My Cancer Costume

Appearances are everything. 

The way you look affects everything from the job you have to the looks you get on the street. So much emphasis is placed on looking the part… whatever that part may be.

I’ve played many parts. I’ve played a soccer player, a dancer, a figure skater, a pretty girl, an athlete, a professional, a lazy bum. So many costumes.

The older I got the more I felt like much of what I wore was a costume. I tried to evoke a response. I would dress professionally to appear competent. I would wear makeup to look older (not that it really helped). I would dress up if I went out so that I didn’t feel inadequate next to other girls. 

Once I figured out who I am and what mattered to me, the masquerade became tired. What mattered to me was to look healthy and strong. To wear clothes that were pretty and comfortable and practical. To wear enough makeup to feel fresh and lively. No more than that.

Isn’t it ironic (or perhaps fortunate) that just when I’m in the best shape of my life, cancer steps in to change all of that? Before cancer hit, I felt pretty and powerful and strong. I was confident and proud of the way my body had transformed.

I now see my appearance being forced to change. I have scars. I have a port in my chest. I am thinner than I’ve been since high school. I am beginning to change into my cancer costume. 

What’s morbid is that I’ve prepared for this transition with a similar enthusiasm to buying back to school clothes. I didn’t really want to go to school, but atleast I got to buy new things. I’ve excitedly shopped for a wig and cute hats to cover the hair loss. I’ve bought makeup to fill in the eyebrows that will (hopefully) no more than thin out. All to avoid the ugliness that breast cancer will bestow upon me.

All I know is that before long I will be masquerading as myself. The cancer costume will be permanent (for a time) and I will do my best to look like the old Sarah. I will pretend to have long hair and full eye brows. I will attempt to exercise and look like my old, fit self with my piles of workout clothes. 

Right now I feel like a robot, wandering around in a world of humans. Every few weeks I will need to check out of the world and plug in to receive the medications that perpetuate the cancer costume. Then I will cover it all up and try to blend back in, over and over until there’s nothing more to do. 

I wish I could just fast forward a little. Maybe to the day when fresh new hairs begin to grow. The buds of spring time. That will be one costume that I will feel quite happy to wear.


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