Millennial's story: the beauty in bald
Updated: Apr 14, 2020
Just shy of her 30th birthday, Millennial was diagnosed with a rare cancer. Today, the working mama and wife shares her story and insights on how to overcome a cancer diagnosis, find your beautiful through baldness, and stay grounded and grateful on your cancer journey.
How did you find out you had cancer?
I was 29 in the Summer of 2016 and I was just getting a good footing on balancing work, family and personal needs when I learned of my diagnosis of Non Hodgkins Lymphoma.
My cold chills, nightly body drenching sweats, large lump protruding from the middle of my chest and hacking cough led me to visit urgent care where I learned of my illness. At the time, I was just starting my career as a corporate internal auditor fresh out of college and it was the summer time.
The symptoms I was experiencing, I just chalked it up as something related to stresses from work and heat from the long summer nights. Each day, I felt weaker and became concerned enough to google my symptoms that directed me to run to the nearest hospital for x-rays and tests.
How did you react to your cancer diagnosis & treatment?
The treatment selected was used for aggressive lymphomas. I was ordered to complete inpatient chemotherapy for 180 hours of a continuous “chemo-cocktail” drip every three weeks.
I was in a state of disbelief for a little while. I still couldn’t come to terms with the entirety of the whole “you have cancer” ordeal. Like, there was too much of my future life packed into that one statement of doom.
Just like anyone faced with a major life shift, every aspect of my life was fast-forwarding through my brain with all the typical worries a working mother and wife would have:
So how will this affect my career?
What about my finances?
Treatment, will it hurt?
My kids? (They’re definitely going to need therapy through all of this)
My Husband…Who’s gonna cook?!
What was your biggest concern?
What is the actual shape of my head? How am I gonna look bald?!
Now, before you scold me for that seemingly vain statement, I gotta tell you… Hair is HUGE for me. As a woman, (I hope you can relate) I love having the privilege of being able to decorate my hair and body in whichever way I like and choose without too much negative judgement from society. Within a spa of two months, you can see me in braids, twists, a sleek blunt cut bob, beach wave long tresses or an updo nest of messy curls just to fit my many moods. My husband gets a new girl every other week, its one of my many magic tricks. It’s totally my thing.
In the midst of deciding on treatment plans and care for my children, I was on the ‘gram trying to find the hottest wig that the messiest Basketball wife would buy.
To stay true to my sometimes dramatic side, I shaved my head weeks before chemotherapy was even scheduled. Deep down, I realised it was the one thing I had under my control while preparing for treatment. I had figured I’d rock the “cancer bae” look for good practice.
And guess what? The entire act within itself was liberating and so defiant all in one.
The liberation to freely love all of who I was and to freely be bold in my decision to fight for everything I built within myself and to also stand defiant in my belief that there is glorious beauty in the feminine strength no matter its appearance.
What words of wisdom do you have for other cancer thrivers?
What I’ve been able to learn as a result of my cancer journey is that the simplest things in life can be the very anchor you need to stay grounded and grateful. The act of maintaining your mind within the present and expressing gratitude buys you another day of life (I wholeheartedly believe this).
Gratitude can be Re-Discovering your beauty. Gaze upon the very thing that made your mark in this world unique and beautiful. You are surrounded by love even when your body seems to be uncooperative at the moment. Let your mind lead the way to your healing and showcase your beauty just as you would before you heard the words “you have cancer”.
To help me cope with the fact of having cancer when I did… I led myself to believe that the universe selected me to prove a point. The point that as a Woman, I have the profound inner strength of overcoming any temporary discomfort of physical pain to further represent the beauty we help cultivate in this world just by our own feminine being. So, Ladies may I suggest you:
Smile (because I just know it’s beautiful)
Laugh (because it feels damn good)
Sing, Dance, Paint, Draw, Tutor a child, Garden, Drag Race, Write a story, Dress to the 9’s and hit up the grocery store (do whatever makes your heart content)
Embrace your loved ones in random warm hugs (they just want to know that you’re ok…)
Decorate your hair and body in your favourite fashions and styles
Because what’s inside of you. People are praying that your inner light will forever shine…Don’t let NOTHING dim that light sister.
Your light means another source of love for the world that surrounds you. You’re way more important than you may currently think. Shine on Sister. I’m so happy that you’re here. Be the Resilient Beauty that you are, Cancer can never ever take your inner essence. I learned that when I found the beauty of being bald.
Thank you Millennial for sharing your experience and insights.
Millennial and Mel