Monday, October 5, 2009

The Unexpected Perks of Breast Cancer

Today was the first day back at work with my new “hair”. It was quite the decision trying to decide which one to wear. I like them all for different reasons. But, I settled on the one my sister bought me. It’s the only one that I’ve worn since the “shave” besides my Terry Bradshaw. I call it my Terry Bradshaw hair because there’s nothing on top just some hair around the sides. It’s “hat hair”. It’s also the most comfortable because it’s not itchy and it soothes the guilt of having purchased what I now know to be about 28 hats.

Work went well. It was kind of funny when I got there this morning. Some people bless their hearts, just don’t know what to do or say around a bald cancer patient with a wig. The first few people I encountered acted like I wasn’t wearing a wig. I felt kind of bad that they were noticeably trying to not look at my hair and terribly uncomfortable. Then it kind of became funny. I shouldn’t laugh at others discomfort, but talk about an elephant in the room! Really? I say this because my new hair is so totally different than my real hair was. My real hair is naturally curly and shoulder length. Today I have long straight hair that is layered and only curled on the ends. It would have had to grow 7 or 8 inches over the weekend to be mine. Call Ripley’s we got a “Believe It or Not” situation over here. Everyone else was complimentary and kind. Not one asked why it wasn’t pink…

Now that the shave is behind me, I have to talk for a minute about the unexpected perks of having cancer. I say this with all sincerity, but not to diminish the seriousness of this nasty disease. It’s terrible. It kills people for goodness sake. So, please understand that I’m just looking at this situation from the inside and there are a couple of perks to enjoy while going through all of the rest. They don’t make chemo worth it or the whole experience a good idea. I still recommend avoiding it all together. But, hey, as long as I’m dealing with it anyway…

I take back everything negative I said about hair as an accessory. It is a fine idea, a little itchy but EASY! The downside of having more than one look is trying to figure out which one to wear with what. When I got out of the shower this morning, my hair was already dry and styled. It’s like some “Jetson’s” set up, without the robots of course. And if it gets messed up during the day, you just have to stop by the house on your way to wherever and put on one of the others.

It’s also kind of fun to not be recognized anywhere. In plain sight, but out of sight...That is fun for a people watcher like me. Plus, getting to take it off when you get home is priceless. I know many women who look forward to ditching the bra after a long day. I used to be one of them. That’s a good feeling, but doesn’t even compare to ditching the hair. So, that’s a big perk.

Another thing is that you can do extremely stupid things and people excuse them because you’re just not yourself! Here’s an example. Right after I found out about my cancer and before our trip to Mexico, I was frazzled one day dropping Brayden off at Mom’s. Dad had the sprinkler on out front showering my normal path, and I broke my routine by pulling around back to drop him off. My sister and her family were living with Mom and Dad waiting to close on their new house at the time. So, blah, blah, blah a lot of cars in the driveway/parking lot.

When I came back outside to get to work, I backed straight into my sister’s car. Hard enough to smash both of our cars up pretty well. Her car got wrecked and she was in the shower at the time. So, I ran back in the house yelled, “I just wrecked mine and Michelle’s cars!! But, I've got to go to work! I'm late!! Tell her I’m sorry when she gets out of the shower!” (Keep in mind that she purchased her dream car about a year ago.) Not only was she not mad, she offered to pay my deductible because I was about to have so many medical bills. I didn’t let her, of course. But, when else can you smash up someone’s dream car and not only are they not mad, they offer to pay your expenses? Only when you have cancer. That’s when.

One last thing… I hate to even admit this, but I’ve done it. So, here goes. Have you ever wanted to get out of a situation really badly? You know, just can’t seem to end a conversation that should have ended long ago and you’re annoyed? As I have said before, people just don’t know what to say about cancer. So, if you bring it up, you can effectively silence them and escape. It went something like this...

When I went to get my rental car from the accident while the body shop fixed both mine and Michelle’s cars, it took forever. There were 2000 (slight exaggeration) people there and I waited over an hour (NO exaggeration whatsoever). So finally after much negotiation, they had a car for close to the price of my insurance coverage. So, I pay 5 bucks a day out of pocket and think I’m on my way. But, no. We have to have an additional 10 minute conversation about the extra insurance. At the end of it, I had about had it. Still being nice, but getting seriously annoyed on the inside. As a sales person myself I can respect the attempt to close me, but I HATE pushy sales people. They give all of us a bad name. Sometimes NO means NO, especially after the fourth one.

So when he said to me, “What about this doesn’t seem like a good deal to you? How is it unfair?” He was talking about me paying an extra 20 something dollars a day for coverage I already have with MY insurance after we just spent an hour looking for and negotiating on the price of a rental car. A car that they finally produced for me because they didn’t have any more for my $30/day coverage. They had already given everything else away, but wouldn’t turn loose of the claim so that I could go elsewhere. Yeah, then. So I said, “Fair has nothing to do with it, all of the extra money I have right now is going to pay for my cancer.” To which he responded (once he recovered and closed his mouth) “Please initial here.” Checkmate. Escape achieved, even if it did mean playing the cancer card. I have to admit it was the only enjoyable thing about the whole experience and the only time in more than an hour that he actually quit talking, was speechless in fact. I chuckled all the way home because the look on his face was priceless. So, I have to add effectively silencing people like that as a perk, too.

The point I guess is to find the humor in it all. I can’t imagine life without it. Sometimes the only thing that will get you through is the humor. I can’t even begin to count the number of times something so awful, or a series of things strung together, has caused me to laugh uncontrollably. And that’s where the key is hidden. It’s all uncontrollable anyway. As much as we plan and think we’re controlling things, we’re just not. So, sometimes you just have to stand back, take it in, and chuckle.


kitykity said...

It's all uncontrollable anyway. Reading your whole blog post was totally worth getting to that one drop-dead true fact. I try to learn to laugh at the serious side of things, and unfortunately it usually happens at work... but hey, I'm still employed. ;)


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