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Let the Fight Begin

October 15, 2009   

…The Road Less Traveled by Natalie Unga continued.

I had surgery and the tumor and one lymph node were removed. Then I had surgery again and breast tissue and 13 more lymph nodes were removed because that one lymph node had traces of cancer. My cancer had begun to spread throughout my body and it was time to start the chemotherapy.

It was at this point of time that my large support group was formed. Lori Kinghorn and her mother and sisters wanted to do something to support me. So they threw me a chemotherapy shower. The invitation asked everyone to bring something for my “hair raising experience.” I received a small note from everyone who came to wish me well on my journey. I received enough money to buy a very nice wig and enough hats to never go without. The love I felt that night was so intense.

Flowers were sent to my home. The women in Hawaii made an aloha blanket and sent it with lots of love. Chris gave me a blanket with the quote: “Friends are like Angels. You don’t have to see them to know they are there.” A journal was passed around the school and all of my classmates signed it with words of encouragement. The women where I lived wore pink ribbons to church. On Easter Sunday the same women wore hats to show their support for me. My family rallied around me to help me laugh and help me cry.

When I was wheeled into the operating room in January, I looked straight at my mom and said, “Let the fight begin!” How would I lose? I was given wings from all of these angels in my life.

I did not cry until I knew without a doubt I would lose my hair. I remember before I started chemo, I cut off about six inches so that the shock would not be so great. I was in denial that I would really lose my hair. Little did I know that losing my hair would be the best part of my cancer journey.

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I learned why we feel the hair on our heads is a defining feature to who we are. Even though I no longer had my hair I was the same person inside. I talked, laughed and even thought the same. (Imagine that.) I gained a confidence in myself because I recognized “Natalie” had so much more to her than her long curly hair. I was also told many times that I had a perfectly shaped head. Just think what I would have never known if I didn’t have this experience.

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The process of actually losing my hair was a scary one. Two weeks after my first treatment, my head began to hurt. The next couple days I woke up with hair matted to my pillow. I wore a hat to work and didn’t dare wash it.

Finally, one night, all the girls were at my sister’s house an they began to tease me about my awful comb over. I had lost all the hair right on top of my head. We laughed and laughed as we played with my hair. I finally let friends [take care of it]. Stephanie cut it and Hillary finished it off with the clippers. I had made the choice to let it go and in the end it was a choice that made a difference.

To be continued…

Storybooking is a celebration of life. Celebrate yours today.

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