Thursday, October 8, 2015

Drivers License and IDs and how we look with Cancer

I read an article on Yahoo! this morning about a woman who was in chemo, lost all her hair, and could not use her old picture when renewing her drivers license.

You can read the article here:

I wanted to share a story related to this that affected me, and I also want to share my feelings on this, as I experienced the hair loss and sick "look" for over a year.

Me when I first started getting hair after chemo (2013)

My cancer came February 2013.  I was bald before I got out of the hospital for my diagnosis and first round of chemo.  I lost the better part of 30 pounds, had a hard time standing and walking, and I had to wear a mask in the car and outside.  My parents had to help me walk up stairs to go to the post office to check my mail.  I was determined to do a few things, stubbornly during that point in my life.  It was bad enough I had to shower with the door open, and someone would have to be around to help me cover up my port/hickman catheter before my shower, help me get out of the tub and dry off.  All I wanted was some normalcy at that point in my life.  I was helpless and I didn't want to be.
If I had to renew my license, I would have been HIGHLY depressed if they made me take a new picture.  It would not be me, it would be that other person that kinda resembled me, like a stand in at a play...a temporary Lisa.  She would not be me. Actually, I didn't drive for months---so I might have said, "screw it! I don't need to drive right now!" and that would be that until I was well enough.

However, we were able to take a trip to Las Vegas to celebrate my remission when I finished my chemo.  I was bald, bloated from steroids, and couldn't drink because I was still on so many "maintenance" pills.  But, a trip was more than well was a celebration, and I was determined to have fun.  So, my bald ass had a hard time at the security checks at the airport both going to vegas and coming home.  My license had a girl with long flowing hair, no glasses, and color to her face.  I did not look like the girl in my id.  It was obvious I had cancer, I was bald with little fuzzy spots where my eyebrows used to be.  Then, at each casino, this late 30 something was constantly carded, even though I wasn't drinking...I would be sitting at the bar or playing blackjack or slots...and I was carded at least once a day on our trip.  I was carded at the bar when I ordered a virgin bloody mary!  Each time, people did a double take on my ID.  Besides I didn't look my age, I was also bald and just didn't look like the real Lisa in the picture in the ID.  I would always say, "we are here celebrating my remission."  That, they understood, and smiled.
We all hope cancer is a temporary illness.  If we are always looking at that sickly person when we open our wallet, will it change how we think of ourselves?  I was not that bald person...and I didn't plan to stay that way for long.  I was determined to get better and be me again.  Seeing that picture might not have helped me get better, in a weird way. Positive thinking plays such a big role in recovery, and always being reminded of cancer does not help.

So, if you read the article, try to place yourself in this woman's shoes or my shoes.  It has plusses and minuses, but if I had to carry that ID around with my bald self on the picture, I would replace it as soon as I could...I have very few pictures of me with bald hair/during treatment, only because I don't want to remember how I looked.  I am a fighter, and I had many bad days where I just waited for time to pass...and I never want to look like that again!
take care, and be well,


  1. Oh wow Lisa! I am so very very proud of you. I had no idea of all the things you had to go thru. You have always been a little pistol and I'm so happy to see you looking and acting like the Old Lisa! Love You Sweetie!!!!

  2. Hi Lisa my mom was recently diagnosed with APL as well and is starting chemo. We are also in Chicago. I was wondering if you could talk to her or have any advice, etc! Thank you!

  3. Hi Lisa my mom was recently diagnosed with APL as well and is starting chemo. We are also in Chicago. I was wondering if you could talk to her or have any advice, etc! Thank you!

  4. This is so weird but I was just reading your blog and my mom also went to Munster High School and is a few years older than you. She also is getting treated at RUSH in Chicago... Please contact me if you get the chance I'm glad you're doing well, God bless