Yesterday morning my alarm went off at 6am, which is highly unusual for the day after chemotherapy. I had been invited to speak to a group of fundraisers at the Cancer Centre, and being a little nervous, I convinced my best friend, ‘T’, to come along. She had also been pre-booked to come with me to my tissue expander appointment and then later in the evening to the workshop ‘Look Good, Feel Better’. Booking three different events on the day after chemo was probably pretty ambitious, but having company made it both do-able and fun – although some parts were probably more traumatic for T than others.
I struggled with how to walk into the boardroom at 7:30 am. Wig? Hat? Nothing? I decided that it would be a very appropriate place and time to brave the bald – and I did, for at least a few seconds. I managed to walk into the hospital, through the halls, and into the boardroom and be introduced to a few people before having the hat land firmly on my head for the rest of the presentation. Baby steps, yes? In any case, hat or no hat the talk went well and I am proud to have been invited to speak. Having moral support there was good for keeping me grounded.
Next appointment wasn’t quite as glamorous, and required a little more ‘sassy’, as T would say. The green wig was the topper for the expansion appointment, which had been put off for weeks and weeks now because of some issues with old incisions. Wasn’t quite expecting to have this be the last visit, but it was, which means that there was about double the amount of saline injected than what I expected. I had invited T. with me, because really – how many chances will she get to witness this sort of procedure? The responses were funny:
‘Sweetie, can you really not feel anything?!’ (This one was kind of shrill, I will admit)
‘Um..are you going to need to go shopping for new bras?!’ (Yay, shopping!)
That presence had all of us laughing through the appointment, which was referred to as kind of ‘sci-fi’ afterwards, and even managed to bring a smile to my face in the middle of the night when I awoke with that intense ‘expander pain’ that winds itself around your back and ribs for a few days after the procedure.
Finally, last night I brought T. along to be part of the ‘Look Good, Feel Better’ workshop, where we were honoured to be in the presence of several other women all dealing with or having dealt with their own trials with cancer. I haven’t put myself in this type of situation yet, and I must say it was really valuable. Seeing the grins on each others’ faces when wigs and scarves got removed and looking around to see others looking for answers to the same questions really made me realize that I’m not as isolated as I think. There were women there who snapped things into perspective pretty quickly for me, telling stories of having to be away from family during treatment and being forced to travel and be far from home for extended periods of time. I cannot imagine how difficult it would be to pair dealing with this illness with being away from my children and my support system. Yet another reason to feel lucky. And helping to model the wigs and hats was fun too – the work that this foundation does is really valuable.