Hair Before Chemo – and During


Hair Before Chemo – and During.

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willosworld

Born in Liverpool at the end of WW2, but raised in Skelmersdale. I first studied art in Southport from 1960-63 and worked in graphic design till I married. In December 1969 I moved to Zambia with my husband and two young children. There I taught art in the local girls school, illustrated for the National Correspondence College and did all sorts of other artwork, paid and unpaid. In 1978 I divorced and remarried in the summer of 1980. In 1985 I became ill and the following year cancer was diagnosed. There was no treatment available in Zambia and so I had to go to the UK. After recovering from a radium needle implant I went back to Zambia, but 18 months later the cancer recurred and it was off to the UK again for radical surgery. This time I realised I must stay in the UK where treatment was available, so I never returned to Zambia nor my husband. A few months later I applied for a degree course, but two years later the disease metastasised and I spent most of my final year in and out of hospital. It’s been a long hard road, but I’m still plodding on and it is now 24 years since my last cancer treatment. Because of my experience of cancer and surviving against the odds, I try and help others cope with their devastating diagnosis and prognosis.

4 thoughts on “Hair Before Chemo – and During”

  1. Ran across your blog and did some reading, Brought a tear to my eyes because you gave me some hope. I have been diagnosed with Colo/rectal cancer which has spread to my liver and (possibly) my lung. Haven’t started any treatment yet and the doctors are still trying to figure out the best plan of attack. I’m wiling to do what it takes and your blog does show me that I could still have a life after this. Thank you.If you are up to it I’d like to hear from you and learn more about your experience.

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    1. Hi Joseph, Sorry to learn of your diagnosis, but SO pleased to hear from you and glad that I have given you some hope.

      I really believe that the human spirit can overcome more than you might imagine. Being diagnosed with cancer can be very daunting, but at my first diagnosis and again at the recurrence, I never said ‘why me?’ When my friends were falling apart, I had to say to them ‘why NOT me?’ However, when three years later, my pelvis fractured and secondary bone cancer was diagnosed – just a year or so into my relationship with the man of my dreams, then I was devastated, as it seemed I had found what I had been looking for all my life, only to lose it within a very short time. But, with his support, I got through chemo, more surgery, more radiotherapy and here I am to tell the tale some 21 years later. Sadly, Paul died very suddenly and unexpectedly a few minutes into 2007, which has been far more difficult to cope with.

      When my cancer first recurred I thought it would help if I gave up red meat as that seemed to be more carcinogenic than white. During my treatment for the secondaries I read more and decided to take a more active role; I started taking supplementary vitamins and minerals and temporarily cut back on stimulants (coffee, tea, alcohol, sugars). Most of the books I read advocated becoming a vegetarian or even a vegan, but I didn’t quite go that far, having a small amount of white meat or fish a couple of times a week (though during my chemo I couldn’t eat much more than brown rice, bean sprouts and ‘build up’ drinks). I still don’t eat red meat, though very tempted sometimes. I continue to take vitamins C (500 mgms a day compared to on my regression diet of 2 grams a day) vitamin B complex, vitamin D, vitamin E, Selenium (with vits ACE) and Zinc. Iron would be recommended, but I have an intolerance to it. I tried to keep quite fit and all through my treatment practised visualisation, this is where you imagine good cells entering your body (by whatever means) and the bad cells leaving. Some people might turn to religion for support and I would say – whatever works for the individual, but mostly, having faith in yourself and believing that you can win this battle. Trying to stay positive (easier said than done) and banishing negative thoughts. Good support from family and friends is a must. I forbade my parents from visiting me in hospital as I couldn’t cope with their mournful expressions (I knew it was hard for them, as I am an only child and even in my 40s I was still their baby) and I needed more positive people around me.

      You may like to hear a little about my cousin – a farmer in Australia. Many years ago he had a melanoma successfully removed, then some time later developed prostate cancer. Had some treatment, but having passed the farm to one of his sons, he and his wife decided to do some travelling and booked a trip to India. Shortly before they left he broke his foot and it wouldn’t set, so they realised he too had secondary bone cancer. Instead of cancelling his holiday, he picked up his crutches and off to India they went! Over the next few years the secondaries travelled to other parts of his body. He and his wife visited me just recently and when he returned to Oz, discovered his PSA was up again and a scan showed other suspect areas, so he is about to start more treatment, but still remains tremendously positive. I hope this little story may help you too.

      I hope the doctors will soon reach a decision regarding the plan of attack as I know how difficult it is to play the waiting game. In the meantime try and stay as positive as you can. Feel free to contact me at any time. I am a good listener and will help if I can.

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  2. You responded so soon too!

    Thank you, I read your response and (after wiping away a few more tears) do feel hopeful. I also have some of the same things going on that you described. I have the gambit of support from my family including the mournful, and those looking to find out a reason for me to have it. Some are more helpful than others but all are doing it out of love so who’s to say which is best. I never really asked why or how but rather whats next. Since they found the tumor in my liver about two months ago I am going a little stir crazy waiting but what can I do to speed it up? As I said before I go in to see the surgeon Tuesday then Wednesday I have a PET scan so I hope we start something before the following week. I had asked the Chemo Doctor about removing the tumors now then starting the Chemo but she feels this may be a bad use of my current energy levels. So my motto is “day-by-day” and in the mean time and try to just trust the doctors to know what they are doing. Mostly, its good to know someone who has gone through this and is an exception to the “5-10% in two year” survival rates I keep reading. I’ll speak to the Docs about your suggestions for the diet but for now I’m almost blocked by the tumor so I am in a mostly liquid diet until something happens. I expect to have bypass surgery at some point and I hope I can look as good as you did in your photos when that happens. However, I doubt any Chemo/Surgery I have will make me grow breasts or doubt even more if the neighbors will allow me to wear a bikini so we just have to wait and see on that one.

    Well I guess thats enough for the moment, I will be keeping in touch to see how you are doing and let you know about me as well. (sorry about that but I guess you have a new pest).

    Till later then,

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    1. Hello

      I’ve written directly to your email address, but let me know if you don’t receive it and I’ll try again.

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