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Friend,

I am so sorry you and your family have to experience all this.  The stress of the unknown and all the ‘what ifs’ perhaps is the hardest thing to deal with.  I suspect your mom is more concerned with how you and all of her loved ones are coping. Presence is merely enough.  Being there with love and compassion, not pity and fear, will make the world of difference.  Be able to have a range of emotions with the ‘stay strong’ focus.  I’m not saying don’t show emotions (crying is good… somehow it always leads to a good laugh), but don’t let it overcome.

I was, with the help of my mom during those first few days, really adamant not to let my mind wander.  As more and more people found out they wanted to add their two cents worth with recent statistics and odds.  It really helped me to know that this was my cancer and it is up to me to say I am going to be just fine.   It is odd because it was immediate family who could tell me too, but as outsiders told me I was like… really ‘how do you know?’.  The first step was for me to truly believe it was going to be fine.  All the stats and ‘what ifs’ did not creep into my thoughts as much.  Yes, from time to time they come and go, and when they do it is nice to have someone to just listen.

Ohh the hair thing… That was the most difficult thing for me from day one. That is what I cried over.  I was reassured in those first few weeks that we didn’t even know if I was going to lose my hair.  As things progressed, losing it became more real but at that time it didn’t matter as much.  I was now sprinting down this new venture, and I had this new-found power and new-found control.  There just comes a point when I had to release my hair, thus the shaving.  Yes, there were tears leading up to it when clumps started to come out in the shower.  My hair didn’t define me nor did cancer.  I wasn’t ashamed; I was proud to be fighting.

I wasn’t prepared for the pain of losing hair.  After round 1, and remember this is all so individual, I was back in the hospital where my white blood count (WBC) fell to its lowest.  After my WBC started to climb I started to noticed the throbbing of my scalp.  It’s a feeling of wearing your hair in a pony for too long (like wearing it up for all those long serving shifts 😉 ).  Slowly I started to lose strands… and I had a thick head of locks so it didn’t bother me.  Then I cut it and donated it.  Almost instantaneously after that clumps started coming out.  And then it was time to let it go. All before round 2, 4 weeks after round 1.

After I shaved there was a lot of over all discomfort.  I had to sleep with a soft North Face fleece hat on. Then over the next couple of weeks the pain subsided, and it was tender to the touch.  Now there is no pain, I don’t sleep with the hat, and I am just cold.  I wear scarfs just for warmth.

I sincerely hope this helps.  There is generally a lot of discomfort and no one can take that away.  I am lucky to have people around that don’t pressure me into anything.  Don’t go buying hats and such for her.  Let her find things that she honestly likes. I have donated most the hats people have bought for me.  I only wear stuff that I have picked out because it fits my tastes.  This is the only time in her life that she has every right to be as selfish as she wants.  And she deserves it!

Keep fighting and kill that nasty sucker! Katie