I am by nature a positive person. I will look at the situation and list the positive things first. It really doesn’t matter what the situation may be at the time. During my treatments, I put my best self forward.
Cancer treatments are not a one and done. Cancer isn’t like getting the flu, being down for a week or two. It’s an adversity that will bring you to your knees. Literally. It can make a person who tenacious and persevering, acquiesce.
That is understandable. When you’ve been repeatably taking medication that completely wipes you out, over and over again, loose your hair, have body parts removed, recover for months and months, then go every day for 6 weeks for radiation, recover more, put your whole life on hold, loose a part of you that your have worked so hard to accomplish and you do this for over 2 years constantly, day in and day out; yes, you get to place that is feels as though you’ve been thrown into a well so deep it’s dark and you see no way out.
This is when you must look up. You have to be more determined than ever to get through the adversity. God won’t let you down. This is when our attitude has to be, I will get through this.
My chemo treatments were 21 days apart (every 3 weeks). I remember after each treatment lying in bed being totally wiped out from the chemo thinking this all better be worth it. On the outside, I was mush. I physically couldn’t get myself out of bed at times. But on the inside, I was standing tall.
Sometimes our circumstances just won’t allow us to move. They drown us. I realized God was telling me to be still and know that He is God (Psalms 46:10). During these 3 week periods, I learned to surrender and let the medicine work; to let God work in me. I didn’t surrender to the negative thinking. I stayed in an attitude of faith. I didn’t understand the reason behind my going through this. I focused on the scripture in Romans 8:28 and that in all things God works together with those who love him to bring about what is good.
I am looking back now and can see some of what God was doing. Isn’t hind sight great?
So Jen, why are you tell us about all this?
Because, when I did pull myself together (which was usually the last 5 or so days of each treatment) I went into one of the salons I owned at the time and saw my clients. When you work in the beauty industry, the last thing you do is go into work looking like a hot mess. 😊
I live in Florida. It was summer. The last thing I wanted to do was put on a wig. I mostly wore scarves, big earrings and bold lipstick. I still presented my best self. But let me say this … it was not easy!
Although my hair was not my identity, losing it was incredibly difficult. You know it’s going to happen, so don’t kid yourself. Face it. Head on.
Before you lose your hair. I mean the very first thing in the beauty department is to get your wig. Find a good wig shop. Go in and find something that you LOVE. You can choose to stay as close to your natural hair or go with something fun and different, it is up to you. If you wanting to stay as close to your natural hair doing this now is important. I didn’t do this. I would go back and do it differently. Mainly because my emotions ran high and trying to get this accomplished during (and after) treatments didn’t work out so well.
Secondly, I would also recommend that even if you think you might not want to wear a wig, get one. There may be a time or two that you don’t want to feel like a cancer patient. Having hair, helps.
My license was up for its 10-year renewal. I had no hair. I wore a scarf to the DMV. I was already getting myself worked up about being asked to remove my scarf for my picture. My number was called, I walked up to the station and sat down with the clerk (who was in training). She was going through her processes and her trainer asked if my scarf was religious or medicinal? I asked “Does it matter which way I answer?” I was told no, they only had to mark it in the computer. Boy was I relieved. I think I almost passed out from holding my breath. If I was wearing a wig this whole emotional roller coaster would not have occurred.
In a society that puts so much on appearances, it’s hard to be confident in who we are sometimes. Even when my hair was growing back, I thought to myself what will others think? I was 49 years old and my hair was white. When it got longer it was dry and brittle, not its old curly and bouncy self. I just wanted one thing to be the same as before the chemo.
Nothing is the same! Not even your hair.
It takes 24-36 months for the chemicals to grow out of your hair. I even started to lose big patches of my hair about 16 months after radiation. I chose to cut it back down short to get rid of the chemo hair. This was more difficult that loosing it the first time because I wasn’t prepared.
Cancer is evil. It robs you of so much. The emotions that come along with any major medical diagnosis, not just breast cancer, crushes you at times. Remember, to always keep your faith in God. All the rest, even dealing with your hair, is manageable if we just stand firm*.
*Ephesians 6:11 says “Put on the full armor of God, so that you will be able to stand firm against the schemes of the devil.”
Exercise in faith: Go outside. Wrap your arms around yourself. That is God, holding you, putting his armor on you. Close your eyes. Lift your face up to sky and let the warm sun envelope you and know that is God protecting you. He sees you. I promise that.