A woman brushing her hair

No One Stares When You Got Some Hair

“You don’t look sick!” I’ve been told over and over again. Most of my pain is not readily visible. My oncologist had told me that I had won the “cancer lottery” when I was diagnosed with chronic myeloid leukemia ten years ago. Was there an upside to having this particular form of cancer? What could that be?

My hair has thinned, but I still have it. No one stares when you have some hair. That’s an upside.

I'm able to blend in

I’m fairly mobile. I don’t do the 14 km hikes that I used to do, but I can walk, swim, and drive. No one pities you when you can move all by yourself. That’s not too shabby.

My mind is foggy, but with notes, calendars, and alarms I can navigate all this. I can still research, plan, and make decisions for myself. I can advocate for myself and others when I need to. That’s a plus.

I don’t stand out in a crowd. No one knows what is happening inside this body, so I can blend in. I can be included in a lot of activities. No one questions you when you look ok. That makes things simpler sometimes. If no one knows, maybe no one needs to know. That's pretty good.

I’ve been able to work at a job I love for ten years while on chemo. I’ve proven to myself and others that I indeed have a future. I am able to contribute to my family and my community. My abilities are still valuable. That’s a blessing.

Doing what I can when I can

On the outside, nothing looks too out of place. When I have energy and a smile on my face, I feel as if I can conquer anything. Life can look pretty much the same even if I’ve changed. That gives me strength.

I spoke to a fellow patient recently who explained it like this: There are times when we can work and times when we can’t. That’s to be accepted. Because we look ok, maybe more doors open to us because we are not obviously disabled. Be grateful. Some of us have treatment choices and lifestyle changes for the better. Stay resilient. Just because we can be somewhat unreliable, does not mean we cannot be productive. Do what you can when you can. Thanks, Bruce. Best advice ever.

There is power is being active patients

Our health is our most precious commodity. Without it, we have no options. We treasure it and protect it as best as we can. We can be active patients. We can ask the questions, make the hard decisions, and sometimes change what doesn’t work for us. There’s power in all this.

Go with the flow. Maybe that’s the hardest part. To just allow things to fall into place and accept what is. I’m still working on that.

Do you ever find blessings in the strangest places? Maybe that’s our biggest strength of all.

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