- Created: Monday, 29 April 2013 15:38
I am through the worst part of my breast cancer treatment: bilateral mastectomy, 16 weeks of chemo, hair loss, scars, two other surgeries and two of 28 radiation treatments are complete. Just as I am waking up to a rather harsh reality of this last six months, I am struck with yet another very odd side effect of chemo: I have lost almost all of my eyelashes.
Normally, our eyelashes grow and shed on an intermittent basis...as one falls out, there is another one growing to replace it.. Chemotherapy can cause the eyelashes to all coordinate their cycle of growing and falling out, so they all fall out at the same time then grow back very slowly. I’ve heard of this happening for several months after chemo is completed. It’s an unexpected slap in the face after everything my psyche has been through during this journey.
I’ve always had long, beautiful eyelashes, passed down through many generations of my family. Unfortunately, there is no hiding the fact that all of my eyelashes have fallen out. My nurses told me not to use false lashes, which are very intimidating to me, anyway. I don’t look or feel like myself...eyelash-less in public has been a tough cup of reality for me to swallow.
So, now I find myself staring at other people’s eyelashes. I covet them...staring at them and wondering if the beholder of those beautiful little appendages have any appreciation for them. I will be talking to someone and focus on their eyes, blinking and beautifully outlined by lush eyelashes. I can barely contain myself from echoing my own version of Little Red Riding Hood’s famous quote: “What lovely eyelashes you have...”.
I guess it boils down to appreciating the little things in life. If you haven’t gone through chemo, then I doubt that you’ve really ever paid much attention to your eyelashes. Much like we don’t appreciate that our bodies work the way they are supposed to on any given day. Breast cancer has given me the insight to appreciate the little things: the way my lungs feel as I am walking up a hill or the fact that my bones are strong enough to keep my body upright...I feel blessed every day that we caught the cancer before it metastasized to these other parts of my body.
I challenge all of you to find something to appreciate in your life today. Your health, your relationships with family or friends, your home, maybe even your eyelashes. As for me, I am heading in for radiation #3 of 28. I’m so very appreciative that I am healthy enough to drive myself, run errands and work on my herb garden on this beautiful spring day. Life is short, but beautiful...I plan to appreciate every moment of it!
Thanks for reading!
Beverly McKee, MSW, LCSW
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