"You don't like this one, I hear you, this is one you don't like," says Morgan, the woman from Beauty and Cancer.
I can't answer her because I still can't talk with the mucasitis in my throat, mouth, ears, digestive track et al. I just keep looking in the mirror and crying.
"I understand, you don't have to try and talk. You don't like this one. I have another one," she said and turned away from me to dig into her box.
Since November, I've been coping, coping real well. Carrying on like a trooper they tell me. Everything thrown at me, I take. And when I can't take it that very moment, God gives me some time to prepare to take it. I reflect, heal and regroup emotionally -- basically, I haven't done anything and can't explain it except that God has brought me through with my diagnosis, treatment, neuropothy in my feet and legs, loss of hair, weakening muscles, falling, learning to walk again, lumbar punctures with chemo injected into the spinal fluid around the brain and plenty more else, plenty. I remember the time when I lay on my bed in the living room in our house on Washington Island and I was thinking that I just had to get out of this and if dying would bring that relief faster than bring on death. Fortunately, I heard myself thinking this and picked up the phone and called the counseling service at the American Cancer Society. I got connected to a woman and told her what had just happened. "When were you diagnosed?" she asked. November, 2009, I told her. Her voice changed as if she were talking to a child, not in a bad way but in a way that clued me that I was an infant in all this. "You are early on in the process. Don't give up now. Fight the good fight."
I've been fighting the good fight. I've been coping hot and heavy, long and true. And this woman from Beauty and Cancer comes into my room and puts a wig on my head and hands me a mirror and I started blubbering because for the first time since this past November, I catch a glimpse of myself as a whole person, normal person woman again. I hate wigs, can't think of much else so unnatural. I was only making the inquiry for a wig because they are free -- come with the territory in the bone marrow transplant unit and because of giving a smile to Micala, Korrina and Kayla next time they visit. I wanted to see the look on their faces but here I was seeing the look on my face with tears that just wouldn't stop. I probably won't wear that wig much except for the next time the girls come to visit and I want to surprise them. But the wig has done its job already. It gave me a peak at the person with hair that I was and the person (all the way to the roots) I still may get the fun of being. The tears? A glimpse of me in the bed here and now-- grieving, coping and carrying-on.