I wake up feeling tired, dreading lifting my head from the pillow. I fear the confrontation with the tuft of hair that has betrayed my scalp through the night.

Yet I look, in hope of a miracle today. To not have shed a single hair. But to my dismay I am faced with a bigger lot of these traitors every day.

It takes me all of my energy to summon myself off the bed, because the moment my feet hit the floor, I am devoured by an amalgam of dizziness and nausea.

Every morning I am faced with two options: to lay in bed like a loser or to get out of there a winner. I’m in a constant state of battle, with my body and my will. Both in a tug of war; and the loss of either will result in my demise so I keep them precariously balanced so neither wins. And almost always, I win.

I trudge to the bathroom and try to avoid the mirror as I brush my teeth, and then I realize that my face would have been the better sight compared to my bleeding gums – another side effect.

I try to be gentle as I wash my face. You see I live in a constant fear of peeling my skin off. I take off my clothes as I look at myself in the mirror. Ugly ugly ugly!

My body is swelling up and it’s bruised; the punctures in my arms are the reason why. I lean up close and I can see welts on the inside of my lips and the skin of my face is peeling off in places.

I decide to wash my hair. I gently wash it with lukewarm water and a wee bit of shampoo, yet when I rinse it off I feel my hair coming off. I hurry up. A few more traitors are now gone to the towel. It’s okay they will grow again, I assure myself.

I blow-dry them and meticulously straighten them. They are so short I keep burning my forehead and the nape of my neck.

There’s a pretty design there now made of these welts. It’s alright, I will come back stronger. I stare at myself in the mirror, assuring myself that my hair looks all in style.

Then I continue concealing the dark eye circles, the peeling off skin, the sad shallowness of my face until I am satisfied.

My lips too chap but I coat them with lipstick. There. I am normal looking on the outside at least.

I feel tired, so tired I feel like the day has ended – and ironically it has just started.

I start to head out of the door and I bang my knee on the door. Doesn’t hurt but will bruise; I bruise more easily than normal people so I try to be careful.

I grab a bite to eat, not because I’m hungry but because I need to pop my pills. I gulp them all down at once, makes me feel less sad about my state.  Less of a patient.

I get dropped off to the metro where I manage to get a seat, but I get up when an old lady steps in; I don’t want my illness to show so I stand all the way.

I can. I’m not that weak you see. I reach my office. It’s a little walk from there so I sit for five minutes at the station. Come on, everyone needs to catch their breath right? I just need a little more breath than the rest.

I walk to my office and all the way I see people walking to and fro and I wonder if they could guess I’m different. I’m the affected one. The specimen with the cancer tag on it and I pray I’m the only one in the crowd of where ever I am.

I hope no one else has what I have. Not even my worst enemy.  

I thank God there’s no label of my disease on me and I look as fresh as a morning bird, so no one can tell my cells are dying or evolving in horrid ways.

At work I try my best to stay chirpy but on the inside I’m exhausted, feeling tired is a continual state with cancer – honestly if you put me in a quiet place for 10 minutes I will fall dead asleep.

I take a bathroom break and I pee blood. It’s okay, my recent chemo session was a little strong, just a little side effect.

I speak to my clients, I joke around with my colleagues. I eat in my break and pop another pill sneakily, so they don't see or ask any questions.

I get up from my seat too quickly and I get dizzy so I sit back and pretend to rummage for something through my bag under the table until my nerves settle.

Breathe in, breathe out. I feel better. I grab a glass of water and gulp it down. Nausea hits me again but I try to conceal it with more work.

I call someone I love. I talk to him nonstop, I let him be there, let him listen to me until all my worries are gone. I feel better instantly. This person is my lifeline.

Yet sometimes I don’t tell him when I have less pain or I’m feeling a little bad. I only tell him when it really hurts or when I feel like in a state of complete doom. I fear he will get sick of me, if I keep telling him I’m ill all the time.

I go back to work ticktock until its 6.

I head out. It’s almost dark so I try to walk fast, I don’t want to get robbed again.

My legs hurt so much, they hurt all the time, but at this time they hurt the most.

I reach the metro station safe to my relief. I summon my energy for the ride home. I arrive to find my father there to pick me from the metro station. Time to take out the mask and put on a smile.

How was your day, he asks, and I lie. I always lie.

Does it hurt a lot? Are you feeling better? Are you upset? The answers to all these questions are lies!

I'm sorry papa I can't tell you the truth. That yes it hurts a lot and no I never feel better and I’m upset because I don’t know what will become of me.

I lie because I cannot control this.

I reach home and despite my lost appetite I eat because my mom thinks I should be hungry. I’m almost never hungry, so I eat anyway.

I eat for whoever asks me to because I hate explaining why I'm not hungry. And because I have to take my meds.

I change my clothes and glance at the mirror as I do. I really am gaining weight, another ironic side effect.

Sadly the biggest side effect of cancer and chemo is death.

I look for my phone, where did I put it? After 5 minutes of frantic searching my little sister gently nudges me umm… it’s in your hand.

I smile, it’s okay, it happens. It may be a side effect but people do forget. It’s just sad how I could be the one forgetting when my memory was one of my biggest assets.

I lay down as I scroll through Instagram. My vision gets blurry; it happens sometimes, I know how to deal with it. I clench my eyes shut and open them. Voila! All good. I go through Facebook. I see a meme that, says 'This post gave me Cancer'.

I feel like grabbing the one who posted this by the hair and yelling at them that no that post did not give you cancer! God forbid. You are perfectly normal and cancer isn’t something to joke around about. 

Life gave me f**king cancer not you, you bloody ungrateful prick!

I drift off to sleep. I wake up in a cold sweat, another bad dream.

It’s 1 am, I lay in bed waiting for sleep to come and it does once more. I’m shaken to wakefulness again.

It’s 4 am. It hurts. All I feel is pain. Like I’m a searing ball of a flaming fire of pain.  God, this pain makes me want to wish on my own death.

I grit my teeth so hard my jaw hurts. My nails dig into my fists. My therapist has told me many pain management techniques, but I forget them all in the prime of my agony. Stop, stop, stop please stop!

I twist and turn in pain, all the while debating in my head whether to wake up my dad or not. I decide to wait a few minutes more and thankfully it stops.

I relax gently, for I fear it might return to unfurl misery upon me. My hands shake. I wipe the beads of sweat off my forehead as I grab the glass of water by my bedside and gulp it down.

I smile. I won through another day. Didn’t I?

I have a battle with myself.

Every day.