Though of course it's not all roses. I feel grateful on a daily basis that I found groups like Beauty Redifined and Circles of Change who've helped me build my body resilience. Otherwise I think the baldness and the hugeness would have knocked my confidence flat. Even as is it throws me every time I look in the mirror. I miss my hair and my signature third-day braids. And there is a hardness to walking through life so obviously "ill", like I don't get to choose to keep anything to myself. But I'm trying to keep in mind that my body is an instrument to be used and enjoyed not just something to be viewed. And -- despite the baldness and the largeness of late pregnancy, despite all the crazy chemicals being thrown at it and the intense fatigue-- my body still allows me to hold my children each day, to hear their laughter and share in their smiles. All that is a gift that does not require me to be a certain size or have a certain hairstyle. It is a gift that comes simply from me being here and being me.
And I'm also trying to keep in mind the overwhelming kindness I get to experience. The neighbors who shower us with food and watch the children. The friends and family who are praying for us. The grandma at the zoo who went out of her way to pat my arm and say, "bless you dear." The balding man at church who, while indicating my head, said "You pull that off so well" and when I responded, "I guess that's good since I didn't really have a choice" he did his big booming laugh and said, "neither did I!" Which helped me remember we all have our stuff to deal with, but we can always be cheerful. Then there was the woman who yelled with all her might from the street corner, "you look beautiful!" just so I could hear her through my closed car window. You have got to appreciate that effort simply to show a little kindness and support. And so yes, despite the insecurities or annoyances of walking around like this, there is this incredible upside: people are giving and loving and kind and I get the privilege of being showered with these amazing qualities constantly. I am enjoying the privilege of seeing into the most amazing parts of people's hearts as they reach out to me from there. It is certainly a blessing in the storm and I thank you all for it.
Post script: For those who are more pragmatic in the audience, I should probably go through some more factual details of my journey as well 😉. I am through the first chunk of chemo treatments and both tumors have shrunk significantly. I get a hiatus from chemo until after the baby is born so my blood counts are as normal as possible for the birth. Baby girl is doing great. Obgyn says "chemo is not affecting this child at all" as she continues to measure right on schedule with her growth. Two weeks after baby chooses to make her entrance into the world I go back into Chemo treatments. This time a Chemo called Taxol I believe, which I'll be given every week for 12 weeks. That will take me into Holiday season of 2017 and I will either end this year or begin the next with surgery. There is radiation on the horizon after that, but I haven't got details yet. Plenty of hoops to jump through before then so we are taking it a step at a time. Just blessed that so far it's all good news.