As any survivor knows, cancer’s not all bad. It’s just that it’s hard to appreciate the good parts when you’re up to your waist in… mud. Remember, every cloud has its silver lining — and every cancer side effect its plus side.
1. Bald is beautiful!
You’ve never been bald before, right? Enjoy these few months of no hair! No washing, no setting, no visits to the salon. Take the time to study your head’s shape, the texture of your skin, and even perhaps the baby-soft down that’s recently appeared. And take photos — trust me, someday you’ll want to revisit this experience.
2. Get a free tummy tuck
If you’re having a mastectomy, investigate autologous reconstruction, which transfers fat from belly to breast. New breast — no more belly fat. And if insurance pays for your mastectomy, they’re required by law to pay for reconstruction as well. Win-win!
3. Enjoy your stay-cation
Lots of people would love to just stay home and relax for awhile; no planning elaborate trips, no paying for expensive hotels. Your cancer treatment ensures you’ll be staying away from crowds and close to home for the time being — enjoy it! You’ll be back at work and into the daily grind before you know it.
4. Yard chores? Kiss ’em goodbye
Let your friendly neighbor mow the grass. When you’ve been socked in with a blizzard and the teen next door offers to shovel your walk — hand him or her a shovel. Best way to get help from neighbors: stand in your yard and look forlorn. From friends: complain how difficult it is to get all your trimming and weeding and mowing done since chemo has made you extremely sun-sensitive.
5. Lose weight without dieting
Chemo, surgery, radiation burns, fatigue, and emotional angst can wreak havoc with your appetite and digestive system. You often won’t feel like eating — call it the agony diet. Then, when you step on the scale two months into treatment and find you’ve lost those stubborn 5 pounds — score!
6. Put away the razor
Chemo makes you bald, which is irritating. But it also eliminates the hair on your legs, under your arms, and in other areas you might be used to shaving. Enjoy a few months of baby-smooth skin, sans razor.
7. Customize your bust
You’re having a mastectomy. The surgeon suggests reconstruction. Now’s your chance: If you’ve considered either breast reduction or breast augmentation in the past, the same insurance that pays for your mastectomy will pay for reconstruction of your breasts — to the size and shape you’ve always wanted.
8. Catch up on your reading
Ah, radiation! Six weeks of daily sojourns in the radiology waiting room. Unless you’re scheduled very early in the day, chances are you’ll spend time waiting… and waiting… You know that pile of foodie magazines you’ve been meaning to get to? That fat novel you’d love to finish? Now’s your chance.
9. Play the cancer card
You’ve got cancer? EVERYONE feels sorry for you, and is ready cut you some major slack. Take a break from the soccer carpool. When you’re asked to make something for the church bake sale, just say no. And when it’s your turn to chaperone the fifth-grade aquarium field trip — sorry…
10. Eliminate life’s biggest worry
Has getting cancer always been one of your biggest worries? Well, you can stop worrying — you’ve got it!
Cancer might be deadly; and it’s usually deadly serious. But look for the funny side as well; laughing (even through tears) will do you a world of good.
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Breast cancer survivor and award-winning authorPJ Hamel, a long-time contributor to the HealthCentral community, counsels women with breast cancer through the volunteer program at her local hospital. She founded and manages a large and active online survivor support network.