“Honey, will you make me some juice while I pull out my hair?” I said as I rolled over in bed to face my husband.
“Sure, babe,” he said.
After a bit, I heard the whir and grinding of the juice machine and knew it was time. Dredging up energy, I crawled out of bed and staggered to the kitchen. I grabbed the big trash can from the closet and dragged it into the bathroom. Sitting on the toilet lid, I began pulling wads of hair from my head–beautiful, long, curly hair.
Chemotherapy for breast cancer had loosened the folicles so much, I was afraid a stiff wind might blow my hair right off of my head.
Bo found me there, with tears on my face. “Let’s get you back to bed. You’ll feel better after you drink this,” he said.
I did feel stronger after drinking the juice, but not better. No tears would bring my hair back that day. I did own a wig that was stylish and cute. But it wasn’t my hair.
One year later, I stopped wearing that wig. I needed to go to the bank. Just before I opened the door to enter, a big gust of wind blew my wig off! It rolled across the ground like a big tumbleweed. I chased it down when it hung up on a bush and snatched it just before it blew all the way across the parking lot. That’s when I knew it was time.
Now, I love windy days. I can feel my hair moving in the breeze and am confident it will not blow off.
Today I chose to tell this story in honor of those who are suffering through chemotherapy.
If you know someone who is a cancer patient right now, what can you do to help her?
- Go visit her. Talk to her about normal, everyday things. Her life is abnormal, and she needs to get in touch with normal, if only for an hour.
- Find out what her “comfort foods” are and bring her some. Find out what her family likes to eat and bring a meal.
- Volunteer to transport her to treatment.
- Don’t question decisions she makes about her treatment. Rest assured, she has carefully considered them.
- If she feels like it, take her shopping for shoes. Her clothing size may change as a result of treatment and surgery, but her shoe size won’t.
- Send her a funny card.
- Pray for her, and tell her you are. Maybe make (or buy) a bracelet to remind her of your prayers.
- Give her a daily flip-calendar with encouraging words and Bible verses on it.
- Send her uplifting text and/or social media messages.
Theses are just a few suggestions. I’m sure you can come up with others. The main thing is to be sensitive to her needs and desires. And the best way to find those out is to talk to her.
Many times, we don’t know what to say to some one facing difficult circumstances, so we avoid them. It happened to me. While I understood the dynamic, it still hurt that those who I thought were my friends couldn’t find one hour to come sit with me.
I’m fine now, six years later. My body has healed, and my friendships survived too.
Thanks to new research, chemo and radiation treatments have improved. But they still make for a terrible experience.
Many organizations are raising money for research into more effective, less invasive treatments. This is crucial. My cancer was Triple Negative Breast Cancer. No one knows what causes this kind yet, and hormone therapy does not work to treat it.
So I ask you to choose a way you will honor cancer patients, and give so we can better understand and treat this terrible disease.
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