Recently I was diagnosed with cancer in the reproductive organs. After a radical hysterectomy, immediate onset of menopause and now chemotherapy treatments all within three weeks, I am dedicating the 106 days that mark the first treatment to the last to providing knowledge, motivation, inspiration and honest insight at what can be done when faced with adversity.
“Chemo Dreamo Day” came with much anticipation and anxiousness to navigate through my first treatment. My daughter and I both wore Wonder Woman t-shirts as our unified armor and pinkie promised to fight this together. We will continue to wear those shirts every 21 days reminding ourselves and others that staying strong is the only option.
My heart kindly reminded me of a favorite quote from The Shawshank Redemption in which Andy tells Red – “I guess it comes down to a simple choice, really. Get busy living or get busy dying.“. Simplicity at its finest. And yet most of us chose the latter. But not me!
Wigging Out and Working Out
Hair loss is the number one side effect that woman are most concerned with when it comes to chemotherapy. It defines them in so many ways. The thought of a naked head is similar to being transparent and vulnerable in life. And we aren’t always prepared to be that way.
The day after my first treatment, after a few emails, breakfast and more drugs, it was time for the dreaded shower. Would I see the first signs of my hair falling out? A silly thought, but one that nonetheless is ever-so-present.
I decided to champion a new attitude. I would defy all odds with the side effects. No excuses, just progress every day with mind over matter. It’s possible, and with the right plan of attack, confidence will lead the way.
My goal this past year was to participate in a physique competition. Dubbed early on as Wonder Woman by my trainer after increasing weight with a chest press, I began to sense my inner strength through pull ups. One of the more challenging exercises for anyone, I had a personal best of 50 before my diagnosis.
So on the second day after chemo, I was practically jumping out of my skin with eagerness for my 5:00 a.m. workout. And it was incredible! I felt something I had not felt in several weeks – a sense of normalcy.
My new baseline for normalcy is very different and will continue to change. But adjusting as you go and recognizing that some of the best laid plans have to be modified will allow for greater success and a more positive outcome. Flexibility will be in my vocabulary a bit more often 🙂
Continuing on an incredible high, my sister Annette and birthday-girl blonde bestie Calena accompanied me to the wig shop. A dear friend of mine had suggested this lovely boutique that catered to cancer/chemo patients.
I cannot lie when I say that a glass of champagne really would have been nice. But the ladies there were absolutely delightful putting me at ease every step of the way. After honing in on about four styles, it did not take long for us to rule out a few.
As much as I am hopeful to retain my own hair for as long as possible, after much discussion with the professionals at the wig boutique, the loss is inevitable. But in the end, I stayed true to my dark roots and cannot wait to rock the wig when the time comes.
“Being a mother is learning about strengths you didn’t know you had and dealing with fears you didn’t know existed.” ~ Linda Wooten
Children think their parents are invincible – aren’t we? Never sick, always upbeat, providing the love, affection and reassurance that we will always be there. Needless to say, my daughter Gia’s world has been rocked.
Her perception of “Mommy losing her hair” is heartbreaking. A child’s reality at age 11 is confusing at best. She is still a bit too young to fully grasp the situation, yet old enough to know that the symbol of this sickness is the hair loss.
I shared with Gia my new beanie cap with its fashionable scarf. She managed a good chuckle when I first placed it on my head, but then proceeded to ask how often I would wear it. “Please Mommy, wear your wig as often as possible,” she stated, and asked if I could hold out on my hair cut until she is away so she can remember me as “Mom.” Your wish is my command, Peanut!
God granted me the serenity to accept the things I cannot change. He has given me the courage to change the things I can. And ultimately, I am grateful he has provided the wisdom to know the difference.