Cancer Can Affect A Person’s Behavior in Odd Ways


I’ve already warned my family, if I decide to act a little crazy in the future, don’t worry. I’ve got a good excuse. I can always blame it on the cancer. It’s a good excuse, sometimes.

When I was diagnosed with breast cancer, my world seemed to crumble in a matter of seconds. As a person used to having complete control over most of my life situations, suddenly, I had none.

The breast specialist sent me to a breast surgeon who went into detail about my disease, treatment plan, and possible future. While we talked, I listened intently, making mental notes. When it came time to discuss treatment options, I became easily overwhelmed with the number of decisions before me.

The doctor wanted to make sure I understood risks associated with each portion of the plan. While I was thankful that she was astute, I wished she hadn’t shared so much information.

When we talked about chemotherapy, she asked what I knew about it. I only knew what I’d heard others share. They’d talked about extreme fatigue, nausea, peripheral neuropathy, and hair loss. She asked if I was worried about any of those side effects and I squirmed in my seat. I was afraid of losing my crowning glory the most. It seemed petty and trite to mention my concern over the possibility of losing my locks, but I told the truth. I feared going bald.

I was surprised at the doctor’s reaction to my statement. She smiled and said, “No worries!” I thought, “That’s easy for you to say, it’s not your head.” She went on to explain there were new medical implements that helped prevent baldness, like a special cooling cap I could try. I listened as she continued, “There are no guarantees, but if you do find yourself losing hair, you can always use Minoxidil, a hair restoration product.”

Leaving her office that day overladen with facts and information, I decided to become proactive. I would cut my hair before cancer had a chance to take it and I’d buy some Minoxidil to keep on hand, just in case. I also decided to order a wig or two. A Dolly Parton wig catalog had come in the mail a few days earlier. I’d seen some cute ones there. I’d opt for one short wig and one long one. Afterall, if Dolly could do it, so could I.

A week before bilateral mastectomies, I had my hair cut into a short pixie and donated my hair to Locks of Love. For some strange reason, I felt less cancerous with the new look. I rationalized if I lost my hair to cancer treatment, at least the locks would be shorter and not make such a mess.

After the haircut, I stopped by the drugstore and bought two bottles of Minoxidil. When I slipped the bottles on the counter at checkout, I heard someone behind me whisper, “Vanity thy name is woman.”

As it turned out; I chose to forego chemotherapy. My decision was based on information from the Oncotype DX report and after researching potential damage chemotherapy could pose to vital organs.

So, I’d cut my hair for nothing and had spent money unnecessarily.

Today, a bottle of Minoxidil sits on the bathroom counter. My husband left it there. The other day I told him his hair had started to thin. I pulled out the hair serum from beneath the cabinet and handed it to him thinking it couldn’t hurt and it would be great if it helped.

Sometimes, hearing you have cancer can affect a person’s behavior in odd ways. While many choose to become proactive, others become reactive.

Immediately after diagnosis, I also met with a lawyer to draw up my last will and testament. I thought I was doing my family a favor by thinking ahead and preparing for the worst, but chances are, I’ll outlive them all.

I still sign up for breast cancer walks and fundraisers. I wear my survivor gear proudly. And I’m still learning to be present in the moment while I plan my tomorrows.

Life is good and I’m thankful.

But recently, I’ve noticed I seem to be shedding. There seems to be more of my shoulder length hair in the bottom of the shower than there used to be, but I’m not too worried. I’ve got wigs in the closet and if worse comes to worse, I’ll pull them out.

I don’t know why I’m so preoccupied with hair, but I’ve always wondered what I’d look like bald. With my luck, I would be one of the ones with an ugly, mishappen head.

Six years have passed since my meeting with the breast surgeon and cancer reminders seem to be everywhere but living on bonus time reminds me of how very differently things could have gone.

I’ve already warned my family, if I decide to act a little crazy in the future, don’t worry. I’ve got a good excuse. I can always blame it on the cancer. It’s a good excuse, sometimes.

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