A New Look ... or Maybe Outlook

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I’ve told you all the things I experienced during the first treatment, but I need to back up. These things all happened with the first treatment, but the hair loss actually lasted almost the entire first three weeks.

I knew that I would be returning to work and having treatment on Thursday, shots on Friday, and be sick till Wednesday or the following Thursday. I had to go back. I still had my hair at that point, so with a little extra make-up and another pill or two, I did return to my job.

After the initial sicknesses, I felt ok, drained, and tired but ok. I have told only a few people, my boss and a couple of people I felt close to. Michelle is one and I’m glad our friendship survived this.

Either way, the few I told a few, and they told a few … and now everyone knows. I have been at my job a long time and know many people who know me too. I worked alone as a research librarian and had continuous contact with many people. I was scared to return because I didn’t want the attention, at least not this type of attention.

So when they said I looked good, I probably did! But I knew what was coming, they did too but most were polite enough to stay away from that topic. I went about my day in a reserved insanity …

So as the days passed I got stronger and kept a low profile but then the hair thing began to happen. One day in a beautiful double-breasted suit, the next bald! And again I was told how good I looked, that my head was a nice round shape, and the scarf was pretty. Right … reserved insanity.

At this point because of what I do, if I had the free time I researched. That’s what I do! I read everything I could find, statistics, treatments, and expected side effects … it was all there. And I grew more anxious after everything I learned. That 30 percent of all breast cancers that spread, spread to the brain. Ok I want a brain scan … and I want it now. That some of the side effects will continue throughout the entire treatment cycle, others would wax and wane. Like the nausea, some days it was unbearable. I didn’t eat much so there was little vomiting, but even the thought of food sometimes sent me into a tailspin! Other days it didn’t bother me. My favorite foods were not enticing, but the smell of the spring coming was uplifting.

Sleep was difficult at best, so another prescription was added to help me sleep. I loved it!

I also learned that cancer is everywhere … everywhere! There is not one person with whom I’ve discussed my cancer that hasn’t been touched by it. A family member, neighbor or friend … they’ve all experienced it. A man at work that I worked with often had been sick, had a few tests I’m told, but never came back to work. He died in the time I took complaining about the effects of my first treatment (lung and liver cancer that progressed quickly). My dog had a tumor in her breast tissue … she died as well. It’s everywhere and I can’t get away from it.

I went to that man’s funeral. I met his wife (who said he had spoken of me!) and prayed at his casket and to this day feel guilty about asking him and asking God to keep me from this type of end.

So here I was, trying to cope with this, seeing that people do die and that this disease was overwhelming and I just had to keep working along like any good clerk. It was a long two to three weeks, and I was coming closer to treatment number two.

I was still scared, I was still alone but I had a life to lead and became a very good actress. I went home took a valium and had a couple beers with the pot I smoked and went back to being a mom, wife, and employee.

Reserved insanity.



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