#MyLeftBoob #BreastCancer Battle: You ‘Should’ But… No Thanks, I’m Good

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In the 5 months since I’ve been bald due to ACT chemo, never once have I posted a photo of my “bald is beautiful” shiny new noggin. Nope. Because my bald head is not beautiful. Some people can totally rock the look, like my new breast cancer friend Ericka (pictured below), but not me.

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But since I am entering a new chapter of my journey, 6 weeks of radiation starting tomorrow, I figured I’d post one. And one is all you’re going to get.

I’ve had so many tell me all the things I “should” do during treatment. While it’s annoying, I know they mean well, my response has always been a very polite, “No thanks, I’m good.”

Here are some of the best “You shoulds.”

In relation to my hair….

You should just shave your head

You should get a henna tattoo on your skull, you’d totally rock that

You should invite over all your friends to draw with Sharpies on your head

Umm, no thanks, I’m good.

In relation to healing/recovery….

You should rub coconut oil on your boobs 3x a day (after I had surgery & the scar was healing)

You should smoke weed

You should do wheat grass juicing and just not tell your doctor

You should go vegan

You should eat whatever you want because you could get hit by a bus and die tomorrow

You should eat a tablespoon of coconut oil 3x a day

Um, no thanks, I’m good.

Anytime someone begins a sentence with “you should,” it immediately ruffles my feathers. I would never go up to an overweight person and say: you should eat less, you should exercise more. It’s rude and none of my business. Don’t you think they know they’re overweight?

So for all of you cancer newbies: be prepared for unsolicited “advice,” unwanted tips and unwelcome, sometimes rude, suggestions on how “you should” just do this or that and you will magically be cured of cancer! Don’t you wish all of the doctors and hospitals knew about these quick and easy tips? Then a billion dollar industry would go kaput and we’d all be better! Yay!

Sarcasm aside, sometimes it’s hard to let it go in one ear and out the other. Sometimes you get tired of explaining to people, at times even perfect strangers, what your diet is/was, what sort of birth control you were on, whether or not you drank or smoked excessively, etc. So if you’re one of those people asking such invasive questions… please stop. It’s none of your business. And for the record, none of those things caused the type of cancer I was diagnosed with (Metaplastic Carcinoma). It wasn’t because I dyed my hair or used non-stick pans or ate bacon. It just happened.

To put a positive spin on it, here are some nice things you can say to a cancer patient:

After being diagnosed:

I’m so sorry to hear that. 

You’re in my thoughts and prayers

Is there anything I can do?

During treatment:

How are you feeling?

You’re still in my thoughts and prayers

Is there anything I can do?

Some of the worst feelings of all to deal with through all of this are:

#1) Being made to feel guilty, like the cancer was your fault. I know Dutch women who literally eat lard, pork, bacon and live to be 80+ years and never get cancer. I know others who smoke a pack a day and live to be 90+ and never get cancer. On the flip side, I know women who eat healthy, grow fresh herbs, are physically fit and play tennis and they still get cancer. Don’t get me wrong, I’m not advising you eat lard and smoke a pack a day, I’m just saying that, as much as you want to, you can’t blame getting cancer on those things. The type I was diagnosed with was not caused by any external factors and the biggest reason I got this is, my doctor said, is because I’m a woman. Women get breast cancer. It just happens. Raising money for research and raising awareness will hopefully help other women have a better chance at life through early detection.

#2) Feeling like you’re forgotten. At first everyone calls, emails, texts and writes. They help cook, clean, run errands, etc. And then it fizzles out. I know- cancer is depressing, cancer is a hassle, how do you think I feel? It only takes 2 seconds to send a quick text that says “thinking of you” or even an emoji heart or smiley face. This goes double for family.

#3) Feeling like you’re a burden. Don’t worry. I’m not going to talk about cancer all the time. I won’t plague you with the gory details- that’s what this blog is for….haha! I won’t ruin your good time by having me around.I’m still the same person, just a new and improved, much stronger version of my former self.

Now take a deep breath. Aaah. Doesn’t that feel good? It’s called life and we are all lucky and blessed to be here. There is always someone better off and worse off than you are and there is always, ALWAYS something to be grateful for.

Today I am grateful for my sister Becky who has helped me with my many changing hair and wig styles along the way. I saw her tonight and she cut a wig I’ll be wearing to yet another job interview tomorrow after radiation. Yes, I’m trying to get a second part-time job to pay for over $30K of medical bills. My husband already works 2 jobs so he can’t do anymore than he does already.

Hopefully something will come along, or I will finally sell one of my screenplays or manuscripts, to pay all the doctors who have been keeping me alive. Oh yeah, I just have to find some time to finish them first! A girl can dream!

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Thank you Beckells for not only being a great hairdresser and sister, but for being a great therapist and friend! ❤ 🙂

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Here is an update from my Go Fund Me page. Please donate by clicking here if you can. Any amount helps and is SO greatly appreciated.

While cleaning my teeth Monday, my dental hygienist asked me what the side effects will be and I told her I wasn’t quite sure because I’ve been advised to stay away from Dr. Google. There is no use worrying about something that “might” or might not happen. Everyone is different and everyone’s reaction is different.

I’ve heard people describe radiation as getting a horrible sunburn, getting burned alive, being 10x worse than chemo, being 10x better than chemo, an absolute nightmare where you can breathe and you’re always exhausted, blah blah blah…

I’m going to go Thursday morning with a hopeful and positive attitude and remember the reason why I’m there: to kill any last trace cancer cells that may try to morph into something else and show up later somewhere else in my body.

“Metaplastic” means to change in form and this type of cancer is known to come back, changing in form as lung, skin or bone cancer, even after surgery, chemo and radiation. With radiation, it diminishes the chances of that happening.

My oncologist said because the cancer was contained in one milk duct and it didn’t spread to my lymph nodes that my chances are good that it won’t come back. No “what ifs” or “buts” are allowed in my train of thought right now (or ever).

I’ve had to amp up spiritual “food” intake my and scale down the “support” groups that are not always so supportive. Some have made me feel guilty because I’m “only” Stage 1 and have said “you’re so lucky.” Yes, I’m so “lucky” to have to go through 3 surgeries, 16 weeks of dense dose chemo, 6 weeks of radiation, nausea, dizziness, exhaustion and lose all my hair. Luck has nothing to do with it. I am, however, BLESSED.

Cancer is no discriminator- it can invade your body whether you’re young or old, skinny or hefty, black or white, rich or poor. And if you’re tired of hearing about it, or talking about it, like me, sorry but it’s not going away…yet.

And that is why I do what I do- write to raise awareness, to raise funds, to help others, like me, to have a fighting chance through early detection.

So what if I’m in a little pain or feel like I have a bad sunburn on #MyLeftBoob for the next couple of months? It’s just a small blip of time in the grand scheme of things.

The after effects are not so pleasant (scars, HUGE pile of bills that don’t seem to be going away, fatigue, etc.) but this is just a season in my life that will soon change. And as Gloria Gaynor once said, “I WILL survive!”

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