Holidays are an interesting time for someone who is in remission. For me, it is a time of reflection and truly realizing how much I have to be thankful for. My amazing family, beautiful daughter, incredible husband, and most importantly the fact that I am still around to enjoy every moment with them are all at the top of my list. Don’t get me wrong, most days I am like every other mom/wife who is stressed, , my patience is long gone, but it is in those silent moments, maybe sitting in church on Christmas eve, or watching my daughter open her first gift on Christmas morning when that feeling comes to me. It is a one that overcomes me to allow me to see how far I have come and how many people were a part of that growing. As a new year is coming, it allows me to reflect on becoming an even better version of myself. Maybe it is putting my phone down while my daughter is trying to show me how she once again lines up her toys to go to a party in the princess castle or take the extra time to make dinner more than just 2 times a week, saving a little extra cash for an upcoming vacation with my family instead of buying the random shirt or yet another hand soap that I desperately thought I needed. It’s looking at the bigger picture. Even though my New Year’s Eve plans don’t consist of partying it up in New York City or some big fancy party; my plans are much more sophisticated. My daughter did my ‘makeup’ with a Crayola marker; we made our own party hats, and got some party cake ice cream to hopefully make it even close to 10 if we’re lucky. In reality it’s those small moments that we get to share, that I can look across the room at my amazing husband and endearing little girl that makes this time of year even more special knowing that I get to spend it with my family as a healthy mommy once again.
So you've been diagnosed with cancer... Where do you go from there? That first initial shock doesn't wear off for a few days maybe even weeks- for me I had a major surgery and was literally recovering for 6 weeks before I started chemo. Which felt like forever especially with a 2 year old running around. I made a lot of phone calls, did a ton of research online, and lots of overthinking and overplanning. My initial worry was losing my hair because I planned on teaching while receiving chemo and I had this amazing thick, curly brown hair that I selfishly didn't want to give up- so we started looking at these "cold-caps" that you can wear when you get chemo, that basically freezes the hair follicles so you don't lose as much hair- that wasn't a good enough guarantee esp for the amount of money as they cost. My doctor said its almost inevitable that you're going to lose your hair so I had to embrace that. I started hunting for wigs - you have to really have an open mind these days- and a sense of humor- it is a real shock to see yourself with a completely different look- make sure to reach out for different resources- American cancer society provides a free wig which you just have to check which salons/centers that are a licensed ACS wig provider. I also called around to other local salons to see if they had wigs and one woman was so kind that she sat with me, styled the wigs, showed me how to make them work, and even offered to cut my hair when it started coming out. It's amazing the support that people can provide when they understand what you are going through so don't be afraid to ask. Another option is to just go bald and beautiful! If it's in the summer, I don't blame you one bit! Some parts of me wishes I just went without a wig in public but I never made it to that point- I'm also the girl that can't go in public without mascara, so go figure! Whatever your comfort level is more power to you!! Just know the hair doesn't define you and it's one thing that you shouldn't let consume you throughout this process because let's be honest you have more than enough to face than to worry about what is sitting on your head or the lack there of... What were your experiences of when you first learned you were going to lose your hair- scared, nervous, anxious?
When I was diagnosed with Ovarian Cancer, I was in a hospital bed, recovering from a hysterectomy to remove tumors on my ovaries and eliminate the chances of any cancer forming. When the doctors came in with the results that said I had cancerous cells, I was shocked. I thought that this was just to prevent anything, but you're saying that there was cancer there the whole time? It was a time that I felt so vulnerable, lying in the bed by myself. My husband and I lived an hour away from the hospital and we had a 2 year old at the time, so he wasn't at the hospital yet when the doctor came to give me the news. I have always been a positive person and tried to look on the bright side of things, This however (aside from getting a hysterectomy) was probably the hardest day of my life. I then overheard the family of the patient next to me explaining that she had come in for a pain in her back, and they realized she had cancer that was in her brain, bones, and lungs. So when I say it was the hardest day of my life, I couldn't even imagine what she was going through. I truly believe that God brought her to me, to allow me to realize how precious life is, and regardless of the crappy hand that I have been dealt, it could always be worse.
There were a lot of experiences that I went through, that I know so many have faced before me. Many individuals have a great support system, but honestly, if someone hasn't been through cancer before, it is hard to support someone when you don't really know what they're going through. If this blog can help anyone in anyway, I will have accomplished what I started out to do. I wish you strength as you face this daunting yet, dare I say, enlightening experience of your life.