I’m going to be preoccupied for the rest of this year.
My wife’s annual mammogram found an anomaly. The biopsy found malignant cells. It was found early, the tumor is small, she has an excellent prognosis.
I’m not going to turn this into my cancer diary, I’m simply giving the reason I’m not posting every week these days. I’m not writing much, either, just a few hours each weekend.
We’ve spent several weeks in a flurry of appointments with all the doctors we had to meet, chemotherapy education, and trying to finish the home improvement project weeks earlier than planned.
We went a few days before the first course of chemotherapy to get haircuts. She got her hair cut very short in anticipation of losing it completely, a common effect of chemo. I said I’d cut mine as short as hers, a demonstration of solidarity. It isn’t much of a sacrifice for me, I’ve worn my hair even shorter when I was in uniform, and no one thinks much about men with short hair. I think she looks good in a very short pixie, pretty and sassy. I don’t think her femininity is diminished in the least by short hair. Her viewpoint was she wanted to decide when to bear the trauma of losing her hair. Trauma, because not having long hair goes against what she believes makes a woman.
She’s losing her hair more slowly than many, but it’s thinned out in ragged patches. She’s wearing a buzz cut now, and so am I. The only difference between us is she needs a hat to keep her head warm. (We’ve agreed I won’t shave my head if she shaves hers.)
She’s been for a wig fitting. I told her to get long, blonde hair. Fortunately, she took it as the joke it was intended to be and got something practical. Very much like how she wore her hair before the radical haircut, the wig is a chin-length bob close to her natural hair color.
I’ve learned breast cancer, in particular, can really challenge a woman’s self-image. Everything from beauty and fashion advertisements to the magazine articles between the advertisements to Hollywood gossip to her own mother have told her that her breasts and her hair go a long way to define how attractive she is. Suddenly, this malady and the way it is treated are pretty much guaranteed to change both her breast and her hair. For many women, the hair that grows back is gray. There is a decent chance she’ll lose her libido as a result of chemo as well.
This time of stress is giving me new insights into women. It may even end up influencing something I write in the future.
Okay, to be honest, not maybe, it already has begin influencing. I have an erotic romance outlined, nothing written, that I didn’t really like. It needed something more than the steamy parts. I would prefer to write the erotic elements within a story about a real relationship, not just an erotic story. I’m thinking the female lead in the novel getting breast cancer could frame the entire second half of the book, creating a demonstration of true love and devotion from her guy, a change in her attitude toward relationships, instead of just her enjoying sex.
You know what they say, write what you know. Does that make me a ghoul, or a normal writer?