Top 10 Amazingly Weird Things You Didn’t Know About #Cancer from #MyLeftBoob

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Are these those newfangled fake eyebrows? Wigs for your face? She’ll never tell….

Did you know they make wigs for eyebrows? Me neither. But it turns out I may need some one day. In the last month I have learned so much about cancer, my patience level and strength. I didn’t learn this at Cancer 101 class. No, I am a self-taught cancer connoisseur. I learned by being thrown into the fire, not by choice, by force.

And here I share with you the top 10 amazingly weird things I’ve learned so far in the last five weeks since finding out that I have Triple Negative breast cancer.

Did You Know There is Such a Thing As….

#10 Chemo Brain

Since being diagnosed, I’ve been extremely forgetful and sometimes feel like I’m in mental fog. If I ask my kids something I just asked them a few hours earlier, they can’t understand why I’ve already forgotten the answer. And I do weird things like put the milk in the pantry or put the car keys in the fridge. The American Cancer Society describes chemo brain as “mental cloudiness…. before, during, and after cancer treatment. Research shows that some cancer drugs can cause certain kinds of changes in the brain….that can cause thinking and memory problems in people with cancer.”

#9 Cancer Rubber Neckers

These are people who slow down and turn around to watch every gory detail of your accident but don’t get out of the car to see if you need any help. They don’t offer to call 9-1-1 or ask if you’re okay. They just stop, glare and slowly move on. Then they tell everyone in town the horrible, sad story. If they have the misfortune to see you in public they say things like, “Oh, yeah, I saw your accident….” and then there’s that awkward pause.

#8 Boob Pillows

When you get a lumpectomy the nurses may give you a cute little pillow to place under your breast to help relieve some of the pressure. Mine says “Love” on it and was hand-made by some local high school students. After the pain finally went away three weeks after my surgery, I still find myself sleeping with that cute, comforting little pillow, even though I don’t technically “need” it anymore.

#7 Celebrity Wig Lines for Cancer Patients

You too can look like Raquel Welsh! Even with grey skin, sunken cheeks, no eyebrows or eyelashes, a weak frail body and no hair! All you need is $800 – 1,3000 for one of her fancy shmancy wigs! Oh and maybe some fake eyelashes and some makeup and some high cheekbones and some…..

#6 Eyebrow Wigs

Until I began searching for regular wigs and fake eyelashes online (because I heard mine may fall out), I had no idea that there was such a thing as eyebrow wigs. Many are made with human hair and are available in all different shapes and colors. They’re applied with adhesive or stick-on tape, depending on the cost and quality, and can last up to seven days once applied. Prices range from $30-150.

#5 Chemo Curls

This one threw me for a loop. I’ve always had a hate-hate relationship with my curls. My hair never feathered like Farrah Fawcett’s in the late 70’s and I could never get that roller skating queen feathered-back look in the 80’s because my hair was always naturally curly. For the last few years I’ve straightened it with a flat-iron but noticed recently, before I knew I had cancer, that it wasn’t growing. So, reluctantly I let it go back to its natural state of curliness.

When I learned I had Triple Negative breast cancer I joined an online support group because I had a hard time finding anyone with this rare type of cancer. Women were posting pictures of their bald heads before and after chemo and joking about their new “chemo curls.” I had no idea what this was. They explained that chemotherapy attacks the cancer cells and the cells responsible for hair growth which is why it falls out. Chemo damages the hair shaft and the cells that determine hair texture which is what causes the chemo curls.

#4 Cancer One-Uppers

Some people will try to “one-up” you with their sad story, even if it is not cancer related. I recently spent a good hour trying to explain to a woman why I needed financial assistance for my treatment for this life-threatening illness….that my husband has a high deductible health plan, that my son just spent five days in the hospital for emergency appendix and intestinal surgery….that he works two jobs, 70-80 hours a week but we still can’t afford our medical bills. Instead of being understanding, she began saying how hard she had it because she couldn’t pay her bills and needed  medical procedures and couldn’t afford it.  Oh, I’m sorry. I have cancer.

