My year of cancer: Part IV - Everyone gives you hats

Wednesday, October 24, 2012

Kindle Carpp is a 2000 graduate of Shorewood High School. In honor of Breast Cancer Awareness Month, she shares her story.

By Kindle Carpp

 “You do not know how strong you are until you do not have any other choice”

For women and I am sure some men, too, it is ok to be sad about losing your hair.

Being bald is the outward sign that you are ill. Because when people see that you do not have hair, they will know you are sick and then you will have to believe that you are sick too. It is ok to be sad about that.

Deciding when you cut your hair is one of the few things that you will have control over, so embrace it.

Create a plan of attack when it comes to losing your hair so you have time to process the loss. I cut my hair in stages. Having the control over the loss made me feel less frantic and stressed.

At the time losing my hair was very traumatic, even knowing that it would grow back. Eventually I accepted my baldness. It was not easy and I would prefer to not be bald again but I got over it.

Everyone gives you hats. Invest in a hat tree or hooks for your wall.

I think everyone is strong.

You just don't know how strong you are until you have to be your strongest.

People offer to help you but I was never sure what they could do and I was never quite sure if the offer was genuine. What I needed was help doing laundry, vacuuming, and grocery shopping. If you don’t have time for that just give them money, money's nice and it can do lots of things.

I understand that not everyone has the courage to share their story and that showing their bald heads is too exposing. But for me sharing my story and not covering my bald head was a way I dealt with my fear. I did not hide from what scared me so no one could whisper behind their hands. I shared my story so that I got to be the one to control the information out in the world. This was one of the few ways I could control my experience with my illness.

What you once thought was normal will never be "normal" again.

Change is hard, especially when it keeps happening over and over, when you cannot catch your breath or your footing. Eventually it stops and you can get your bearings again and you accept what is different about youself and your life and things eventually become blissfully “normal” again. Even though it is not quite “normal” because you are different and not in a “broken” way, but in a way that when a bone breaks it is stronger in the place where it mends.

Cancer is terrifying but eventually you will get back to “normal”

In the beginning having cancer will be scary but like anything the more you experience it the more mundane it will feel. There will be bad days and days when you get news that will scare and worry you; days when you feel like it will not ever get better. Your goal is to try to have more good days then bad. More then half the battle is attitude. Letting yourself get sucked into depression and worry is letting yourself feed a monster. The more you feed it the bigger it will get.

Having cancer is like being press-ganged into a war where you constantly have to make concessions to the other side in order to survive, and where at the end of the battle you are glad just to be alive.



Anonymous,  October 24, 2012 at 11:04 AM  

Your articles are exceptionally clear, powerful, positive, brave and wise. As far as Doctors are concerned, perhaps it's best to "Trust but Verify". I am saving your articles to refer to later and to share.
Thank you!

Tom (in Shoreline)

Anonymous,  February 1, 2014 at 3:26 PM  

Thanks, all so true!

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