Friday, August 24, 2012

Turning Loss into a Gift

my braid from 2009
The next step on my journey with ovarian cancer is chemotherapy. I don't know exactly when that is scheduled to begin yet. I have a day's worth of appointments at Shaare Zedek Medical Center  next week and I expect to have a lot more information then.

In the meantime, the mind works overtime. I admit, I have a lot of anxiety. I don't fully know what to expect. How will chemotherapy affect me? Will it be terribly difficult or just slightly difficult? Will I be holding onto the toilet bowl for dear life? Will I spend days on end in bed with exhaustion? Will I shrink and shrivel or will I bloat up? Will I feel like a living corpse or will I just feel like a bad case of the flu?

There's a whole list of side effects that can accompany the drugs I'm about to be given; Taxol and Carboplatin. The common side effects are: fatigue, altered taste and sensation, bruising, fever, infection, anemia, mouth ulcers, stomach upset and nausea, and last but not least, hair loss. The less common side effects are way way nasty and scary so I'm not even going to address those yet. When you think about the appearance of  a person with cancer, the first thing that might come to mind is: baldness. My oncologist already told me to prepare for that eventuality. From what I've read and been told, people being treated with Taxol and Carboplatin can expect to lose their hair about 3-4 weeks after beginning treatment. I've been covering my hair, for religious reasons, for nearly 12 years of married life. While losing all of my hair and becoming completely bald isn't going to be fun, I think I'm pretty well prepared for the experience - I already wear scarves everyday!

I was speaking with some friends the other night and the conversation turned to the subject of donating hair to a wonderful organization called, Zichron Menachem. Many of my friends' daughters (and sons) have grown their hair long and then had it braided and cut to be made into beautiful wigs for children with cancer. My friend, E,  just had the experience via her daughter, Y, who donated her hair. She told me that after having her hair cut, she felt exhilarated and happy knowing that a child with cancer would get to enjoy her lovely blond hair. Y is only 11. What a wonderful idea! I decided that I'm going to have my very long hair, which is down to my waist, braided and cut too! In doing this, a child with cancer will gain something beautiful out of my loss…. and maybe it won't even feel like much of a loss anymore. I'm actually pretty excited about giving away my long locks! Something to look forward to. Who's joining me?

2 comments:

  1. WELL DONE ERIKA, YOUR LOSS WILL BE A CHILDS GAIN
    PG YOU WILL BEGIN THERAPY AND WILL HOPEFULLY EXPERIENCE MINIMAL SIDE EFFECTS
    THINKING OF YOU AND WISHING/PRAYING YOU WELL CONSTANTLY
    LOTSA LOVE FROM SHIRLEY MICHAEL AND FAMILY (IN PERTH)XXXX

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  2. I've been lurking since a friend posted a while ago on Facebook. Donating your hair really *does* make you feel great. If you have a chance, there's a whole tour at Zichron Menachem & you can take your older kids with you (my friend took her 7-year-old) and apparently it's an amazing experience. I've been fortunate enough to donate twice. It's become popular here in Modiin for girls to donate in honor of their Bat Mitzvah.

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