Tuesday, 23 November 2010
I’ve been trying to prepare myself for the start of chemotherapy and all that that entails but isn’t easy. Much as I appreciate the kindness behind it I am starting to resent the fact that some people appear to be defining me by the fact that I am being treated for cancer. They are bombarding me with all sorts of advice and everyone who hasn’t been through the experience themselves seems to have an opinion on what I should be doing to cope with it. Thank god for the forums on places like Breast Cancer Care where I can talk to people actually going through the same thing!
It seems that everyone knows someone who has had breast cancer (unsurprising when you look at the statistics) but unless you’ve actually been through the experience yourself you cannot possibly understand what is going on inside my head. Examples of this include the eagerness for people to give me advice on diet and food supplements – I am being advised to give up this or eat more of that, when really it doesn’t make that much difference at all as long as I maintain a healthy diet.
Then there are those who having never experienced it firsthand, want to tell me what I should be doing regarding the loss of my hair. My long blonde locks have been a ‘trademark’ of mine for quite a few years now and it’s almost as hard facing the loss of them as it is dealing with the loss of my breast; both of them are part of what makes me a woman. I am tired of being told to go and have it all cut off now and to get used to having short hair indefinitely. This is intensely personal for me and rushing to have my hair cut is not something I want to do; I want to see what happens first. The shock of seeing myself with virtually no hair before I even start chemo is not an ordeal I wish to put myself through. Besides I am planning to wear wigs most of the time anyway and I want to work up to the prospect of hair loss gradually. My hair is down to my waist and having it cut off in one fell swoop is not going to do anything for my already fragile emotional state, so why would anyone think this was a good idea? It’s very easy to say when it’s not happening to you. I have arranged with my stylist (who has been fantastically supportive) to cut my hair in stages and I am buying a wig to wear almost straight away which she will tailor to suit me. I cannot face the prospect of short hair easily especially when I know from professional advice on the subject that short hair and me really do not get on. I guess you could say that my face isn’t ‘cut out for it!’
All of which leads me back to the title of this entry – at some point, sooner or later and even though it is not in any way intentional, a lot of the people in your life start to define you by the fact that you have cancer and what kind of treatment you are receiving. Cancer is NOT me, it is NOT a part of my personality, it is something that is happening TO me! I find myself having to resist the urge to shout this at people and also in some cases ‘I’ve had a breast removed, not my brain!’ on a regular basis and if it’s like this now what is going to be like in the months ahead?