Cancer, vanity, and my really hot husband.

Chesterman Beach Selfie

Couple not actually sponsored by North Face.

You probably look at this photo and see a happy couple – and this is true. We are a happy couple. I should look at this photo and only see a happy couple but my first thought when I saw this was, “look at this nice picture of that woman AND HER SON.”

What I don’t see when I look at this photo is someone I recognize standing beside my husband. (I recognize him though because he hasn’t aged at all since we were 15.) All day I have been debating whether to post this to Instagram because I have been quite diligent about posting photos of our trip (I don’t want to forget anything and my memory isn’t the best these days). The memories we are making have been great, the girls are having a wonderful time, and for the most part I have been feeling pretty good.

And I told myself – no, I promised myself – that I would put myself in the photos once in a while. I don’t want my girls to not have photos of their mom but, oh man, my vanity is really taking a hit here. There is just so much grey, and my hair is so short and I still have very little muscle tone and my clothes fit terribly because I’m all soft. Trying on new clothes makes me want to cry. I’m not hiking up and down mountains out here either. Most days I have to stay home in the morning while the Mister and the girls go off adventuring because if I try and do something during the morning and afternoon I get worn out too easily, my bones start to hurt again, and my back tries to seize up.

There is only so much mind-over-matter one can do in a situation like this. I know I should try and “own it” but that is actually a really hard thing to do. The reality is that I know I am lucky to still be alive, but I think it is okay to not be so overly grateful that you settle for looking and feeling like shit. There was something going around Facebook and Instagram the other day with the hashtag #perfectlyimperfect and I considered participating up until the point I took a selfie and then immediately deleted it because YIKES! Except history has proven to me time and again that even though you look at a photo and think it is awful now, someday you’ll look worse and look back at that photo and wish you had appreciated it – and yourself – then.

So what is the solution? Well in the immediate sense it is to smile at the camera and try not to be too hard on myself when I see the results. Another solution would probably be to try and get well enough so I can (run my ass off) actually do some exercise when we return from our trip and try and feel good about my body. I used to always joke to myself that when I got old I would go back to modelling as a silver-haired model. Now I’m always slightly anxious that I don’t get to be an old lady and cancer is trying to turn me into one already. Ugh. At this point I’m not ready to “own it”, I just want to look like what I perceive to be the real me. This is why I still have photos of me with long dark hair on my social media profiles. I’m not ready to give up that pre-cancer version of myself even if I’m never going to be the same person again.

And I know you like the hair (or so people keep telling me), but that doesn’t make me like it more. However, I’m trying to wear the cancer hat less because Fionnuala told me I look more like myself without it on even with the short grey hair. The girls view of me does matter.


“What are you smiling at?” He asked. So I turned on the pouty face.


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