As a follow up to my last post, I’d like to share some thoughts on my “real” face. I’m so glad that I have the right tools to help me blend in. To the inventors of eyeliner, eye brow pencils and wigs, I humbly say thank you. As my friend Priscilla put it, “[It’s nice to] take a public break from cancer.”
In no way was I trying to deceive you. I want you to see the spectrum of my looks for two reasons: 1. It’s helpful to see the many faces of cancer for the sake of education. 2. If we run into each other in public, or you stop by my house, I want you to be prepared.
This is my home face. This is what my kids and husband see on the daily:
Except I have less eyebrows now.
I’m not trying to shock you or make you sad. I’m sensitive to any kind of emotional manipulation; that stuff drives me nuts. It is what it is.
In every trial there are treasures to behold. There is a silver lining of losing my hair, my eyebrows, my glow (that I did not realize I had)…and my breasts, as I know them.
Since I passed that peak of youth around my mid-20s–when all was perky and there was no grey–I’ve had a real fear of aging. I feared losing the beauty that I knew was only skin deep, but I still wanted it intact for as long as possible. I wondered at women who seemed able to embrace their new, old bodies and don a swimsuit at the beach. I worried that my face would feel masked by wrinkles. I dreaded that day when a young whipper snapper would see a picture of me in my youth with no discernible link to my 80-year-old face and she would say, “You were beautiful.” You were beautiful…
And then cancer happened. At 38, I’ve been stripped of beauty. My eyelashes are still falling out and my eyelids are so puffy and red. I know it will get better, but it’s still in the “getting worse” phase. Everyday, I feel less like a female.
I’ve always been nervous around men. (If I ever write a book, I’ll unpack that. Just know that I’ve been unusually nervous around men, K?) I’ve forever been worried that I’m going to accidentally send a romantic vibe or a seem flirtatious. It goes both ways, I think. It’s kind of normal, right? That worry is all gone. No man is worried he is going to be mistaken for hitting on me right now. My male friends are free to affirm me and their love for me without any inhibition or worry that this is something sexual. It’s rich. It’s like being an old, loveable grandma and being loved for what matters. It’s something that younger women and men should look forward to. It’s way better than the beauty.
I wish we could simulate this in our youth, but I’m afraid my imagination hasn’t figured out a way. In the meantime, I am eating it up. While I am so tired of being bald, puffy and unattractive, I’m grateful to experience at least one of the treasures of faded beauty.