The Big O Diary – Post #2

Posted in: Cancer, Random ♦ Tuesday, May 24th, 2011, 3:00 am ♦ 1 Comment

MG has had a crazy couple of months and is finally feeling back to normal today. Wow – what a ride! Just sitting here and trying to get my head around what has happened recently. So many changes in such a short period of time. Due to the situation and circumstances, I feel like a whole different person lately (and I certainly look like one in the mirror!). Each step in this process has been challenging but has also offered worthy life lessons. So, where did this new person come from and what has she learned?

First, the diagnosis. That took a while. I struggled a lot during this time, knowing that I had cancer again, but not knowing what it was. The waiting was the hardest part. Waiting for appointments and then test results. Patience has never been my strong suit. I had to remind myself again and again that the doctors needed time to assess the situation so we would know how to appropriately proceed. It was hard to do, and I am very relieved that we finally know and are actively working on it now.

Lesson #1 – Patience is a virtue, and I need lots more practice.

Second, the first chemo treatment. Ick, uck, yuck. That was quite the experience. Nothing like the interferon that I took for melanoma. It is better and worse. Better because it eventually wears off and I get to feel like I do today. Worse because it was truly awful. You feel like a Mack truck ran over you and then backed up just for the fun of it. Those of you who have experienced chemo can relate. You have absolutely no control over your body and how you feel. It can be very frustrating.

As I lay in my bed most of last week I kept thinking to myself – this too shall pass. Not sure where that came from, but it helped get me through the worst of it. The fatigue, nausea, dizziness, bone pain, insomnia, and 20 pills a day would eventually come to end at some point. Knowing that gave me a sense of strength and peace and allowed me to rest a bit easier.

Lesson #2 – Appreciate the good days and relinquish control on the bad. It will get better.

Third, the hair. As you can see from the pics, I had pretty long hair. It took me years to grow it to that length and I loved it. I loved the fact that I could go days without washing it and all I had to do was flat iron it and it still looked good. I loved being able to wake up in the morning and pull it back into a ponytail or braid. I loved how my husband would tug on it affectionately. It made me feel sexy and confident.

However, as soon as they told me that it was going to fall out before my next treatment, I wanted it off. All of it. I was paranoid that it would start coming out in chunks and did not want to wait for that to happen. Plus, I wanted it to be as short as possible so there wouldn’t be as much to fall out. So, as soon as I felt like I could get out of bed, I called Kimmie, my wonderful friend and stylist, and off we went to the salon.

It wasn’t as bad as I thought. Once she cut off the braid, I was over my anxiety. It was actually kind of freeing in a way. All of that heaviness gone, and no more worrying about rain or humidity! Plus, think of all of the money I am going to save in cuts, colors, and blow-dries. I still don’t recognize myself in the mirror, but I getting used to it, and at least now have a pretty good idea of what I am going to look like bald.

Lesson #3 – My hair does not define me or how I feel about myself.

Finally, I have been amazed and humbled by the kindness and generosity of my husband, family, friends, doctors, nurses, neighbors, and even casual acquaintances. My feelings are hard to put into words. I have had cards, flowers, hugs, phone calls, thoughtful gifts, prayers, visits, posts…..the list goes on and I find it difficult to express my gratitude. I am so incredibly blessed and lucky to have all of these people in my life.

Lesson #4 – Never take these relationships for granted and always work at honoring them.

I can feel all of these experiences starting to transform me into a new person. I am still figuring her out, but I hope she will be strong and brave in the months to come. I do know though that the new me is no longer going to allow the length of her hair (or any for that matter) to determine who she is and how she feels about herself. The new me will be a more patient person who isn’t rushing through life and trying to control it every little step of the way. The new me will appreciate every good day that she has. The new me is going to spend every moment possible with her family and friends and make sure they know how much she loves and appreciates them. At the risk of using too many proverbs in one post, everything happens for a reason, so I am going to use this new cancer as an opportunity to hopefully become a new and better me.

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One Response to “The Big O Diary – Post #2”

  1. Posted by: valerie
    May 24th, 2011 at 3:48 am

    Thank you Andrea for posting. I almost walked away without commenting because I didn’t think that I could thank you well enough or find the right words, but you deserve better. It isn’t possible to know the depth of your emotions and how this has affected you and your family, but on some level we all know the despair, fear, anxiety, and then the hopefulness that peeks it head out more and more every day.
    Your post was thoughtful and thought provoking-thank you for sharing.

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