Somewhere around 3 p.m. Friday, the slightly sore throat I’ve had for the past few days was joined by sinus congestion, blocked ears, and mild but persistent vertigo. And here I was hoping to spend my last weekend before chemo getting stupidly drunk. That’s not happening.

So I stayed in last night and washed my hair for the last time. I almost cried, but shook myself out of it by making faces at myself in the faucet. Girl Crying in Bath is totally played out (cf. too many movies and hour-long TV dramas to name) and while there is nothing new under the sun, the last thing I want to be is a cliché. Even if I am the only person who will know it.

Cutting all my hair off today made everything real. I catch occasional glimpses of myself in the mirror, but where others see “cute,” I just see a haircut I didn’t want that’s going to fall out in two weeks anyway. I feel like I’ve been Samsoned — all my previous calm and acceptance regarding the start of chemo has been shorn with my hair. I’m left feeling overexposed and underclothed.

I am trying to think of chemo as a countdown. Six cycles until I can cautiously settle back into a life that doesn’t require doctor’s appointments on a near-weekly basis. This is something to be excited about, I tell myself. But still, I feel pretty panicked right now. And I know this feeling from last time, the choking in the throat that makes it hard to swallow. What I don’t remember is how long it took for the panic to abate after my countdown was completed.

I know that it left gradually, imperceptibly, like water evaporating from a puddle. But it did leave. I just have to keep reminding myself, this is not permanent. And anyway, it’s not like I have much of a choice if I want to be done with this. To quote Frost, I can see no way out but through. I have to do this, and I will. But with trepidation.


About Alicia Louise

I'm a writer, editor, fact checker, storyteller, events organizer, chronically busy yet endlessly lazy, mildly neurotic (though I keep the neuroses well-hidden, one hopes) 32-year-old with recurrent ovarian cancer. I like people and good writing and straight talk. I have a hard time feeling sorry for people, including myself, but the people that I love, I love passionately; one may even say creepily. I try to keep that mostly to myself. I'd like to be charming, but I'm usually just a mess. I'm like a gull slamming into your windshield.
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