Six months ago, I had long blond hair. Today I am bald.
Just before I started chemo, I had my hair cut short. Less than two weeks later, right after my first chemo treatment, it started to fall out. It started coming out in clumps, so I got a buzz cut that was actually quite cute. Within days what little hair that was left fell out.
That was before I lost my eyebrows and long eyelashes.
When I go outside, I wear a scarf or a cap. When I’m inside, I take it off. Lately, I’ve been removing whatever is covering my bald head while inside a store. Most always while at the cancer center.
I walk with a cane because of poor balance. The state handicapped sticker on my car is temporary, but it is a huge help when I go to the store.
I look at myself in the mirror and barely recognize myself. I know. I know. It’s just hair and it will grow back. This is true. I’m not that vain. However, it is difficult to see how I look today compared to six months ago.
We won’t talk about the weight loss. Nearly 30 lbs. to date.
We won’t talk about the numbness in my fingers and toes.
We won’t talk about the eye floaters that popped up on the day of chemo #5.
We won’t talk about the constant lack of energy and inability to sleep more than 2 or 3 hours at a time.
What I want to focus on are the results of my last two PET scans. No visible signs of cancer. My next PET will be week after next. I’m praying for the same results. No visible signs of cancer.
I have completed six rounds of the most intense chemo known to man. It has killed off everything – good and bad. Every 21 days I have spent hours at the cancer center hooked up to all kinds of infusions. The port in my chest has been a lifesaver.
Every Monday, I have shown up for lab work. The week after chemo is the most difficult because the results are very low. I’m sick for at least 10 days and slowly regain some strength. Food tastes like metal so I don’t eat much. I call these days the 10 days from hell. They are.
It is now time to move on to the next phase of this journey. In just a couple of weeks, after my next PET scan, I will meet with my doctor and she will lay out a plan of action for the next several months that will probably then become the next several years.
I know that it will take time for certain side effects to go away and even longer for my hair to grow back. The numbness in my fingers and toes may never go away. There is no guarantee.
As difficult as it has been going through chemo … and there have been times when I wanted to give up … the support that I have received from family, friends, and the cancer center got me to where I am today.
There are no words for the sense of gratitude that I am feeling today.