About this time twelve (!) years ago, I was beginning my very unnerving, frightening, and frustrating path toward an eventual cancer diagnosis and treatment regimen. How could I have known then . . . that the emotions and feelings of those days would be back to haunt me twelve years later in the form of a global pandemic!
They're all there; the same emotional elements . . .
- Shock . . . learning that life really IS temporary -- and that none of us is guaranteed a future. Or, at least, a future that we can control.
- Denial . . . this can't really be happening; they must be wrong; let's get another opinion.
- Living in a "trance" . . . going through the motions of life while adjusting enough to deal with the reality of the situation.
- Freefall . . . losing life-as-we-knew-it -- and the comfort of thinking that we knew what the future would look like.
- Living in limbo . . . because we really have no idea what will happen next, or when, or what it will look like AFTER; hoping there IS an AFTER.
- Fear and anxiety . . . about being sick, about dying, about not knowing, about, well, EVERYTHING.
- Accepting . . . what we're dealing with, focusing on the facts, taking action.
More alike than different.
Twelve years ago, I was going through these feelings on my own, really. Now . . . all those feelings and emotions are collective! Rather than just me feeling those feels . . . well. Right now we're ALL feeling them!
Oh! Oh! There's one more thing.
When I first got my cancer diagnosis, the first question out of my mouth was not (as you might expect) "Am I going to die?" Oh, no! It was, "Will I lose my hair?"
And, yeah. I did. (Lose my hair.)
It was devastating. Pre-cancer-Kym cared a lot about her hair. (A LOT.)
But it didn't take me long to understand that my hair was not really all that important in the overall scheme of things. Losing my hair to chemo freed me in ways I never could have imagined before my cancer diagnosis. When my hair grew back, I embraced the silver. I kept a low-key, simple-to-maintain style. I threw away my round brush! I didn't worry about my hair looking goofy when I rolled out of bed and went to the gym. Sure. My cowlicks still bugged me, and I got regular haircuts -- but I didn't stress over it anymore, y'know?
A lot of my friends are stressing about their hair right now -- with all the salons closed and our favorite stylists sidelined with the stay-at-home orders. Maybe you are, too?
I'm here to tell you . . . it'll be okay!
Use this time as an opportunity to start growing out your silver. (You won't believe how liberating it is.) Now's your chance to let your hair grow long enough to try a different style. Or grow out your bangs. Go natural. Maybe you've always wondered if you could cut your own hair. You could even try some crazy, temporary hair dye and try something off-the-charts different.
Or you can just put a hat on!
It's just hair.
And it turns out that hair . . . is just another something we think we can control. It's sort of a physical embodiment of all those other feels we're feeling. Something concrete . . . in the midst of all that heavier stuff like the limbo and the "trance" and the freefall and the fear and the anxiety.
Once we get to the AFTER - and we WILL get to the AFTER - we'll ALL look different. We'll BE different. Our hair. Our attitudes. Our compassion. The way we deal with adversity. The way we see the world. The way we see EVERYTHING.
Trust me on that.