There have been so many parts of cancer that I wasn’t prepared for, that no matter what someone could have said to me, no one would have prepared me for what cancer does to you, both physically and emotionally. Lately, I feel like it’s more of a matter of when it is coming back rather than if it’s coming back. The other day, I heard someone said that at the 3-year-post-cancer-mark, the fear of recurrence lessens, so I guess I have a while to wait and even then lessening isn’t disappearing.
been struggling lately with my physical appearance. I have been trying to eat
properly and am really trying to walk, a lot. I feel good physically but
mentally, I feel bad about the way I look. I have a lot of guilt, I feel like I
have done some of it to myself (mostly weight but even my breast, why do I feel
responsible for what has happened to me?).
very frustrating, more frustrating than I thought it would be, is my hair. I
used to have really long blond hair and when I wanted it curly, I wore it curly
and when I wanted it straight, I wore it straight. I could wear it up or down or
half and half, in a pony tail or messy bun or in a braid (I loved braids!).
found out that I needed chemo, my hair wasn’t a big concern of mine. When I cut
it, I felt good about donating it and when I buzzed it off after my first
treatment; I had a surprising feeling of pride. When it started falling out and
I started to go bald, I wore my bald head like a badge of honour; never ashamed,
never embarrassed; it was all part of the journey. Then, it started growing
back, and kind of fast, and I loved it. Everyone was used to me not having hair,
so I was getting so many compliments on my new pixie ‘cut’. I felt
grew out, it got curlier and curlier and now it’s ringlets. I don’t mind the
curls, and even though it’s curly because of chemo and because of cancer, I
don’t mind the curls. For me, it’s the length. I haven’t had hair this short
since I was in grade 3 and as my Papa told me in 1992 in such a Papa-esque way,
‘I liked it better long.’ So did I Papa, so did I. Now, I can wear my hair one
way; short, curly, and maybe with a head band. I don’t have any choices!
therein lies the issues; the lack of choices. Isn’t that the issue as
has robbed so many of us of so many choices. I don’t have a choice in my hair
length along with having one breast, breast feeding, taking steroids, being so
f*cking tired, feeling so much less of a woman, being on estrogen blockers at 27
years old, getting pregnant, and so on. Cancer has decided many of these things
for me and while something like getting pregnant is still up in the air, I know
that cancer has made its decision already, regardless of if I’m aware of it
young women, who have had cancer and gone through treatment, have talked about
choices. I hear all the time ‘I wasn’t sure if I wanted children before I had
cancer, but now that I may not be able to, I’m upset that the choice has been
taken away from me.’ I feel that way about so much anymore.
that I need to mourn the life that I used to know and the body that used to be
mine; I know that I have to do that, I just don’t know how to do it? I don’t
want to get used to this hair, or this breast, or this steroid induced weight,
or these doctors, or the needles, or the prescriptions or the surgeries, or the
word cancer having a whole new meaning compared to two years ago. I’m tired of
thinking of my funeral or wondering if cancer is going to ‘get me’. I think of
all of these things when I look at my hair.
were to describe someone to you, who has short hair, a
small chest, a big belly and was on a lot of prescriptions, you would most
likely think I was describing your grandpa or a great uncle, but instead, I
am describing myself. I think what’s crazy is that I can feel this way about
myself on the inside and still laugh and still act like everything’s ok. How is
it that we can function when we feel so poorly about ourselves?
this blog to get it out there, not because I need sympathy or because I need the
external validation (like I have needed my entire life). I think a lot of
‘cancer’ isn’t written about and because treatment is over, there’s sometimes an
assumption that life should ‘go back to normal’. I just wanted to write about
the way I see things.
that this is about more than hair. It’s about having to go through with
something because a disease has left you with no options. It’s about being
robbed of my womanhood. It’s about being given one option when others seem to
have a variety of choices. It’s about not having the control over your own life
that we are all supposed to be given. It’s about being tired of relying on inner
beauty when all you want in some outer beauty.