A lady in the crowd
Six years ago today, I went through chemotherapy for ovarian cancer. It's one of those days I can't forget, no matter how much time passes. It was a sunny day with a heavy storm looming ahead. I had just moved to Vegas for the first time, and my grandma and boyfriend at the time came to visit. They were there during the first infusion, and the nurse even had a therapy dog who was there to offer snuggles. After being hooked to IVs for 8 hours, I thought chemo wouldn't be that bad. That couldn't be further from the truth.
For the rest of the infusions, I had to drive myself. The symptoms began to set in, and it felt like my hair had died in a week. I had cut it into a pixie cut so I wouldn't notice the hair loss as much, but it was still everywhere. It was on my pillow when I woke up first thing in the morning, on the kitchen table, and on my shoulders while driving. I took a shower, and no matter how much conditioner I put in, it was matted down in chunks and started to fill when knots. I drove to a barber shop, and a lady buzzed it off. We cried together, and even though she didn't know me, she was so kind.
I could've had friends or family be there when I shaved my head, but I didn't want their perception of me to change. I wept in my car and didn't want there to be any more of us crying. So, my next stop was the wig shop, and this is the part that gets fun. I tried on so many wigs and didn't realize how hair can change everything. I bought a blonde and violet wig and blasted the music down the road in my new hair.
I lived with my uncle and his wife, who had just had a newborn. They had a lot on their plate and were cold, distant people. She didn't cook like my grandma; all they did was eat out unless they started one of their many diets and bought salads. Sometimes there was carne asada, but it tasted like charcoal. I tried to cook but couldn't even finish without throwing up. One day, the chemotherapy place gave me a blanket that somebody had crocheted. When I brought it home, my aunt said, "great so now you can finally stop using mine." Then, she had the audacity to give me a speech about mindfulness.
I had also started taking steroids too often, which, along with nerves, gave me severe insomnia. I ran without sleep and drove in the wrong direction on the freeway. Luckily, nobody was on the road, and a friend was with me to tell me to go reverse immediately. I parked, and she drove me home, and then I realized I had to go back home. I couldn't go through this on my own. I moved back to my hometown and was in remission after three months.
It's always been difficult for me to write about what happened when I moved back to Calexico because my mind was in constant turmoil. I had mental breakdowns, like 72-hour hold, you're admitted type of meltdowns. We'll save those stories for another day. I like to reflect on this part of my life because it reminds me how delicate health is. Health is wealth, regardless of how corny it sounds. I'm grateful to be able to taste food again, hold things down, to have the energy to go out and do things, and to feel well again.
I have been overwhelmed with my anatomy and physiology class and feel like I have to read things repeatedly to somewhat comprehend them. Anatomy is a foreign language and there is a lot to learn. At least I'm not on chemotherapy while doing this because the memory fog was terrible. One time, I walked to my ex-boyfriend's old address, and the door was unlocked. I let myself in there, and the place was unrecognizable. Luckily, the new occupants weren't there, and nobody greeted me with a gun. Then it dawned on me that they moved months ago. I had been to his new place numerous times but still managed to forget. So, no matter how difficult life may seem, remember you survived cancer. You've got this; just breathe.