I sometimes wonder what kinds of questions my oncologist gets from other cancer survivors. I wonder about this because when I called to ask if I could have a little Botox or other cosmetic facial ‘perk’ the receptionist didn’t flinch.“Oh gosh, you would not believe the really strange questions we get, this is nothing,” she said cheerfully.
My vanity query was apparently, nothing special. It made me smile though, thinking of my doctor, frowning perhaps, as some busy admin handed him my chart with a sticky note: Botox? Juvaderm?He could have well rolled his eyes and thought, here we go, another cancer survivor trying to undo all my good work.This is because while chemo can save your life, it can also, at least in my case, visibly age a cancer patient years in mere months.Thus, if we survive, we may get to a point that we want to undo or at least cosmetically speaking, spackle over some of that accelerated aging.
Even the people who love me most gently admitted I had aged a decade in a year due mostly to the chemo.
The magic (and risk) of chemo is that it shuts down everything that grows. This conveniently tends to kill off the deadly growing cancer cells.However, chemo does not discriminate.Everything in the human body that renews stops renewing; skin cells, hair (actually not an entirely bad thing since along with the huge hair loss I also didn’t have to shave for six long months; Mediterranean girls take note).
Everything that keeps you fresh and dewy and vital simply stops during chemo.It’s like one of those bad B Sci-fi flicks where the evil vampire gets tricked (during the epic life and death finale battle) into the light of day and then shrivels up ages hundreds of years in mere seconds and perishes. Sometimes, if the budget allows it, the special effects team even gets to crumble the vampire to dust or the undead one will exit this mortal coil in a ball of fire.Either way, fast aging is something I understand all too well. And I am at a point in my recovery where I’d like to undo some of the side effects of the chemo.
So, enter my BFF who went and got her impossibly smooth and unwrinkled (especially for a 60 year old) skin Botoxed and Juvaderm filled. Being the bestest friend EVER, she dropped by my house last night to model the cosmetic handy work.The impact was like she was showing off a pair of one-of-a-kind Jimmy Choo shoes that nobody else was ever going to be able to buy.Translation: Gosh, I love shoes.
“I simply must,” I announced. “Get this too.”
The only thing that gave me pause was when I suddenly remembered that to get all this, you actually have to have stuff injected into your face.Which takes a needle.Wince.I am frankly needle shy after all the poking and needles of my treatment protocol to say nothing of how much it hurt to do a biopsy that proved to my dermatologist that yes, the lesion on my leg was actually skin cancer.So I asked her, did it hurt?
Ever the practical one, my BFF gave me her signature golden smiles.
“Compared to what you have been through with cancer? Are you serious? This will be nothing!”
So, you have to hand it to cancer, it gave even the people who love me great perspective on what I’ve been through.And in the end, a little nudge to patch up some of the cosmetic mess cancer left in its wake.