My sleep had been restless this past week as I got closer to hearing my pathology results. I knew that regardless of the outcome that I would need radiation, but there were still some what ifs:
What if there was some spread?
What if the surgeon didn’t remove enough around the tumour and the margins around it weren’t clear?
What if it was all a complete failure and I needed more surgery? More chemo? Or even worse, what if there was nothing else for me?
I was a bit like a kid at Christmas – I wanted to peek into ‘MyChart’ online to see if my results were up, but knew that I wouldn’t understand most of what was written and there would invariably be something there I wouldn’t want to see.
Cancer is hard, no doubt about it. Once the term ‘cancer’ is associated with YOU, your life is immediately changed and and your sense of control is lost. If your treatment plan includes chemotherapy, that loss of control is amplified by the crazy long list of potential side effects that you may or may not have to contend with.
For many women (and men), chemo is made even more challenging if you experience hair loss. Now not only have you lost control over your life, but you are forced to adapt to a change in self-image and trying to make this new “look” fit within society’s beauty standards.
Within minutes of being told I had cancer I was informed I would require chemo (to start within two weeks) and that I would be losing my hair. I got choked up–not because of losing my hair–I truly believed that “it’s just hair and it would grow back”– but when my surgeon phrased it as “your beautiful curly hair” and said it at the very same time as Steve did (and he was stroking my hair when he said it), I found it hard. I felt pressure, but from what, I wasn’t clear of at the time.