Tuesday, 12 March 2013

The Journey

I'm sitting in Lucinda Ellery's amazing hair salon having 14 inch extensions attached to my jaw length ginger (yes, ginger) hair. I'm feeling strangely retrospective. The fact that I'm able to do this today is a perfect summary of my cancer journey, which can essentially be chartered by hair progress. From humble brown, wavy, long (I now realise too long) beginnings, to this; Experimental, colourful, nearly long again and mine (in part). It's a significant marker that heralds a bit of a new beginning for me. As if an engagement, successfully treated recurrence, house move, renovations, wedding, new name, new dream, job, couldn't do that for me. Nope, it's the hair.
I don't mean for this to be a vanity thing, or sound flippant, but it's such an important and significant part of the whole journey that it's not so surprising I can measure the ups and downs via the stuff atop my head.

Since last year, there have been a multitude of ups. I've registered and recognised them, but I haven't been quite able to enjoy them without something in the back of my head telling me not to get cocky, not to enjoy them too much otherwise I'll fall harder when I do. Take it from me, this is no way to live the ups.
The truth is the bit after the treatment is a massive battle of wills. This is normal life where you aren't guided by medical staff or routines or procedures. Now it is my responsibility to regroup and retain life as I knew it. In my book this meant very quickly resolving and bettering mine to compensate for the two years of crap that wasted my time. Thus I crammed a lot of stuff into a very short space. The last six months have unquestionably contained the very best of The Life of Mrs DadJokes (nee Beresiner). There wasn't time to blog, there wasn't any desire to either. All part of my reclamation Project Denial. Silly, silly me.

Whilst I was chasing and attaining my dream job, husband, house, I was building an almost subconscious back story called "Haha, This is Short Term and You Know It." This one I didn't tell anyone about; my first mistake. The worst bit about this story is how much joy it sucks out of the joyous stuff. There should be nothing less than extreme excitement at successfully growing enough new hair to have wedding extensions transform it, to have dream hair to compliment my dream dress that was unhindered by a pesky mastectomy, and a room full of every single person I love. That day was simply beautiful and everything I wished for, but the run up was fearful with my morning mantra manifesting into 'please let nothing bad happen before I get married'. I'm not even a morning mantra person. This is post-cancer madness at its subtle best and applied to every good thing that happened to me.

I spent a good few months neglecting my positive outlook. It's why I ignored so many of you who took time to email and check on me. How rude. I decided I didn't want to focus on the bad stuff, but ignoring it was just undoing all the hard work, like dieting for a year and then buying a 24 pack of Krispy Kremes. It'll always be there but I have a mission now that I hadn't counted on, but I shouldn't run away from either.
The thing is everything is momentous. My hair is a legacy of my treatment. Every time I style it, colour or cut it I'm reminded that it's my new hair, and why. Sat here among people who still have no hair, some who lost it to cancer, or burns, some who compulsively pull it out themselves, all being reinstated with a natural 'normal' head of hair I'm starting to get clarity. Good grief I'm pessimistic!

What I learnt in 2013:
A rash near my scar is not 100% a recurrence as my brain tells me. More like 0% on closer inspection. Nor is a swollen gland catastrophic or a shortness of breath anything other than a lackadaisical approach to my fitness.
Having a new, improved life is awesome, normal and the best kind of challenge that mustn't be clouded by paranoia
Doctors don't lie, contrary to my previous belief
There are a lot of appearance related challenges on the other side of treatment that I've undertaken and not shared. I apologise, but I have some good new knowledge now!
Colourful hair is like new shoes.

Simple fact is this: I'm ok today, I'm better than ok in fact. I'm a little bit stressed to be out of the office and not getting my ELLE work done, but hey what an amazing normal, dreamy stress to have. Today I've managed to come out the other side with actual shiny ringing bells on, so excuse me while I properly acknowledge that fact, ratch up a notch on the optimism post and concentrate on new and improved me. With suddenly much longer hair.

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