Friday, January 21, 2011

The face of cancer

Today's Shout Outs:

Trudy S, Ann M, Saskia, Maggie H, Liz W, Carla S, Toni S, Kelly F, Emily S, Debbie C, Christi B, Carol F,  Judy B,  Jen Marie T, Roseanne K, Karin M, Susie W, Arlene H, Christina M, Sue C

*********************************************************

Dear friends,

What does the face of cancer look like?  Up until now, for me it was impersonal and personal at the same time.  What does that mean?  By the time I was diagnosed, my own sister had been diagnosed with thyroid cancer, but I had no real idea what it was or what it meant.  She had her surgery, her radiation, and she was ok, or at least in my mind she was.  I had what I considered to be several good friends that were diagnosed with  cancer and I listened to their stories and sympathized, but in all honesty I didn't get it.  I wasn't aware.   I didn't know.  I must admit that I have guilt for not getting "it" and now that I do get "it", my life has changed in more ways than I imagined.  I "get" lots of things now that I wouldn't have pre-cancer.  Heart ache does bring out the best in us.

I'm not obsessed with my baldness, but admittedly I do keep coming back to the whole "bald" thing.  Everyone has been so kind with comments about inner and outer beauty and that hair doesn't define anyone, but the truth is that the "bald" look isn't in when you don't want to be bald.  Yes, I get the fact that hair isn't a deal breaker, but...

If baldness was in all honesty "hip", "cool", or even "natural" (other than the group that chooses or the group that has no choice) there wouldn't be a million or billion, I have no idea, and I'm too lazy to do research on it, industry based on growing one's hair follicles.  I'm not trying to be rude or mean here but the truth is, I don't want to be bald and I don't want to look like another face of cancer. I realize that there are many faces of cancer and that sadly they are as diverse as you and me, but there is a generic face that we visualize and its the baldness that prempts the "face".  I have that face and if I am very close to the mirror and look close into my eyes, I'm ok, but when I happen by the door mirror, it still shocks me to see the person that I don't quite recognize staring back at me.

The other thing that my baldness has invaded are my "shower" moments.  I haven't honestly had a shower moment of late, but let me tell you it won't be the same without my hair.  There is just something about the water plastering your hair over your head and face that can't be duplicated or fixed.  Just another loss.

And my last tidbit of interest is that my baldness has turned into a 5 o'clock shadow and appears to be growing and I have yet to lose hair anywhere else.  You know all the places that you would want to lose hair... like your legs, armpits, and yes that very feminine and really not noticeable mustache (not). On the positive side though is that I do have my eyelashes and eyebrows still.  I'll enjoy them to the fullest. Ironically, I love my eyelashes now, even though pre-cancer I would have killed for real long Caucasian lashes, not my little short Asian ones.

Overall, I felt pretty good today, but I'm tired now and even though I don't have the same food issues that I had pre-chemo, things don't taste right and I don't get the same enjoyment from food that I did, not that long ago, once upon a time, when my life was different. My mouth sores have been a bit worse this time around and I can mark that down on my growing list of annoyances.

I know I sound a bit despondent and that's because I feel that way, I feel sad for the way things were, but aren't... BUT  I am still very grateful to all of you that are out there sending me those cyber hugs, gifts of cards and your faith in me to survive and move forward.  I revel in the good that has encompassed me near and far in the face of life's sadness.  As Kevin says to me all the time... "it's better than the alternative".

Until next time.

-Katie

45 comments:

Gina said...

Blessings on you for your honesty, it's ok to miss things that are no longer there! At the age of 61 my husbands aunt had to have chemo, her hair was her glory, thick and red. So while everyone else was weeping over the expected loss of her fabulous locks, she took herself to the barber, got her head shaved and bought a baseball cap. She prefered to be in control of the situation. She kept it shaved til the treatment was finished, and it grew back stronger than ever. That way it was her choice to be bald, not just another symptom. Wishing you love and long flowing locks for when your treatment is finished :D XXX

Saskia said...

A BIG cyber-hug for you today!!

Saskia :)

Joan B said...

I don't blame you for wanting your hair! i would too. It is cold without it and a constant reminder of the cancer. Vent here because we all are listening and caring. Every time I read your blog I keep telling myself that the hair loss and other symptoms are signs that the chemo is doing its job -- destroying the cancer in its path. Hugs Katie.

ps. you are still adorable however

Flutterby Trina said...

Hi Katie, I have followed your blogs since the special digi stamp set came out for you. I don't get time every day to read through everyones blogs so I have to do it day by day and think who's blog i have looked at, today your blog was at the top of the list for me, and I have sat here and read your posts. Nothing will describe how you must be feeling, I'm thinking of you and your family all the time when I make my cards, I would love to send you one, is there an address I can send to?? Thinking of you and sending you happy hugs

Trina

xxx

Margreet said...

