One in two people will develop cancer at some point in their lives, making it one of the world’s most prevalent diseases. We are becoming increasingly aware of the symptoms related to specific cancers – and, thanks to the likes of Angelina Jolie, Anastacia, and Rita Wilson, we’re more willing to open up about the treatments available, not to mention the long-term effects.
However there’s no denying that more conversations need to happen with regard to the emotional impact of cancer. And that’s why this woman has decided to share her own experiences with the world.
Writing on the Love What Matters’ Facebook page, Kelly Epps writes: “Last fall I started chemotherapy. Losing my hair felt like I was losing a part of who I was.
“I have struggled with feeling ‘pretty’ since then. It didn't matter how much make up I put on or how cute I dressed. I felt bare and not myself. As if going through chemo isn't enough of a physical struggle, the emotional struggle trumps that many days. Looking in the mirror and seeing what chemo has done to my body can be brutal. A constant reminder of the struggle you are enduring.”
Epps goes on to explain that her “feelings on being bald and beautiful have since changed” – and it’s all due to the courageousness of her mother.
“My mother underwent a stem cell transplant as a part of her cancer treatment,” she says. “She lost her hair, too. All I see when I look at her is beauty and strength.
“Oh my, how perspective changes when you are looking at someone you love dearly as opposed to looking at that same thing in yourself. My mum radiates beauty. My mum radiates strength. How can I now look at myself any differently than I look at her?”
Epps finishes by saying: “Going through this together has been a blessing. We give each other strength every single day. We fight some of the same battles and have someone to talk to who gets it. Rough days can be made better with a single phone call to my mum.
“We are so blessed. And strong. And beautiful. Yes, I can say that now.
“We are bald AND beautiful.”
The post has touched the hearts of hundreds of people, with countless Facebook users sharing it into their own feed.
And the comments have been every bit as empowering as Epps’ story.
“I'm going through my own battle and can remember the shock when my hair started to fall out,” wrote one. “I've finished my chemo and will start radiation soon. We are bald and beautiful – and I hope both of you will win your battle.”
Another added: “I am just beginning my fight with breast cancer. Had surgery this week, and will start chemo next, then radiation therapy. I am strong and am ready for a fight. I saw a quote on Facebook that said, ‘The devil whispered in my ear, you are not strong enough to survive the storm. I whispered in his ear, I am the storm.’
“Ladies and gentlemen, let’s fight together.”
Others simply thanked Epps for sharing her experiences with the world, with one writing: “Thank you for sharing and encouraging me. There is so much to be thankful for.”
“I understand how you feel about your baldness, because I feel the same way,” admitted another. “But I know you saw beauty in your mum so I’m going to look at myself differently. Thank you.”
There are many different types of cancer – and, as such, there are many different symptoms.
The most common symptoms, however, include:
- Unexplained bleeding
- Unexplained weight loss
- Unexplained pain
- A lump or swelling
Remember: knowing how your body normally looks and feels can help you to be aware of any changes that could be caused by cancer. If you have any symptoms that are ongoing, unexplained or unusual for you it’s important to see your family doctor (GP). Don’t be scared to go and ask them to check you over if you’re concerned – the earlier cancer is found, the more likely it is to be cured.
If you or someone you know has been diagnosed with cancer, you are not alone. Find out what to expect, get information, practical advice, and support, hear from experts, and read about other people’s experiences on the Macmillan website now.
You can also call them on 0808 808 0000: the phone lines are open on weekdays between 9am and 8pm.
Images: Love What Matters/iStock