Tell Your Friends To Get With My Friends: Alex Whitaker
Life after cancer is weird. Like, insanely weird. I thought it was weird to get cancer at 24. I thought it was weird to be put into a medical menopause at 24. Weird to lose all of my hair and have big fake boobs. All of that was hella weird but “survivorship”? That might be the weirdest part of my cancer journey.
For the past year, I’ve gotten used to a routine of constant doctors visits, infusions, surgeries and needle pricks, all the while putting my personal life, dreams and ambitions on the back burner. Cancer sucked every inch of my energy and fighting this disease required my full attention. Now that my surgeries are complete and I am at the end of my active treatment, I’m finding myself at a weird crossroads. My well-intended doctors, family and friends are telling me to get back to normal… but what is normal for me any more?
I’ve been cleared to head back to the gym and put in work. A once daily habit for me is less enjoyable now. I’m relearning my body after chemo and two major surgeries. What was once easy and second nature for me is a looooot more challenging. I’m using 10 pound dumbbells at the max where as before diagnosis, I could squat 200. How is this supposed to make me feel normal?
My hair is growing back but I’ve never had this short or dark of hair in my life. It looks nothing like my long blonde locks that I loved. I look in the mirror and, even when I put on a full face of makeup, I see a stranger. How is this supposed to make me feel normal?
I worked throughout treatment but am finding this after cancer phase more challenging. My chemo fog lingers. It takes me a while to respond to emails. Focusing on tasks can be tough. Where I was once a super type A, on top of it, workaholic publicist, I now struggle to keep my head above water. How is this supposed to make me feel normal?
I’ve learned that it’s okay to not have the answers to these questions right now. Sometimes just raising the question, or being vulnerable enough to communicate where you’re struggling, is enough. I may not be feeling normal but I’m lucky to have the support of a wonderful community of women who are there to tell me that I’m enough just the way that I am. That I am valuable and loved. And I’ll choose this community of weirdos over being normal any day.
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