I’ve been meaning to write an update, but have waited until I found a good topic to write about. Also, now that I’m no longer pregnant and in remission, I’m figuring out how to transition this blog to be more about survivorship. And then being a mom of two makes it hard to have much free time!
Three Months Out
It’s been three months since my last chemo and life has been changing so much. I’ve been back at work for 2 months and getting used to the working mom life. Roberto’s at home on paternity leave which has been a great transition for our family with one parent still at home to help take care of the household. Kudos to companies that offer dads paid paternity leave! Roberto has gotten to spend some precious time bonding with Joel.
Most importantly, I had my first follow-up scan. I’m still in remission! For my type of cancer, primary mediastinal large B cell lymphoma, the risk of recurrence is generally pretty low, but if it does happen the risk is greatest the first year. After the first year, the risk of recurrence drops significantly (less than 10%, my doctors say).
We had a big celebration earlier this month to celebrate me finishing cancer treatment and being in remission. It was also a way to thank the many people who supported us the last few months.
Just Like Everyone Said, My Hair Would Come Back
My hair is growing back so fast! It’s in an awkward stage right now where it’s very full on the sides and back, and not so full on the top. I credit my quick hair grown to eating lots of eggs and almonds which are rich in biotin.
When I was going through treatment, it was winter time and cold so I had a collection of wool hats in neutral colors to wear and keep my head warm. I was working from home anyway, so no one really saw me. As the season changed to spring, I started wearing scarves and baseball caps instead since it was getting warmer. I was at home on maternity leave, so I could dress casually each day. But then I went back to work, where the dress code is business casual. It was a lot of effort to get dressed each day with a coordinating scarf. And then summer in Houston happened and it’s insanely hot to have anything on your head. So at the end of June, I got a hair trim to even out my hair length and then stopped wearing any sort of head cover.
It’s been so much easier getting dressed everyday and not having to worry about coordinating a scarf. It’s also way less hot being without a head cover. My hair is still growing in and I’m thinking that in August I’ll be able to have a more shaped haircut!
I wonder if people look at me funny or stare when they see me now with my current hair. It’s a hairstyle that really no woman would voluntarily have. There was an occasion at work recently when I met someone new. They only saw me as the person that appeared in front of them at that moment and knew nothing about my last 6 months. As I left the meeting, I wondered if they thought I had a weird haircut or thought I looked unattractive. I felt a little ashamed.
I know I shouldn’t feel ashamed. I should be proud of everything I went through and that I’m still standing. There are so many people who go through cancer and aren’t ‘still standing’ in the end. I had that chance and I think most people would easily choose a bad haircut in order to get a second chance at life. I always have the remind myself that these temporary things are a small blip in the grand scheme.
A New Me
I had written before how cancer had changed me as a person on the inside. Now I am starting to understand how I’m also a different person now physically. I was a little naive to think that after cancer, I’d physically go back to being the same healthy young adult. While I still consider myself healthy, my body isn’t the same anymore.
I’ve got chemo brain and have become a little forgetful. I had an amazing, sharp memory before. Now, I catch myself being a little more absent minded. I’ve tried to help this by keeping to do lists (I never really had to do this before – I used to remember everything!).
I also got a cold twice since finishing chemo. My first cold I ended up with congestion for over 2 weeks. My second cold hit me hard. I had a fever up to 104 and lots of coughing and congestion. Roberto reminds me that I had crazy drugs in me (chemo) that nearly wiped out my immune system, so I can’t expect my immune system to be the same as it was before.
Sharing My Story
It’s been important for me to share my story. I hope it gives hope to others going through something similar. I’ve had the honor of having my story shared recently on a few websites:
- MD Anderson: My B-cell lymphoma treatment during pregnancy
- MD Anderson: 5 things I learned from facing B-cell lymphoma while pregnant
- Whole30 Healthy Mama, Happy Baby: Adjusting to My Life Post-Cancer: Allie’s Story
“When you stand and share your story in an empowering way, your story will heal you and your story will heal somebody else.” – Iyanla Vanzant