A place to hide


After I announced to everyone that I had cancer I often felt overwhelmed by the love and concern that people showed me. There were a lot of phone calls and emails. Eventually setting up this blog as a means of communication became an ideal format to translate all necessary information. On my good weeks there often 6-8 extra people rolling through my house, which honestly I enjoy. I am not a loner. I do not need a lot of “me” time. Hence the six kids..I just wanted someone to play with.

When I am sick I find myself much more in need of refuge. This seems like a natural instinct. I bury myself under covers and listen to whirring of the air conditioner. I cover the windows so light doesn’t invade my senses. The chemo medicine seems to make me sensitive to light. I sleep for hours. I get up and sleep some more. I hide. And bless your hearts you all seem to forgo calls and settle for warm wishes via the blog or emails. Thank you for letting me hide.

Today I am more aware of another desire for hiding. I realize now that when I leave the house I look like I have cancer. When my hair was short I did not look “abnormal”. Now people will know..or suspect..maybe they will think I am gay..which is nicer then them thinking I am sick.Or maybe strangers will ask me….”Do you have cancer?” Do people do that? When I was pregnant with Alec I hated people asking me when I was due. All I could think was great…now everyone knows I have sex! Now, I dread going out…People will know I have cancer. The scarlet “C”. I think about the benefit that my friends are putting together or even church and I think I do not want people to see me like this. Bald…sick..now I know why people with terminal illness hide. We don’t want to bum out the healthy folk. We don’t want to remind you of your own mortality or ours. We don’t want to harsh your mellow. I know I know you are saying I love you..it doesn’t matter what you look like. But its a different story when you walk into the real world.

My good friends Clarence and Lhianna are in Spain. But since my diagnosis their home has become the best place for me to hide. I sit in the hammock chair with Clayton and forget everything. My children laugh and swim. Clarence sings for us and plays guitar. Lhianna cooks. And I forget that I have cancer. I am relaxed. I don’t answer the phone. There is nothing for me to do except love my kids and friends. And I feel so lucky to have that physical place to hide.

Lately, too I have felt like I am hiding in prayer as well. I just feel fear welling up and instantly turn my thoughts to God. “Father I accept your will in my life and thank you for all my blessings.” I just let the prayers carry away my pain and doubt. I am grateful that God has given me a place to hide.

11 Responses to “A place to hide”

  1. Giiiiiiiina says:

    “The ones who matter don’t mind, and the ones that mind don’t matter”

  2. Andrea says:

    Oh yes..I know you say that now with your long flowing black hair..darling. Its not even really the hair so much as feeling exposed and vulnerable to the outside world. The lack of hair just screams chemo patient.

  3. Mom Brown says:


    We read your blog everyday, we miss you and think about how this is affecting you. You are always in our thoughts and prayers.

    Mom and Tom

  4. Wendy says:

    I saw a woman at WalMart this weekend with stubbly thin hair. She was probably in her late 50s and was walking with her husband. I was rushing through the store and I admit I did a double take when I saw her. She looked past me but her husband noticed. He didn’t look at me long but it was enough for me to know he knew I had processed her appearance. What it left me with was not a pity for her or a discomfort with my health but a pride in her strength. She was walking through WalMart, living her life, looking confident in her stubble. Thank you for sharing your daily living with us. You are making me a better person. I am proud of you.

  5. jenni bender says:

    andrea, if anything, i’m very glad that you have a place to go that makes you feel comfortable. i know you know what we all think, that none of us care about appearance and only care about you and love you. that being said, i think it’s important that you have somewhere to go that makes you feel okay and safe and comfortable. for that, i am very grateful. for you, i am very grateful. you are so strong and i agree with wendy… you are making me a better person too. love you babe. xo

  6. Siobhan says:

    well, at least you live in a city where there are thousands of people who look goofier than you naturally.
    seriously though, do what you need to do, be where you need to be, hide when you need to hide. but don’t hide from the people who love and care about you. we’ll come to you whenever you want. and about the strangers: your confidence and undeniably sparkling personality will show through any scarlet letter you feel branded with. not to mention the fact that at this point almost anyone you see has been affected by cancer somewhere in thier life. it’s healing to see someone with it living theirs.
    you are loved.

  7. angie b petersen says:

    i’m not sure what to say, but i’m thinking that you are so beautiful so i think i’ll just say that. and also that as i read your words your depth and strength makes me feel more connected to jesus. i also wanted to say that i’m praying for you.

  8. shelley says:

    it is good to read that you are “feeling your feelings” and just staying right where you need to be. and that when you are feeling like hiding, you are with Jesus in that place.

    it was so good to be with you and Kelly the other night. my thoughts and prayers are with you daily!

  9. Heidi Barr says:

    my dear friend…being reminded of our own mortality is not a bad thing.
    A difficult thing, yes and sad.
    However, it can also inspire us all to live our best lives, to reach fiercly for our potential Today. To help one another and love one another completely…now.
    Mortality is part of this life, do not worry about reminding anyone of that fact, you may be doing someone a favor.
    The hair falling out, light sensitive, puking part….okay, that’s a bad thing.
    We are here to help you through that part.
    I am so happy you have a wonderfull place to hide away and I will be so happy to walk through the real world with you on the days when you are ready to find out what that’s like.

  10. melanie says:

    Losing my hair is one of the hardest things I’m having to go through. I was fine with cutting it short, and I was even fine shaving it, try everything once right? But the fact that it is falling out and eventually I’ll be left with a bald head and I have no control over that is the hardest thing. I try so hard to have control over everything in my life that losing control over something I have to look at every single day, and other people can see and judge is hard. But this is a journey. An adventure. There is an end. There will be a reward. And we will come out stronger and wiser because of it.

  11. Fudd says:

    what the fuck is wrong witha bald head??? I have been shavng my head since I was 14. Thats a long time now.