A Fashionable and Informative Trip to Chemotherapy

10/24/2011 06:39 pm ET | Updated Dec 24, 2011

Today is chemotherapy infusion number four (out of six). Despite being horrendously sick (none of the anti-nausea medications work for me, unfortunately), I still feel like the "Little Engine That Could" (... try, at least!).

In addition to being a hospice nurse and social worker, fashion has always been a big part of my life. I know: Sounds strange, right? However, beginning in high school, I started working for Ralph Lauren and continued to do so for 13 years.

As a consequence, I go to my chemo and doctor appointments in an outfit that makes me feel good, happy and confident. I have always put forth an effort to look my best, no matter how rotten I may feel, and chemo infusions are no exception. So, the outfits that I wear to chemo are chosen with care and have special meaning to me.

Today, I am wearing a pink and grey cotton Hermes scarf. I put together my outfit around this scarf today for three reasons:

  1. Our daughter, a.k.a Finally Five went into my scarf drawer and picked it out herself. I frequently ask Finally Five what scarf she wants me to wear. It gives her a great sense of engagement and control. Plus, she has great taste and makes it fun!
  2. A new friend gave this scarf to me from her extensive Hermes collection (SL). How kind, generous and thoughtful, right?
  3. It's the most comfortable scarf I own. Shocking, I know, to think that scarves have varying levels of comfort. Well, I'm here to tell you that it's true!

    I am wearing a suit by Lyn Devon. It is sooooooo comfortable and chic, which is win-win! I had to do some alterations on it (only because I have shrunk) and my terrific tailor went on and on about the quality of the fabric and how well it is made. Impressive. Lyn is not only extraordinarily talented, but she is the highest quality person, whom I respect immensely. I am honored to call her a friend.

    I am also carrying the India Hobo bag made by my friend Alexandra Knight. Not only is it pretty, but it is super functional, easily carrying my MacBook Air as well as the rest of my pursey things. I am also immensely honored to know Alexandra. She's funny, smart, witty, generous (beyond belief!) and über talented.

    So, this is how I rolled to chemo today. Feeling well-turned out, surrounded by my friends and their love. How's that for a wonderful Silver Lining to my trip to the cancer center?

    Before every chemo infusion, we have a meeting with my (dear!) oncologist. Today, we had the "come to treatment" talk with him. My husband and I have been feeling like it was time to ask about the Elephant in the room that is Radiation. Will I have it? Will I not have it?

    Way back when, what seems like eons ago, I was told, "After surgery and the aggressive chemo, you probably won't need radiation." It was my plastic surgeon, however, who said, "They always tell you that you don't need radiation until one day they tell you that you need it."

    My oncologist chuckled and said, "Yes, that is usually how it goes." To his credit, he never said that I probably wouldn't need it. Rather, he said that we would talk about it toward the end of chemo. So, there is a little Silver Lining here: I am nearing the end of chemo.

    My husband and I were not completely surprised that I would need chemo. All along, my philosophy has been "Hope for the Best and Prepare for the Worst" i.e., hoping to skip radiation, but preparing for its inevitability.

    So here we are. Adding another six weeks of treatment to the overall plan. F-Bomb. I was really (REALLY!) hoping to be done... done... done after chemo. However, the Silver Lining is that radiation is a highly targeted, highly effective way to destroy cancer cells in the breast that may stick around after surgery. Radiation can reduce the risk of breast cancer recurrence by about 70 percent. So, with those odds, sign me up!

    "It's not the load that breaks you down, it's the way you carry it."
    -- Lena Horne

    To read more about Hollye's holistic and humorous journey over, around, above and below breast cancer, please visit her blog, Brookside Buzz. You may email her at or follow her on Twitter: @hollyejacobs.