This year I got really emotional on July 11th- the day the lump was found. More so than on July 23rd- diagnosis day. And even some years July 10th is the hardest day- the day before my physical when they found the lump. I remember sitting on the couch crying on July 11th this year, remembering what that day felt like 4 years before and looking at George and wondering aloud if these days would always be like this. If these dates would stop my in my tracks for the rest of my life.
One date that caught me off guard this year was November 28. I remembered on the 27th that the 28th is when my hair really started falling out. I remember sobbing hysterically that morning four years ago. The chemo was working. And I was losing all of my hair. I remember in the next coming days how I would barely touch or brush my hair. Willing it to stay in. At least until December 1st when I would have it all shaved off.
The thought of losing my hair was so emotional for me. I would tear up at just the thought of losing it. I think it was 2 things. I LOVE being a red head. It always made me feel special and different. It's how I identified myself. I was afraid that it would fall out and it would grow back a different color and I would lose my identity. Which obviously is ridiculous. I realized that after my breakdown on Novemeber 28th. The 2nd thing about losing my hair was that I would look sick. I'm not one to look for sympathy or someone who likes a lot of attention. What's more obvious than a 29 year old bald woman? Even though I was so open about having cancer I liked it when I looked well. If I looked well than people would think I was well and they wouldn't treat me different.
Looking back, being bald wasn't terrible. I never want to be bald again but the experience wasn't so bad. Maybe I just feel that way because my straight, red hair grew back almost exactly the same as it was before. But it was also a comfort blanket. It showed me that chemo was working. But growing out your hair after being bald is a completely different story!
Sometimes when I think of these dates- cancerversaries as I like to call them- I think of myself as "her". Someone else this happened to. Sometimes I think- she was so brave to make that decision or fight through chemo or go and get radiation everyday. How hard it must have been for her to get up on July 24th and walk into work knowing everyone knew.
I miss her. I miss the July 10, 2012 Kyle. The one who doesn't know about expanders, TAC, ports and tons of lidocaine cream. When I think back to all those dates, I'm most sad mourning her. Who she thought she was and what she thought she'd become.
I know she's still here. A better, braver, more confident Kyle. We beat this. And we are learning to be a survivor together. Slowly, year by year, each cancerversary takes up less and less of my day. I think an important part of any journey is remembering how far you've come. And my hair is just one representation of that.