I send you today again some cyberhugs Katie!
xxx Margreet

True :) said...

Good morning Katie. It is 5:30 AM here in Kansas and I am already up and thinking about you. I understand your being upset about your hair. Plain and simply...this whole thing SUCKS! Cancer SUCKS! For whatever reason though,it is the hand you have been delt and I think you are handling so much better than most. We may never know the if ands or whys but you my friend have already touched the lives and hearts of many who you would have never met. How many people have you made thankful for their health? How many people have turned their faces up to God in prayer who may not have made that a habit until they heard your story?
Continue to vent, share, whatever you call it. We are here, listening and praying for you, just as we will be hear rejoicing and sending up prayers of thankfulness when you have been told you are cured!
Take care my friend. Hope today will be a good one.

Hugs,
True :D

Candy F. said...

Nothing to say except I wish I was there to give you some "real" hugs. Love and admire you more each and every day.

Sue W said...

Hi Katie,
I don't really think anyone gets what it's like living with Cancer.....unless they have to! Lets face it it scares the hell out of most of us. You've been dealt this hand and you're dealing with it the best you can........we're all reading in awe of your spirit!
Mourn the loss of your hair.......most women would but as Joan (I think) said it's a sign that the chemo is doing it's job and that's a positive!
I hope you have a good sleep tonight .....it will do you so much good. xx

Sue Ann said...

I think you have amazing grace and courage. Sending you hugs and more hugs!!!

Karen B said...

You are a remarkable woman! You are in my thoughts and prayers.

Donna said...

I never know what to say Katie, I wish I could have some great words of wisdom that would help you in some way, the way your words help us try to understand what your going through. I am lucky enough to say I haven't experienced Cancer and I am learning so much about the Journey people take when diagnosed and that is thanks to your honest and direct way. Just know that I'm thinking of you and hoping that each day will be a better one for you. Big hugs to you. Donna x

Becky Jo said...

Katie, when I met my husband I started to look at things differently because of his outlook on life. When I had a bad hair day and start complaining he'd say Becky it's only hair. Or if my makeup was bothering my eyes he said you don't really need it do you? He was right and I stopped using makeup and I have the attitude now it's only hair so I don't even fuss with that anymore. Have it cut so I can wash it and let it go. It does whatever it wants to! Freedom - yes, freedom from thinking I have to be a certain way. I think you are a wonderful person and I thank you for sharing your thoughts. Sending you big hugs today!

Cassie said...

Every time I read what you have to say about this, I honestly never know what to tell you, so I go to my default which is humor. Right now that seems insulting, so I will just say that God is using you and you may not even realize it. He will take every hurt, because He never wastes a hurt, and use it for good. Even your baldness, as crappy as that is for you, will be used for good even though you may never see that good. I truly do love you, crafty & brave friend. . .I think of you EVERY day :)

Ted said...

Cassie used "[God] never wastes a hurt" and I admit that's the first time I've heard that... and it's GREAT to remember. As somebody else pointed out. He DOES have a reason for this and even if it's to gather so many of His children to pray on your behalf, that's a GOOD reason.

I still hold faith that He will heal you. Rest on His strength because you won't be able to do it on your own. I'm sure you've already noticed that.

Have a nice weekend and may you find many moments to build happy memories.

Okay, enough sounding like a Hallmark card! :)

Tricia said...

I'm praying for you, Katie!! Not only for your cancer, but that the Good Shepherd will find his lost sheep and carry her close to His heart. Love you!

Grandma Nancy said...

Good morning Katie, I'm sorry you couldn't sleep. I suffer from insomnia on a regular basis and it is not fun. So much to think about during the night when you are alone! :( I think I will keep mentioning until you tell me that you bought/rented The Secret!! Please get it and watch it. Even if you already did...do it again!! It will help you! You have every reason to be "down" about you hair, your diagnosis, etc. but I want to hear you AFTER you watch The Secret and see if it changes you and the way you deal with this challenge. I love you, pray for you (and your family) and wish you good health SOON! Keep fighting!!! Nancy R

~amy~ said...

well, you've certainly made me appreciate MY short asian eyelashes:)

Sending you a cyber hug..

Andrea C said...

You look gorgeous with short hair also, you still look so feminine. Keep strong and get through this you are an inspiration to us all. Love and hugs Andrea C x

judy said...

Of course you grieve the loss of your
lovely hair and the loss of the way
things were before the cancer. It is
hard to feel well when you are
undergoing chemo. I recommend
Biotene mouth wash for your mouth
sores--very gentle and soothing.
Sending you lots of healing thoughts!

Theresa Momber said...

Keeping hanging in there, Katie! You absolutely get to feel everything you feel and we are here to listen. Big hugs!!!

IamDerby said...

