Most of the time, I find that I can convince myself that I am strong, courageous, grounded, confident, and well. And most days, that’s the truth—at least mostly the truth. As with anything online, a lot of content written and posted by others is somewhat of a “highlight reel” and I’ve been guilty from time to time of writing uplifting and positive posts either here or Instagram or Facebook or whatever… but the truth is—it’s not always pretty and positive; it’s quite the opposite.
I would be lying to you if I said that I am not doing well, considering my circumstances. I have truly been very blessed thus far with my treatment and how I am handling it both physically, mentally, and emotionally, but mostly physically. I don’t know if my age plays a factor in how well I’m physically handling the chemotherapy and everything that comes along with it—and hopefully, it stays that way—but I consider myself lucky so far.
But you came here for the truth. So here’s the truth.
I have been struggling mentally and emotionally more often than not and it’s really tough. No one can prepare you for this. No blog, Instagram, Facebook, charity walk, or your Great Aunt Sally who once had cancer back in 1985 can prepare you for this.
When I lost my mother to breast cancer in 2013, I subconsciously told myself that one day that I could very well go through the same thing. Want me to be completely honest? I used to ask God that if He had to let this happen to any of me or my siblings, to let it happen to me because I felt that I could handle it. So, I guess God really does listen! (haha) Too bad he didn’t take me seriously when I asked Him to make me a millionaire…
Anyway, I kind of convinced myself that if I got breast cancer, that I’d be ready and that I could handle it. I used to imagine what it would be like when I got the news and I always pictured myself being so cavalier and ready to take it on… this was not the case. When I actually got the news IRL (in real life), I was SPEECHLESS. I started CRYING. I couldn’t even remember my own NAME AND BIRTH DATE. I actually said “what the f***?!” out loud and I don’t use the F-word. That’s how “prepared” I was, haha.
Looking in the mirror is actually painful. It’s difficult and shocking. Somedays, I can handle it, but there are times (i.e. two days ago) where I completely break down and lose myself because I am so sick of not looking like myself anymore. I cry when I scroll through Instagram and see all of the pretty girls with luscious hair, perfect skin, eyelashes, and so on, and I think, “What the heck happened to me? What did I do to deserve this?” Trust me, I know social media is NOT a good idea for me right now, but I can’t help but look. I regret it every time.
I never thought I’d actually be bald. When I used to imagine myself having cancer (because I mentally tried to prepare since it runs strong in my family), I always knew that baldness came with it but I never really thought I would actually be bald. At least not at 26 years old when I should be looking the best I’ll ever look! I hope I don’t sound too shallow, but hey, I’m a young woman and you and I would both be lying if we said that looks don’t matter. I also lost 90% of my eyelashes and my eyebrows are pretty sparse (thank God for brow products!).
I get jealous of other women. I worry if my fiancé will still be attracted to me—even though he’s genuinely the most loving and patient person on earth and I try really hard to remember that he loves me no matter what; hair or no hair. I avoid looking at myself in any kind of reflective surface. I hate getting ready to go out somewhere because I slightly resent my wig and having to tell myself “this is as good as it’s going to get” when I wished that I looked and felt better about myself. I hate wondering if everyone on the street can tell that I’m wearing a wig or if I look like I have cancer.
But here’s the thing…
When I get down and wallow in the dark depths of my reality, I have to remember that I am getting through this just fine. That this is, hopefully, temporary. That the Lord will see me through just as He always has. That I have done hard things before and this is just one more thing. That I am growing. I am evolving. I am learning. My body is going through SO MUCH and it’s literally fighting SO HARD for me.
No, I don’t have hair or eyelashes and I feel like crap 99% of the time, but my heart is still beautiful and it’s still me in there. I have and always will have my flaws; it’s what makes me (and you) human. So, I’m writing these words in hopes that the next time I feel like total crap, I can come back and say this to myself:
Taylor, you are doing so well. Don’t forget all of the hurdles that you have already jumped over. It hasn’t been easy but you’re still here. Things could be worse for you and through prayer, hope, and constant will to live your life, you will prevail! Know that you got this. You have done so many things you never thought you would. Don’t forget just how strong you are and how much stronger you’re getting. Give yourself some grace. — Love, Yourself
So, my friends… this is not an easy road. It’s hard and it’s sad and it’s not fair. But this is the life that was chosen for me. I believe (even when I don’t want to) that this isn’t it for me. I am already halfway through my last cycle of chemo! The finish line is near. As scary as that is for me, it’s just another beginning in this crazy, crazy life of mine. I pray every day that God watches over me, protects me and heals me. I believe that He is doing just that—in His time. All of our stress, worry, and anxiety stems from us rushing and abiding by our own timelines when in reality, we have zero control. Let go and let God.
Thank you for letting me be open and vulnerable with you today. This is some of the hard truths of going through hardship but know that if you are also going through something hard, that nothing lasts forever. Know that a positive mindset is a lot more powerful than you might think—I’m reminding myself of this daily. It’s easier said than done, but you can do it. I can do it. So let’s do it.
Here are a few images I’ve created to empower myself and hopefully you, too.