Over the past six months, or so, with the treatments, my weight has dropped considerably. The first chemo had its impact with occasional bouts of nausea. The second chemo has not caused any nausea, but I’m still losing weight. Probably so far, I’ve lost about 18 pounds. I’m the lightest I’ve ever been; so light, I will float away any moment and dissipate in the breeze. Gone.
I’m writing this because yesterday I visited my brother’s gym. He is a personal trainer along with also being a Traditional Chinese Medicine Acupuncturist here in Ottawa. Very kindly, he will be helping me train. We need to build my body back up. We need to get the muscle regenerating (or whatever the word is). We need to fix the woman who looks like she’s missing 20 pounds.
It was weird looking in the mirror of that gym yesterday. All around me were people training themselves. They were sweating and pounding the bags – they had strong arms and strong strikes. They didn’t seem to worry about shattering a bone when hitting something. I’m scared to even lift a grocery bag, for fear of crushing a vertebrae. And in the mirror I watched myself amongst them, so noticeably different.
Beauty – is it in the eye of the beholder? Even more so, is health in the eye of the beholder? Does it count that I feel well for someone in my situation? Is this frail projection reflecting back at me a reality that my sensibilities won’t accept?
I’m at battle with the me in the mirror, because I’m a bit afraid she’s the me who is dying very slowly.
I guess that is really the truth of it. It scares me a little, you know? To wither away, it’s not cool. So I need to remember: the me in the mirror is doing her best. She is at the gym despite feeling totally awkward about it. She is eating the meat and fat, despite having no real desire for either. And she is trying her best. There is a ‘me’ in there who is healthy, beautiful, and striving to survive.
I just need to remember this. And keep trying. One pound at a time and one treatment at a time, I want to get my body back.
I’m developing the opinion that thick eyebrows are fantastic. They give definition, they accent . . . they’re beautiful.
Many years ago at camp (I think I was about 14) girls were observing each other’s eyebrows. This one girl whose sister was a model was showing us how to pluck. Start at the bottom, not the top and create a smooth line.
Bollocks. I love my bushy eyebrows. Okay, maybe there is the occasional creeping hair that ought to be removed – and I say ‘ought’ because I never get around to plucking it away. But strong brows make for strong looking women. Of course, back at fourteen I didn’t have the same opinion and instead stared in the mirror and wondered whether I was stripping away enough, but I wondered similar things about my makeup, my pimples and my entire appearance. “Why don’t boys like me?” etc. If you were to see a picture of 14 to 16 year old Catherine, you’d see a girl in oversized sweatshirts, her father’s jeans, and totting a whole lotta awkward.
In the past couple weeks my brows have started fading. First they became more polite; now they’re straight out meek. So finally I see what Catherine of the plucked brows would look like, which brings me to this posting and my love of the full-on brow.
Wear them thick, wear them proud. Eyebrows: good for the face, great for expression.
I have some brow powder in the bathroom awaiting the day when all the hair falls out and I need to revert to makeup. Or maybe I’ll switch my glasses for some really high, thick frames.
And that is my bit about eyebrows. This is well and truly a girl’s blog.
Today I made two decisions.
First was to forget about the bra. Mom and I went in search of health food stores on the high street, and I wore my loose and lovely blue dress. Because the dress has some strategic pleats I was able to walk around sans-false breast (sans bra altogether) and it felt divine: just me and the soft caress of cotton in the breeze. You know what, I think people didn’t even notice.
Today was a very good day for body image awesomeness. I also bought a shirt from H&M that has similar pleats. The neckline plunges considerably, but I figure why not? I’m only 28, and so what if I occasionally show a bit of scar? Once this wound heals it will lighten and become less alarming to the accidentally flashed, plus in general the design of this shirt means neither boob nor scar will be hanging out for the world to see.
🙂 Shopping. Oh I love it, even if I can only stand an hour before my side becomes overcome with pins and needles.
My second decision has also been made today. Zsolt and I will stay in England for the chemotherapy. While I’d love to be near my family, I also love being near my husband – and he needs to finish his thesis, which can best be done with access to the university and his colleagues. In the meantime I’ll start applications in case we decide to move after chemo is completed. At the moment that future decision to move is still in the air, but for now we’re staying put in jolly old England.
So there you go. Today I am feeling better, better than yesterday, for sure. To top off the good vibes my work colleagues stopped by for a visit (and brought presents, yay!). I’ll tell you what, the library is the loveliest place – from the people, to the environment, to the work. Shout out to Nick and Margaret! Thanks for coming round; it was great to chat a while.
So high and lows, as promised. Today has been a high. And thanks goodness for that.
PS – an extra shout out to the generous ladies who delivered a certain lunch/dinner this past afternoon. Your thoughtfulness is very much appreciated, and I think was a highlight in the day. It’s incredible how people can take care of one another. Wonderful too. 🙂