Adam Walker: [00:00:00] Susan G Komen. This is real pink, a podcast exploring real stories, struggles, and triumphs related to breast cancer. We’re taking the conversation from the doctor’s office to your living room.
Losing your hair is a hard and often emotional part of a breast cancer journey. As with breast surgery, it affects a part of your body. Often tied to your identity. Today’s guest has an incredibly uplifting perspective as it relates to losing her hair during chemo. And she is here today to share how to not only prepare for the side effect, but to embrace it with courage and grace, and to allow yourself to feel beautiful.
Despite the unwelcome changes, Paris, welcome to the show. Thank you. Well, I’m excited to talk to you about this. This is a really important topic. It’s something that we don’t really cover all that much, but I think it really affects a lot of people. So let’s, let’s dive in. Um, tell us a little bit about your breast cancer diagnosis.
I, I understand it was pretty recent and that you’re currently undergoing treatment. Is that correct?
Paris Smith: [00:01:04] That is correct. So I was diagnosed in March. Um, Invasive ductal carcinoma stage two. Um, they also tested me for the, um, little genes that they test for, um, whether it’s hard to or negative. And I also tested, uh, for triple negative breast cancer as well.
Um, so I started chemotherapy pretty quickly in March and I did my first round, uh, ended that in may. So now I’m going through with going through my second round of chemotherapy for 12 weeks. So that she can probably in September, so to speak. Yeah.
Adam Walker: [00:01:42] Okay. Wow. And do you have like a, is there a family history of breast cancer or kind of give me some background?
Paris Smith: [00:01:47] So that’s the crazy part because I don’t have a history of breast cancer in my family. Um, so I’m literally like the first person to have it. So it was kind of like a fluke that I got it, uh, which is still kind of crazy, but no family history of any type of cancer nor breast cancers. So it was very odd and strange to find out that I.
Adam Walker: [00:02:10] Yeah. Yeah, I can imagine. So let, let’s talk about the topic of today’s show. Let’s talk about hair loss, right? Uh, tell us a little bit about when that happened and how did that make you feel?
Paris Smith: [00:02:22] So I, they told me I would lose my hair. This was in March. And so, you know, you don’t really prepare yourself for it, but when they tell you that you’re going to lose your hair, Um, so you kind of have to brace for it.
And my medical oncologist told me that I will lose it public my second week of treatment. And that’s exactly what happened. And I was laying in the bed. I’ll never forget it. I was scratching my head and I kind of felt like a bald spot. And so I went in the restroom and I kind of prepared myself cause I was like, okay, this may be the moment.
Cause I had already started losing my agents. And so I went in the bathroom and I took my scarf. And I was like, okay, I grabbed my brush and I was like, okay, let me go ahead and call my hair. So I combed it and like just chunks of hair just started coming out. So I was like, every time I call him, I have like three pounds of hair, like just sitting on the counter.
And I remember going in my room and I just broke down and started crying and I didn’t really understand. Why it happened so quickly, I was kind of, you know, they told me, but that wasn’t really prepared for it. So needless to say, probably like the next weekend, um, I came with my brother’s house cause he cuts hair sometimes.
And I asked him to just come out here off. Cause at that point it was like very, just fall spots everywhere. And I was like, okay. Walk around like this, cause it was making me even more depressed. So I had them cut it off. It was a very emotional time, but I was very glad I had my family with me at that moment and it just made it more special.
And so one of my friends, who’s a photographer. He’s the one that was encouraging me to just, you know, Embrace it and that’s exactly what I did. So,
Adam Walker: [00:04:10] wow. So that sounds kind of amazing when you say that’s exactly what you did. I mean, you did a photo shoot, right? Tell me all about it. I need to know this stuff.
Paris Smith: [00:04:20] So basically he texted me, this was around my birthday. My birthday was in may and he was like, we have to do a photo shoot and I’m like, okay, that’s cool. That sounds great. Um, I’m going to wear my wig and. No. And I’m like with, or without week, like I texted him with the question mark and he was like, no, that week.
So I came there to get his photo to the photo shoot with a wig on, in my head, like, okay, we’re going to do this with the begone. And that’s it. Like, I’m not changing my mind. And so I looked at him when I changed my clothes and he was like, take the wig off. And I’m like, I want to do that. Take it off my chest chest me.
Once you do it, you’re going to feel so confident. And that’s exactly what happened. I came out of that room, got on the stage and he started shooting. And as, as he was shooting, I could see my photos on the, uh, the computer. And I felt so liberated. I felt so empowered, FL so beautiful. I’m like, goodness, I didn’t even know.
You know, that I could look like. Just going through this journey of losing my hair. And it was so empowering for me. And it was such a special moment. Like that’s something I could look back on years after this and say, I took a photo shoot, you know, without weights. Had a blast and like, felt so empowered and he was bold and courageous.
