A certain state of mind

I met a woman last week. A gentle soul. She had just done her 5th cycle of chemo. And there she was at the workshop, just a couple of days later. She had my admiration. So many people just lie on the lounge but she was out there living. And there was something about her appearance that caught my attention. I couldn’t place it at first. But there they were. Two beautiful eyebrows. Clear as the nose on her face. Still there, despite the fact her hair had disappeared long ago and she wore the typical chemo do – a turban to hide the loss. So tell tale, isn’t it.

But there they were. Two eyebrows. Not a hair missing. And eyelashes too. Doesn’t it make you wonder? On Sunday her story came out. Two medical staff talking after her first cycle of chemo. Noting she still had her hair. ‘It’ll be gone by Monday’, they said. And sure enough, gone it was. But deep within she had made a different decision. Promising herself she’d keep her eyebrows, her eyelashes and her hair ‘downstairs’. Nothing was going to take them. Not chemo, not the words of the doctors, nothing. And I am in awe of the wonder of this state of mind that enabled her to do just that. Because five cycles in, there they were, intact.

You know, there’s a beautiful piece of research about the side-effects of chemo. And it happened quite by accident. Two groups of people testing a new type of chemotherapy. The control group on placebos, the experimental group on the drug. Neither group knowing who was taking what. But here’s the clincher. Because 30% of the placebo group lost their hair too. And it makes me wonder just how many side-effects could be avoided simply by changing our minds…

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