This was more than just a vacation from work. I thought of it as much as a vacation from cancer as from anything else. I figured since it was my good week – the one just before my next (third) round – and when I wouldn’t have to be taking any meds, I could just forget I was sick for a little while (once a procrastinator, always a procrastinator). But you know that didn’t happen.
A bit of background: we are down the Cape for one week, with about 25 different family members from all sides, staying at three different houses all on the same street we’ve vacationed on every summer since I can remember. Family of all ages has come from Florida, West Virginia and all over Massachusetts. It’s great, like the Waltons or the Brady Bunch. I love it!
So I thought I could pretend all was normal and just feel good and enjoy not being at work AND not being sick. But as soon as I got here, the little reminders started sprouting up. Like others seeing me bald for the first time. And the kids wanting to see my wigs. And having to wear more sunscreen than I’m used to – and being somewhat cautious with the sun in general. (No, I didn’t want a burnt head!)
The biggest, and most difficult for me (and my mother, who was cognizant of it even before I was), was the fatigue setting in. At first I attributed it to the sea air and the sun. But no, it’s the cancer/chemo. Having to take naps and go to bed earlier than normal (although I suppose most don’t see 11 as early), and sleeping in later than most, and later than normal for me. And the hardest of all: getting winded after just a short time running. I can still do the three mile intervals, but am winded through most of it. It’s not a breeze like it used to be – and I hate that! I had wanted to work up to more again, but I think that’s going to have to wait until after chemo is done.
So I’ve accepted the fatigue and being bald. It doesn’t mean I have to like it, but I will not fight it. And we’ve been having fun with my bald head – Nick even shaved the stubble for me the other day, with all our family sitting around us and chiming in with tips, like a barber shop. And I’m starting to try out the wigs on short shopping trips or out to dinner, just for fun.
Some people have gotten pretty used to me being bald. Nick’s even said he likes it now. I still have a hard time looking in the mirror, but otherwise am fine with it. Others, I know, will never get used to it or even be able to really look at me. Not just because I’m bald, but they can’t handle seeing me sick. It’s hard, I know. But I also know that if they can’t get past the outside and be there for me through this, maybe they never really loved me in the first place and we’re both better off. I guess it’s another side effect of the cancer, right? I tried to take a vacation from it, but it seems there’s no escaping it …