Drugs, Hugs and Losing My Jugs: A Breast Cancer Journal - June 10, 2015 - Zero Fucks
This is the twenty-first entry in a 31-day Breast Cancer Awareness Month exclusive series featuring the real journal entries of breast cancer survivor, Jessica Sliwerski. Read the previous entry here.
I awoke this morning and followed my usual morning routine.
1. Hold my breath and feel my head. This morning, I still felt a lot of hair. “OK, good,” I say to myself.
2. Check my chemo cap. I don’t know at what point it falls off my head, but every morning I wake up and it’s off. I immediately inspect it. No hairs. This means it must fall off shortly after I put it on and fall asleep. I wonder, not for the first time, why I even bother wearing it.
3. Inspect my pillow. Each morning there are more and more hairs. This morning was no exception. Weirdly, I do not shake the hairs off. I have not washed the pillowcase since my hair started to fall. So, although each morning there are more hairs, technically all the hairs are cumulating.
I climbed out of bed and padded into the bathroom to pee. As I was washing my hands, I glanced in the mirror and began part two of my routine.
1. Survey my face. No new pimples. In fact, with the steroids having worked their way out of my system, my skin looks great. This makes me happy because having pimples and no hair would really put me in a bad mood. I then notice my eyebrows and eyelashes are still intact. I let out a sigh of relief.
2. Examine my hairline. Hair at my temples is receding. Hair on the side of my head is thinning. Hair above my ears — what the fuck?! There they were — the beginning of bald patches.
I walked briskly into the kitchen where Jules was making bottles. (Did I mention I went from not being able to sleep to now sleeping in until about 8:30 a.m. in the morning? Victory!)
“Do you see this?” I asked her, pointing to the bald patches above each of my ears. “Look at this. The hair is gone, right? Do not sugarcoat your answer. “
She leaned over and carefully examined my head. In a calm, measured voice she said, “It is much thinner. It is not completely gone, though. And it is not very obvious to anyone but you.”
I turned around so my back was to her. “What about the back? Are there more patches?”
“No. You are OK.”
“Thank you,” I said. And then I began making my breakfast.
Jules and I have an understanding regarding all this cancer shit. When I was first diagnosed and I told her, she immediately launched into a speech about how I was strong and I was “gonna be OK.” The next morning when she came to work I laid down the law.
“Listen,” I told her. “You are going to see everything.” She nodded. “No, you need to understand. You will see and you will hear everything. What I need from you is to simply listen. I don’t want to hear ‘it’s going to be OK.’ Got it?”
“Got it,” she said. And she has held up her end of the bargain. When I am flying off the handle and yelling fuck and sobbing, she stoically sits and doesn’t say shit. And she has now endured months of this. I find her self-discipline to be quite impressive and it has further endeared her to me. She is part of my tribe.
At this point I have come to terms with my hair falling out. I have grieved it sufficiently. I am ready to be bald.
All I want is to not be bald for Kyle’s birthday dinner tomorrow night at Gramercy Tavern. I’m not that ready to be bald. Signs point to me having hair at dinner unless there is an aspect to the falling out that my online research has not prepared me for. Today I am grateful for this small win.
The thing is, I am pretty certain that I am the only one who cares so much. My friends don’t care. My family doesn’t care. Penelope doesn’t care. And Kyle, the person whose opinion I value most, doesn’t seem to care.
This past weekend we were at brunch with his dad and stepmom and Kyle, Penelope and I all had our sunglasses on. It was obviously the perfect moment for a photo. And the next thing I knew, Kyle had made that photo his Facebook profile picture.
I find this act to be so touching. Everyone knows that your profile picture is supposed to pronounce to the world that:
1. You are wildly happy.
2. Your life is perfect.
3. You are hot.
Yet Kyle posted this picture in which I am so obviously dealing with cancer. He violated the Facebook profile picture rules because this picture so blatantly says, “Yeah, this is happening and I fucking love her anyway.”
I keep thinking about this as I continue to lose my hair and inch closer to baldness. I feel braver about this next phase of treatment because I have Kyle.
And he gives zero fucks. So why should I?
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All photos and videos courtesy of Jessica Sliwerski