I Lost My Hair in a Chemo Attack
But I got my life back.
These pictures came up in a Facebook ‘look back’ the other day and it brought me back to those cancer days when my life was turned upside down, but when I never for a minute thought I would die. That’s because my cancer surgeon said to me, right after we’d introduced ourselves and I sat down, “You’re not going to die from this”.
I said, “I’m going to hold you to that”, and she said, “You can”. And she was right. So far. The thing about having cancer once is that you never get over the feeling that cancer must still be lurking somewhere. It lurked once; why wouldn’t it again?
The trick is to not let it get to you. The trick is to live life as if you’d had cancer and now you don’t and what a fool you’d be to waste those years you’ve just been given back.
(Cliché alert:) Life is a gift. It’s always been a gift, but I don’t have to tell you most of us take it for granted. That’s because it’s always there. Every morning when we wake up our life takes us to another day and we think nothing of it, unless something scares the hell out of us, mortality-wise, and we’re forced to look around and see some small reason not to complain.
But this isn’t an advice piece, it’s me thinking out loud after seeing pictures that triggered something. That’s all. (It probably won’t be the last time I’m triggered and I write about it. It seems to be a trend with me lately.)
My hell year was 2022 and I hope I never have another one like it. My life threatened to fall apart in so many ways I’ve lost count. If it weren’t for friends and family, I wouldn’t be here writing this today. I would be sniveling in a corner somewhere, completely lost, probably thinking this is all there is. And making plans to make sure this is all there is.
When Ed died in March of 2022, I couldn’t see ahead no matter how hard I tried. We were a duo and then we weren’t. I lived my entire adult life with him and then he was gone. We needed each other and we were there for each other, and when I look at these pictures it strikes home.
From the moment my cancer was diagnosed, in October of 2016, he dug in and attached, and we worked through every phase of it together. Surgery, chemo, radiation—nothing was too icky for him. And this was a man who could not be in the same room as a dirty diaper.
I picture me sitting on our deck as he shaved my head on that day I decided to stop worrying about my hair falling out and just go with the bald look. It hurt him. He loved my hair. But he did it.
He was there to do the drains after surgery, an awful job that seemed to go on forever. He was there when I was vomiting from chemo. He was there when I rang the bell after my chemo treatments ended. He was waiting in the waiting room for every one of my 30 radiation treatments. He was always there.
And now that it’s over and I’m celebrating my freedom from the dread cancer, as well as the direction my life seems to be going now (forward instead of backward), it isn’t fair that he isn’t here with me.
This year, 2023, is going to be another year where I’ll need to make decisions alone. That scares the hell out of me, if you want to know the truth. I need Ed’s input, even though there were many times when I resented it and refused to accept it.
His practicality, annoying as it was, tempered my spur-of-the-moment decisions based almost solely on wishing and wanting. So what do I do now? What if what I want and wish for turns out to be all wrong? Do I do nothing because I could make such a mess of things? Or do I go for it?
You know I’ll want to go for it.
So let’s hope I do the right things, make the right decisions—and if I do, we’ll celebrate.
If I don’t, you won’t hear about them from me. 😉
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Trust your instincts. Wishing you the best and good health.
Ed sounds like one heck of a guy, Ramona. x