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Essay: How Cancer Changed Me In Unimaginable Ways

Marie Colantoni Pechet with her husband, sons and Tigger.

By Marie Colantoni Pechet
Guest Blogger

Normally I don’t notice my body. I’ve always been relatively thin and people tell me that I appear to be fit even when I know that I’m not. Growing up, I wore glasses, was physically awkward, and didn’t feel particularly attractive, so I studied diligently and lived more in my head than my body. Sure, I love fun clothes, but more for how they make me feel than how I look in them. On top of all this, I live in Cambridge, Mass. where you can pair a Chanel dress with Birkenstocks and no one would look twice.

But the other day after a shower, I caught myself in the mirror. Suddenly noticing the scars from all my surgeries, the colostomy bag on my abdomen and the power port embedded in my chest, it felt like I was looking at someone familiar but not me. I was jolted into accepting that this is really me, now.

The noises from the kids getting ready for school snapped me back to starting my day, so I got dressed and moved on.

Later, I reflected on how much my life has changed since I was diagnosed with colorectal cancer four years ago. Sure, there were the physical changes, including my shorter hairstyle. Nothing says “chemo patient” like a super-short hairstyle.

After each physical change occurred, it was upsetting, and then I would get used to it. I got used to the way my once-flat abdomen now pooches. I got used to dealing with the colostomy bag. I got used to the power port. I even love the super-short hair. Continue reading