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As a child, we’d find snake skins around our house. Snakes would freak my Mum out, she was terrified of them.
They’d not send her running, or cowering; her terror was much greater than that. She would send one of us to the barn to fetch the axe, so she could chop the creature into tiny bits. “Don’t go near that until after dark!” she would yell at us. The old wives’ tale about snakes staying alive until the sun set was rooted deep in her soul. It didn’t matter how much my older brother or I would tell her it wasn’t hurting anything. She was definitely from the school of ‘the only good snake is a dead snake.’
And, of course, snake skins made her equally as edgy. Not only had a snake lived, but it had lived long enough to grow larger and stronger.
Shedding after cancer
Much like a snake must shed its skin to grow, those that have fought cancer sometimes have to do some shedding of their own.
During and after my treatment for breast cancer, I saw a change in my friendships. My close friends, my support groups, my peeps helped me immensely. They visited, brought me food, took my son to play, cheered me up. They helped me by taking away some of my day to day responsibility, so I could focus on myself. My healing. Their kindness meant the world to me, and if I live to be 102, I will never be able to thank them enough. Truly, they don't know how very much all of that helped and comforted me.
There’s another side of friendships though. There are those that pull away, turn away, or just fade away. Maybe they don’t know what to say. Maybe they don’t know what to do. Maybe their own personal experiences prevent them from being able to be there for you. Those that are made uncomfortable by what you are dealing with.
It’s ok. Not everyone can cope with a life-threatening illness. Not everyone can look at you, with your bald head, and bald eyes and feel comfortable in their own skin, and just be there for you.
So sometimes we have to shed those fair weather friends to continue on with our own personal growth and survival. Sometimes our own personal well-being requires us to put ourselves first.
Shedding helps you grow, so don’t be scared of it.
My diagnosis was ‘Poorly differentiated invasive ductal carcinoma’ – breast cancer in the right breast, and ‘Metastatic carcinoma involving a lymph node..’ – it had spread to at least two of my lymph nodes. My chemo treatment was administered in two rounds. First, twelve weeks of a combination of Taxol and Carboplatin, infusion every week. Then, a one week break. Followed by eight weeks of Adriamycin (AC) and Cytoxan, infusion every other week (four treatments).
I had no idea what to expect from treatments other than the hair loss that everyone associates with chemo. I fully expected to beat the disease, and I did.
Throughout my treatments and recovery, I began documenting the things that the doctors don’t prepare you for so that I can share with others what to really expect. As much as I don’t want others to have to experience what I did, I hope my writing can help.
One day I hope all my helpful advice and tips will be published in a book… that is slowly coming together.
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