Monthly Archives: September 2011
Of all the things I expected to get upset over during this whole cancer thing, losing my hair was actually fairly low on the list.
First, let me make it clear that losing my hair was a lot more traumatizing than I ever expected it to be. I have never been attached to my hair, having it every cut and colour under the sun. I was more worried about losing my appetite than my hair (as if my appetite would ever go away, ha).
But there are really no words to describe the feelings that come with that first clump of hair in your hands. In some ways I was happy because it showed the chemo was working. In others it was a punch in the face of “Holyhellthisisreallyhappening.”
There are two ways most women deal with losing their hair on chemo. Some will jump the gun and shave it all off before any more has a chance to fall out. It’s a way to avoid having to pull out clumps or find strands all over the place, and a nice little “eff you” to cancer and chemo.
Another way to deal with it is by massaging the hair out. Working the fingers through the scalp to push the hair out, pulling out as much as they can. This is a lot more natural way to do it, but again, still not a good time.
I got all kinds of recommendations on what to do about the hair situation. Some said shave it right away, others said cut it really short. Even though I waited a month to start chemotherapy, I still felt really unprepared when the first day came. I was overwhelmed by all the suggestions, so I ended up doing nothing about it. I cut my long hair to chin length and left it at that.
Turns out, leaving my hair as is was the best non-decision I’ve made throughout this whole thing.
I was told that my hair could be gone in a matter of days when it first started falling out six weeks ago. I couldn’t bring myself to shave it all off, nor could I let myself pull it all out at once. So I just let my hair do it’s thing, picking strands off my shirts and out of my food the whole way along.
My hair is quite thin now. My bangs are slowly disappearing in the front and I’m always concerned a small breeze will expose the pink skin under the thin layer of hair. But still not bad enough to make people stare. Choosing to just let it be gave me six extra weeks with my hair I wouldn’t have had otherwise.
Pulling strands of my own hair out every day is actually really scary. It’s upsetting. It’s annoying as hell. But I think it’s also given me the time to come to terms with what is happening rather than trying to put an end to it. It’s turned into a time where I say goodbye to my old self a little bit each day. And it’s helped me say hellloooo to the new blonde in town.
Now I just need a trenchcoat to go with my spy wig.
My friends, sometimes life just sucks.
People tell me all the time that it is okay to get upset about what is happening. Cancer is one of the worst situations I can think of, so in theory that should give me a free pass to bitch and moan for a while.
But when it comes down to it, I really hate complaining. I hate hearing myself complain, and I hate listening to others complain.
So it’s at times like these that I remind myself that yes, sometimes life is shitty, but I’ve just got to suck it up and get on with it. I’m an adult (part of the time) and I need to put my big girl pants on.
A lot of the time I want to mope around the house in my pyjamas all day. Trust me, it happens.
There are days I wish I could go to work again like a normal person. Or go to a bar and drink a pitcher of beer. Maybe hit up a spin class and put my non-existant hair in a ponytail. There are also days when I really want to eat nothing but bacon sandwiches all day, but eat swiss chard wraps instead. This is what wearing your big girl pants looks like.
The filling, made up of quinoa, cracked wheat, beets, walnuts, feta, mint, and dill. Dipped in sour cream, it made for an excellent healthful lunch. Cancer fighting, you know.
But you know what? It was no bacon sandwich. And I’ll get over it.
I could sit around and complain, but I’ve got better things to do today. Like finding something to smile at. Parks and Recreation, I’m looking at you.
One thing I have come to realize under my new role as “cancer patient,” is that not all “cancer patients” are into fundraising and charity.
It’s not that we don’t want to help others, it’s just that we’ve become the faces that need to be helped. And to be perfectly honest, we don’t need healthy people reminding us that we need help by running and doing things that us sick people can’t do. I don’t speak for everyone here obviously, but you know, sometimes it stings.
Under my new role as cancer patient, I also now know what is really helpful to fellow patients and the people that love them. A CURE. For all kinds of cancer.
It is with this that I laced up my sneakers on Sunday with my mother and step-sister to participate in the Terry Fox run. One of the organizations out there who I feel is really dedicated to finding a cure, and one of the top funders of cancer research in Canada.
For those of you who aren’t familiar with Terry Fox, he attempted to run across the country in what he called “The Marathon of Hope” in 1980 after losing his leg to osteosarcoma, a type of bone cancer. He did it in the name of cancer research, asking just one dollar from every Canadian. He died before he made it across the country. No wonder, I cannot fathom attempting such a feat with this disease.
I’ve participated in this event a few times before, but it was surreal being there on such different terms this year. Last time I ran it was two years ago, back when I was at the top of my game. This year, I walked the 5k in one hour.
Also surreal was not only writing the name of my uncle down, but also seeing my own name down with those affected by cancer.
What I like about this event is that there is no fundraising limit, no timing chips, no stress. You just show up, donate want you want, and go as fast as you want. You can even bring your dog if you want to!
Hopefully next year I’ll be healthy enough to RUN the 5k again. Although, walking along and chatting with friends and family was great too. I mean, why outrun cancer? No freakin’ way it’ll ever catch me anyways.
In participating, I donated some money from The Great Fundraising Act fund. Spreading your dollars just a little bit further, in hopes of saving another Terry Fox, another Uncle Bob, and of course – ME!
Because cancer really is not a sprint, it’s a marathon. Likely the hardest one me, and so many others, will ever have to run. Events like these remind me that I’m not alone in this, and that I’ll eventually reach the finish line.