Saturday, April 18, 2009

Who is That Woman in the Mirror?

Hi, everyone. This is not an update, just a note. I've tried to not only use this blog as a way to keep everyone updated, but also as a journal of my experiences. One of the hardest parts of each day is facing the mirror each morning. One of the things I worried about from the beginning was looking like a cancer patient. I thought that meant losing my hair. Now when I look back at the first picture I posted of myself bald, I see that I didn't look sickly at all; just like a healthy person who had shaved their head. Since that time, all of my hair has fallen out, not only on my head but on every other body part as well, including my eyebrows and eyelashes. Some hair has begun to grow back on my head on this new chemo, but it is very thin and white. It varies from about an eighth of an inch to a half inch. I have to turn my head this way and that to really see it in the mirror. It reminds me of an elderly woman's hair - you know where you can see all of her scalp through it? :>) Eyelashes serve to protect our eyes. Without them my eyes water all the time. My eyelids are puffy and red from wiping at them all the time. Nose hair also serves a purpose and without it my nose runs all the time. The inside of my nose is so irritated that I have a bloody nose every morning. The skin on my face has big brown blotches all over it now. The chemo has made my finger and toenails dry and brittle. Half of my big toenails have come off. I was fairly thin to start with and because the chemo has increased my metabolism I've lost over ten pounds. I'm as thin as I was when Joe and I first dated. No poochy tummy or floppy skin under my upper arms. You'd think I'd be happy about this, but I miss my 47 year old body.

So, each day when I get cleaned up and look in the mirror, I ask myself, "Who is that woman?!" Even with foundation over the brown blotches and my wig on, I don't look anything like the old me to me. Joe tells me I'm beautiful which really proves that beauty is in the eye of the beholder! :>) Have I told you how awesome he is?

Anyway, I've got everything on my body that can be crossed, crossed hoping that I get to have four more weeks of chemo before going to surgery. I just keep reminding myself that all of the bodily changes are signs that the chemo is at work and look forward to the day when I'm done with it; to the day when I look in the mirror and say, "Oh! There you are! I missed you!"

Lots of love to everyone!


velvet brick said...

My beautiful, dear Martha.... nothing could be further from the truth. I know you are so aware of the changes, and I am so sorry that part of healing is seeing bodily changes. I appreciate the way these changes have made you feel, but believe me when I say you are still the same beautiful Martha! You look like 'Martha' to me!! Think about this... you've been at school several times over the past months, and I've ALWAYS KNOWN IT WAS YOU! It's not like I walked past you and didn't recognize you or know it was you!! You are beautiful, funny, have that wonderful 'Martha' laugh, have the cutest hair style (if you think that I've forgotten about when I asked if I could try your wig on, you're wrong!!), the best hazel eyes and ... so what if the nose drips? The hair will grow back and you'll have a full head of it...the nose hairs will grow back and Joe will shyly tell you it's time to trim them...the eyelashes will grow back, too, and you'll be smudging your mascara again, you'll put on that missing 10 lbs. and probably a couple of more for good measure (I have several I can spare if you really want them)! And just think of don't have to shave your armpits or your legs and you don't need to buy and 'Brown Betty' products, either!! Time savers, dear heart!!

Tomorrow...when your walk into the bathroom and look into the mirror with nervousness and a bit of trepidation, I want you to try to see what I see... My beautiful friend, Martha. She's always been there! Love you, beautiful friend!

Cheela said...

Hi Martha,

I have missed your posts. Your writing is so much from the heart. I think what you wrote shows how much we should judge someone for their inner beauty, which you are blessed with much. And you are just fine on the outside, too! Your grace and dignity is inspiring!

Yesterday when I got on my computer, I had an invitation to be a friend from Pam Regan. I had no idea who that was. When I went to her facebook page, I saw it is your sister. So now we are friends. Next time she gets to Arizona, I would love to meet her. I have heard so many wonderful things about her. She is an incredible sister.

Jim said...

Hi Martha-
So much of our self-image is tied up in how we look,for good or bad. I can only imagine how uncomfortable it is to see these changes every day. But please believe me (and Joe and everyone else who knows you)that your courage, intelligence,compassion for others, and humor, shine every time I see you. Your body is taking a beating I know, but your spirit shows real beauty.

If you can,let us be your mirror for awhile.
love Ruth