Even today, I don’t define myself as a breast cancer survivor. You may never have known that I am one of the many women (1 in 8 women) who developed breast cancer! I was diagnosed with breast cancer in August 2005 and completed eight rounds of chemotherapy and thirty-three rounds of radiation by the Spring of 2006.
I am sharing this story to help others as they face this challenging time and hopefully, encourage them to help other people in all walks of life to have the strength to meet their own challenges head on.
My breast cancer was diagnosed early – during an annual mammogram. I started my screenings at the recommended age of 40. It could have been several more years before I would have been able to “feel” it in a self-examination because at the time it was discovered it was less than 2 cm at the largest side. Surgery was successful, my lymph nodes were clear, recovery was a breeze with breast conserving surgery… and of course, being pre-menopausal, the treatment was more intense, that’s when the fun started!
I started my Chemo in late September 2005 and as they will warn you, your hair starts to fall out after the second treatment. As you can see from my photos, I had my hair cut off. We made it a family affair as my son came with me to have my hair cut off so it could be donated to “Locks of Love“. When I got my G.I. Jane buzz, my son compared my shaved head to a “hedgehog” foot scraper. Being able to donate to “Locks of Love” was worth losing my hair over, it’s also something that my brother has done twice – just for the love of it, and as he puts it “for the cancer kids.”
After my second treatment I started scratching my head, and the proof was there, my hand came back with hair, lots of it. I thought I would’ve had a few days but the next morning I woke up and took a shower that lasted on and off over 1.5 hours before giving up and shaving the hairs off and ending with a smooth and bald head.
I decided not to use the prescription to get a wig, I was going to go “au natural” (in my mind, if men can walk around bald, so could I). The following week I was in Seattle for business and I was asked on the way to a business meeting, ‘was I making a fashion statement?‘ I laughed and said, if only I could draw my eyebrows on evenly. That’s what I missed most, my eyelashes and eyebrows. It was sad for me to see the women with scarves and strands of hair, like you see on mummies in the museum, holding on to their “glory” but it was so freeing, to be able to not worry about it. Plus, no hair, means no hair anywhere, six months of not shaving my “legs” was awesome. But that’s me, kids don’t understand that it’s not that important, it will grow back, they just don’t want to be stared at or feel different or worse, ugly. Locks of Love is an amazing organization that helps these children, our children, feel confident and happy and helps them through this tough time.
Fast forward to today and five years later, I’ve got my hair back (wink) and am sharing my story with you, to encourage you to help the Locks of Love organization with an event that is coming up here in the Los Angeles area. The details are following this post. Please do what you can and make sure your loved ones are screened and do self-tests each month. There are also many programs out there to help you if you cannot pay for a mammogram or for your treatment. Visit sites like Breast Cancer.org, Susan G. Komen or others for support and more information. Just don’t do what I started doing… and Google searching breast cancer. Talk to your doctor or health care provider first. Don’t let it freak you out, face it head on and keep smiling… make a pact with your BFF’s to talk to you every day like mine did and don’t get into a funk… it will pass!
Locks of Love Charity Event:
October 6, 2010, 7:30 PM at the SKYBAR on Sunset Blvd. Hollywood, CA
General Admission Tickets available for event. Purchase tickets at: http://www.bergine.com/locks-love-skybar-la-special-offer.html
Celebrity Poker Tournament, Gift Bags, Silent Auction, Fashion Show, Putting Contest, Live Hair Donations, and cocktails with your most beautiful friends.
This is a charitable event for Locks of Love in conjunction with Beverly Hills Law Associates, DJ HEM, Contraband Hats, Sweet Wood Golf, Stop Staring Clothing, and Hair by Mr. Randall.
Want to sponsor this event? Please contact: CARing in Stilettos Corp. and call Angelica Leon at 310.691.1141 with any questions.