Chemo is not cancer
Ask 100 people to describe what they think some cancer symptoms are and I'll guarantee you at least one will say baldness, ask 100 people to describe what they think a cancer patient looks like and I'll guarantee you at least 75 people will say bald, ask 100 people what they would fear if they got cancer and besides the obvious death, I'll guarantee any women and some men in that survey will say baldness. Baldness is not a symptom or a side effect of cancer, baldness is a side effect of "some" chemotherapies.
I don't blame people for thinking like this, heck I thought theses things before I was diagnosed, but so many of us out there aren't educated enough about this widely known, widely discussed, widely feared disease, yet many of you run marathons to raise money for its cure, buy a pen on daffodil day and you often don't know what it's all about.
If you look at these 2 pictures below, which person would you say is dying from cancer?
Now I believe if you don't or didn't know my story, most of you would say the one on the left and why wouldn't you? I mean everything about the photo on the left screams cancer and death, pretty bald, drawn on eyebrows and no eyelashes, but I was officially cancer free in the photo on the left, my hair was growing back and I was getting my mojo back! The photo on the right however is completely deceiving, I had only been out of palliative care in hospital a couple of weeks and as we all know I am indeed terminal, but in all honesty if you were walking down the street and didn't know me from a bar of soap, you wouldn't take a second glance at me and if you did, you certainly wouldn't think I had terminal cancer.
I said earlier in this blog that hair loss is a side effect of "some" chemotherapies and I highlighted some, because I believe there is this large misconception out there in the general public that firstly if you get cancer, you have chemo......not true, not all cancer patients require chemotherapy, many may just require surgical removal of the cancer, many may require radiation, some may now use immunotherapies and God knows what else doctors have up their sleeves now to treat cancer, but chemotherapy is not a compulsory nor is it always a suitable treatment option for cancer patients.
Firstly to talk about chemo you must know the basic idea of what chemo does, it targets cells in the body and either kills or injures rapidly dividing cells, because chemotherapy is not cancer cell specific it damages healthy cells as well and this is why side effects occur.
Chemotherapy is not a cure for all types of cancer, many believe we're pretty much on top of this cancer shit, don't you get cancer, have chemo, wait 5 years and then you're all ok again, isn't that how it works? No this is not the case, chemotherapy can be the only treatment for some cancers, but for others it is sent in as either pre show entertainment (have chemo to reduce tumour size before surgery) or the cleaners at the end of the big game (chemo can mop up rogue or left over cells after tumour removal).
Chemotherapy is not always injected via a cannula into the blood stream, there are different forms of chemo, you can have a tablet or wafer, it can be injected into different areas of the body, they even have bloody cream chemotherapy, yep you rub that shit in like you do your moisturiser, bet some of you didn't know that!
Not all chemotherapies have the same side effects, some have very mild side effects to no side effects at all, then you have your middle of the road Chemo's, these ones I would liken to your annoying little brother or sister occasionally pissing you off, they're there and they're mildly irritating, but you can't get rid of them, so you just have to put up with them, that's middle of the road chemo, mild nausea, a rash here or there, tiredness, those sort of things, again annoying, but not life threatening. Then you have your absolute wankers of the chemo world, yep these bad boys are the ones who take up two carpark spaces in the already full carpark at Christmas time, these are the judgemental school mums that give you that "you're not a good mother look" when you drop your kid off to school five minutes late with a bag of chips in one hand for recess and a five dollar note for lunch in the other. Yep these Chemo's are the lowest of the low, they steal your looks, they make you fat or make you skeletal, they make you bald up there, down there and all that's in between, no eyelashes or eyebrows is way worse than no hair on your head, believe me, once you lose those, it's bye bye human being, hello alien, make you vomit like a drunk on Sunday morning, well every morning for that matter, make you shit like you've had a vindaloo for breakfast, lunch and dinner or make you not shit and gift you with haemorrhoids instead, give you cystic acne, deep vein thrombosis or even death! Yes, chemo can in fact lead to your death, either as an actual side effect or as an effect from having a low immune system and perhaps dying from pneumonia or something and the list just goes on!
So you see, Chemotherapy is a complicated creature with lots of different personalities and Cancer is also a complicated creature with many different personalities and traits, but they are not one in the same. Chemo is not always cancers first choice when it's picking it's team, sometimes poor chemo is left sitting on the sideline watching the game as an observer, poor chemo is a bench warmer, it doesn't even make the reserves.
It's the old adage, don't judge a book by its cover and this applies to so many of you out there. A shout out to all those chronic disease sufferers out there, the ones that are in pain every hour of the day, but because it's inside its not real, the ones who are suffering from mental health issues, whether it be postnatal depression, ptsd and so on, the invisible killers, the ones who suffer from addiction or an eating disorder, it doesn't just apply to us cancer sufferers who get less sympathy because we look like a healthy human being, there are other people out there just like you, just like me and they're holding their hand out offering you help, we are not alone. This blog alone can bring people together, more support and less judgement. Stay fabulous rockstars and if you are going through chemo at the moment or any other form of treatment, I salute you and I'm sure our fabulous rockstars salute you too ❤️🤘🏼
My name is Lisa Magill and I have been navigating the minefield that is cancer since just months after turning 30, people have been saying to me for years that I should put my thoughts into writing and as time has progressed I thought I had left it too late, well here we are nearly 4 years in and for some unknown reason I've decided to start to write today.