I thank the Lord for modern medicine, especially chemotherapy. Sure, it was hell to go through and effected me in so many ways but, it also helped to save my life.

I have some friends currently going through cancer treatment.  I hope that this makes them see the light at the end of the tunnel and again, focus on what they have rather than what they are losing.

My eyes were teary and often red rimmed from all of the crying I did. I also lost my eyelashes and when they grew back, I had to see an optomologist as they were growing in the wrong way (ingrown hairs, if you will). It was very painful. Luckily, the eye doctor was able to put anesthesia on my eyeballs to ease the pain a bit. But, during that time my eyes also watched my babies play, my dog chase a ball and my husband lean in to kiss me.

Obviously, I lost my hair. This was truly traumatic in a way no other woman who hasn’t lost theirs can understand. To add insult to injury, it actually hurts when it falls out.  I learned, however, through the loss of my hair that I am strong enough to weather curious stares, that my friends and family would always only see me as “Nicole” and that I have a pretty nicely shaped head! Also, as a plus, you loss ALL of your hair and do not have to worry about shaving through your entire treatments. So, enjoy it while you can. Believe me, it all grows back!

My mouth was filled with sores. I remember I had to use a wash in my mouth that didn’t really help to do anything but make me nauseous. Also, everything that I ate for six months tasted like metal or had no taste at all. It was really difficult as I went through it during the holidays. I would smell the delicious turkey and not be able to taste it. Or, the Christmas cookies or cakes. You get the picture. I was, however, still able to use this mouth to kiss my children goodnight, to negotiate contracts, to help my employees, say “I love you” to my husband and counsel other women going through cancer.

My nose was runny (you use the hair in there, too!) and sore but, it could still smell the flowers blooming in early spring, could smell my grandma’s cooking while she cared for me and my family. I could still smell the sweet bath soaps and gels that I would put in my nice, warm bubble baths to make my pain a little more bearable.

My joints and bones ached during much of my treatment. After one particular chemotherapy session, my legs were so spastic that I had to call my mother to come take care of the kids because it was all I could do to walk.  But, during those six months those legs did walk – they walked me to the treatments that would save my life.  My aching arms lifted my children into bed, into the car, into the shopping cart. They also hugged the people I love.

And, of course, the end all and be all of breast cancer – the loss of breasts. There is a mourning period that needs to take place for this loss, even if you have reconstruction.  You feel deformed, self-conscious and depressed. However, there is a huge lesson that if you are lucky enough, you learn.

You are a woman no matter what parts of you are taken away.  Being a woman is part of your very essence, part of your soul.  The making of a woman begins when we are very young, and we give our ice cream cone to our little friend who dropped theirs. When we are teenagers and hug and comfort our girlfriend who has lost a love. When we support our mates during hard times, when we caress our pregnant bellies. Women can kiss and make a boo boo all better.  Just like magic. She is a nurse, a therapist, a cook, a maid, a  a nurturer, a friend and a lover. And, not one of these things is contingent on her having the breasts she was born with. Not one.

So, girls. Hang in there. It is only with hindsight that I am really able to realize how much there was that I was able to enjoy while the “dark time” was upon me.  Maybe by reading this, you can pay attention and enjoy it while it’s happening.