Post chemo, how long do I have to look like this?
When I started this blog, I vowed 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 interesting blog 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, screw that.
A person needs to process each component of the cancer experience and complaining once in a while is part of this process. Processing is constructive. If complaining is part of processing, then that is constructive as well, is it not?
Besides, it’s not really complaining at all, it’s truth telling.
At the risk of sounding vain and superficial, I wanna just say, I am sick of looking like a person with cancer.
I finished chemo at the end of October. I finally shaved my hair off on November 6th. Now, it’s 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.”
I am still waiting!
Just how long does a person have to wait?
A few weeks after November 6th, Dear Hubby said, “Wow, your hair is really coming back in now.”
Even though we both knew this was not really true, 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, Son #2 invited a few college friends of both sexes for a visit. It was the first visit from “strangers” in a while, the first visit from people not familiar with my “new look.”
I was pretty used to looking at my hairless or covered-up head. My family was as well. My dogs definitely so.
When I realized we were having “unaccustomed-to-cancer company,” I panicked. I worried about how my son’s friends would see his mother. I debated about plopping on my fake hair. Shamefully, I was truly anxious 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 the whole time anyway. I can only stand wearing it for a few hours at a time.
After his friends left a day or so later, I asked Son #2 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 said, “Nothing, they didn’t care about that.”
I was reminded that 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 college kids reminded me of this important lesson.
Of course, we all know outside appearances aren’t what matter most, but let’s not kid ourselves, they still matter, and it’s still hard to stop worrying about how we look.
So, a post like this comes in handy once in a while because even though nobody else probably cares all that much, I am STILL sick of this look!
And I still want to know, how long do I have to look like this?
Apparently, a while longer.
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?
Why do we worry so much about our appearance anyway?
What have YOU learned about your appearance, cancer or no cancer?
If you’ve had chemo, how long DOES it take for the hair to come back? Eyelashes? Brows?
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