Ok, let me get you caught up. I last blogged about my tumor marker rising and concern that this meant my ovarian cancer returning. All those in “the know” believed this to be true. A PET scan revealed a single lymph node underneath my left clavicle deep below my chest wall. Well, that’s not what anyone was expecting. The plan quickly shifted from making a plan to treat recurrent ovarian cancer to biopsying this node. To everyone’s surprise it turned out to be triple negative breast cancer.  I started treatment on April 17th. The protocol includes 16 cycles of chemo over 20 weeks, followed by surgery, followed by radiation. With five weeks under my belt, I’ve committed to go through treatment with the biggest fake-it-til-you-make approach ever attempted.

I WEAR LIPSTICK TO CHEMO

Chemotherapy takes a toll on the body. I am grateful for the power and effectiveness of these medicines in killing cancer cells. Yet, there is a lot of collateral damage along the way. I will never forget how my body transformed from 125 lbs of fitness to 98 lbs of weakness. I hardly recognized myself: bald, pale, skinny. I avoided mirrors. This time around, I’m rocking the bald look. No hats or wigs to hide behind. I’m walking with confidence, head held high. Do I catch people staring? Yes and I love it. I’m drawing on my inner bad-ass (which I never knew I had). My motto? If I can’t wear big hair, I’m going to wear big earrings!

Ovarian and breast cancer has tried to rob me of what our culture traditionally defines as feminine. I no longer have a uterus, ovaries, fallopian tubes, cervix and breasts. Chemotherapy has taken my hair, my eyebrows and my eyelashes. Being stripped of these hallmark female features has forced me to get in touch with how I identify with being a woman. Cancer and cancer treatment have not taken my true sense of self. I will not stop believing that anything is possible, that people are inherently good, and that nature heals the soul. With nothing to hide behind, it’s become more clear than ever that female beauty is an inside job. I’m grateful to have truly learned this lesson. 

And, I’m going to continue to wear lipstick to chemo.