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Hair Today, Gone Tomorrow: Cancer & Self Image

I have learned so much from cancer. They say, “Through darkness comes light.” I really believe that’s true.

In remission for the third time, having to lose my hair due to chemotherapy was hard on me as a woman. I know most will say, “It’s just hair.” Even I say it too, just to convince myself to stay strong. But, in fact, it sucks. It truly opened my eyes to everything I once wasn’t happy with.

Having cervical cancer reminded me of how I was so hard on myself and picked myself apart. I know I’m not the only woman who’s ever felt that way. I look back and think, “Wow Jill, you were so beautiful. Why didn’t you see it? Why did you pick yourself apart and not embrace your hips that measured 44 inches, or embrace your Roman nose?” After all, it’s my personal features that give me my character. Don’t get me wrong, I had confidence, but I still found things that I thought weren’t “perfect.” Nothing is perfect!

Every now and then I like to look back on pictures of myself before cancer. Why did I complain? I was fine the way I was. Now I’m fighting something more meaningful. I’m fighting for my life. I’ve learned to embrace life’s changes, how my body has changed and how I’m Mrs. T (bald) once again. Or how going #2 is completely different from before. Because I have a colostomy bag, this is now totally different.

So my advice to other women, especially women with cancer is to love WHO YOU ARE. Be happy with how you were created; focus on what you HAVE and NOT what you DON’T. Believe me, there’s something greater out there for you, if you believe. I’m a people watcher, sounds creepy I know. I often wonder to myself whether or not the person I’m admiring knows how eccentric he or she is. Being in the city regularly due to my medical appointments, I get to see all colors of the rainbow. The culture differences, the true beauty behind just how different we may look. But internally we’re all the same.

No matter what type of cancer you have ladies, just remember, you’re beautiful inside and out. Your inner beauty will always be there. We might need time adjusting to our shiny new heads or new gadgets attached to our bodies. But, with all the hardships that come along with our new appearances and emotions due to cancer, just remember how bad ass we truly are.

I hope to inspire other women dealing with Cervical Cancer to share their stories and true emotions without fear. Tell it how it Is; don’t hold back. Our cancer is tough, but somehow being painted as “easy.” If I can reach you with my story, just imagine who you’ll inspire by sharing yours. Let’s come together, share our stories, and help one another through our battles. We can help prevent future cases of Cervical Cancer, the one cancer that can often be prevented with a vaccine.

From now on, I’m going to love every inch of me because I’m beautiful inside and out. I will also remind my friend’s how beautiful they are as well. You have one life. Live it, love it, embrace the changes, take care of yourself, and be kind to yourself and others.

Now that I’ve gained my confidence back, I’m going to rock my bald head, wear my wigs and not care who’s looking. Because they could really be thinking, “Wow, she’s so fierce.” Those stares may not have anything to do with my cancer.

So gentlemen, don’t be afraid of our appearances, we’re strong women who know how valuable life is, how anything can change but we still ride the waves. How special love truly is. If you see a friend or a loved one going through the changes of cancer, please remind them how beautiful they are.

Jillian Scalfani is a young 34-year-old mother with an incurable form of cervical cancer. She and her children have a great support system when it comes to her friend’s and family. Read more about Jillian here.

To Heather With Love

Dear Heather,

I wish you could see what I see. My best friend, the friend who ‘knows more than more’, who knows me as I know her. My friend who has always been then for me, and vice versa. Both a little stubborn, though I’ve eased up a little over my cancer diagnosis.

Ever since we met, I admired everything about you. The way you dressed, I always loved your Express wardrobe, pinstripe dress pants with a sleek collared top. There’s something about you that I’m sure you never saw. Do any of us truly realize what’s so special about ourselves?

Heather and Jillian

We knew of each other in high school, but became friends when school was through. I remember you telling me you thought I was a bitch because of the scowl on my face from time to time. But, little did you know all the hurt and pain behind it all, and I’m glad you looked past that, and we became friends, the best of friends.

We’ve been through so much together and still have remained at each other’s side. I’ve been lucky to have the same friends for over 20 years; I’m grateful to have you and all our friends. We get along great, and we’re always there to support, encourage, be honest and help one another out.

Heather, Jillian’s Best Friend

You’re beautiful, strong, determined, smart, genuine, caring, honest, lovable, and funny and you come from a terrific family. I admire everything about them too. I wish I had a family like yours; maybe they’re the reason you’re such a good person. They’ve molded you into a stand-up woman, and I know they’re proud because I sure am!

I’ve been dealing with cervical cancer for over three years, and it sucks. You’ve been there since day one, along with your family. Either just checking in, dropping off food, bringing diapers and wipes for Joseph, and anything that was needed you were there to assist. My cancer has been hard on us all; not just me, but my kids, family, friends and especially you. You offered your life if it were possible so I could be with my boys. We’ve cried and hugged so many times saying how unfair this is. But unfortunately, this is my life and my cancer isn’t going anywhere.

Now it’s June 2017 and I’ve tried it all. But none of the treatments are working. I want to live the rest of my life and be happy. My biggest fear was always leaving my boys behind. It hurts like hell. There are days where I wish God would just take me now. The pain of knowing you’re leaving this world without knowing if your kids will be okay is a death sentence itself.

I had my oldest son when I was 20 years old and shortly after I had him, his father and I went our separate ways. I kept Jayden away, for my own reasons to protect him, and I’m sure his father knows that. I know he knows I only want what’s best for Jayden. We still don’t have a relationship, but he knows his son is in good hands. Which brings me back to my best friend, Heather. My family is small, and some aren’t able to care for Jayden for various reasons. He’s a teenager preparing to go into high school, and he wants to be with the friends he knows after I pass.

Jillian’s son Jayden

When I pass, Heather has offered to raise Jayden and be his guardian. Knowing he’ll be with her puts my mind at ease; I know my family will be there to help and support as well. I think Heather and Jayden will make a great team; they’re both stylish, all about their hair, shoes, and snazzy. Maybe one day during one of his football or basketball games, Heather will meet a nice man, who knows? There are plenty of terrific men out there, and I just feel during a sporting event is when she’ll meet her potential next partner, and they’ll grow as a family.

Heather is very special in my eyes; I already know her and what great qualities she has to offer. I know she’ll do right by my son and raise him as I would, if not even better. It’s a lot to take on, there are truly not enough thank you’s or hugs and kisses I can give. But, I promise I’ll be looking down from above trying as hard as I can to guide you both or leave a sign letting you know I’m there.

It takes a big heart to do what she’s doing, but I wouldn’t expect any less from her. You will have my first born one day; he’s very special to me. I know you love him too and that love will continue to grow. All children really need is love and attention, no matter what their age. Never stop hugging them, kissing them, and praising them, this is what they’ll always remember. All the good memories and feelings we leave behind for them to pass down.

Heather, I love you more than you’ll ever know. When I do pass on, think of the fun times we had together, all the silly things we did that drove our parents nuts. Remember that life is short. Live it, be kind, say whatever you want to say, how you’d like it said to you. You’re in control. Look at yourself in the mirror every so often and remind yourself how bad ass you really are. You’ve accomplished a lot and I wish more women could see what you’ve become and how it’s achievable. Never doubt yourself. We have more power within ourselves than we truly realize. Feel it, know it; because I promise you it’s there my friend.

Love, Jillian

Jillian Scalfani is a young 34-year-old mother with an incurable form of cervical cancer. She and her children have a great support system when it comes to her friend’s and family. Read more about Jillian here.