Post chemo (or other cancer treatment), have you ever asked, who is that in the mirror?
I sure have.
I’m thinking this will be my last post on my own chemo-induced hair loss. Okay, at least for a while. The hair loss thing has been a pretty big deal for me, as it is with most chemo patients, but even I’m getting tired of the topic.
I finally shaved off the rest of my hair with Dear Hubby’s help. Even though I was definitely ready, it was still difficult and emotional. Tears started flowing pretty freely. I’m glad I waited until finishing chemo. For me, that was the right time.
After shaving my hair off, I’m finding it even less fun to look in the mirror these days. Sometimes, this makes me feel shallow, but I think it’s just that looking at my reflection is so startling.
I hardly recognize the person staring back at me, and sometimes say to myself, who is that?
When I think of all the physical changes my body has gone through over the past few months, it’s pretty staggering. It certainly gives a whole new meaning to the saying “beauty is in the eye of the beholder.”
My new look has made me stop and reflect upon what I used to think were my best features. When I was in high school and college, most girls had long straight hair, and mine was as well. Some of my friends told me they liked my hair, even though I’m pretty sure mine looked about the same as theirs.
When I got older, my hair started turning gray and became thinner. I started coloring it and with care it remained one of my better features, in my mind anyway. Then, came cancer and a lot things, including my hair, went to hell.
Now, when I look at recent pictures of myself, I marvel at how much hair I had only a few months ago, and yeah, I’m pretty envious. There’s probably a lesson in there about appreciating how you look in the moment…
Next, let’s talk about eyelashes and eye brows.
I need to squint when looking in the mirror to see them these days. I kid you not. They used to be included in my better features list, or at least I worked hard at trying to make them that.
I started wearing mascara in seventh or eighth grade. That adds up to lots of tubes of black mascara over the years!
Today, it seems almost pointless attempting to curl my sparse lashes and apply thickening mascara that only seems to glob onto two lashes per eye. It’s frustrating.
Then, there is the rest of my body between my neck and ankles.
I’ll just lump all that together to spare you from too many details. Needless to say, after a bilateral mastectomy and too many to count reconstruction surgeries, I look nothing like I once did in that region either.
That gets me down to my feet.
Along with my hands, they are pretty much the only body parts that haven’t changed much over the past months. Oh wait, they’re still numb, but hopefully that’s temporary. At least my fingernails and toenails never fell off from chemo. Some aren’t so lucky.
The simple but important point of all this reflection is actually pretty serious.
I try not to judge people anymore by their appearance. That goes on a lot in society. I always tried not to do that before cancer, but now I think more determinedly about never doing it again.
I try to remember that beautiful qualities on the inside of a person are indeed what really matter. We need to look beneath the outer layer. That’s what I always tried to teach my own kids, as well as the ones in my classrooms.
Such a simple concept, but yet it’s not.
What have you always considered your best features to be?
Has cancer changed things?
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