Mind Over Matter

The end of chemo is not the end, it’s just the beginning of the next phase of your cancer diagnosis. While I was going through chemo, I was too sick to even think very much about what came next. When I did think about it, I would put it out of my mind. But, now that chemo is over my mind has gone into overdrive, worrying, studying about my cancer, reading about the long term and late effects that going through chemo does to your body. It is way too much information! In preparation for my doctor’s visit this week I wanted to be prepared so as I studied, I made a list of questions I wanted to ask him. A long list. After a few days of this insanity and many sleepless nights, I woke up one morning and picked up my 365 day devotional book “Jesus Calling.” I can’t say that I read the entries for every day of the year, but on those days that I pick up the book there is always something that applies to what is going on in my life and this day was no different. The word of the day from Jesus was “Relax and know that I am God with you…Stop trying to monitor MY responsibilities – things that are beyond your control. Find freedom by accepting the boundaries of your domain.”

When the “word” speaks to my heart it is as if it is dancing off the page and coming right towards me in all caps with the preface that screams, “Hey, this is specifically for you!” Of course, it is often something I know in my heart already, but I need reminders, especially when I get obsessive about something. God is so good to me, always leading me where I need to go to get enlightened and comforted when I need His wisdom. That’s all I needed to stop the madness, to chill, to let go and let God. The truth is, worrying will not help because this cancer is out of my control, whatever may happen in the future cannot be predicted by me or even by my doctor. It is the unknown variable. I hate the unknown, it has always scared me. But, I have to live with it because I have no choice. I can either let fear define me or I can live my life being grateful for each day, and making the most of the time I have left on this earth. No one really knows how much time there is left in life, so I chose to live without fear! And, when I forget that, I trust that God will find a way to remind me that He is the one who is in control. “Don’t be afraid; just believe” (Luke 8:50).

The doctor ordered my Pet Scan which will happen sometime in the next week or two. I’m praying that it will be free of cancer so I don’t have to have any radiation – we shall see. In answer to my question of when I will begin to get my strength back, he told me that the chemo was an assault on my body, big time, and that it would take at least 6 months for me to feel like my old self – though there may be some lingering side effects. Well, that was something I didn’t want to hear. I want to be well, like NOW.

Each morning I wake up, expecting to feel a little better, a little more energized and sometimes, I do. But, it never lasts. Getting dressed, a short walk, picking up around the house, watering the flowers, driving the car, going to church – those small efforts leave me exhausted and in the need of rest. I have no choice. This past weekend, nearly 3 weeks since chemo, I was expecting to feel a lot better. Instead, I was still confined to the sofa most of day with low blood pressure because of dehydration. I had gone out just for about 30 minutes to work in my garden but it was too much for me. Dehydration causes me to feel so awful, almost as if I am too drugged to move my body, while at the same time my head feels weird, foggy, and aching. I really should have gone in for fluids. The doctor had told me to listen to my body. Well, that was good advice, though I don’t like it. This body is such a nag, it won’t let me do anything I want to do, and it won’t take “no” for an answer. It pretty much downright refuses to listen to me when I try to tell it what to do. So, I rest a lot, nap a lot, and bemoan my weakened state a lot. My husband keeps telling me, “it’s temporary,” but that doesn’t make me feel any better.

Even though most of the hair on my body is gone, there are a few broken stubs of hair here and there. But, with each chemo round there were fewer and fewer stubs left. After this past chemo my body is pretty much like a cue ball, smooth and devoid of all hair. My scalp gets really tender about two weeks after chemo which, I’ve learned from experience, is a sign that it is destroying hair follicles. I’ve read that my hair will start to grow, though sporadically, about two months after my last chemo, though it may look “different.” Apparently the chemo damages the follicles so that the hair doesn’t grow back normal and full until about 6 months after chemo. Now THAT gives me the blues because I cannot take wearing hot chemo caps or my wig. I only wear those when I have to go out in public. My neighbors have gotten used to seeing my bald head. The only reason I wear it in public is because I don’t want to make people feel uncomfortable around me. I can tell they are because even just seeing the chemo cap makes them turn their head away; they don’t know what to say to me. I cannot wait until I have at least a few stubs growing so that I can go out in public without any headgear.


