One of my observations has been about the way people treat you when you have cancer. It fascinates me that I feel the same, but people treat me differently. In the early stages, people would hug me like I was fragile or like my chest must hurt. I would tell them to “hug me like you mean it.” Breast cancer doesn’t hurt.

Once you lose your hair, all bets are off. It is hard to go unnoticed. When you are out in public, people tend to go one of two ways. Either they can’t look you in the eye, or they treat you really, really nicely. I have had the best service at restaurants since becoming bald. I kid you not. My water glass is never empty. I seem to get served extra large portions. If I pull my jacket around my shoulders, the manager turns up the heat. I watched my ice melt, and Gene and the other customers sweat bullets at one restaurant until I finally relented and removed my jacket.

People let you cut in line. They don’t just let you. They practically beg you to. I find it amusing. And as long as I’m bald, I will never have to carry my own groceries. I’m telling you, a less respectable person could really take advantage of this cancer thing.

When my Mom was here, she commented that no one would even know I had cancer except for the bald head and missing eyebrows and eye lashes. I cocked my head, thought about it and tried not to laugh. I’m sure there was a compliment in there somewhere.

I think the best advice I got was from my two mentors, Julie and Chris. Early on, they told me that my job was to take care of myself. To do what made me comfortable, and to let everyone else get over it. I didn’t fully understand that at first, but over time, I have understood what they are talking about. Wear a wig if you want to. Wear a hat or go bald if that is what you want. Wear your prosthetic or not. Get creative with scarves or jackets, or just accept that your “temporary” breasts aren’t level.

Since I can’t wear my prosthetic during radiation, I’m dealing with that last one daily. I wear a camisole that has a pocket that holds quilt batting on one side, and I sag on the other side. Gene and Danielle have devised a signal for “your breast is on your shoulder” that has me rearranging now and then. We just laugh. Nice to know they have my back (or front!).