Cancer Changes You

A year ago I was beyond stressed out. I was ridiculous.  Unhappy with myself in every aspect of my life for some ungodly reason.  I felt inferior.  In comparison to what or whom I couldn’t tell you.  There I was 30 years old carrying an associate’s degree, to which I felt was an incomplete education, lacking a career, and falling far from par at the job I did hold as a stay at home wife and mom.  How pathetic I was.   Sad, really.  I focused on wanting what I didn’t have, or what I couldn’t have at the moment rather than all the blessings I did have.

Women are so hard on themselves. The wheels are constantly turning inside our brains.  We all do it.  Am I thin enough.  Pretty enough.  Likeable enough.  Do I measure up as a mom, a girlfriend, or a wife.  Do I make decisions with my child’s best interest at heart.  Am I present, truly present. Will I be pursuing my dreams or just working for a paycheck.  Is my house clean enough or is my vehicle nice enough.  It just never ends.  It’s sickening to think that we may never be “enough” and we let ourselves believe it to the core.  

Anxiety will destroy a person.  It will control every aspect of their life, slowly sucking the life out of you.  Trust me, I was there.  Cancer has changed my life, for the better, if you can understand that.  Anxiety no longer controls my everyday life because I have let go of having too many expectations. We all want to be the best version of ourselves.  Live in the nicest home, drive a badass vehicle, and have the perfect family.  I still strive to have all of these things and more but more so I just want to have control of my health again.  I want to wake up and not see the pain in my husband’s eyes wondering if today will be one of the “bad” days.  I want to play outside with my toddler and not have him question why mommy is walking funny because of the chronic pain I live with now.  I want it to not hurt when I go to the bathroom.  I want my friends to call me and not have to ask how I’m feeling.  I want to feel normal again.  I am so longing for the day when empathy outweighs sympathy, caring overshadows fear and worry, and I am surrounded by much more laughter than tears.  For me it starts now.

Cancer changes you.  Cancer changes your family and your friends, anyone who’s close to you for that matter. Cancer changes your everyday life. And it changes your will to live.  I appreciate what I have more than ever and who I have walking beside me on this journey.  Cancer doesn’t discriminate.  It doesn’t care what job you have or what kind of degree you have.  Cancer only cares about the fight you have inside.  The burning desire to live and not fall prey to its deadly hold over you.  We all face adversity in our lives, some are just more serious than others.  It’s not necessarily what you may be facing, but more about how you handle whatever is in front of you.  So I’m going to take this bull by the horns and laugh when I feel like crying.  Fight when I feel like waving the white flag and I’ll be damned if I give this thing more power than it already has.

Be happy with who you are, what God has given you, and where you are at this point in your life.  You’ll never get these days back and yes, the clock will continue to tick whether your happy or miserable.  Who gives a shit if things jiggle that aren’t supposed to.  Wear that bikini and hold your head high.  If someone doesn’t like you for the person you are or the neighborhood you live in, screw them.  You didn’t need them anyways.  If you continue to walk around plagued by unfinished goals,  the things you wished you did but didn’t, then make it happen.  And LOVE.  I mean love the hell out of those who mean the most and be loved.  RECEIVE love.  This is by far the most treasured gift you will have in your lifetime.  Focus on that.  Because if or when you ever find yourself faced with a life changing event, you’ll be quickly reminded that it’s really all that ever mattered.

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Wiggin It

cropped-img_6095.jpgI’ve never defined my beauty by my hair.  Let’s face it.  My hair has never been anything more than just “nice”.  Funny how quickly thoughts change when you’re staring back at the balder, paler version of the feminine reflection you used to see.  I turned 31 on a Tuesday, and by Wednesday evening I was a product of my diagnosis: Lymphoma.  Hodgkin’s Lymphoma.  You bastard.

I cried.  And when I say I cried, I waled like a hysterical fool.  You may as well have told me I had 6 months to live because in those minutes of Doctor to patient counseling, I felt deathly defeated.  I will probably hang on to those words for the rest of my life.  YOU HAVE CANCER.

“What the f***”, I screamed as I held my husband.  I’m not sure who was shaking more at that moment although it really didn’t matter.  I knew we were in this together and in that earth shattering moment, I strangely felt happy at the same time.  Happy to know that I had a partner in this.  How could I stay sad.  I was lucky enough to have a spouse, a best friend there to ensure I never felt alone.  The strongest person I know who wouldn’t let me fail, or let me be weak, for he’s been through hell and back to rebuild this family from the ground up to not let a little B named Cancer get in the way.

So that brings me back to the hair.  Me, wanting to actually feel in control of my body [who seemed to be doing her own thing the last 3 and a half months] shaved my head.  Screw you hair, and screw you Cancer.  I fell mesmerized by the sound of the clippers as I flipped the switch.  They seemed to purr at me creating this overwhelming calm.  As I put the blades to my scalp, I pushed through and watched the strands fall to the bathroom floor.  And again.  And again.  Until I was full on GI Jane style.  It was exhilarating.  I couldn’t help but smile and giggle, but this high wouldn’t last long.  Soon the tears would return when the realization occurred that this in fact was my reality.  My hair wasn’t growing back in and I would be forced to live bald for a good year.  Ouch.  It hurts again.  BAD.

That feeling sucks.  Being happy is so much more fun and anyone who knows me knows I love to smile and laugh.  So, this is when I introduced myself to Wylene the Wig.  I named her this evening since she’s going to be such a huge part of our lives for the next year or so.  Wearing her makes me feel alive again.  She singlehandedly gives me back my dignity, my desire to feel girly, and my confidence to walk through a grocery store incognito to protect against the looks, glances and stares that say “oh, she has Cancer”. 

Cancer has so many faces.  My wig is only one of these faces.  Meaning, just because I love how I feel when I’m wearing Wylene, doesn’t mean I hide from being bald.  Bald IS beautiful, but it is so much more than beauty.  Bald signifies strength and resilience and bald is the hand I was dealt.