Everyone hears the word 'cancer', and they immediately think it is the most horrible thing to ever happen to a person in the history of happenings. It certainly is, no doubt about that. It's pain and suffering on a cellular level, and don't let anybody tell you any different. I have never felt so horrible, weak, exhausted, or miserable, as I have over the past year. (Yes! It'll be a year in September!)
However, now that I'm done with chemo and my brain is actually starting to work again, I've decided to try and be more positive. To smile more, when I'm not nodding off, and to try and look at the good instead of focusing on the negative. And then I thought, why not try the same thing with cancer? Surely I can think of some positives to take away from my experience, I asked myself.
The best part of having cancer, right off the top of my head, has been that I don' t have to
shave my legs. I haven't had to shave my legs in the last six or seven months. There's not a hair to be found on my body, thanks to chemo. I am as bare as a newborn baby. That pesky Old Lady mole hair that was sprouting on my chin? Gone. The five o'clock shadow of underarm hair that usually frustrates my attempts to wear sleeveless shirts? Adios. Even the hair that had sprouted on my big toes over the years has departed. The only hair that has stubbornly resisted departing from my body has been my nose hair, which is as sleek and full as it ever was.
Another aspect of having cancer that could be considered a positive? I stopped worrying about how my hair looked before I stepped outside. After years of spending lots of time in front of the bathroom mirror, combing, curling, and cultivating a particular hairstyle, I no longer had anything to fuss over in the mornings. I'd brush my teeth in the morning, verify that my head was still somewhat round-shaped, and then my beauty routine was finished. I got to sleep later! It is extremely liberating to not have to worry about what your hair looks like, particularly when you need to be at work in five minutes.
And I did lose some weight, thanks to cancer, close to thirty pounds. I gained some of it back again, via that wonderful thing called edema, but overall, the weight has stayed off. I just can't eat as much anymore, and since I can't taste certain foods, I don't eat as often as I used to, either. If I manage to eat two meals in a day, I'm happy. The benefit of this is that some of the clothes in my closet that were too tight to wear in public now fit very well, so it seems like I've got a brand new wardrobe. Except for pants. I haven't had a chance to buy some new pants, because I'm too tired to spend time trying on new ones. My old ones are sliding over my hips, and I'm a little worried about them falling off. Not worried enough to go and purchase new pants, mind you, but you get the idea.
I also stopped sweating the small stuff once I was diagnosed. I used to worry that someone might be angry at me, that I'd screw up a case, that someone would complain about something I did or said. I'd worry that Zane's school would think I was a bad mom because he didn't always remember to finish his homework. I'd worry that bills wouldn't get paid, dinner wouldn't be made, the house would be messy. Cancer had me focusing on the essentials, like getting through chemo. The rest just fell away. Now, if I need a nap, I take it. If someone is upset about something I did or said, I take care of it on my own time without getting emotional about it. If I'm a few minutes late because I move slowly in the mornings, I don't get upset at myself. I just keep on moving.
Finally, I've been surrounded by some truly exceptional people since I found that tumor. My surgeon has been a saint, holding my hand along the way, and calming my massive crazy just by listening to me. The nurses who got my spirits up when I started freaking out over various things, who made sure that I got my anti-nausea drugs on time, and cleaned me up when I did not. The people who sat through chemo with me, and distracted me by discussing their children, their hobbies, trains, and the military. The bloggers who have visited me here to leave comments of support or who have sent me care packages or texted me smiley faces and Lego cheerleaders. The coworkers who made sure that I ate regularly by bringing me homemade gifts of banana pudding and manicotti. The husband and son who let me sleep as late as I wanted or nap as often as I needed, so I could heal. All of these people helped me feel supported and loved, and that truly is a positive thing when you're going through cancer. They were as integral to my health care as the drugs in the chemo therapy. And that's been the best thing about having cancer.