I lost my hair on exactly the 14th day after I started Chemotherapy. You are told at the beginning of your cancer ordeal that your hair will fall out between the 12th and 14th day after you start Chemo. I had a hard time with this information, but that is another story for another day. I needed something to help me feel feminine during this very trying time. My solution: EARRINGS!!
After I had my head shaved, I really wanted to embrace and accept my baldness. However, in the beginning, I did wear hats and scarves because I did not want to scare the smaller children in our neighborhood. This whole scarf and hat thing was new for me. I had never been a big scarf or hat wearer. But here I was, in a situation beyond my control, where I was going to have to learn how to wear scarves and hats. Once I learned all of that, I still felt ugly. I did not want to look like a man, and yet, I felt like maybe some might think I was a man!
That is when I decided to pull out the earrings! I have hundreds of earrings, and also with those, I was not a person that wore earrings every single day. Although I had enough earrings that I could have done just that. Over the years, I have accumulated quite a collection of beautiful earrings.
It took me a few weeks to figure out exactly what I needed to do to make myself feel better. So I learned how to tie scarves on my head. I also learned how to add scarves to some of my hats. And in the process of all of that, I also started pulling out all of the earrings and seeing which earrings would go with which scarves. It actually proved to be quite fun in the midst of all of the sickness and pain that I was going through.
I was very sick for almost 9 months straight. When you are going through chemo, you are advised to stay home as much as possible, especially right after chemo treatments. The fact is, that after chemo treatments, your white blood cell count can go extremely low, putting one at risk for infections. When the cell count is way down, your body does not have the capability of fighting germs or bacteria of any kind. If you catch something, it could kill you!
I did spend a tremendous amount of time at home, mostly in bed. However, I belonged to a support group called “WomenCare” in Santa Cruz. We met every week on Tuesday at 12:30P.M. Once I joined the group, I really enjoyed going. I was very interested in how others were coping, and I was always looking for any information that would help me. We would share just about everything in this group, and I really felt like the group was really helping me to cope. So, I did try to go to group every week. There were some weeks I just could not make it. Either I had just gone through Chemo or I was just too sick. But on the Tuesdays that I could make it, I really looked forward to going. I would get up, get dressed up – kind of – put on my scarf or hat, and add my complimentary earrings. I would always try to put on makeup also. These were just little things I did for myself. And when I did walk out that door, I actually felt pretty darn cute!
When one is as sick as I was, it is very hard to find anything to motivate you to get up and get out of bed. The first few weeks were probably the most difficult. It is so overwhelming to try and digest all of the information that has been thrown at you. It is even more difficult to accept the fact that one is going to have to go through this HELL. You start questioning everything. How did this happen? What did I do to cause this? What can I do in the future to make sure I do not get cancer again?
I used my scarves and earrings to motivate me to get out of bed and try to make the Tuesday meetings. No matter how bad I felt, others could not really tell because I was dressed nicely, had on my beautiful scarves/hats, had on my earrings, and had on my makeup! Just looking in the mirror and seeing that I was still me made me feel better. Not much, but sometimes just enough to go out for a few hours.