Here we go again! It was time to get my game face back on and jump into the ring for round two yesterday. I have to say, my “fighting spirit” wasn’t quite as strong as it was going into round one, primarily because I now know what I’m getting into.
That first round is shrouded with a bit of naivety which I think is a blessing. However, once you know what’s coming with the subsequent rounds you find that little spring in your step isn’t quite as present as before. But, at the same time there is a familiarity of the process that is strangely comforting.
I also got a fun little gadget this time to help with my predisposition for ending up with little to no white blood cells after treatment. It’s an on-body injector that helps boost white blood cell growth. It’s a little pack that sticks to your arm and injects a medication 27 hours after treatment.
The fun part is it blinks a green light every 10 seconds which makes it easy for my husband to track me when I get up in the middle of the night to use the bathroom! My sister-in-law said that my auntie “cool factor” just went up in my nephew’s eyes because I’m now a female version of Buzz Lightyear.
This past week before this second chemo cycle was a good week and I actually had a few days of feeling relatively “normal”. I made it out to Target (whoa!) and even a couple of quick lunch dates. It was wonderful getting out again and enjoying things I did “BC” (before cancer), but I noticed that it was still hard.
I wasn’t prepared for the strange looks from people that don’t know me, and the spontaneous waterworks when someone would ask me how I was. I found I could only be out in public for a few hours before I needed to go home, crawl under my sheets and hide for the rest of the day.
I know this will get better and it already has, but those first few days of “ripping off the bandaid” of your new normal is tough. And I’m getting used to the fact that my fun new haircut isn’t so cute anymore and I’m resembling an older man struggling with male pattern baldness. Yeah…..kind of hard to prepare for that one! But again, it’s all a process and you adapt and grow with it daily.
This has also given me a brief insight into the lives of people living with disabilities or physical deformities and the struggles they face everyday. By no means do I compare this temporary season of what I’m going through to someone who lives with a permanent physical or cosmetic disability.
However, I’ve definitely experienced slight moments of what looking different compared to “social norms” is like. And it has grown my empathy and love for those people who deal with it every day of their lives. I believe times like these that give us the ability to walk in someone else’s shoes, even for a short time, are priceless.
I also have to say that I continue to be completely overwhelmed and grateful for the continuous outpouring of support from all of you. I have honestly felt guilty at times because I find I’m just too tired and worn out to pray and seek God’s face as much as I feel I should be.
Yet coincidently, or not, during those precise times I get multiple messages from friends telling me that they are lifting my hands up for me just like Aaron and Hur did for Moses in Exodus 17:11-12.
“As long as Moses held up his hands, the Israelites were winning, but whenever he lowered his hands, the Amalekites were winning. When Moses’ hands grew tired, they took a stone and put it under him and he sat on it. Aaron and Hur held his hands up–one on one side, one on the other–so that his hands remained steady till sunset.”
It has been such a beautiful reminder for me that we don’t have to go through tough times alone, and it’s ok to let other’s hold up our hands.
Especially for someone like me who often thinks I can handle things all on my own. So thank you again, for all of your incredible encouragement. It truly helps. To say I am grateful doesn’t even come close to doing it justice. So thank you, “to infinity and beyond”! From the strange, balding woman walking down the street blinking like Buzz Lightyear.
I knew this day was coming for awhile and it’s finally here. Earlier this week I earned myself a little two night “staycation” at the local hospital. I experienced something many people being treated with chemotherapy go through which was a high fever and infection due to having a nonexistent white blood cell count.
During that time my scalp began to hurt like I’d had a ponytail in too long, and I knew what was coming.
I don’t think you can truly be prepared for this step of the process, even though I felt God preparing me for this for quite some time. My wonderful friend, and hairdresser, graciously agreed to be “on call” for me when it was time to take this step and came to my home armed with her cape, clippers, and her hundred watt smile.
Due to my time in the hospital with the absence of a brush, my hair developed a pretty big dread lock in the back that I was honestly afraid to try to brush out for fear of it all falling out in my hand. So what better “buzzing” music than Bob Marley!
We cranked up the volume on some reggae tunes outside on our patio and she did her magic. Both of my girls and Andrew got in on the fun and took turns with the clippers. My parents, A.K.A. the rockstar support team, were also there to cheer me on.
I’ve never had to imagine myself without hair, or what it would be like to wake up in the morning and look at myself in the mirror with no hair, eyebrows or eyelashes. And honestly, it’s been hard to come to grips with it.
You may be thinking, seriously, it’s just hair. And I completely agree, it is JUST hair. I have those days when I think, “I will totally rock this!” as I YouTube how to tie a turban and spend stupid amounts of money buying fun earrings online. But, then I had that day when all I could do was sob uncontrollably in the shower while holding clumps of hair in my hands. It’s still hard.
I’m still a woman who wants to feel beautiful. When you are faced with this kind of reality it forces you to dig deep within yourself and pull out things that you never realized needed to be dealt with. When I allowed myself to do a little soul excavating, what I discovered was….pride.
I realized that there is a small piece of myself that is pretty proud of the fact that I look relatively decent for my age, can still get those “O.M.G. you haven’t changed since high school!” comments, and get carded once in awhile. Ok, so maybe THAT hasn’t happened recently, but a girl can dream!
I found that at times I was putting more importance on my physical appearance than I should. Ladies, you know we all dress for each other, not for our men. Heck, our wonderful guys don’t even notice when we color our hair! Seriously…..they don’t. Now, don’t get me wrong, this girl loves everything visually beautiful and “fashiony”, and that will never change, but I feel God is shining a soft beam of light on an area of my life that needed some attention.
I think it is very easy to become prideful. We are all so blessed! Many of us can say we have wonderful jobs, or intelligent minds, great lips, fantastic kids, cool cars, or amazing talents, and there is nothing wrong with any of those things. But, often times one or more of those possessions can be tainted with a slightly unhealthy dose of pride.
Pride gets in the way of our ability to truly put other people and their needs first. It focuses too much attention inward instead of outward. Being completely humbled by this experience has shown me how all that “stuff” doesn’t matter. It can all be gone in an instant. And when that happens, what are you left with?
By no means, do I believe that me losing my hair, or having cancer for that matter, is some type of punishment or “Godly smackdown” intended to penalize me for anything I have done or any character flaw I may have. However, I do believe God will use situations in our life to gently redirect our thinking or push us back on the road if we are floundering a bit in the ditch.
Proverbs 31:30 says, “Charm is deceptive, and beauty is fleeting; but a woman who fears the Lord will be praised.”
This has been a good reminder for me that so much in this world is fleeting, and when my time here is done I want to walk into heaven being praised for my fear in the Lord. And only that.
Hair grows back. (Preferably extremely thick, with no grays, and streaked with honey highlights please!!) Eyelashes grow back, and so do eyebrows. But, what I know will also grow is a truer sense of the person God intended me to be. A person that knows how much He loves me no matter what I look like, and a person that can stay humbly focused on what really matters in life. So I will take this next “cancer punch in the face” with a stiff upper lip and a softness my in my heart knowing that I am being molded into a more affective and empathetic person everyday.
And with that comes great possibilities, and even better Halloween costume ideas.