Another Perspective Part 2 - Appearance

One thing I promised myself when I started writing this blog was that I would include others who have experienced how to deal with their post treatment realities.

On Monday, I shared part of blog post written in May of 2016 by cancer survivor Rachael Yahne titled, “5 Things They Never Tell You About Life After Cancer”.

My Scars Tell a Story
By Mark Everett Kelly

The first of these was “It will be hard to go back to normal”, which deals with the mental and physical changes you experience post treatment. Here is the second thing they never tell you.

Some people will not like seeing pictures of you

When I first started treatment I was 6’2’’, 160 pounds of lean, hard as a rock athletic muscle. I was very athletic and could run and jump out of the building. I was in the middle of my junior year of high school and was being recruited to play basketball and baseball.

The beginning of the trauma for me was when my thick mane of hair started to be pulled out in clumps about 10 days after starting my first chemotherapy treatment. During the second round of treatment I contracted the flu which almost killed me. I threw up about 100 times during that five-day treatment and by the time I left the hospital two weeks later I had lost 25 pounds.

After my second treatment the doctors gave me a break and allowed me to rest a week before starting on my third treatment. I went to my high school junior formal where my guy friends all wore baseball caps to make me feel better about how I looked. I wanted to show some before and during treatment photos, but the only one I had of me during treatment is the one that is on the cover of my book.

The worst I looked outside of when I was in bone marrow transplant, was when I started my first series of radiation treatments. I was down to 110 pounds and had to lie on this rock solid table with nothing to cushion my bones. I couldn’t walk, I couldn’t climb stairs, I could barely get up off the couch. One day when I was walking from our house to the car, I fell and my pregnant sister had to help pick me up.

Often when I think of how I looked back then I remember the words to “Philadelphia” by Bruce Springsteen,

“I was bruised and battered, I couldn't tell what I felt.
I was unrecognizable to myself.
Saw my reflection in a window and didn't know my own face.
Oh brother are you gonna leave me wastin' away”

After I finished treatment it took about almost a year before I looked anything like my former self. During that time period where I was bald, skinny and looking as if I was about to die any second, no one wanted to take my picture, which is why I realize I had very few during treatment.

As always, my thoughts and prayers are with you.

NEXT BLOG DATE: August 19, 2019