I have never been a very vain girl. Even the day of my wedding I would have preferred a T-Shirt and Jeans over the big foo foo dress and sparkly make-up. But I knew, I had a role to play and in doing so, you dress the part. You have to be able to tell the bride from the bridesmaids, right…. or at least from the groom. LOL.
Just six days after my 50th birthday and on the morning of one of the toughest days of my life, I woke up with the weirdest thought…. what does a girl wear? What does a girl wear to chemotherapy?
As of that date and 5 months into my diagnosis, I had become accustom to baby pink and “fight like a girl” shirts. All kinds of inspirational buttons and “you gonna make it” paraphernalia. And while I fully believed all the cups, the bags, and the jewelry have helped to develop a mostly healthy attitude about all of this, I wasn’t feeling any of it that day.
I only wore mostly all black, not to be morbid, but because it was convenient. It would not show blood in case there was any. My tank top had a very lose neckline so that the nurse could access the port line that had been inserted in my chest just under my skin. From it shoots a “line” that extends into the veins in my neck. Hate that necessary evil. It protrudes from my neck like the veins of a body builder ready to “pump you up!”
Over that and black leggings, comfy socks and shoes, I wore my favorite big blue jean shirt. My modesty point so that I wouldn’t be giving out peep shows. Chemo and infusion wards have no real privacy. Soft, worn, out and comfortable! Familiar and feeling like me. Tough for the wear but easy to the touch. Needed my old friend ….very old but not stained friend,….with me like the blankie I bought with me.
And speaking of blankie, that was my one pink deviation. A good friend had given it to me. It was covered with inspirational words… each of which I needed ….none of which I actually read that day as I watched 3 bags of what I call “glow bugs” seeping into my veins. Nor could I concentrate on the best seller I bought with me by Michelle Obama… nor my YouTube Videos. The only thing in my well packed “field trip” bag that got attention was my massive stash of ginger snaps (for nervous tummies) and 2 liter bottle of water (glow bugs are very dehydrating.)
For the next 4 to 5 hours, I watched a drip. Drip. Drip. Drip. At this point in my treatment plan, my ping pong ball sized breast tumor (which I didn’t feel by the way) has been cut out… along with all the lymph nodes (two cancerous) under my left arm. The march of drips is designed to go throughout my body on a seek and destroy mission looking for any remnants. Best explained as looking for any rapid producing “clumps” of redundant cells (which cancer basically is) to kill. I wondered why it doesn’t take out fat. I must remember to ask my doctor that next time.
From time to time a nurse would check on me.
“Anything hurt?” – Nope.
“Hot or cold?” – No Maam
“Need a pee break?” – No thank you
“Need a snack?” – What ya got?
“You are so funny!” she says. “Your positive attitude will serve you well thru this”
And that is when i realized what I really wore to chemo that day. The funny girl had worn her fraud face.
I told my husband, I wanted to do this first one alone. Told my aunties, I got this… go live your life. My kids didn’t even ask because they know their mama. I bravely noted I didn’t need nobody but Jesus. And while He is thoroughly all I ever need “my outfit” had started to crumble just about the 5th hour.
I have always used laughter to cover my fears. I use my faith as my own personal super hero cape. Taking care of others is how I am able to fly. My pride made me smile through the need to vomit just so the mother of the girl in the chair next to me would not be afraid. I even commented to another that I hope my face looked as pretty as hers when my hair starts to leave me. I joked about wanting to be a “Wakanda General” rather than a wig wearer.
In reality, I wanted to suck my thumb, something I have never done. I wanted to stuff my face with fiery Cheetos, something I have always done. For once I wanted to lose control and scream …. ” I hate this!, Cancer sucks! The Attack on Boobies Is Evil.” Something I will probably never do.
My personal kryptonite would not let me. I caught the one tear before it dropped.
Just then I knew I heard My Comforter, who was still with me even when i was being fraudulent, wooing me to sleep with the “its going to be okay” that I would not receive from any human that day. At some point I nodded it off, feeling my well created facade wrinkling as much as the chambray shirt I was wearing. Soft, comfortable, tough for the wear, able to cover a multitude of flaws. In the midst of my dreaming ( and some snoring) I felt in my spirit, “crying is okay, even for tough little clowns”