A few months ago when I started this blog, I vowed to myself it would not become a place for me to complain or whine about cancer, treatment or recovery. I wanted to write an uplifting, informative and entertaining blog, one that could be a beneficial resource for others. I intended to accomplish this by honestly sharing my personal experience, but without complaining.
Recently I got to thinking about this self-imposed restriction and decided to cut myself a bit of slack. I have always believed one must process each component of the cancer journey and perhaps complaining once in a while is part of this process! Maybe a little complaining once in a while can even be a constructive thing, a piece of the puzzle, though hopefully a small one, or at least not the largest. Therefore, I will allow myself a post now and then where I can, well, complain! (Notice I have wisely chosen not to put an actual number on this allotment of “complaining posts”).
At the risk of sounding vain and superficial, I want to say I am sick of looking like a person with cancer. I finished my chemo at the end of October. I finally shaved my hair off on November sixth. Now it is past mid-January and I am still waiting for my hair to grow back. I am still waiting for my eyelashes to reappear. I am still waiting to get a good night’s sleep. I am still waiting for the neuropathy in my feet to dissipate. I am still waiting to walk by a mirror without cringing at the person looking back at me. I am still waiting to look and feel “normal.” Just how long does a person have to wait?
A few weeks after November sixth, my husband began saying to me, “Wow, your hair is really coming back in now.” Even though we both knew this was not really accurate, we both played along. It was a coping mechanism of sorts, a way to laugh at the situation. As the weeks went by, however, I found it to be less and less amusing. Finally, the other day I asked him to stop saying that altogether. I’m sick of hearing it! It’s not true! I am also pretty sick of wearing a wig whenever I leave the house, not that I would have to of course, but I don’t much like how I look without one. I’m getting pretty tired of covering my head. Oh, and while I’m at it, I’m not very good at applying eyeliner. (Eyeliner is what they recommended in my Look Good, Feel Better class to give your bare-looking eyes some definition) I prefer mascara, but you need eyelashes for mascara!
Last week my son had a few college friends of both sexes visit. It was the first visit from “strangers” in a while, the first visit from people not familiar with my “new look.” I realized I was pretty used to looking at my hairless or covered-up head. My family is as well. My dogs definitely are.
When I realized we were having “unaccustomed to cancer company,” I panicked a bit. I worried about how my son’s friends would see his mother. I debated about plopping on my fake hair. Shamefully, I must admit, I was truly anxious about something as unimportant as how I looked.
I finally decided to just go with the real me, with a turban that is. I wasn’t being brave or anything. They were going to be overnight guests, so I would not have been able to wear my wig that long anyway. I can only stand wearing a wig for a few hours at a time.
After his friends left a day or so later, I asked my son what his friends had said about me and my hair, or lack thereof. He looked at me with one of those “What are you talking about, Mother?” expressions on his face, shrugged his shoulders and casually said, “Nothing, they didn’t care about that.”
Once again, I was quickly reminded we so often burden ourselves with self-imposed feelings and worries, (perhaps sometimes even bordering on self-pity), when it’s not really necessary. The reality is others don’t care about such matters, not as much as we think they do anyway. Things like no hair, head coverings and outward appearance are not what matter. Most people really do care more about what kind of person you are and how you treat them. This amazing group of young college kids reminded me of this important lesson.
Of course, we all know outside appearances aren’t really important, but for some reason it’s still so hard to let go of superficial worries about how we do or do not look.
I decided that’s where complaining comes in handy once in a while because even though nobody else probably cares, I am STILL sick of this look!
Oh well. I’ll keep waiting. Maybe I’ll even post my “bald pictures” someday. Thanks for allowing me this “complaining post.” It fits into the coping category, right??