Tomorrow is the day I get my Pet Scan. Yes, I am a little anxious, but also full of hope. I’ve come a long way these past few months and gone through a lot of pain and suffering, but it has made me stronger and, I hope, wiser. Life is precious. Each day is a blessing from God, and each person who loves us a gift that must be treasured. I worry that I may have been a “Debbie Downer” during those times when I have complained on this blog about all my issues. I certainly didn’t mean to make anyone sad on my account. My desire is to be a light that always reflects my faith and love for Jesus, whether I’m on the mountaintop or in the dark valleys of life.


4 thoughts on “Mind Over Matter

  1. I can see you are getting back on the horse again. Good for you. God bless you dear friend. We continue to hold you in prayer every day. May you experience the peace of Jesus in this hard time. You are very brave and faithful.

    Blessings and love,

    Liked by 1 person

  2. Praying for good results with the scan tomorrow.
    Suggestion would you feel comfortable wearing baseball caps , My friend came to church with hers Sunday , looking adorable

    Keep me posted when you know
    Sending hugs and prayers


  3. Hey Zoey,

    Just wanted to say Hi and encourage you a little.

    I did the whole cancer thing last year. Surgery, chemo, bald! radio, the whole box and dice.

    I can strongly suggest that listening to your body is actually really good, and pretty fascinating too once you let your mind slow down enough to hear whats going on. Your body is doing pretty amazing things right now if you think about it!

    Its a bit like going on a holiday.. you know how when you have everything planned you spend the whole trip trying to get to the next thing, but somethimes when its not planned you find the most amazing part of the trip by accident…Well you have heaps of planned stuff right now (doctors, treatment, tests…), enjoy the unplanned down time, cause in our busy lives we dont get much of that, and you will notice things you never would have otherwise because you arent moving as fast as you usually would.

    So dont fight it cause you dont like it, its your body!!! Embrace it, and respond to what its telling you and it will pay you back. I promise.

    Do the basics well, eat drink sleep. If its telling you to hydrate, do it ( that is a biggie) cause I bet when you get that right, you will be able to spend more time in the garden. But also, if half an hour in the garden involves 10 minutes pottering and 20 mins just sitting and enjoying the sight, smell, sounds, reading a book taking a snooze, that is good for your soul, soak it up.

    Keep active. Walking is a perfect start. If its only 5 minutes thats great. But hydrate and eat well and have a 20 minute nap when you need one (or 3 times a day) and I bet you will get to 5 mins a couple of times a day pretty quick. It will help with your head space as well as the physical side effects and you will feel better for doing it even if you didnt want to when you started!

    If you have the resources, look up Exercise Physiologists in your area. Its like a personal trainer but with a degree and a focus on helping people in our situation during this type of thing. I credit a fair bit of my handling treatment so well to mine. They were amazing.

    And lastly, embrace the bald!!!!

    I know its a little confronting. I thought too about wearing a wig because it would make others feel more comfy but I felt self conscious with it on or off. As you said, they are noticing anyway. I wasnt fooling anyone. So if its for their benefit, not yours… take it off.

    My first big social outing after losing my hair (mine took 5 days from full head of hair to deciding to shave it off as it looked pretty aweful) was a 70th birthday garden party with a group of very conservative very well off people of which I knew 3.

    I decided to wear a bright green dress, big earings and go bald. I was pretty nervous. But literally 5 mins into the party a man came and grabbed my hand and took me to meet his wife, an elderly lady who had a cool turquoise jacket and matching earings on. He said that she had arrived with a wig and when she spotted my bald head she immediately took it off. I gave her the confidence, and she gave it right back to me and both of us were a whole lot more comfortable.

    So from then on I bought statement earings and interesting clothes from thrift stores that I would never have tried before and I had a great time trying out new looks. People were never quite sure if I had cancer or was just cooler!!!

    Best of luck.

    Come see me at Helen Wheels (my new blog – nothing much there yet but would love to have a chat. Thinking maybe I should talk about my cancer journey so that it might help some other people, what do you think?)

    PS. My hair grew back curly!!! Its weird!! I quite like it though. I wonder if it will straighten as it gets longer…another adventure!


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