When I was first diagnosed with cancer, I knew my life was going to change. But, I didn’t realize how hard dealing with all of these changes would be. Surprisingly, I anticipated the bigger changes more than I anticipated the little ones.
Here’s a list of everything I took for granted before I was diagnosed with and started to feel the effects of having cancer.
- Washing my hair frequently in warm water in the shower. I’ve been very fortunate to have not lost any hair yet because of the cold caps (knock on wood), but there’s a lot of rules I have to follow in order to keep my hair. Washing my hair twice a week in cold water is one of them. Because I refuse to take a cold shower, my mom washes my hair in cold water in the sink. When I take a shower, I have to wear a shower cap of course. I just really miss the feeling of running my hair through warm water.
- Taking worry-free baths. Again, I have to take baths wearing a shower cap. But it’s hard for me to relax and let my head go back when I’m worried about it being submerged in warm water. Every time I’ve taken a bath, the bottom of my hair has come out slightly wet.
- Going in the pool. Of course, I can still go in the pool. But, it’s different when I can’t go under water (even with a swim cap) without worrying that I’m doing some damage to my hair. My pool is salt water, and one of the cold cap nurses told me that a woman who used the cold caps got her hair wet with salt water, and then her hair started falling out. I’m not letting all my blood sweat and tears with the cold caps go to waste!
- Going to the beach/tanning. In addition to not being able to go in the water, I can’t be in the sun either because I’ll burn very easily. I really miss going to the beach, laying out in the sun and getting a nice tan without even trying. Now, whenever I want to lay out in my yard I have to make sure I’m in the shade and loaded up on sunscreen (which everyone should be doing anyway).
- Having a few drinks and feeling buzzed. It’s no surprise that the only food restriction I have during chemo is no alcohol. I’m not even someone who drinks frequently, but I miss being able to go out with my friends, have a few drinks and just acting silly.
- Being able to go out worry-free. As I’ve mentioned in a previous blog post, I’ve developed anxiety and a slight depression throughout this whole ordeal. (I’ve been told that this is normal). I have a very hard time going out and leaving my house without worrying that I’m going to get sick or exhausted. In addition to that, I worry about whether or not I’m going to have fun or if I’m going to get randomly upset about everything that I’m going through.
- Having a jam-packed schedule. For the last two months, I’ve been on a leave of absence from work and I never thought I’d say this but I’ve been so bored without it. I’m used to working a 9-6 schedule Monday-Friday and packing my weekends with fun activities, but now I have so much free time that I don’t know what to do with myself. I’m so bored all the time and all I’m really supposed to do is sit back and relax, which is extremely hard for me to do.
- Not being tired all the time. I miss having the stamina to go out and live my life, but undergoing chemo treatment makes that really hard. I’m tired all the time, and I rarely have any energy to do anything as time goes on. When I was first diagnosed, it was a different story, but now I find that my side effects are more magnified.
Well there you have it. This post was not an easy one for me to write. It definitely made me feel vulnerable which I don’t like but I felt that this was something I needed to get out so people can really understand what it’s like having cancer and being so restricted. I just do my best to remember that this is all temporary and will be over before I know it.