May 5, 2015
What I’d give for a bad hair day! Anyone who knows me or has spent any amount of time with me knows how obsessive I am with my hair. In the 7th grade, when I began using tools and hairspray on my hair, I would spend hours trying to get it just right. Then I would pack on so much hairspray, Aqua Net to be precise, that my hair felt like a helmet. I would turn my whole body with my head as to not undo the locks from their perfect place. And now, it’s gone; all gone!
Chemo sucks indeed. Yes, it is a necessary evil right now with stage IV ovarian metastatic cancer that has spread to my lungs, liver and lymph nodes, but it sucks ass. Yet, in my 2 out of 6 rounds of having the deadly poison pumped into the port catheter conveniently implanted into my chest, I am finally free of the devastating pain I was in before my diagnosis. So in a way, I am grateful for the war being waged within my body for it seems to be having an effect despite the large tumor still protruding from my abdomen. And of course there is the weight loss – another upside from this nasty disease. Fortunately I am not gaunt, just back to my ideal weight and glad that I didn’t throw away all of my skinny clothes even though I haven’t fit into any of them for years.
Chemo makes me feel like crap, weak and tired, but the hardest part is being bald. Unfortunately my bathroom is comprised of three walls of mirrors. Every time I walk in there I am painfully reminded of my circumstances. Even after almost of month without hair, I still walk in there, catching a glimpse of my profile out of the corner of my eye and for a split second I think to myself “who is that? She looks like someone with cancer.” Oh yeah, it’s me. I’m the one with cancer. Fuck!
I face my own image full on in the mirror and feel momentary pity for the poor girl staring back at me. However I quickly shift that pity to a sentiment of it-is-what-it-is and move on. I can only hope that I get used to my appearance soon, otherwise those mirrors are going to have to come down. I mean seriously, how’s a girl supposed to heal when she is constantly reminded of a suffering self-esteem thanks to chemo-induced baldness.
Then there are the looks I get when I go out into public. There’s the fearful pity look that predominantly comes from women probably 10 years older than me. Clearly they have their own inner struggle between their honest fear of reality and the pity they think is more appropriate. And the second-take male look. Not sure I have that one figured out, but men will look at me then do a double take. Of course there is the curious child. That one doesn’t bother me so much. There’s also the look from someone I know that has no clue and is seeing me for the first time in months and I’m now bald and skinny. They don’t know what to do or say…what do you say when you see someone who is all of the sudden bald? I quickly put their curiosity to rest and fill them in on my recent diagnosis. But the freak-out award goes to an unidentified gal who crossed a cross walk opposite me. She was coming straight at me, paying no attention to me but rather to see if the coast was clear to cross. By the time she felt assured it was she was a few feet in front of me and we almost collided. She took one look at me and gasped. She then gave me a wide berth as she continued crossing. I couldn’t help but giggle and the smart ass in me had to announce loud enough for her to hear that cancer was indeed not contagious and she didn’t have to worry about going bald from possibly being in my airs pace.
This is NOT the life I had planned for myself! After all, I ate well 80% of the time. I am a practicing herbalist, I am a healer, I am a spiritual teacher – this wasn’t supposed to happen to me. Except that, it did! I cleared a lot of toxins out of my life 4 years ago and continue to clean things up wherever I can. I eat organic whenever I can. Come on! WTF! Cancer?! Stage IV?! Damnit!
The truth is though, it can happen to anyone. Cancer does not give a hoot who you are, how healthy you eat, or any other so-called defining marker that you mistakenly think keeps you safe from disease. The question is not “why me?” The question is, “WHY NOT ME? Really, who do we think we are when we ask “why me?” We can follow all the rules we think we are supposed to follow in life, in any situation, but NOTHING prevents bad things from happening to us; not positive thoughts, not clear chakras, not yoga, not green smoothies, not organic food, not even prayers, NOTHING! Of course those things may lower our odds, but they do not offer all out prevention.
This does not however mean we live in fear or give up on spirituality or our healthy path. What this does mean is that we truly strive to live in the present moment. We absolutely let go of the bullshit from the past; leave it behind! We must make love a priority as well as time spent with loved ones. Quit worrying about security or safety because it doesn’t exist. Put joy in front of your career path. Better yet, include joy with your career path. Because if you are not loving what you are doing every day then what is the point? Please, take it from someone who has to face their own waning mortality, joy and love are everything. I have no idea how long I have left on this planet. Neither do you. You may not have cancer, but you could die tomorrow from a number of causes. Right now my only focus is on healing and I do that by feeling as good as I can and surrounding myself with as much love as I can. But if you are reading this and not actively healing or dying, then please commit to living joyfully in the present and focusing on the people that you love. To be perfectly cliché, don’t sweat the small stuff…and it’s all small stuff! And even if you are actively healing or dying, the advice is the same.
I guess my baldness is small stuff eh? That’s why I posted a raw, bald picture of me here. Because it doesn’t matter what anyone thinks. It only matters that I focus on why I’m bald – because I am actively healing. I am in treatment because I want more time to love. I want more time to feel joy. I want to watch my daughter be a mother and see my grandson grow. I want to spend as much time and share as much love with my aging parents as possible. I want to feel the arms of my lover around me for as long I can. These are my treasured gifts as I walk my human path.
So I leave you with this very important question – what are your treasured gifts on your human path and what is their priority in your life?
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