Karen with her husband, Bob

Deciding to accept the things that cannot be changed and to change the things I can, I am taking the bull by the horns and finding all the good there is to find when faced with a cancer diagnosis. Don’t get me wrong, a cancer diagnosis totally sucks and it took me a while to find my way and move into a more positive state of mind. Each and every person facing cancer must find the path that works best for them. My path, although sidetracked by cancer, is to see the glass as half full, to surround myself with those who love me, to disengage myself from negative energy, and to look for and find the best things life has to offer. What other choice is there than being positive and keeping an optimistic outlook when life throws curveballs at you? Being sad and curling up in a ball is not an option for me. Negative thoughts take more energy and there is no productivity in it. Every situation has something good and positive. You just need to open your eyes to that possibility and then find it. It is always there in the chaos. I have taken all that positive energy and infused my spirit and soul with it.

Hair seems like something we all take for granted, until you don’t have it. Who would ever know how much someone going through chemotherapy would stress over losing that hair? I spent hours stressing over my long hair. I decided to cut my hair and donate it to the Locks of Love. Then when I lost all the hair it wouldn’t be as traumatic. The idea was good but in theory nothing can prepare a person for the loss of their hair.

Once the hair started falling out, and amazingly it happens fairly quickly after starting chemotherapy, it was still traumatic and unnerving. The day after I had my husband shave my head, I began my “List” of pros and cons to hair loss and cancer in general. I knew I needed to write down my thoughts in order to put my head back in a positive place. The list grew quickly and I was very surprised at all the “Pros” of hair loss and of facing cancer. How can there be good in having cancer? The answer is if you look at any situation closely enough, you can always find the good in it.

To start, I won’t have to shave my legs for most of the summer. My girlfriends are actually jealous! I can get ready to go anywhere in 15 minutes or less. No hair to shampoo, dry, style, and fuss with let alone the shampoos, conditioners, and styling products I won’t need to buy. I can show my individuality with different hats, scarves, and bandanas. There is always something to wear on my head that matches every outfit I want to wear. I look for new hats and bandanas everywhere I go and try to find the most unusual ones. I can now wear many different styles of earrings and they aren’t hidden by my long hair. I have the clearest skin I have ever had in my life without even trying. Who knew that could be a benefit to chemotherapy.

I am learning that there is always someone out there who is worse off than I am. I am learning that laughter really is the best medicine and it is okay to laugh when you have cancer. Cancer does not have to control your life. I am learning that it is okay to talk about your cancer. Let those around you know it is okay to ask questions, to ask how you are, and to ask if you need anything. I am learning to accept help from friends and family. Cancer still sucks and the fear of the unknown can grip and paralyze you. How you overcome that fear is what is important. Love is better than anger. Hope is better than fear. Optimism is better than despair.

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