Melanoma surreal experiences: Out of Body – Out of Mind
My surreal experiences with Melanoma are best defined as out of body experiences. I don’t think anybody who hasn’t been one, can truly appreciate all that a Cancer patient goes through. It starts at the moment of diagnosis and continues on, one way or another, for the rest of their lives. With that in mind there are two things I do whenever the opportunity presents itself: thank a solider for his or her service, and congratulate Cancer survivors for living and coping throughout their continual journeys. Both groups have given much of themselves to fight on the front lines of very important causes. And, in both cases, some have given their very lives.
As I’d stated in my last post, when the healthy among us look upon Cancer patients, they see only what’s visible on the surface; loss of hair, sallow appearance and other perceptible maladies brought out by both the disease…and its cure. They don’t see the mental affects of the illness, which at times can be even more of a struggle than those of the physical. A damaged body can often heal, but the damage from emotional scarring can last the rest of a Cancer patient’s lifetime. As this component of sickness can and quite often is, literally, treated as ‘out of sight, out of mind’, I feel that it’s a grossly underserved aspect of patient care. Indeed, it was and remains the hardest part of my own personal journey.
Of course, the physical side of a Cancer diagnosis is still equally frustrating. I feel like I’ve been having consistent out-of-body experiences for years. I still don’t fully understand my body the way I used to, because we’ve had a major disconnect since my diagnosis. I’ve learned to embrace, or at least tolerate, the physical changes in me. But that doesn’t mean I like it. I’ve had thyroid issues, and have been pre-menopausal since I was in my early 30’s. I’d love to go on the pill in order to calm down some of the symptoms associated with hormonal changes, but as a Cancer survivor I can’t do that. It would increase my chances of recurrence, and in no way do I want to tempt Fate by taking that risk. So I tough it out. Really, it’s all I can do.
Reflecting back, I think it was my love and background in fashion and beauty that really carried me through my darkest hours. It helped me to see that there was, possibly, a light at the end of the tunnel for me- and the many others who’ve experienced changes like mine. Fashion and beauty can be for every-body. I’m not going to lie, I was-and am-surrounded by beautiful people all day, every day. I work in an industry that sets very high standards for beauty, and it can be intimidating. In fact it was just that when I entered back into the arena post-diagnosis. Then I just made the best of it. Again, it was all I could do.
Being a “heavier” version of myself was hard at first- for me, not anyone else. I felt like I didn’t fit in; that I’d be overlooked for industry jobs. Because in our business your personal aesthetic is your calling card. As it turned out though I was very pleased with how I was received upon re-entering the fashion and beauty community.
I’ve always rocked what I like to wear, regardless of my size. I also like unique pieces, and I’m not partial to any one designer. My head was always a Size 2, and now my body was somewhere around a Size 16. The only things that changed about my personal style afterwards were the options available to my size. There definitely weren’t as many before. And today that size is considered “normal”, and in response many designers have joined the “right-size” bandwagon
As time went by I was starting to re-gain the confidence that I’d had before. And even better, for the first time in a long while I felt like my sickness actually had a purpose: to champion for others who couldn’t do so for themselves. I started collaborating with some producers at New York Fashion Week about bringing on a few “right-size” designers and, happily, they were open and excited about the prospect.
Vocationally speaking, this is my love; my passion. It’s also my area of expertise. I see the beauty in everyone and really enjoy bringing that out in people. And as such I know it’s going to change the landscape of all things perceived as beautiful. This is the start of something great; I’m sure of it. And I’m starting to feel good…
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- Vanishing Moles – Looks Can Be Deceiving - March 2, 2018
- New Year Resolution: Healthy Skin and Sun Protection - January 15, 2018
- A Guide to Skin Cancer and Melanoma - November 6, 2017
- Autumn’s Arrival: Sun Safety Reminder - October 11, 2017
- Students: Back to School Skin Protection - September 20, 2017
- An Explosion of Skin Cancer Diagnosis in the 21st Century - July 24, 2017
- Familial Malignant Melanoma: Family Tragedies - June 12, 2017
- Melanoma Monday – May 1, 2017 and every Monday Thereafter… - May 1, 2017
- Back to Basics About Melanoma - April 25, 2017