How RuPaul Got Me Through Chemotherapy

4:44:00 PM

It's no secret that very unexpectedly in the Fall of 2010 I was hospitalized and diagnosed with some serious Cancer. It was very scary. It was Cancer of the Uterine lining that had metastasized into lung and breast Cancer. I was on an oxygen machine for a few months and had to start chemo immediately. I did my first does of chemo right there in my hospital room. When I cam home all of my hair fell out in less then a week. On top of this, I had to have a full hysterectomy which meant no children in my future and an early menopause. My hormones shifted and I had more testosterone in my body then I could handle and estrogen therapy wasn't an option. I felt like I was cracking up. Who was I?

Jillian after hair fell out.
Naturally this all hit me very hard emotionally. My self esteem plummeted. I felt like a big bald blob. Everything that made me feel like a woman was gone. Literally! I cried all the time and mourned what felt like the loss of my femininity. I spent most of my days on the couch or in bed watching lots of TV in hopes of forgetting about everything. In my mind I couldn't even say I was still a woman. I just felt like an It.

My boyfriend at the time was very supportive. He did his best to try and let me know he still thought I was the same attractive woman he loved. That being bald was sexy too and lucky for me he was into it. But I still didn't feel like me. I just felt like a weepy gender confused mess. Then we started watching RuPaul's Drag Race Season 3 on VH1. We were hooked! Both of us loved the show and would watch it together.

 There was a huge part of me that identified with these drag queens. These were men who with a pretty wig and the flip of a make up brush were more feminine then I ever was - lady junk and all! Fashionistas who were part illusionist. It was like each Queen was giving me their own lesson on what was pretty and what made a woman. It gave me hope.

I started taking mental note of how all the contestants put on their wigs. Did they pin? Use tape? I learned how to style my wigs, store them, keep them clean. I learned how to match make up to a wig. I would take all of my make up and sit in the bathroom and create a face to match my hair style. I was inspired to buy better clothes. I even learned how to walk in heels. If that dude could do it by sheer will power, so could I! These bitches even made their own clothes and jewelry like me! So slowly over the course of Season 3, I became a Queen as well. 

RuPaul became a positive role model for me during chemo. "If you can't love yourself how the Hell you gonna love somebody else"  became a personal mantra constantly reminding it's ok to be like this. I had to love me regardless. That I didn't need to play a character in a wig. I just had to keep doing me, the best I could. Cancer shmancer poopoo. I could use wigs and clothes to express how I was feeling each day and still be ME. The same female me I've always been. Ru preaching love yourself no matter what really struck me right in the heart. See Ru and her queens made me want to get up out of bed and put my wig on. It made me want to be fabulous!
I became a fan of Ru's music again. Whenever I got down on myself songs like Champion and Jealous of My Boogie picked me up again. And just when I thought I'd learned everything, RuPaul's Drag U started airing on Logo. I saw women who were going through life changes like me, and being dragged up to learn to love themselves again! By God - drag saves!

The fabulous RuPaul.
Of all the Queens of Season 3, two stood out for me.  Raja was my biggest inspiration. When Raja walked out in her punk look on Season 3, my mind was blown. He was a tough guy, AND a hot bitch walking the line of male and female. I felt like that. I understood that. Not only that but her look came from the same places mine did - pin ups, glam and punk.
Patrice Royale was another inspiration, her story made me cry. She was in prison and a big girl at that. She overcame everything in her life and still had the courage to line those lips and say I am Patrice Muther Fuckin Royale!

Ru is now on Season 5 of Drag Race and my hair has grown back in. I am still going through recovery and am doing great - still becoming me again. While I will never know how hard it is to come out of the closet, and then come out of the drag closet - I do know what it's like to fight to be a woman. RuPaul where ever you are, thank you.
Patrice Royale

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