Originally I thought I would shut GuS after I was done with active treatment. It's been almost five months since I had my last radiation appointment, and I'm very much struggling with life post-cancer. I feel the need to blog again because it helped me a lot during treatment, and I'm hoping it will do the same post-cancerpalooza.
One of the main things I'm struggling with is self image. It's been almost a year since my clown-red hair fell out. Come Christmas, that will mark the one-year anniversary of the big bad bald. My hair is probably two or three inches now. While it looks great, I still don't like it and have this sense of disconnect when it comes to my appearance. I have a hairdo that in a million years (pre-cancer), I never would have said to a stylist, "Make my hair look like this." I still stare at the bright pink scar across my neck, and I swear, my skin just has a hint of greyish to it.
I've been coping with my self-image issues by a copious amounts of shopping. Oh lord, I have gone absolute nuts with my shopping as of late. I keep thinking to myself as I shop, "If I can't look the way I used to, then I'll create a new version of me." My closet is full of shoes, boots and accessories. I've donated all the Old Lara clothes that I could to Salvation Army. Right now, I would call my style Hipster Business Casual, if that makes any sense.
Another reason my self-image is so messed up goes back to how I looked during chemo. I spent six months bald, paler than I thought I ever could be in my life, all while wearing T-shirts and sweatpants. It took at least six to eight months for my surgery to heal and my cancer boob to heal properly and align itself forward. I wore baggy shirts and sweaters to hide my boobs when they were askew. I have caught way too many people looking at my neck and giving me unnecessary looks and stares. On the days I would even take a good look at myself in the mirror, I could just feel my self esteem go down the proverbial crapper. I looked as shitty as I felt physically.
Whenever I go out now, I just put so much thought and focus into what I'm wearing. In some situations, it can take me a good hour to get dressed, ready and out the door. Old Lara and New Lara are two very different people. Old Lara, who was a borderline What Not to Wear nominee, wouldn't give a second thought to wearing baggy jeans and a t-shirt. Not New Lara, no siree. I can't leave without making sure my outfit looks put-together and hopefully chic. I've read so many People Style and In-Style magazines.
Despite all this effort and insane amount of thought, I still struggle with how I feel about how I look. Even though Old Lara was a plain Jane with not that much style, it was still how I looked for most of my entire adult life. It was comforting and familiar, and now it's gone. I had no choice. I appreciate the compliments I've gotten on my hair in the last six months. That hasn't taken away how much I miss the way I used to look. I wish I could look in the mirror and not be reminded of seven rounds of chemotherapy (hair) and a painful surgery which hospitalized me for two days (neck).
I have other post-cancer topics to talk about. This is just the first one on my mind due to my shopping gone wild.