Saturday, April 2, 2016

Who Needs Chemo To Lose Your Hair?

For eight weeks, I have needed a haircut as my normally short hair was getting straggly and difficult to style. However, I held off. I still don't know if I will need chemo for my breast cancer since all the tests are not completed. Besides that, they are waiting on other test results, thus at least another three weeks before surgery scheduled. So despite knowing that if I must undergo chemo, I will lose my hair, I went to a new hairdresser for a "pixie" cut. I didn't think I could stand another month or so of my increasingly unruly hair.

My old hairdresser is on maternity leave, so I went to a new one. She was very good, but I must say, cut my hair much shorter than I would like. Oh well. It will grow. Unless I get which case it will all fall out. Some dangly earrings and a pretty dress -- I bet then I will look like a girl.

Anyway, as long as I was out, I decided to drive to the local post-mastectomy shop. How fun is that! I thought it would be valuable to look at breast prostheses, mastectomy bras, swimsuits, and post-surgical camisoles. Demystifying this whole new world is important. I walked into a largely deserted, quaint boutique, and was met by a lovely, kind woman. I explained why I was there, and she took me immediately under-wing.

She showed me what sorts of things I would need if I got a lumpectomy, and what I would need with a mastectomy. I even got to heft a 38 D breast implant, and thanked God I am a small woman. It would be an aerobic workout just hauling those babies around all day.

The camisoles are designed to hold padding as needed, as well as the drainage tubes post surgery. They are NOT cheap. $75. Now I haven't talked about drainage tubes yet because of ostrich-head-in-the-sand syndrome. The drainage tubes sound like one of the yuckiest parts of this journey.

However, I felt it was time to slay this monster too. I asked her to tell me about the drainage tubes and exactly how one went about dealing with 3 or 4 tubes hanging out of your chest with stomach-churning gunk dripping out of them. She agreed this part was not fun, but brief. Two weeks for most women. They must always be pinned to the shirt or in a special camisole pocket so they don't get pulled upon. Every few hours, the patient dumps them out after measuring the output. Doesn't that sound appetizing? Hope you are aren't reading this while eating.

The mastectomy bathing suits were super cute. They were the price of any good bathing suit. I found a few I liked immediately. The nice saleswoman wrote me a list with codes for insurance of all I would need with either surgical scenario. As I turned to leave, she asked if she could hug me. She seemed to be genuinely concerned for my welfare, and told me she'd be praying for me.

Driving away, I called my "nurse navigator" to ask if I could get camisoles more cheaply on-line. I could, but she told me I should visit the Charlotte Breast Friends in the pink house nearby. They often received donated camisoles and would give them to me free! She told me it is also a great resource with free classes and seminars for survivors.

So, I drove there, mostly because Breast Friends is about the cutest name for such an agency that I have ever heard. And a free $75 camisole is nothing to sneeze at.

Breast Friends is in a historic gorgeous home, and as soon as you walk in, you are enveloped in hope and kindness. The volunteer, Krista, offered a tour, and told me she'd be happy to give me some camisoles. She also wanted to tell me about all the other completely free services this great ministry offers.

That sounded wonderful, but first I needed to use the rest room. Look at this:

Those are hand-painted pink butterflies on the wall. Everything in this building is soothing and gentle. She invited me to a seminar coming up, which starts with a wine and food social time. I can't say cancer is the best thing that ever happened to me, but it has its perks.

She chose two lovely camisoles that were as soft as butter, and looked nearly new. While picking out the camisoles, she and several others in the office shared their own cancer stories, and answered my questions. Every employee there was a cancer survivor, and chose to use their lives to help other cancer survivors. I was so glad I had decided to stop by.

Before I left, Krista gave me a bag of goodies, including 'chemo' slippers. If I do get chemo, my feet would get cold in the chemo room. Not with those cute pink, skid-free slippers though. "Please come back soon," Krista asked. I didn't even have to prove I had cancer. They just took my word for it. I guess they don't have issues of people faking cancer just to snag the free breast prostheses and mastectomy bras.

God is showing me a side of the world I wasn't so acutely aware of in my pre-cancerous days. There are caring people with sincere empathy and generosity that are surrounding me with wise and gentle counsel and love. Friends, many of whom I see very rarely, are showering me with gifts, and notes, and offers of help. When God tells us we are not alone, He doesn't mean only He is with us. He is always with us, of course, but so are those He has prepared to be further sources of comfort and compassion. I am not alone. You are not alone.

The other lesson He is driving home: the best thing to do with your own pain is help others in similar situations.

One of the moms I work with told me early on that no one cares about her, and she has no one to turn to. I pointed her to God first, but have felt a deep obligation to touch base with her regularly. No one wants to feel that no one in the world cares about them. I have been on the receiving end of a flood of love from others. I know how important it is to know God is there, but we are humans and need fellow humans to care about us too! I shouldn't expect it from others if I am not willing to be that loving friend to others.

I guess that's the Golden Rule. If you want to see the blessing of God, be a blessing of God.

I came home, and made myself healthy bone-broth soup with lots of yummy vegetables. While sipping my healthy lunch, I glanced at the mirror. Yikes! That hair is short! The good news is if I do need chemo, going bald won't be such a shock.

And then, my friend Carol, one of the kindest people on earth who I think has given me a gift every day since my diagnosis, showed up with flowers. Her picture is below. She is hiding behind the flower pot.  She didn't want her face on the internet.  I told her she'd be in my blog because she is doing EXACTLY  what I am talking about. I think the Bible should have a new verse: Go ye therefore, and be like Carol.

I have about a hundred friends and family being the hands and feet of Jesus to me during this rough patch. Thank you, all of you. The prayers, the love, the notes, the support means the world to me.

Romans 11:1-5

I ask, then, has God rejected his people? By no means! For I myself am an Israelite, a descendant of Abraham, a member of the tribe of Benjamin. God has not rejected his people whom he foreknew. Do you not know what the Scripture says of Elijah, how he appeals to God against Israel? “Lord, they have killed your prophets, they have demolished your altars, and I alone am left, and they seek my life.” But what is God's reply to him? “I have kept for myself seven thousand men who have not bowed the knee to Baal.” So too at the present time there is a remnant, chosen by grace.


  1. Awesome post. I love to start my day with you.

  2. Dear Vicky,

    As you have given and invested in and been a sweet blessing to others, now the Lord is allowing you to reap some of the fruit from the seeds you have sown!

    Give and it shall be given unto you.

    You cannot outgive God!

    Love and prayers,


  3. That haircut is a really good look on you!