#3 Cancer Cockroaches

Long-lost relatives, elementary school classmates, old neighbors, former co-workers will come out of the word work, like cockroaches, to scamper around your kitchen and look for something juicy to feed on. Just ignore them. They were out of your life for decades for a reason. Like cockroaches, they have a very hard shell. They must also have a thick skull because no matter how many times you try to say politely that you don’t want their advice or help, they keep lingering. They stick around to feed on your crumbs and only disappear when you turn a bright light on and expose them.

#2 Cancer Cracker-Jacks

These are the cancer know-it-alls who insist on jamming their knowledge and “expertise” in the field of pathology, radiology, oncology and surgery down your throat even though they only graduated from Google University or the College of Word-of-Mouth. Some of these cracker-jacks may actually know a thing or two and may advise you not to listen to the doctors because they know more, even though they do not have an “M.D.” behind their name.

Anyone and everyone is an expert. They will tell you what you “should” and “shouldn’t” eat, drink, sniff, do or not do as far as your treatment is concerned. And they will get really offended if you don’t listen to them, because after all, they’re the experts.

I’ve been told to eat almonds, kale, avocados, kale, wheatgrass, soursop fruit and many more. The Cancer Center of America warns against using soursop fruit to treat cancer because “it has not been studied in humans. Eating the fruit could lead to movement disorders similar to Parkinson’s disease. In addition, a study suggests tea made for the leaves and stems of graviola is associated with neurotoxicity.”

Regarding wheatgrass, the American Cancer Society states, “scientific evidence does not support the idea that wheatgrass or the wheatgrass diet can cure or prevent disease. Because it is grown in soils or water and consumed raw, contamination with bacteria, molds, or other substances may be a concern. Relying on this type of treatment alone and avoiding or delaying conventional medical care for cancer may have serious health consequences.”

Cancer Center of America states, “using herbal supplements while undergoing chemotherapy could reduce the efficacy of chemotherapeutic agents due to possible herb-drug interactions.”

#1 Cancer Cut-Outs

These are the worst. They are the people who cut out on you just when you need them most. They could be one of your best friends or a family member. In the short five weeks since I’ve been diagnosed I’ve had a few that I found shocking. I’ve been reading about the changes that happen in friendships and relationships after a cancer diagnosis. People you’d think would be there disappear. They’re scared, weak or don’t want my misfortune to ruin their happy place.

Then others you’d least expect to step up and fill the empty space. Letting go of those you cared about is hard but you realize they were never good friends to begin with. Actions speak louder than words. It takes two seconds to send a text or email saying “thinking of you” or “stay strong.” When you ignore or don’t say hello in public, then I know you don’t care. I won’t chase you, it’s your loss.

And no matter how mad you might get if your cancer patient is not listening to advice you think they”should” listen to, resorting to name-calling to someone facing a life-threatening illness is so completely heartless, rude, mean, callous and insensitive. (Yes, that happened to me)

I’m so grateful to those who are strong and brave enough to fight along with me. Like my dear friend said to me, “Cancer is not contagious. Yes, it depressing and sad but it doesn’t mean it’s going to happen to you. You’re Wendy– cancer or no cancer.

Will you join my fight? Click here to support my breast cancer treatment and share if you know someone whose life has been touched by cancer.

Photo: The Style Insider

4 Comments (+add yours?)

  1. Trackback: Hair Today, Bald Tomorrow… Will #MyLeftBoob Rob My #Femininity? Heck No! | Wendipoprock's Wild Ride
  2. David
    Mar 16, 2015 @ 11:15:19

    Yup, I’ve been there too and you’ve got it right about friends, “friends,” recommendations, the whole magillah. Listen to your doc and tell the others please don’t give me recommendations, just love. And be strong – get a couple of cheap wigs and no one will know the difference. After all, you’ve changed your makeup, your nails, your hair, etc. over time, so put on that sass and try some (not too expensive) wigs to look normal/fun/tough. Good luck – you’re doing everything right.

    Reply

  3. Trackback: Dumb Things You Should Never Say to a Cancer Patient – #MyLeftBoob Chronicles | Wendipoprock's Wild Ride

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