Fuzz head

Work. I made my list this morning of things that need to get done this week. Or in the weeks after. Or things that need attention here at work. It's sitting there next to me, in green ink, with the cap of the green pen not yet replaced. I don't know why I tend to do that, and then I find myself surprised when the pen doesn't work anymore. Fine. Capped. Ready for the next encounter. I should start checking things off said list - truth be told, I could probably get through most of it by the end of the day. Thing is, it's Veteran's Day, which means most of my client-type-people have the day off. Seems to me that I should take some time for myself, too.

So here it is.

I didn't want to come here this morning. I got ready, painted up the face, put on my whatever it is that is on my head, and took a look in the mirror. Ugh. I know the ugh is mostly only to me. Still, ugh. Greg said he could bring in the set of tires and fill them up with the exhales I had apparently been letting out this morning. He knows what I'm sighing about, yet he tells me that all he sees is his beautiful wife. The fortunate part about all that is that even when I look in the mirror and see the six eyelashes on the bottom of my left eye, the dark shadows that I have tried so hard to conceal on the sides of my eyes, and the face that looks back at me from the mirror that doesn't accurately reflect how I feel inside... somehow despite all that, the fortunate part about all that is that somehow, he means it. Somehow, this man is able to look past the six eyelashes and the fuzzy hair, the dripping eyes, the dark circles, the bloat, and still see what is beneath that, and what will be again. I'm pretty lucky, huh.

The 3-Day came and went. Wow. Once again, what an incredible event. I walked every mile of the 60, and then some, if you count the camp, and the pit stops, and the pee breaks...ohhhh... the pee breaks, and of course, the walk back across the street from the camp to the Circle K for the much-deserved beer to smuggle back into camp. I wore no hair, of course - who the hell wears hair to walk 60 miles, for breast cancer no less. Hair would have just been ridiculous. If's funny though, aside from the fact that my eyes were just NOT cooperating with me, there were times that I forgot (can you believe that?) that I was different. Then again, maybe I wasn't so different after all. On the first night we got to camp, Greg I were walking somewhere - I think over to the Circle K. One of the crew members came running up to me - I forgot what she had said about having to give me what she handed me, but she gave me a huge hug and handed me a pin with a pink ribbon and an angel attached to a bookmark-sized card with some words of encouragement. We started walking to the camp exit and I turned to Greg and said, "How did she know???" "Um, sweetie? The hairdo might have given it away..." We were telling Larry this story sometime later that night and he laughed, so surprised at someone that is seemingly so self-conscious on a regular basis could ask that question. Ironic, isn't it? I realized this weekend one of the reasons that there was such a contrast between how I felt out there on the walk, and how I feel in day-to-day life with regards to my appearance. Out there, my fuzzy old head was a badge of courage. It represented strength to the people around me, the people that were all there for the same reason - to eradicate the disease that caused the treatments that gave me the bald head - and there I was, walking along side them, fuzzy head and all. (Walking up the stairs to left - notice fuzzy old head) Strength. Here, in the rest of the world, the baldness signifies illness. It's really an interesting dichotomy. There's that word again...

It was an amazing event - tears and smiles and laughter and hope and life and promise and love and family. It's incredible to me having Greg walk alongside me on this thing - I experienced that for the first time last year - because he's so proud and so supportive and just makes it all worthwhile. This year, it was pretty amazing having Larry and Jan there, too. I feel so blessed, having been welcomed as a part of that family. And then of course, there was Barb and Renee. We met them last year on the 3-Day, kept in contact with them, and walked with them the entire weekend. Strange how life works sometimes - I think perhaps they were just two people we were supposed to cross paths with. As limited an amount of time in the big picture that we've spent with them, it feels like we've known them for far, far longer. The banter and flow of conversation is hard to describe, but it just is. Barb is a survivor - her story is actually so similar to my first diagnosis - except she's got about 18 years on me. I always feel sort of like a stranger in a strange land in the sea of pink, on breast cancer events, or wearing the survivor "stripes". The shyness tends to kick in, and I often find myself trying not to be the center of attention. Which, I've learned, is pretty hard with my husband/publicist Greg around! He's helped give me the confidence though - and share my journey with others. Even though the shyness exists, I have fought through it in the chance that I can make a difference. Barb, she's the opposite. She wears her war badges proudly, and pinks it up with pride. The thing is, being around her at times rubs off on me, and somehow, I don't feel quite as reluctant to pink it up. Maybe there's strength in numbers. Maybe because I can stay half in her shadow. Whatever the case, it's a fantastic energy.

I was part of the survivor's circle at the closing ceremonies this year. They had asked Barb, and she asked them to have me take her place, because she felt I deserved it more. I'm not certain there's even a grain of truth in that statement, but I carried a flag that read "BELIEF" into the closing ceremonies. With no hat on. My own personal badge of courage, just for that moment. Greg had told me earlier, "imagine how much strength you will give to so many people, up there like that" and when the time came, it seemed like the only choice that made sense. In I walked with eight other survivors, and I could see in many of their faces the hesitancy that I know is written all over my face. The "what the HELL am I doing here and what the EFF am I supposed to do with my hands" nervous smile. But not Barb. There she was, on the front line of the group of the rest of the survivors, blowing me kisses with her pink boa wrapped around her neck. Yet, we were talking that weekend, and I thought I saw a glimmer of something pass over her face for a second - perhaps the realization that our stories were so similar, yet here I was, fighting again. It passed as quickly as it appeared though. Perhaps even the proudest and most full of life among us experience the fleeting fear.

Oh man, I didn't even scratch the surface of the rest of the stuff. Those trivial items like scans, and side effects, and bloat - you know, the good stuff. Scan results on Wednesday. Now everyone knows as much as I do.

I suppose I should do some work before leaving for lunch...

Ever thankful for sunglasses, Red Sox caps, and oh yeah, that guy next to me...----->

2 comments:

    I knew there was a reason I nicknamed you "Quiet Thunder"......great job, Jen, great job. I love you!

    the fuzzy head Jen? It signifies strength to us on the outside world too.

    so. much. strength.

    and not the first time i've written it, probably not the last, but you made me cry again.

    tears of pride for my friend. and her super duper husband too.