A Tearful Farewell and Armored Welcome: My Cancer Story


I’m not usually the emotional type, but the first time I tried on a wig after losing my hair from chemotherapy, I wept.

The lumpectomy was behind me; chemo was now my partner in keeping the demon at bay, next up radiation. My head was as smooth as a hardboiled egg, a tell-tale fashion statement that I was in the battlefield doing my best to ward off the spread of cancer.

I had heard about a store in Portland that specializes in wigs, bras and other helpful items for breast cancer survivors, so I decided to pay them a visit. My head was graced with a soft, pretty scarf; I was easily recognizable as a chemo patient.

Wig set | Image credit: ©  cosma - ©  stock.adobe.com

"Then I saw it, a wig, styled exactly as I had worn my long hair, AND the same color. I was transfixed and staring at it when a woman approached me and asked if I would like to try it on," said cancer survivor, Denise Sirchie.

The staff was very attentive, offering their assistance as I perused their store. It’s pretty amazing the items available for breast cancer survivors to allow us to look “normal” again. Then I saw it, a wig, styled exactly as I had worn my long hair, AND the same color. I was transfixed and staring at it when a woman approached me and asked if I would like to try it on.

“Yes please,” but I had no idea how to put on the headpiece so into a dressing room we went.

She did her magic, and magic it was. After it was attached properly, I looked in the mirror and immediately began to weep uncontrollably. I couldn’t stop. I had to sit down to regain my composure (this behavior is uncharacteristic, I’m not the emotional type). She ran for tissues, visually upset and confused. Embarrassed by my outburst, I apologized, and promptly left.

I sat in my car, just outside the store for a long time, gathering myself and finally realizing the reason for my tears: my old self would be no more. She was gone, replaced by this new being, dealing with treatments, fatigue, future burns and an uncertain longevity. My heart and my spirit guides told me to buckle up, regain my life force, put on my armor and get ready for battle. And so I did.

Twenty-two years later, the demon has returned. I underwent another lumpectomy and radiation; this time I found the strength to go to battle without tears or fear. I had already learned this dance and once you do, you never forget it. I have taken ownership of the warrior residing within.

“Bring it on, let’s put this behind us and enjoy life, it’s too short and I have much to do.” And so I soldier on, with compassion and support for those that I know recently diagnosed and shadow them with healing thoughts and prayers. “Doing,” not just asking.

We’re in this together, we need one another, we pray for a cure, there are too many of us. Stay strong, ask for help, we are all here to welcome the new you, even when the tears come.

This post was written and submitted by Denise Sirchie. The article reflects the views of Denise Sirchie and not of CURE®. This is also not supposed to be intended as medical advice.

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