Just a big ole hug from me. I am sorry you have to go through this. :(

Christine from FL said...

Sending hugs your way!

Susan said...

There is nothing that I can say, Katie, that will make things better. But I send you cyber-hugs and best wishes. And I thank you for sharing your journey and helping us to understand. Thank you also for your honesty, for not trying to make us feel better by hiding what you are enduring. You are admired and loved.

Michelle said...

I have to say that it's definately OK to feel the way you are feeling...don't question it or apologize...you have the RIGHT.

Hugs

Pascale said...

Thanks for your strength Katie I am really gaining some for me from reading your beautifully worded post xxx My partner is very poorly in hospital right now and I know by reading your post I can go on tomorrow with so much more strength. Praying for you. Hugs Pascale xxx

Chef Mama Lori said...

Still praying for you here. Trudy is right. Cancer sucks. It sucks your energy & emotions. It sucks your health out of you. And even your hair. But in the midst of it all, as I read your honest words I just see Katie. And I wish I could be there to cry with you and hug you and sit in the friend chair at chemo (since I've warmed that chair up now).

I know you may not want to hear this, but you DO look SO adorable in your hats. Not everyone looks cute in a hat, but you do. Even with your stubby little Asian eyelashes peeking out below the hat's brim!

Kelly S. said...

Thinking of you today, Katie! Just wanted to stop in and let you know that!

Sunshine said...

Thank you for sharing your personal story. My heart aches & breaks for you, I think you are exceptioanlly brave:-)
You are in my thoughts & prayers.
Take life one step at a time.
Hugs hugs & MORE hugs from Sunshine, New Zealand
www.ihearttostamp.blogspot.com

Meredith said...

I really do feel like you're taking us all along on such an honest journey into your experience. I can see that you're having some down days, and that you're still working hard to be grateful for what you can... but I can see it's difficult. I still admire your attitude, and I am still inspired daily by you. I am ALWAYS thinking of you, and just wanted you to know that I have my whole family pulling for you and yours.

Susie said...

Katie,
I follow many papercrafting blogs, or should I say, I try to find the time. But, your blog is the one I ALWAYS find the time to read. I think about you so often, and send prayers up for you. I, too, wish I could give you a hug, even though we've never met.
Thank you for being so honest about your experiences and feelings. I'm sure it's not an easy thing to do.
May God bless you.

Linda S. said...

It's O.K., Katie. We still love you. Linda S. in NE

Audrey Frelx said...

Katie, I don't know what to say; so, I'm sending you big hugs and kisses instead!!!

You're such a trooper, and you and your family always have my prayers!

jackib said...

So I sit here staring at my computer screen wondering what wonderful words of wisdom I can express to you. Instead, I am blank. I think of you and your family so often - I am thankful that you blog so regularly so we know how things are going with you. I hope your days find you feeling better and better and that your nights give you peaceful sleep. Hugs to you and your family.

Jacqui Pike said...

Hi Katie, I've just been introduced to your blog and wanted to say hello.
You are so brave to be sharing what you are going through with the rest of the world and being so honest with it. You're an inspiration! Thank you.

Sending cyber-hugs and warm wishes to you and your family. Stay strong.
Jacqui

Sue from Oregon said...

I know what you mean by "getting it" For me with ill family as well, a simple phone call can send me into a tailspin of stress and uncertainly, all to find out that they just want a simple item from the store. Simple life things are not simple any more.It is a scary thing, that "unknown"...I get it...and I fight the feeling every day. I just cherish every moment...like Kevin says -it is better than the alternative. Grasp your strenth from all the love and good vibes being sent to you everyday my friend.

Holly said...

Katie,

As always, I find myself so moved by your words, your honesty and open-hearted, raw moments. I remember having surgery recently and having to stay on a liquid diet for a week and I thought I'd LOSE IT by the end of the week! :) I REALLY disliked feeling like things were so different for me at the time. It's not the same with what you're dealing with in any stretch of the imagination, but I just wanted you to know and to feel OK with those feelings. It stinks - it really does, and yet, here you are almost every day facing it and dealing with it and moving forward. You are an inspiration to so many. And as has been said already: You have no idea how many people on a daily basis you are truly moving to reaccess their own approach to life and all that comes with it.
Blessings to you and your family.
-Holly in SoCal

Andrea6760 said...

Hi Katie,

Just stopping in real quick to say Hello and read up on the past couple days and how you have been doing.

We got 5+ inches of snow here (Pittsburgh, PA) and I absolutely hate the stuff. Yes, its pretty to look at, but unless you are wrapped up in 60 layers of warmth and going skiing or sled riding, what is the point of it?? You cant even make a decent snowcone out of it...LOL

Hope you are getting some good sleep tonight and that tomorrow brings better things your way.

*Hugs*
~Andrea

Conquest Keepsakes said...

