THE BLOG
05/14/2013 02:00 pm ET Updated Jul 14, 2013

Things I Was Told During Chemotherapy

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"You don't even look that sick"

"If you hadn't of told me you were going through chemotherapy I wouldn't have known"

"Bald is a good look for you"

"But you have so much energy, it can't be that bad"

"At least it hasn't affected your smile"

Every day, young adults are diagnosed with cancer. Every day, people tell them it will be okay, or it isn't so bad. It isn't noticeable; they look great and are fighting the good fight. That, hey, it isn't that bad right? No one notices how sick you look. If I had a nickel for every time someone told me how good I looked when I was going through chemo, I would probably have a good amount of cash on hand. These quotes are some things that were said to me by various people in my life. These things didn't really help me.

When I was 26, I was undergoing treatment for Ewing's sarcoma. I had a nasty limp from surgery, I was completely bald (eyebrows and eyelashes gone too) and when radiation start, a further worsening limp. I got to experience this for a little less than a year. I had a lot of things said to me during that time.

"You don't even look that sick"

Yes I did. I knew I did. I still know to this day. I would walk down the street and have people look at me funny. People looked at me with a sad, or worse, surprised look in their eyes. I still have nightmares about the way I looked. In a time in most people's lives when they get dressed up, trying to look good, there was literally nothing I could do or wear to make me look "not sick." I would cover up completely, and really I think that just made it more obvious. It really affected my confidence and my ability even to go outside for a walk down the street.

"If you hadn't of told me you were going through chemotherapy I wouldn't of known"

Really? I never believed that. I had the look of a stereotypical chemo patient you would see in a movie or a TV show. I moved slowly and gingerly. I lost all my hair, lost a lot of weight (more than I care to write) and didn't even recognize myself most days. Looking the mirror became a chore. It was scary to be honest, to see how far I had fallen. I got to the point where I couldn't and wouldn't look at myself in the mirror. It was too painful. The pain was unbearable some days.

"Bald is a good look for you"

Maybe. But not when I have no eyebrows or eyelashes too. I never saw the point of people trying to tell me how "great" or "well" I looked when I knew I didn't. I was balding anyway so losing the hair on the top of my head wasn't a huge shock. When you rub your eyes and all your eyelashes are promptly rubbed into your eye, that is not a fun day, and the tears that follow certainly isn't a good look for anyone.

"But you have so much energy, it can't be that bad"

Believe me, it was bad. Horrible. It was Hell. I think this is something people said for themselves, and not for me. If you don't acknowledge how bad something is, maybe it isn't that bad. See the world through rose tinted glasses as they say. I was told on several occasions how much energy I had. Maybe they meant energetic for someone who is going through chemotherapy. I couldn't walk up stairs. I always had to stop halfway in my house. That doesn't sound very full of energy to me.

"At least it hasn't affected your smile, you look great when you smile"

I did keep smiling. I still do. Not every day, but every day that I could. It was one thing I could control. With every treatment I tried my best not to be mad at the world, or mad at the things people said to me. Where would that get me? It wasn't about being fair and to be honest, as hurtful as some of the things said to me were, they were never meant to be hurtful. I still try to smile. With every checkup, with every test and with every scan. With every lump or hard area of skin I still find, I try and smile and tell myself it will all be okay. It has been so far. I had a year of Hell, and I pray that I never have to go through that again. Cancer can take a lot away from people, but I didn't let it take my ability to smile back at the world.

A lot of things were said to me during cancer treatment. Some I remember, most I don't. And most I don't care about anymore. The only thing that matters these days is that my oncologist keeps telling me, "Your MRI is fine, no sign of Ewing's sarcoma."

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