Adam Walker: [00:05:47] Wow. So, so it made you feel like that in the moment. I’m curious. How do you feel now when you look back at those photos,
Paris Smith: [00:05:54] I still feel the same way and it’s crazy because everybody that looks at my photos, they’re like, Even women that I’ve met that have breast cancer. And whilst they’re here, they’re like, I wish I would have did that.
I wish I would have had that courage to do that. And I’m like, it took a lot out of me to do it, but I felt so great. Like even looking at him, NASA having my phone, like sometimes I just go and look at him. I’m like, I did that. Like it’s crazy.
Adam Walker: [00:06:19] Yeah. Wow. Wow. That’s amazing. It’s bold. I just, I just love it. Um, So tell me what helps you now kind of cope with and embrace the journey that you’re on.
Paris Smith: [00:06:33] I think I’m such a, I’m, I’m such a positive person when it comes to anything I’ve ever gone through in my life. Um, I have MSC, so I’ve gone through a journey with that. So dealing with that and then dealing with breast cancer now has. Made me such a positive person on looking at it. Cause I feel like if I was so negative and just a Debbie downer, it wouldn’t help the situation and you know, they just make sure.
Not heal correctly to when your emotions are just all over the place. And I try to stay out of that area. I try to stay more in a positive area. So even if I have a down day, I’ll listen to some music or make somebody laugh. Cause I love making people laugh. Like it just brings me joy cause I’m such a goofy person and just going to work every day as well.
Like that motivates me to keep some normalcy in my life, you know, and instead of staying at home and sitting in a corner like. So I use that as my motivation to just look at it so positively going through this journey, because I’m not finished, I’m still apparently gone through this and it helps me every day to stay positive and encourage myself.
You know, sometimes you don’t have people to encourage you. Sometimes you have to encourage yourself. And that’s exactly what I do. I empower myself. I tell myself, we got this, we’re going to beat you. And we’re going to keep going until the end, so,
Adam Walker: [00:07:52] mm. So it sounds like you’ve got kinda, maybe some, some personal mantras that you use to encourage yourself.
I mean, is there anything else that you use to kind of give yourself that spark, that encouragement?
Paris Smith: [00:08:02] So I live, I came up with this hashtag. When I started my breast cancer journey, um, called beautiful cancer. And I used that to encourage myself, not just on the outward, but mostly on the inside, because some days I’m, you know, I’d be, feel beautiful with some days.
I’m like, Ugh, I’m feeling down. I have cancer, my guys. And then I’m like, Hey, you know what? You’re beautiful with cancer. Like. You know, embrace the journey and that’s exactly what I do. I
Adam Walker: [00:08:31] mean, it, it sounds like that’s the theme in everything we’re talking about is you, you own it, you embrace it and you make the best out of it and you just keep moving forward.
Paris Smith: [00:08:40] Right. Absolutely. 1000%. I
Adam Walker: [00:08:43] love that. I love that. So I guess last question. What advice would you have for someone who’s newly diagnosed? I mean, what do you want them to know?
Paris Smith: [00:08:53] I always tell people. You know, you have to feel your emotions because you know, being on this journey is very emotional. So you have to, you know, feel when you, when you feel sad, feel sad when you feel happy, feel happy, don’t neglect, those feelings.
Just embrace those and use that as a guarantee. No move to the next day. Cause it’s really like day to day process and can’t try to process everything at one time. So I would encourage anybody to embrace their journey. Take a day at a time, know that, you know, for women, you know, this is a long journey and there’s so many ups and downs with this road, you know, personally for me as well, and just use it as a gear to push yourself and motivate yourself to keep going.
You know, even going through chemo and having those down days, like, okay, we’re, we’re going through chemo, we’re going to get through it. We’re going to look at the positive side, you know, and live life to the fullest. I mean, not everybody gets a chance to tell their story, you know? The art of storytelling.
If you’ve gone through a journey, you know, go through it and be positive about it, if you don’t, you don’t feel positive. Try to look at some positivity out there throughout the journey. So that’s what I would say to anybody and know that they’re beautiful, regardless of they’ve lost their hair. If they embrace their hair or not, you know, just know that you’re beautiful regardless.
Adam Walker: [00:10:22] Hmm. That’s such good advice own it. Know that you’re beautiful. Stay positive and move. Absolutely. Wow, well, uh, Paris, this is, I mean, genuinely inspiring. I love your perspective. I love your attitude. I love the photo shoot. I got to see those photos and, uh, and thank you so much for joining me on the show today.
Paris Smith: [00:10:43] you so much for having me. I appreciate that.
Adam Walker: [00:10:51] Thanks for listening to real pink, a weekly podcast by Susan G Komen for more episodes, visit real pink.com and.org for more on breast cancer. Visit komen.org. Make sure to check out at Susan G Komen on social media. I’m your host, Adam, you can find me on Twitter at AGA Walker or on my blog. Adam J walker.com.