21 Feb, 17

To my cancer fighters, I was you this time last year.

To all of my cancer fighters, I was you this time last year.

I’m writing to let you know that this time last year, I was in your shoes. I was you. I completely get what you’re going through right now, because I was there. Don’t worry, what you’re feeling is normal. This is all normal.

Around this exact time last year, was about two weeks after my first chemo. This exact night is the first time I ran my hands through my hair and it was falling out in clumps. My hair is what I thought defined me for those 28 years of my life. I had long hair and long extensions. When your hair falls out, it’s probably going to fall out little by little. It will shed all over your apartment. Then it will fall out in clumps. There was a period of time where I refused to even brush it until it got matted, and it came out in clumps. It’s going to make you nauseas, it’s going to make you cry. It made me physically sick to my stomach and I would vomit every single time I ran my hands through my hair, because it made my illness real. It doesn’t make you vain or any less of a person for breaking down when your hair falls out. Don’t worry, what you’re feeling is normal. This is all normal.

You’re going to be depressed, you’re going to cry, you’re going to cry A LOT, and then you will become numb. What you’re going through right now is life changing. It’s traumatic. You’re probably going to cry so much during treatment, that at the end, you can’t even cry anymore. No one will actually get it, unless they’ve been through it. Don’t expect anyone to get it. You will eventually stop crying. Don’t worry, what you’re feeling is normal. This is all normal.

I started my first chemo in the ICU, so I was on all types of medication and in and out. My second chemo is what hit me the hardest, so your first chemo might be the worst for you. You’re going to be nauseas. You’ll probably end up on your couch with a bucket next to you. You’re not going to be able to sleep, and you’re going to stay up all night not knowing how the hell you are going to make it through. Just know that you will get through it. I think I went 6 days without sleeping when I got home from the hospital. Don’t worry, what you’re feeling is normal. This is all normal.

If you’re a girly girl like me, you’re going to freak out when you hair is coming out. You’re going to be scared as hell when you go wig shopping. I really don’t know personally what was more traumatizing for me, having my hair fall out, or sitting in a wig shop trying on wigs, and having to accept the fact that this is now your life. I was so afraid at first to wear my wigs, I would cry literally every time I put them on. Don’t worry, what you’re feeling is normal. This is all normal.

You’re not going to be able to recognize yourself, because chemo will probably take your physical identity from you. I remember when I got out of the hospital, I had lost almost 25 lbs, and I was always pretty thin. My friends couldn’t recognize me. It’s frightening. You might push people away, and not want to talk to anyone for however long. But let me tell you, you need your friends and family right now. Again, don’t worry, what your feeling is normal. This is all normal.

You’re probably going to be very afraid. Afraid of chemo, afraid of the next 6+ months of your life, afraid to die. I had so many panic attacks, because I thought I was going to stop breathing. Sometimes I wouldn’t go to sleep, in fear of not waking up. Don’t worry, what you’re feeling is normal. This is all normal.

I know that nothing is making sense to you right now, nothing at all, and it really seems like the end of the world. But I also know that you’re going to get through it, and this too shall pass. I am living proof that it shall pass. It’s not going to be easy. It’s going to be the hardest thing that you will ever have to face in your life. I do believe that although this illness seems like a prison sentence, you will look back on it and learn so much about yourself, so much about life, so much about your own strength. God only gives his hardest battles to his strongest fighters, because you can do it. But don’t ever think for a second that what you’re feeling is not normal, it’s completely okay to not be okay. This is all normal.

I was in your shoes last year, and exactly one year later, I want to give you hope. I’m living. And I’m living in a completely different, more meaningful way. My life has changed, and it has all changed for the better. I have all of these scars to prove that whatever else life throws at me, I got it. I can handle it. I’ve been through hell, I can go through it again. Sometimes life throws us these curveballs because we need lessons. I needed lessons. You may not see it now, but you do too. We all do. It’s just up to you to figure out what exactly they are.

Cheering from you from Miami. No one fights this alone. No one.

Xo, your now in remission Lymphoma Barbie who was fighting for her life, just like you are now. That thing I didn’t think I survived, I survived. Now look at me living and shit. You got this, don’t ever underestimate yourself. One year later, 6 months post chemo.