My hubby Cliff says, "It's better than a stick in the eye." :-)

Have the doctor prescribe some Viscous Lidocain. It will numb the sores in your mouth long enough to eat without too much pain. I get a lot of aphtholous ulcers with my Lupus. They also have a mouth wash for people who have mouth sores from chemo, AND there is aphtholous paste you can put on them at night. It seems to make them heal quicker. If you get a lot (I typically can get 3-5 at the same time), you can go to dentist or doctor for Silver Nitrate (?) that they can coat them with to make them heal faster (stains them a nice purple color). It can hurt like hades at first, but it does help if you can get that done before the grow too big. :-)

Love ya girl! Happy to hear you recieved the box of goodies, msybe that can keep you busy when you need a distraction. :-D

Toni said...

Huge Hugs Katie

Toni xxx

Debbie Nelson said...

Katieeg,

I applaud your honesty about your baldness...I lost my hair eleven years ago when I was diagnosed with Inflammatory Breast Cancer...it grew back much wavier than pre cancer...I was cancer free for ten years...when the cancer returned in December 2009, I began chemo on December 21st and had lost my hair by Christmas Day..that was fast! After changing the chemo drugs, my hair is slowly growing back...this time mostly gray...I will be taking chemo indefinitely and don't know if I will lose my hair again, but if I do, I know that it will grow back and thanks to good friends, I have a stash of wonderful hats! Blessings to you!

Kim C. said...

Katie, thank you for sharing your thoughts and feelings. I check in on you daily and send my prayers.I have a co-worker who is in the same situation. Pancreatic and liver cancer with no surgery as an option. She is 38 with three kids and the yougest will turn 1 in May. I don't know what to say to her but you are helping me to understand what she must be feeling. I thank you from the bottom of my heart for helping me to be a better and more understanding friend. HUGS

BishopsMommie said...

oh sweet girl, I dont blame you either ...what you say here is all true and we are all listening to you and trying to "get it" even though we can't understand fully but we do sympathize and think of you each day..I love the honesty you bring to help us understand..keep on..hope today is good for you!!

Linda said...

Katie, I so pray that you will truly be carried by the strength of the love we all have for you, the love of God.
I just want to say that I understand the idea of not wanting to be one of the "faces of cancer", a club that is so much easier to belong to from the outside looking in.
Years ago I joined the "club" of "those who have lost a young child". and then, I totally got what it meant to be there, a place I did not want to be, inside..not out. And I realized what it meant,
as you now realize what being a face of cancer now really means, I don't.

Not wanting to be where you are does not prove you weak, mourning the loss of hair and the life you knew does not prove you weak. Admitting you are facing loss, and admitting it hurts, facing the truth is strength, looking reality dab in the face and saying this is where I am, but I will go on.. I will fight, call for help when I need it, let others carry me what I need it, and fight like crazy when I can.. this is strength and courage and honestly, this is what I see in the face that is called by the name of Katie.. a beautiful face, I might add!

Curt in Carmel said...

OK I can relate to the hair thing, and I'll give you a perspective from a guy's point of view. When I was younger, I had this head full of super dark, black, thick hair. It was beautiful and I wore it like a lion's mane (70's & 80's)! LOL It had to always look a special way, I'd fret over it, load it with product, and only let one hairdresser touch it. I was so frickin nuts about my hair. And if it didn't look a certain way it would absolutely ruin my day and make me so insecure. And it DID define me (or so I thought). But then the inevitable came. . .the grey hairs started popping out, the hairs falling out around my crown (the ever popular male pattern baldness), and my beautiful mane was no longer beautiful. I started cutting it shorter and shorter until today, it is pretty much a buzz cut (which I cut myself). And you know what? I wish I had done it a long time ago. Looking back my hair and the care of that said hair was a royal pain in the ass. I no longer own a blow dryer, and have only one bottle of L.A. Looks to spike it up every once in a while between buzz cutting it. My life is so less complicated because of it. Most of the time I wear a baseball cap. As a matter of fact, a relatively new neighbor saw me the other day getting my mail and I didn't have a hat on and she said "You do have hair!" LOL So even though we don't share the same reason for our hair loss and buzz cuts, we share the hair loss and some of the psychological aspects of it. It took me a long time to get used to it, but I'm glad I don't have to go through all the crap I did to "look good". Yours will surely grow back when this is all over, so look at the bright side of not having to deal with messing with your hair right now. My mantra . . ."embrace the hat" LOL And unlike me, you are absolutely adorable and you look super cute in hats and with no hair. You are one of those people that look good no matter what. And I DO mean that with all my heart. Hugs Kiddo. . .Best, Curt

Brenda said...

I am awed by your awesomeness, honesty and focus. Thank you for sharing your experiences and thoughts.
You are in my thoughts...

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