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10 Things That Got Me Through 17 Surgeries And 28 Chemo-Therapies

I wanted to give up. Here's why I didn't.

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1. People showing up.

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When you’re going through cancer, it’s hard to show up even for yourself. Sometimes, my whole week was made simply by a friend showing up when they said they would. I needed that support, and I needed to know I wasn’t alone - that I was worth scheduling for.

2. Massages.

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It’s hard to feel good with tubes protruding from every angle. And it’s hard to take care of yourself when you constantly ache, are weak and never feeling well. Those extra touches of a soothing rub relieved not just physical but emotional pain for me. It brought me back to center, and I felt normal for just a couple hours. That’s worth more than you can imagine.

4. Make up.

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On the days I could put on makeup, it served as a good distraction. I was able to concentrate on something normal, fun and creative. It made me see a future healthy person staring back at me, which gave me hope.

5. My wigs being braided.

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There’s something special about having your friends come over just to braid your wigs. First of all, they’re acknowledging your sickness, the reality that you even have to wear a wig. But then they’re also working with that, taking something that I didn’t want to have to wear in the first place and making it something I thought was lovely. And I looked fabulous.

7. Modeling.

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Even though modeling made me more self-critical at times, it helped me to know how to dress up the parts of me I was uncomfortable with, like my bald head. I learned how to be resourceful in the industry, which allowed me to do things that would help me see the beauty in my baldness during cancer. I was able to feel more confident through some real self-esteem hits.

8. My Beauty Warriors (i.e. my squad).

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My friends really get the credit; they put their lives on hold to spend time with me, do my makeup, wigs, toes, nails, and picked out my outfits. They were my beauty warriors; they fought for the parts of me I felt I was losing.

9. Personalized accessories.

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When you’re sick, it’s easy to forget the support you have constantly surrounding you. It’s easy to get tunnel vision and withdraw into yourself. The way I combated that was by ordering custom bracelets for me, my friends and family to wear. I also had baseball caps monogrammed with my sons’ initials, which I wore over my wigs to chemo. These served as constant reminders that I am loved, cherished, and supported every step of the way.

10. Words.

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Lastly, I survived through words. Not only did I find comfort in journaling, but I eventually wrote a book about my experiences throughout all my physical ailments. Whether it was thank you letters I wrote to friends or letters I received, words have served me in getting well. Many affirming text messages got me through my sick days because my friends kept reminding me what living looked like, rekindling hope that I’d one day be out and about again.

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