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The Breast Cancer Chronicles

Documenting her treatment gave Jacki Donaldson, a mom of two young boys, surprising strength and comfort. Here, a glimpse into her brave journey.

By Jacki Donaldson

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Hair
Jacki Donaldson
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Hair Today, Gone Tomorrow

Eight weeks of chemotherapy sent toxic liquids through my blood, aimed at killing any cancer cells that may have escaped from the tumor before it was removed. I chose to have a port surgically implanted underneath my collarbone for the duration of the chemo, instead of getting repeatedly pricked with needles. A soft, slim catheter tube that was attached to the bottom of the port directed the drugs to my heart, which then pumped them throughout my body. After each of the four three-hour infusions, I felt nauseated and constipated. The drugs stole my energy, my taste buds, and, worst of all, my hair—what a way to start the new year. To minimize the trauma of pulling out larger and larger clumps, I split my locks into three ponytails and cut off each one. Then Joey and my husband, John, shaved the rest. Nothing made me as ill as seeing my bald head. Cancer was stripping me of my identity. And there was very little I could do about it.

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