“Over the last six months I've been focused on chemotherapy and living my best life while I've had chemotherapy. Now the clouds are starting to lift, and I'm preparing for what's next.”
In 2021 I was diagnosed with early-stage breast cancer, and I recently underwent six months of chemotherapy.
One of the biggest challenges I faced was something I wasn’t expecting to impact me as much as it did.
I naturally have incredibly curly and voluminous hair which was a huge part of my identity. During treatment I opted to use a cooling cap (which was a challenge in itself), but one day my hair started falling out in handfuls and I lost about 60 per cent of it in one day. That was very confronting. It was one of the biggest challenges I faced, and I was thinking ‘this is it for me, I’m never leaving the house again’.
Something I did to overcome being faced with such an identity change was going along to a headwear workshop. I went the day after my hair really started falling out and it was an amazing experience which inspired me and changed my outlook. It felt great to face a challenge I was having head on.
Another challenge was the fact that I was freelancing when I was diagnosed. It really concerned me because I wasn’t sure how my clients would react to my diagnosis, and if they would feel reluctant to give me work out of concern for my health. Some people were suggesting that I take the first three months of treatment off work but that was not even a consideration for me.
Also, as a freelancer, you don't have sick leave. You've just got (hopefully) a buffer in the bank. I was lucky to have really understanding clients that I'd been working with for a while, so they were happy to be flexible and work around me. I was fortunate that my symptoms didn't stop me from working either, so it was really good to keep some normality in my life.
I've used the BCNA website several times since I was diagnosed to look for information pertaining to my treatment and my breast cancer experience. I really like using the BCNA website because it's reliable and I know that the information there is accessible and accurate