I have written before about how frequently I still think and talk about breast cancer. I am still dealing with several residual physical effects of chemotherapy, including, among others, menopause, weird nail issues, and nerve damage in my left arm and back. (All of which are minor, minor issues compared to chemo and cancer!) There are left-over emotional issues, as well. Every time I hear about a cancer diagnosis I find myself getting emotional about it, for example. And there are times when something unexpected triggers a very distinct, physical memory of chemo, which can be overwhelming sometimes.
I had one of those moments last week. I was getting ready to leave the house to go to school one morning and I decided to wear a bright fuchsia trench coat since it was such a beautiful day. I didn’t want to wear one of my dark scarves with the coat and I remembered that I had a scarf with all kinds of bright colors on it that I had worn on my head last summer. I ran upstairs, dug through the scarves hanging in the back of my closet, and pulled out the brightly colored one. As I began to unfold it to look at it, I was struck by my physical reaction to the colors, the pattern, and the feel of the scarf. Holding it made me feel almost nauseous, and I experienced a strong physical aversion to the scarf. I tried to tell myself that I was being silly, but I couldn’t overcome the feeling; I could hardly look at it. I knew there was no possible way I was going to be able to wear it, so I hung it back up and decided not to wear a scarf at all. It was a strange feeling because I have never had such a strong reaction to an article of clothing. (Other than when I find a pair of shoes that I must have, of course, but that’s a much more positive feeling!)
I have held on to my scarves and hats out of some kind of superstitious fear of a cancer recurrence, but I think that I am going to donate them somewhere because I need to get them out of my house. I am sure that I will never, ever wear them again unless I have to go through chemo again, and I can’t wait around for that to happen!