This is a post for all my sparkleoners. Boys, girls, ladies, and gentleman… we are all in this together. Well, most of us anyways. Cancer does not discriminate, and that is exactly why I am writing this blog. I was 26 years young when cancer decided to strike! It not only affected me, but it affected my family, friends, and well… now all of you!
This post is for all the pretty ladies who do not feel pretty. It is for the guys who are going through chemo and have heard something along the lines of “well, atleast your a guy… your hair doesn’t matter that much”. Its for the mother or grandmother who feels the need to shop in one of those gawd awful wig catalogs so their kids/ grand children don’t feel “weird” around you. This is for the husbands and boyfriends/ girlfriends/ wives who have to wipe the tears of their loved one as their hair falls out in clumps or they take a razor to their head to not face the inevitable. We are all in this together.
This exact time last year, I finished chemo! I was as bald as Mr. Clean, and practically wasting all my tears on how I looked. I remember writing an early blog post and quoting Mulan “When will my reflection show, who I am inside”. That is exactly how I felt. I looked in that mirror and could practically make myself feel nauseous because of the reflection looking back at me. I had dark sunken eyes, pimples, a round steroid face, and yes BALDNESS!
Today, I am one year from chemo and it wasn’t until today (one year + one day) that I have felt pretty for the first time throughout my entire cancer journey! I was that girl who hated how she looked, who hid behind my wig and makeup because that was the only way I could hold onto my “normal”. If you are reading this and tears are filling in your eyes… I am here to tell you that is okay! You are completely normal to feel upset about how you look! I questioned myself all the time if I was vain or really that materialistic and attached to my hair. The truth is, God gave us hair… and allows it to grow. If you are anything like me, you spend hours styling, dyeing, cutting, and pampering that lovely mane… you have every single right in the world to HATE cancer and what it has done to you!
I’m writing this blog today to tell you that you are not alone. You are not vain, and even though on the outside you may not feel beautiful… deep inside, that original sparkle still exists! The whole idea of my #sparkleon movement is for people to realize that your outward appearance isn’t what makes you pretty, beautiful, or sparkle! It is truly what is on your inside, what is in your heart that brings on that glow!
I have some very important words of advice, to you that young girl or woman who has recently been connected to a chemo pump and your hair is holding on by a few strands. My advice is shave it… hold on to that inkling of power that you have over your looks. I shaved my head short then straight razored is about 3 sessions into chemo due to follicular pain of my existing hair. Looking back now, It would have killed me to lose my luscious locks in clumps as I took a shower. Shave your head, buy a good wig, style it, and stock up on hats, wraps, and glitter because all those things will make you feel more “normal” until you feel comfortable enough to rock a bald head. Oh, and TAKE PICTURES!!!! I only have a very few pictures of me in my raw form and looking back today, I wish I would have documented more because it is a reminder of just how far i’ve come, and how #imasurvivor!
Get yourself some makeup, the brighter the lipstick the better… and start YouTubing how to apply fake lashes. It is a MUST. I mean, I guess if your a girly girl like me anyways. Once I lost all my hair, my brows and lashes were next. My sisters saved me when it came to having the best products and taught me application of these now hairless regions. Oh ya, after fixating on how upset you are at your new naked mole rat self— cherish your hairless private parts and chocha because… lets just say, it won’t last forever!
Do not feel awkward around friends, family, and strangers for that matter. I remember after I shaved my head… I was so nervous to see my husbands little cousins and go out in public. I felt like I always had to explain myself. The whole “I’m going through chemo” or “I have cancer” quotes were hard to roll off my tongue for a LONGGGGG time! Heck! I still get teary eyed when I say “I had cancer”— simetimes I dont even know what to say! But heck, thats a whole blog post in itself! I hated that I had cancer, I was ashamed in a way. I still wanted to be the old me, and at the time I didn’t want to admit that the old me was gone. Today… I am finally able to see that the “new” me is a much better, polished me.
If you are going through chemo, have a friend that is going through chemo, or see someone on the street who looks a little bald and not old man bald with a cigar hanging out of his mouth… say “hi”, and if they are a girl… tell them they look beautiful, but not in a creepy way;) Pick one thing on that person that you can compliment, “You have the most beautiful eyes”, “that lipstick is such a great color”, or simply “Have a great day”… those few statements will hit them in the pit of their stomach and truly make their day! I remember times when people complimented me when I felt like I was ugly and looked like a sick piece of poo, and it made that day a little brighter!
Right now, the mirror may be your enemy. For me, the mirror has been my nightmare for about a year and a half. Today, one year chemo free and I actually loved looking in the mirror! Read that again sparkleoners… ONE YEAR AFTER MY LAST CHEMO, I FINALLY am able to look into the mirror and accept my reflection. One year is a long time… but your time will come!
I have a challenge for you. And anyone can do this too- cancer filled, remission, friend or family member… Before bed tonight, I want you to take off your makeup, hang up the wig, get naked— this is the most important part! I want you to turn the light on (fan is optional 😉 I want you to take a selfie. DO NOT EDIT IT, DO NOT DELETE IT. Now I want you to find 1 single thing that you find beautiful/ handsome about yourself, your outward self. It can be as simple as I like that I have two working eyes, and a nose that smells! I don’t really care.. but you must give yourself the credit you deserve! You may not be able to find one thing on your outside core that you like right now… but that is okay. Deep down… very deep for some of us, we do still sparkle— it may take you a year and a half to believe me, but I promise… you are still beautiful!
Today I had an amazing experience for the first time getting my hair styled. I woke up, went live on Instagram and shared with all of you a monumental moment of straightening my hair for the very first time since it grew back! After I got it as straight as I could considering the thickness and crazy chemo curls, I looked in the mirror, remembered it was pay day… and decided to treat myself! I am tired of feeling like Meghan stuck with chemo curls in an outside core that I just deal with. So, I packed Izzy up and went to a salon I used to go to pre-cancer. (the amazing Dani’s HairLoft in Mckees Rocks PA- right outside of Pittsburgh)
It is always so awkward for me because Ive gone there to get my head shave fixed and my brows done a few times through my hair re-growing journey… and I always have to prepare myself because I know they arent going to recognize me and I just always get that awkward feeling like they know! Im the cancer girl, i dont know its just awkward right… they look in the computer and see ai havent had my hair done in over a year, not because Ive gone somewhere else, its because I havent had any hair to get done!
Anyways, I went in and asked if they could fit me in for a quick cut. They are always soooo nice and said they could fit me in. I was waiting on one of their adorable wait chairs (councidentally the chair I sat in the day I shaved my hair and had to go get it fixed because it looked like I got attacked by a lawnmower), anyways. The hairdresser finished up and invited me into her spinny chair.
As we started talking I of course had to go into detail about my hair, my chemoversary, my first time straightening it (yes im practically a born again virgin!)… you know, explaining the cancer journey which im sure my cancer fam knows all too well. I got into products that I use… and it was like a firework went off! Turns out, Sandy (my hairdresser) is a Pureology rep— flipping match made in heaven right here. Of course I then go on and on about my love for their products, then she taught me things I didnt even know. Like, Pureology is vegan, and doesnt have carinogens! Awesomeeee… so why isnt every cancer crew member using it?!
Long story short, we have an immediate connection. She did a dry cut on my mane and woolah… I felt like a whole knew gal! For the very first time in over a year, since I was diagnosed and forced to shave my rapunzel pony… I felt pretty, feminine, and like me! A new me, but a good me and I am just so greatful!