For example, while most people lose all their hair with chemotherapy, I kept a great deal of my hair when I went through treatment as a child. When I relapsed at 13 years old, I knew I was going to lose my hair because my chemo regimen would be more rigorous than it was the first time. So, I was not worried. However, I was very worried about the fact that I would have a second big scar on my chest from having my second port put in a different place than when I was little. I was also worried about what would happen with my skin and weight by going from the extreme loss of appetite while on chemo to the extreme quantities of food I would consume while on steroids.
On the other hand, a friend of mine, a lymphoma patient who I met in the teen room at the outpatient clinic, was terrified of losing her hair. She was not worried about scars, radiation burns, weight, etc. No, she just could not wrap her brain around losing her hair. Now, she had this beautiful, waist-length blond hair, which I would be sad to lose too. However, I thought I had pretty hair as well, but had lost it all by the time I met her, and it did not phase me one bit. When I met her, I pulled off my hat, showed her my bald head, and told her it would grow back, as I showed her my practically nonexistent hair.
It is very difficult to psychologically prepare yourself to face the physical changes because you don’t really know, at the beginning, all of the physical changes you might face. You also are never sure of which changes are temporary and which ones will be permanent.
I think that, no matter what physical change you face, the most difficult thing to deal with is the looks from people. Whether you are walking around the mall with no hair, sitting on the beach with your scars exposed, or sitting in a wheelchair missing a part of your leg, you feel like you stand out in that way that no one wants to stand out. I know that feeling and it is really tough to deal with.
However, you can prepare yourself by trying to relax and simply accept whatever comes your way. As they say in the videos, you can get outside help if necessary, either by just talking to your doctor, family member, or priest/faith counselor about your concerns, or by getting professional help from a therapist. After going through everything I did, I found that there is also another way to make it better.
You have to make a conscious decision about how you will think about yourself. If you can learn to love your scars, your bald head, your lack of eyebrows, your prosthetic, learn to love your body for all that it has gotten you through, you may just find yourself more content.
More importantly, you may just find yourself with even better body image than you had before your treatment. There is a saying I learned from my mother:
“God grant me the Serenity to accept the things I cannot
Wisdom to know the difference.”
Whether you believe in God or not, this saying can be very useful. It really works from the bottom up. First of all, recognize that it takes Wisdom to understand that we have to accept our bodily changes beause no matter how Courageous we are, we cannot change them. Second of all, and most imporantly, it takes an inner Serenity to accept them. Find your source of Serenity, your inner peace, and it will be easier for you to love your body and your life.