Archive for the ‘Dating’ Category

I put my wigs away this weekend. That statement may surprise those of you who see me nearly every day and haven’t seen a wig on my head in months. I made the unconscious decision to stop wearing the wigs long before a real hair started to grow back on my head. And then it was a conscious one, when I was at the really awkward stage with just a few scattered tufts of hair and many bald spots – a defiant, I-don’t-care-what-I-look-like-and-screw-you-if-you-don’t-like-me-for-it kind of attitude (much tougher than I really felt inside). And finally, I didn’t need them as – sighs of relief – the follicles began to sprout faster, and the bald spots filled in. But I couldn’t bring myself to rid my room of the ever-present long (and short) hair perched on my shelf. Until now.

I only once in the last couple of months considered putting one of the wigs back on my head. I was going out for a night on the town and really wanted to flirt. And believe me when I say I have done my research and nothing tops having long hair when you want to attract attention. (Ok, maybe a few things, but that’s not the kind of attention I was looking for!) Men will overlook a lot of other flaws if you have beautiful, long hair. But my pride won out and I went with my own boy-like hair. Yes there was a tad bit of flirting, but I was flung back to reality when the guy was staring at the picture on my phone (he didn’t believe I had a 21-year-old son, so I showed him the picture of Nick with me in the red dress from last January) and he said “Wow, you’re beautiful!” But not looking at the me in front of him, looking at the pre-cancer me (with long, brown hair) from one year ago. Forget strikes one and two – that will count as three and you – are – out!

I had a lot of fun with my wigs in the beginning. They helped me get comfortable with the new me. Made me feel a bit better when I looked in the mirror. Helped me poke fun at the stupid thing called cancer. And I want to donate them to help other women do the same. But just not yet. I did loan a couple of them to a friend who is going through treatments now. But the others, now in a hatbox in my room, are almost a security blanket. I need a step process for this. First, out of sight but accessible. They are there if I need them, if suddenly I wake up, and all my hair is on my pillow, again. Not that it’s likely I’d put one on, even then, but I’d have options. And hopefully in the next few weeks, I will forget they are there. I will be secure that the hair on my head is here to stay. And one day, maybe in a couple of months, I will stumble across them and want the storage space for something else – like barrettes and headbands and elastics for my growing locks. And then I can find someone to pass them on to, who is at the start of her cancer journey and needs those wigs to boost her confidence and mood – to be her security blanket – as I let go.

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It is officially the new year. 2013. I couldn’t be happier to say goodbye to 2012, easily the worst year of my life. But in really looking at it, I don’t think it was necessarily 2012 – I think it may have  been 38. You see, 2012 really seemed more like a continuation of 2011. It just flowed over, so that 2012 was like 2011 Part 2. At work we were in the midst of intense preparation for our planned shutdown all winter, and then personally I was looking forward to an early January first date – so all those things continued from 2011 into 2012, making it kind of one big year.

Then I turned 38 in February – and I thought things would be different. Oh, and different they were! I was starting to see someone whose life is as crazy as mine (recipe for disaster), we spent Valentine’s night in the hospital, and then, of course, in March I found the lump. Pretty much all downhill from there. So that means (to me) 38 was to blame, not 2012.

Don’t get me wrong, 2013 feels incredible – there is a hope in the air that wasn’t there before. An excitement that you can feel. Things will be better! So many people had a bad year – I’ve never seen so many people clamoring for a fresh start – that this is good for everyone! And in one month I will turn 39. I will be done with radiation. I’ll have my left breast re-expanded so I can be even again, and THAT will be my real fresh start!

And 39 is my number, always has been. My birthday is on the 9th, I’ve always liked things in threes, always prefered odd numbers to even, and 1939 was a fabulous year: they made Gone With the Wind AND The Wizard of Oz, two of my favorite movies. I’ve always looked forward to being 39 (strange, I know), and now even more so.

2013/39 is going to be the year of ME. Sounds rather selfish, I know, but I need it. How can I be any good for anyone else if I’m not happy with me? So I’m going to get healthy – in mind, body and spirit. No extreme diets, joining a new gym or setting unrealistic resolutions. Simply getting back to eating better, running and finding a way to get a good night’s sleep. Growing my hair, eyelashes and eye brows. Losing the chemo weight. Of course I have other goals in mind, relating to work, volunteering, travel, relationships – but they really aren’t achievable unless I’m healthy and happy, so that has to come first.

So that is my wish for all of you, my dear friends and family: good health and happiness. Every day is a new opportunity for a fresh start, whether it’s January 1, your birthday, the first of the month or just a Monday – you can seize any day to start over and become the person you want to be. Happy 2013 – make it the year of you!

Silly, spiky hair after my first run of the new year - but at least it's hair!

Silly, spiky hair after my first run of the new year – but at least it’s hair!

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As I sat down in my reconstructive surgeon’s waiting room at Brigham and Women’s this afternoon for the first time in months, I had this strange surge of emotion. My mind immediately jumped back to May when I was sitting in the very same seat, furiously texting with the guy I was seeing. I remember fighting back tears as I typed, so depressed because everyone else in the waiting room was holding the hand of a significant other except me – and part of me blamed him for not being there even though I didn’t even tell him I had the appointment that day. I knew that didn’t make sense, but not much made sense at that time.

Sitting there today, I thought of how far I’ve come. Today I breezed in there smiling, confidently bald (can I still call it that with the baby hair on my head?), rushing straight from work; in stark contrast to months ago when I slowly trudged down the hospital hall in sweats and no makeup, feeling like all the life had been sucked out of me – and unable to see beyond the devastating moment.

While I don’t love my current situation, I accept it. While I don’t like being bald, I can handle it. And while it would be great to have some incredible guy by my side, I would rather be alone than with the wrong one, or one who doesn’t want to be here.

I’ve even come to terms with radiation. Today was the first step: partially deflating my left breast so it doesn’t get in the way during radiation. I talked through things with Dr. H and he assured me that while this will be longer, it’s the right order and he will do everything he can when it’s his turn. I felt better when I left – although it’s hard getting used to one smooshy breast (like those squishy gel toys) and one that’s hard as a rock! February can’t come soon enough – that’s when I’ll visit Dr. H again and get reinflated. And hopefully I will be able to schedule the surgery then, too, depending how I did through radiation – which I am determined will go well.

For at least the moment, my overwhelmingly positive and determined attitude has returned. I started today practically giddy (I even warned several people). Why? Because today is Tuesday and for the first time in months, I got to go to work! (AKA – No more chemo!) And not only did I get to go to work, but I started the day welcoming people at New Hire Orientation, which I always find invigorating. So by the time I was back in my office, I was raring to go! If only I could bottle that feeling…

Giving Tuesday

I couldn’t let today go by without mentioning Giving Tuesday. Unlike Black Friday and Cyber Monday, this is a day to use your money to make a real difference. It doesn’t have to be today – I know, it is quite late – but can be any day of the year. In fact, I will once again be purchasing most of my Christmas gifts online here:

  • Dana-Farber – Our Giving Catalog is full of gifts that benefit adult and pediatric patients and advance Dana-Farber’s lifesaving mission. Gifts range from supporting clinical trials to stocking our toy closet.

After making your selection and donation, you can either send someone an e-card or print cards to give as gifts. I think people will appreciate it as much this year as they did last. I know it’s certainly more personal to me this year, and there’s no present I’d rather than this.

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