Author: A Moon
Allie also writes at: https://alliemoonjourney.wordpress.com/
The usual me, although a little ditsy at times, is usually a very together person – organised, driven, determined, detail-focused and on top of things. From the point of being diagnosed, a piece of that person has disappeared a little. I’m unable to take in or store lots of information – I have to have things explained to me more than once, and even then it stays there only temporarily. It could be down to “chemo brain”, but as I had it from the point of diagnosis I suspect not. I’m only able to pick up on certain things or key words as my mind is generally filled with 101 different questions at any point in time about varying things and worries to do with cancer and treatment.
Chemotherapy and Hair Loss
The way chemotherapy is portrayed in the media does not always accurately reflect how it is in reality. Whilst I know many people face a terrible experience of it, I really thought I’d be completely bed-ridden or have my head down the loo being constantly sick all the time. Whilst I am coping with the chemotherapy treatments better than I’d imagined I have found it very tough emotionally and psychologically. Out of the side effects I’ve had, the worst has been losing my hair. This is a difficult process for anyone of any age or gender, but particularly more so for women. My hair is a part of who I am, how I present myself to world and what makes me feel feminine. When it started to come out I wanted to hide away from the world, I didn’t want to go anywhere or see anyone and didn’t want them to see me. Hair loss can have such a negative impact on your self-confidence and body image, leading to introversion, depression, feelings of unattractiveness and at times it's been hard to cope functioning normally on a day-to-day basis.
I had tried as hard as I could to mentally prepare myself for losing my hair, but in reality nothing can really prepare you for how it feels when it starts to come out. Two weeks after I'd had my first chemo treatment my scalp started to feel a little tingly and a bit itchy. In the days that followed I noticed quite a few strands coming out and then almost a week after when I washed my hair, absolutely loads started to come out. I burst into tears and couldn't stop crying. I wanted to be as strong and as positive as I could be trying to deal with this whole experience. I think when I started to lose my hair all the feelings and emotions I'd had inside about having cancer all came bubbling up to the surface and out like molten lava from a volcano. I became even more aware of my situation and started to deal with the emotions perhaps I had previously been numb to. I felt like I was not only grieving for my hair, but also grieving for the person who I used to be. The reality of the start of this process was much harder than I ever imagined. As silly as it sounds, having lived with having cancer and all the low points it has encompassed over the last five months, I think it really hit me that I was officially a cancer patient – soon to be balding – no disguising the fact now. I felt down at the bottom low.
Loving Kindness, Support, Positivity and Gratitude
The path I've been walking over the last few months has been fraught with worry, fear, stress, pain, anxiety and sheer fright. But whilst the path has been a hard one to travel, it has shined a light on the many special, down right amazing and kind and caring people who I'm lucky to have in my life.
Without my husband by my side these last few months this would definitely have been an even more horrid experience. He has been my absolute rock and guardian angel – caring for me, holding me in his arms, comforting me in my darkest hours and holding my hand every step of the way. Whilst we had a very happy and strong relationship before I was diagnosed, I certainly feel it's brought us even closer together. My family and friends have also been amazing – no words can describe how grateful I am for the care, thought and support they’ve shown me. My employers have been incredibly supportive throughout all of this and I can’t thank them enough for their kindness and generosity. I feel truly blessed to have such kind, caring and supportive friends, family and colleagues.
A very dear friend moved me to tears when she surprised me with the fact that she’d been fundraising amongst my friends, family and work colleagues. This was so I could choose whichever wig I felt most comfortable wearing without having to worry about how much it would cost. Their very kind donations have enabled me to leave my house and try to brave the world in what is this ‘”new normal” for me. They’ve all helped in making the huge mountain I’m climbing that little bit easier, ultimately helping helped me stick two fingers up to this dastardly disease. As well as many of the more insignificant happenings of life that suck up our energy, I certainly won’t ever be complaining about bad hair days in the future!
I realise that I’m fortunate to not have had a worse diagnosis, and that is due to the fact that I found the lump early enough that it hadn’t spread elsewhere in my body. For everyone reading this blog, please, please make sure you regularly check your breasts so you know what normal feels like. If you feel something that is not right - don’t sit and wait on it – act now.