This week, something awesome happened. Something that made me really, really happy.
By: Robin Harry
Most of my pre-cancer clothing now fits me quite comfortably again. That’s a big deal for me; I put on 30 pounds during treatment and needed an entire new wardrobe. According to the scale, I’ve lost almost 25 pounds from my peak cancer weight. Thank you, healthy diet and intermittent exercise! I cannot even begin to describe the feeling of satisfaction that came with putting on an old pair of size 6 pants, and actually being able to get them past my thighs and zip them up without cutting all circulation to my upper body. I’m not gonna lie – it felt freakin’ awesome. Apart from the hair change, I’m beginning to look like my old self. In some ways I think I might even look better, maybe. I’m quite certain I don’t look like someone who had cancer less than a year ago.
So why do I feel like it should be written all over my face?
All the people in my life before I had cancer knew that I had cancer; clearly I’m not secretive about it. The friends I’ve made since then were all because of cancer, mostly young adults who have gone through the same thing. It’s become part of what everyone knows about me, and it became part of what I saw in the mirror. Robin – tall, dark-skinned, purple glasses, cancer survivor. Quite frankly, that’s still what I see. So it’s hard for me to reconcile that with the idea that it’s not the first thing that others see when they look at me.
When my choir started back up this September, we got a lot of new choristers, none of whom I had met before. These were the first people to come into my life since I’ve had cancer that have absolutely no idea. They didn’t see me go through it all. They don’t know why I give praise reports about not having been to the doctor’s office for a whole month, or why my hair is short. Even when they do find out, they’ll never really know. Honestly – it feels weird. It’s disconnecting and strange and unnerving and foreign. I guess I just didn’t ever think that there would come a day when people would know me as just “Robin, that girl over there”, and not “Robin, that girl over there who survived cancer”.
It’s strange trying to be settled with the difference between my reflection and my “image.” I mean, don’t get me wrong, I look fantastic by my standards. However, I don’t need to look like cancer to see it in my reflection. What I’m beginning to realize is that disparity is really just me. I’m sure that’s a good thing. It’s just going to take some getting used to.