’t process what I was hearing.

 

I still wake up and feel it was all a dream. A nightmare.

It’s not real.

 

One year.

 

That’s the funny part about counting anniversaries. They are usually happy. Something that people celebrate.

 

You wouldn’t think by any means one year since being diagnosed with cancer is anything to celebrate.

 

But it is.

 

One year of fighting like hell.

One year of taking medications, chemo, doing everything you can to rid your body of this thing that you know could take your life if you decide to quit.

 

But you didn’t.

 

You kept going.

You are still going.

And I am damn proud of you.

 

You lost your hair.

You lost your nails.

You lost the feeling in your fingers and your feet.

 

You told me you felt you lost your dignity, at times. Laying there bare-chested in front of strangers marking your breast, prodding and poking you, only doing their jobs to help keep you alive.

 

You lost a part of your body.

You lost a year of your life feeling like you were in somebody else’s body that you can never get back.

 

But despite all the pain and losses, so much was gained.

 

The amount of love and support we’ve had this past year has truly never made my heart feel so full.

 

Friends.

Family.

Support and prayers.

Cards.

Flowers.

Home-cooked meals.

More pink than I ever thought a woman who loves grey and black would ever have.

 

We all gained a strength we didn’t know we had.

We now have the ability to empathize with others who are going through what we have, or have been through it before.

 

I’m not saying that today’s memory isn’t, or shouldn’t be painful, because it definitely is.

For you more than any of us.

 

But we can look back on this past year and think about how it has only made us stronger.

 

You are stronger.

You are a fighter.

You have pushed through and have focused on the positives despite the pain.

 

You have conquered SO many battles that have come your way this year.

 

In my mind, that’s something to celebrate.

 

You are something to celebrate.

 

SIGNING OFF

I’ve put off signing off on my blog, and closing this chapter of my life as I move forward to healing.  I’ve started and stopped so many times. I have so many mixed emotions that it’s hard to put them in writing. I am so thankful to finally be finished with my treatments, but I also feel adrift.

 

My routine of appointments, treatments and tests, has become just that - routine. Now I have to move forward and find my new normal. I have to learn what side effects will go away eventually and which I will need to live with. My healing will take time and I have to learn patience, which is not my strong point.

 

Emotionally, this too is difficult. I am no longer a cancer patient but a cancer survivor. I am figuring out what this means. My body has changed, my life has changed, I’ve changed and I’m not really sure how to get back to me?

 

This may sound dramatic, but it’s a thing I’ve spoken to other cancer survivors about and you do go through a transition. It’s a relief to be finished with treatments but also hard to let go of that support system.  It’s like “what, I have to wait 6 months!”

 

My doctor says I will wake up one morning and just feel myself again. We will have to wait and see.

 

Overall, I feel positive and I’m looking forward to getting my energy back, gaining strength and dancing again! I am grateful every day!

 

by LINDA PITT

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Tuesday 8 am - 5:30 pm

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Saturdays by request

2019 HOLIDAY CLOSURES

12/24 - 12/25

12/31

CONTACT

Phone: 434.923.4646

Email: info@signaturemedspa.com

Signature Medical Spa

A Division of Albemarle Dermatology

3350 Berkmar Drive

Charlottesville, VA 22901

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