Walk a day in my shoes. Feel my fear that I'm going to lose this fight. That I might never see my children grow up, go to school, win their first competition, really talk to them, dance at their weddings. Feel sad that my children might never really know me.
Recently, on New Year's Day, I got out of bed with just a trace of a hangover, ran my fingers through my hair, and took a bunch of strands with me to the bathroom. What a way to start 2016, right? It got worse from there.
If I have learned anything from all of this it is patience and to live in the present. As it is, my hair will grow back and I will look differently to others. Appearances aside, I do know I am a woman who is stronger and more beautiful than I was before I was diagnosed a year and half ago.
But how could I have known that in fact my head is well-shaped, not too big, not too small, no distracting lumps or bumps, scars or curious protuberances. How could I have known how delightful the buzz was to touch?
Waiting for each hair to go was like death by a thousand cuts. So on the fifth day of the exodus my husband Harlan got the buzzer and the razor, and I was G.I. Jen. Up to this point I hadn't felt like a sick person. Now I looked in the mirror and saw Cancer Girl.
I paid as much mind to my hair and face as I had to the wounds I had been dressing, performing rituals of grooming I had nearly forgotten. My heart swelled, and after a year of cellular and spiritual purging, I suddenly felt full.
While individual health care decisions in the wake of a cancer diagnosis belong to the patient, there are some questions that my mother asked -- or didn't know to ask until things went awry -- that may be helpful for others to keep in mind when chemotherapy is presented as an option.