Today is my 5th Cancerversary and with 5 years of healthy post-treatment-living under my belt, I must say there are some unexpected positive effects.
To name but a few, I enjoy having thicker hair, a bigger cup size and not being able to breastfeed – hello well-rested mama! Here are 3 other stand-out benefits:
Brushing & Mopping – Chores No More!
As my lymph nodes were taken out on my right side, I have developed minor Lymphedema on my right arm- swelling from toxins that can’t be drained naturally by the body’s system. It’s under control and goes away when I do some manual massages, but it flares up if I do the dog like travelling on my own with buggy / bags or long lengths playing on the piano.
It also means no heavy lifting and delightfully no brushing nor mopping! I tried a couple of times but little blisters of water came to the surface as the downwards excessive motion is the perfect combination to collect fluid.
So when Gaetano and I blast our flat with a cleaning spree once a week – I do the light tidying while I hand him the brush and mop. Perfect!
Chemo = Mosquito Repellent
While living in Rome 9 years ago, I used to be a daily offering to the dreaded and incredibly annoying mozzies. The constant scratching, swatting and spraying during the day was a pain. While at night I was at the mercy of a serial biter, having just heard his deafening and taunting helicopter wings buzz right past my ear.
I had tried everything: eating tons of garlic, vitamin C, B12 tablets and apple cider vinegar. I formed an alliance with a spider, letting him hang out in the corner of my bedroom ceiling for the summer when I saw how many of my enemies were tangled up in its web. On my backpacking honeymoon, I even ended up in a hospital in Thailand for 5 days from a mosquito bite which had developed into full-blown dangerous Dengue Fever (similar to Malaria).
After I finished all my cancer treatment, I made Sicily my home and it is here that I have noticed a very pleasant and welcomed difference- the little flying pests just drive on by past me. I’m now one of those people that sits back basking in the sun, calmly sipping a cocktail while those around me are itching, swatting and nursing their bites.
It reminds me of that epic World War Z scene, where the zombies are swarming all around yet are oblivious and don’t touch the bald boy who had cancer. And that’s fine by me! All thanks to chemo and what I believe is the magical way it has changed the PH in my blood making me a walking repellent.
Another thing that used to plague my life was how much I used to sweat. It runs in my family and my mother reassured us all as teens that it is what gives us our youthful skin. Yet these comforting words didn’t really quite help the fact that all underarm sections of my nice blazers or tight jackets had to be Frebreezed to death before wearing. Clothes were carefully picked and tight light-coloured tops with high armpit areas were a no-go.
During my reconstruction op, in order to create a natural look they cut muscle from my back and pulled it under my skin around my armpit areas to the front (called “LD flap”). A consequence of which is that my nerves on both sides have been damaged and as a result I have no ability to sweat under my arms anymore.
Trust me. It – is – absolutely – glorious!
No more sweaty smelly jackets, tops can be worn more than once before washing, I don’t need to wear deodorant and I can even get away with having a shower every 2nd day when I don’t have time. Along with being a mother and owner of my English language schools, I’m also a full-time English language teacher and always on the go. Nothing beats always feeling fresh and never having to worry about sweating or body odour while working in the exceptional heat.
With my inbuilt mosquito repellent and not being able to sweat, I joke that through my cancer treatment God was actually preparing me for my move to a hot country!! Of course, there are day-to-day issues I have to deal with like the lack of strength in my right arm and keeping an eye on my lymphedema, but for me the positive benefits far outweigh the negative.
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