I begin chemotherapy in just over a week, and I’m petrified. I’m scared about the toxic nature of the drugs, the medications I’ll have to take as a result, and the numerous side effects that I’ll likely experience. My strong conviction in holistic healthcare fights against the need to pump chemicals into my body in order to eradicate any possible cancer, and yet my fear of the unknown and the insistent suggestions of my Western medicine physicians point me toward this mode of treatment. The closer I get to the date of the port placement and my first chemo infusion, the more I resent this cancer and all that it means in my life….and yet I maintain an optimistic view that this is one of the most life-altering and profound things that could have happened to me; I am in control of how I make meaning out of this (many thanks to my studies in existential psychology).
Despite the strong face I’ve had pre and post surgery, I am ashamed to be as obsessed as I am about the vain fear of losing my hair. The reality is that I will likely be bald within the next month, and my hair will not have a chance to grow back for several months. I adore the fact that people believe that I will be “beautiful bald”, but I honestly do not believe that I will be capable of controlling my resentment and irritation if one more person suggests that “it will grow back”. My hair will be gone for a good season, if not two, and I will not have the option to “grow it back” right away. I will have the option to bare my head (which I don’t know if I have the boldness to do), wear a wig (which is very rarely not obvious), or to wear beanies, hats and scarves. I will choose the final option, but I doubt that I will come to terms with it. Please, please, please- if I whine about my impending baldness, just assure me that it sucks or don’t say anything at all. I’m not looking for compliments or reassurance of my ability to grow hair sans chemo. I’m just complaining about the fact that I will have side effects and that I can’t control this aspect of the cancer journey.
One thought on “what not to say…”
Again, like childbirth, a severe illness takes you out of control and reminds you that control is merely a state of being, not a right. You were right to say that the cancer wasn’t you…it was a physical reminder of your human condition and of the fact that none of us can take our lives, or our three score years and ten as an inevitablity and that every single day that we wake up we have been given a precious gift.