Saturday, January 23, 2016

This poor neglected blog is taking a turn today. I will still talk about my jewelry here but the turn it is taking for now has to do with my battle with cancer as an artist and a person. I'm not sure exactly where my writing will go beyond sharing my experiences. I was diagnosed with stage 2 cervix cancer in June 2015. I also had a lymph node in my pelvis that was cancerous as well. I went through about 3 months of daily radiation and weekly chemo therapy. In early December 2015 I had another PET/CT scan to see how the treatments had worked. The results were mixed. My cervix cancer was all but gone, however the affected lymph node is showing greater signs of a more aggressive cancer and a few more lymph nodes near the initial one are showing signs of cancer as well. Now you have enough back story for the rest of this to make sense.

So my hair started falling out from the chemo. About half of it is gone now.
I had a lot of fear and trepidation over loosing my hair. Then I realized why. Not just the surfacy reasons of vanity type self image but the deeper reason of why the thought of loosing my hair really bugged me. No matter how down on myself I ever got or how bad about myself I would feel my hair was the one thing that I always knew I could get compliments on and feel good about. Loosing my hair meant loosing that safety net for me. Like Linus Van Pelt without his blue blanket.
My hair has always been a big part of me. Part that I have hated and part that I have loved. When I was young my hair was cut short because of how thick and curly it was. Really short when I was little, with my hair being as thick as a poodles fur it was cut poodle short just so my mom could get a brush through it. As I got older the curls relaxed but I still kept kept it short until I was in high school when I started growing it out because I got sick of the poof ball that my hair was. I didn't feel good about my hair when it was short even though I got compliments.... Perhaps that was just the mind and feelings of a preteen into teen. Anyway, once I started growing my hair out long I started liking my hair too. The long curls also went well with the feelings of wanting to hide while I was going through depression. I would let my hair fall over my left eye... safety when I was feeling vulnerable in the world. I would get compliments on my hair all the time along with compliments on me as a person. That started helping me out of my depression and I began feeling good about myself. I started loving my hair even when I didn't take as good of care of it as I should.

Now, I cannot pretend that I am not loosing my hair nor can I try to convince myself that none of this is really happening. I have psychological issues just like every one else. When I found out I had cancer I actually took it well. The ER doc even made a comment on that she had just told me that I have cancer and there I was making her feel better. I realized that there were many carcinogens I came in contact with throughout my life by knowledgeable choice and that there was always a risk from paints, chemicals, what not. So why should I get pissed or whine over why me? It didn't make sense so I didn't. I did snap and have a mental breakdown though and it hasn't been pretty. I snapped and just shut down when I found out that the initial radiation treatments would take three months to clear out of my system; and I couldn't have a PET/CT scan to see if the radiation and chemo worked until the radiation had run it's course. It was a nurse who told me that, not my doctor. There were quite a few things my doctor never told me or told me well after the time she should have told me. I honestly believe right now that I would not have snapped the way I did if I had the information I needed from her. And that is enough background there for now. I had only set myself up to battle until Sept and that is when I was done with treatments and supposed to be on the healing end with the side effects going away, etc, etc. At least that is where my mind was when I was told the radiation would continue to affect me for three more months. That is when I snapped and started denying all of my fears, started lying to myself and in turn my husband and son.

When I started cancer treatments I was told the radiation and chemo would mess with how my mind works. I was also told I would go through menopause and knew that would change my brain chemistry and in turn change how my mind works. I have been through depression in my life. I have been through taking a long hard look at myself, the good with the bad and deciding what and how I want to be. Taking a look at myself in those ways was one of the best things I could ever do for myself. I have the hardcore believe that everyone is responsible for their own actions. Each person is responsible for how they treat other people. Each person can choose how they look at the world by opening their eyes and looking to see what is really there. That is why when I started my cancer treatments my husband and I talked about the treatments and menopause affecting how I think and act. I asked him and down right demanded that he NOT go easy on me and just let me run amuck. I know I can be a very difficult person so he cannot go easy on me for my own sake. I don't want to be a person who treats people badly, I need to know when I am so I can take a look at myself and stop it. My husband has enough faith in me, who I really am, that he has been following exactly what I ask and has been telling me where I have been messing up and not acting like me. Now mind you these are all my words written here. Unless I actually quote something from my husband, please do not assume those were the words he used. The writing and word choice here is on me. That personal responsibility thing I was talking about ;) My husband has also caught a lot of flack (to put it very mildly) for doing exactly what I asked because the general consensus in our society is you don't tell cancer patients that they are behaving badly. I am a cancer patient, I am fighting not just for my life but for my own identity right now and if it means that my husband has to say a harsh word to me now and then because I am being an idiot and going against my own morals, principles, and beliefs that I have built my life on then please, bring it on. That is something I need in my life. I need someone who will help me see clearly to being the me that I want to be. If I cannot have that then what am I fighting for?

It is precisely because my husband stood up for himself and told me that I was not acting like me, that I know I am more me today than I was a month ago. Because he does not back down when I am not looking at myself, when I am denying and lying to myself; today I am able to come to terms with the fact that I am loosing my hair. Today I can admit to myself and anyone else that I was afraid to loose my hair because it was a security to me. I can also see that I hung too much on my beautiful hair and not enough belief on myself. It was a narrow minded way that I used to feel worth within myself. Because my husband was with me, encouraging me at every turn and not backing down but never striking back in word or deed when I was off my rocker that I can say with confidence I am loosing my hair and I don't care. Yes, I am still nervous over presenting my bald self to people but I know it is going to be ok. I know I am a good worth while person and what I look like cannot in any way shape or form negate the good person that I am and strive to be.
It is now several hours after I wrote all of that. Once I finished writing I went up stairs and brushed my hair. And brushed it, and brushed it.... Finally it got to a point the bath water was getting cold and there was still hair coming out in the brush and on my fingers and I was done with it. Although I was happily listening to music and quite cheerful as I was brushing my hair out it had just gone on long enough. So I asked my husband to trim down the remaining... short... like buzz cut short. Now I am sporting a punk type hair style with shaved sides and all! I like it to the point I am seriously considering rocking this hair style again for a while when my hair starts growing back :)