Friday, September 17, 2010

Photo finish

Last November I blogged about what my mom wore to chemotherapy when she had breast cancer a couple years ago. I decided that when I went for my own treatment, rather than dress strictly for comfort alone, I would also try to put together and wear outfits that made me feel good about the way I looked, sort of as an act of empowerment. I also planned to take pix throughout.

But I didn’t take pictures.

Mind you, I actually did manage to dress pretty cute for every single infusion. In fact, chemo-day was practically the only time I donned real clothes, the only time I wore my wig or tried to put on any make-up. Most of the rest of the time I spent in baggy sweats, bald, no make-up, laying around and trying not to completely cave in.

On chemo-days, though, I made the monumental effort to look better, and it did make me feel stronger. But whenever I would catch a glimpse of myself in the mirror I was downright unrecognizable, though to someone who didn’t already know me, well, they might never have guessed I was in the midst of cancer treatment. Dear Michael used to lovingly joke I had better start looking worse otherwise people wouldn’t believe I was sick.

But all the same, I never felt like posting a picture.

I had wanted to take photographs during treatment as a sort of visual record of the experience, something tangible to illustrate the evolution I’d inevitably be going thru. See, when I was obese I never had any pictures taken. For almost ten years of my life there’s scarcely any evidence of me existing. I’m not there in the holiday photos…barely any wedding pix, certainly no candid vacation albums. So many memories are just in my head without anything to show or share. I virtually edited myself right out of my own life. And once I lost the weight I realized what a shame that was, such a waste…how sad. I vowed I would never do that again.

But when reality hit and the chemo side-effects took their inevitable toll the thought of seeing all that laid out in living color, let alone plastered in the blogosphere, became much too painful -- I completely changed my mind. In light of what was going on it just didn’t seem important. Frankly, I wasn’t sure I wanted to memorialize any of that in pictures for posterity.

After treatment ended and the summer months wore on I still didn't want any photos, for here or anywhere else. Understandable, I’d been thru a lot…but…would I ever? I secretly mourned the possibility that I might not. That would feel like yet another loss to cancer amongst so many others.

But then, very slowly, I started to feel a little better, and subsequently my appearance in the mirror reflected that back to me. Amazingly even as the whole pulmonary nodule episode unfolded and wracked me with fear to my core…despite even that, bit by bit I started to vaguely recognize myself.

Day by day I look more and more like me – and I’ve decided whether it looks like the same me as before is totally beside the point at the moment. What really matters is I am alive…I’m living my life and getting well again.


WhiteStone said...

Glad you're feeling better each day! And your photo looks great! I took plenty of photos of my bald self but posted none of them online. *wry smile*

Sheila said...

Hurray! You look lovely, Kayleigh! So good see your old pose and style going on (cute necklace).

Totally understandable that you would decide not to want to have photo records of such an awful time of your life, hon.

Take care of you.


Imogen Lamport, AICI CIP said...

Great that you're feeling well enough now that you can start documenting again.

Jean said...

It's so good to see a photo of you again, looking great btw. I totally understand the bit about editing yourself out of your own story, I've been doing the same thing for years now. I really want a nice photo of me with my two gorgeous girls that I'm actually proud of.

Lesa said...

Oh Kayleigh! I have neglected my blog, and all of the blogs that if follow, but I thought of you the other day and then you show up! I read back and I am THRILLED!!!

BTW I too have no record that I am the mother of my children as I have always been the picture taker, I think that is the way for most Mom's (plus my husband cuts everyone's heads off.

You are one strong lady and I admire you so much. I stumbled on to fashion blogging and found so much more when I found your blog. I found a woman with strength, courage, and the normal fear and sadness that such a situation brings.

I am also glad to see your picture and that you had some retail therapy, you deserve it.

I'll be checking back sooner, feel ashamed saying this to you but I have been feeling sad lately, that is why i went MIA for a while.

You take care, kiss your kids and give your husband a big hug.

I am rejoicing!

Always Summer

Anonymous said...

I admire your strength and bravery! You look fab!

Mervat said...

This is the most wonderful read I have had in a long time. I enjoyed reading every word of the posts I have missed since my darling boy was admitted for surgery. We are home now and he is recovering, little by little, but recovering nontheless.

I want to tell you how happy I am for you and how proud of you I am. Although, thankfully, we have not been through cancer, I completely sympathise with the physical changes, scars (so many scars) and emotional weight and sleeplessness that a scary medical diagnosis can bring. But thankfully the days keep rolling by and each day things do get better. Keep smiling, shopping and getting dressed up. And I hope you write again soon.

BTW you are looking absolutely fabulous my dear, dear friend.

Lots of love to you all. May all future health news you get *always* be positive.


Brenda said...

I had a hard time taking pictures of myself through chemo because on some level it felt like those changes were permenent. Only recently have I felt like taking pictures again. Its funny how we react like that.

You look great!

EvaNadine said...

hey, lady -- is that your wig or your hair? if it's your wig, i just wanted to say that i think it is very flattering on you.

the fact of your posting here at all is a testament to your existence. photos or no, you are STILL HERE.

Maddy Avena said...

Kayleigh, you're beautiful. Still beautiful. Always beautiful. May the Fall Equinox gift you with many manifestations of balance.
You are often in my thoughts.
Blessings to you. I'm glad you recorded yourself. You deserve to be recorded in all ways.

Qwerty said...

Stunning photo! You look fantastic.

Unknown said...

OMG an outfit post!!! This is sooooo awesome!! You look absolutely wonderful! I now feel, after seeing this, that all will be somehow right with everything! One of those things that makes me SO happy -- to see an outfit post by you!!

I love the cargo pants. I'm still looking for a pair but they tend not to look good on me. But I haven't given up the search! ^_^ I also love the fabulous sandals ... gives the whole outfit a Eurogirl feel!

I'm just so thrilled to see you looking gorgeous!

Nancy said...

Glad you are feeling so much better about yourself. I love the comment about it doesn't really matter if you look the same, but what really matters is that you are alive and living your life! Enjoy reading your posts. Hope you can visit my new blog and let me know what you think.