Almost Thirty: Memory Lane Part I


Sometimes I get a little sentimental about the days before I was diagnosed with cancer. Often times it’s when I am relaxing my achy soul in a steaming bubble bath while Patsy Cline cradles my heart with her soothing songs in the background. Drifting into another lifetime, the thought of the long-standing side effects of chemotherapy are not lost upon me. “Chemo brain” is the common lingo used to describe the forgetfulness, where some cancer patients like myself are greatly impacted. That combined with the lethal pain management medication, it becomes easy to have left your mind in an unknown place.

If memory serves me right (pun intended), I used to be as sharp as a tack. A memory of an elephant and the ability to recount the tiniest of details was a knack I thought I’d never shake. Admittedly I see now that I took it for granted. Throughout my school days it was not unusual for me to retain everyone’s name in every single class, whether we spoke or not. It was a part of my charm, even perhaps making others feel special every so often. Maybe?

Then cancer entered my life. I started treatment and one of the initial impressions of chemotherapy, aside from the physical elements, was feeling detached from my mind and memory. Spacey would be an understatement of how I swiftly felt as my treatment proceeded, leaving me to barely recount short or long-term cognizance.

From there it trickled down and sanctioned me into thinking about where my life is presently and all of the hopes and dreams I still have for myself. The floodgates to the inevitable neatly seep in and take over, with mortality becoming the forefront of every  foggy thought. In the midst of the flood, something happens and like a life vest, my memories suddenly save me. It can be triggered by a text, a picture, a song or even a smell and all at once, just like that, I remember. I remember why I fight so damn hard everyday to beat this cancer, to reclaim my life. The memories provide the sunshine when the path is too dim to see what’s ahead. And soon, I will be able to say that I have 30 years full of magnificent memories and have been blessed with such a colorful life.

As my 30th Birthday approaches, I am going to take a trip down memory lane each day and share some of my life’s most precious moments on  Be Still My Heart Blog. Life should be celebrated and while I continue to kick cancer’s ass each day, I will always have my blog to look upon and reminisce, giving me the fuel to continue to fight for my future.

Enjoy this gem of Steve and I on a trip to California and check in as I look back through the years…x

Love, Britt x

A Fist Full of Vanity

#Vanity I #BSMHB #BeStillMyHeartBlog I

I’ve come to discover that every person’s chemo experience, as well as cancer experience is singular.  It is an experience all of one’s own.  There may be a multitude of guidebooks and/or instructions on what to do when going through chemo, but the anthology of chemo is merely individual based.  After all, it is called “practicing medicine”. 

Tonight was the first time in quite some time that I felt a sense of shock.  Much like my ignorance to my pre-cancer diagnosis symptoms, I have continued on the same path with my post-cancer diagnosis, to feel immune and exempt from the standard woes of chemotherapy and the side effects it escorts.  Undoubtedly, I have endured a number of side effects, some that are considered rare and some that are painstakingly obvious.  My collection of derivative symptoms have contained a myriad of unusual things, such as my heart troubles, but the one thing I have been able to avoid is hair loss. Typically those who are not familiar with the various chemo cocktails and the individual based potions that it consists of, find hair loss to be synonymous with cancer and the chemo effect.  On the contrary, not every chemo cocktail constitutes the loss of hair, but may include the thinning of hair, or nothing at all.  Within my particular chemo treatment, hair loss is particularly uncommon; however thinning has a heeded warning.  Being that I have not had either, up to this point, I have considered myself to be very fortunate in that regard.  I’ve always reckoned that by not “looking” sick, has enabled me to live without an exterior appearance that I am battling cancer.  An ignorant thought, yes, but nonetheless it helped me to blend with the “normal” people and feel more like them.

Taking queues from the expert’s advice has not been my strong suit thus far.  In preparation for the Holiday Season, full of soirees and celebrations, I reasoned that giving my hair a bit of a refresher was necessary.  The drab, drowned out brown needed some vivacity.  Against the instructions from my Doctor’s, I decided to do a DIY hair color at home.  Sounds simple enough, right?  Wrong!   Bestowed upon my obliviousness to the professional cautioning, vanity prevailed.

As I opened the cheap box of L’Oreal hair color, it represented liveliness to my lackluster hair and a refresher that was long overdue.  I mixed the hair dye and shook it as though I was making a mixed drink; a professional bartender in the works.  The Dark Chocolate Brown began to soak in and I could feel the freshness of my hair convening its revival.

Soon after, it was time to hit the shower and rinse the dye away in preparation for the newness.  With the water rinsing rapidly, I was gently rubbing my head to assist the water to extract the colorant.  As I brought my hand away from my head, I was alarmed to see a fist full of hair.  I continued to touch my head in shock.  “This can’t be happening, I am not supposed to loose my hair”, I said to myself as I freaked.

Subsequently, as I braved the confines outside of the shower, my reflection was hazy from the steam.  I wiped away the moisture and hesitantly examined my hair.  To no fault of my own, I discovered small patches that could not stay intact against the chemicals of the dye job.  Immediately I began to well up with tears, as this was the first time I had experienced the effects of hair loss.  By my own judgment, I felt as though coloring my hair would have zero impact on my scalp/hair, despite the Doctor’s caveat.

Naturally, I have spent the last hour beating myself up over my inconsiderable poor judgment and have reflected upon my jaded actions in feeling exempt from disease, even still.  But, in this lies a lesson that I have to trust the guidelines of the professionals, do as I am told and open my eyes to the fact that my individuality in the cancer process may have its singular parts, but as a whole I am a cancer patient, just like the other cancer patients that I  accompany in this uphill battle.  Narcissism will no longer concede me and from here on out I will not falter from the admonitions of the Healthcare Professionals.