"Cosmosis": Can it Kill You?
By Angelle Albright on July 26, 2014
You can't even Google the word "Cosmosis" but you can potentially die from it. So what is it? Although the word doesn't exist in the Oxford Dictionary, it may still exist in the depths of some hearts, and by shedding some light on it, maybe we can shelve it before it ever has the chance of getting onto the shelves of medical libraries. If words like "Yo" and Steampunk" have been added to Webster's, why not try to give a name to something that can potentially harm you. I tried to look it up when I first heard the term from my oncologist, but the closest thing I could find was Cocophobia, but that didn't really fit either. So how might its etemology look for this particular condition my doctor described: Cosmosis: "The art of beautifying from the Latin form of Greek kosmetike and - osis, the Latin and Greek "a state of disease." A suffix that means: Disease condition, as in tuberculosis. The psychological condition of practicing the art of being beautiful, before our own physical wellbeing. A condition that makes us fear losing our vanity and physical perfection.
My oncologist, Dr. Jay Saux, works closely with our community to try to ease the many burdens for women who are fighting this serious medical condition. When he first described this disorder he coined"Cosmosis", I totally got it, because when I was diagnosed as a young women of 38, I was absolutely petrified of losing my life, but when the reality hit me that I was also going to lose every aspect of my physical being, I was equally devastated. Saux started recognizing this condition when the first question from patients was, "Am i going to lose my hair?" rather than "Am I going to live?" During an interview I was doing with him about hair loss, he said,"Cosmosis" was a word they used around the office to describe a fear-based syndrome that he had been slowly recognizing over twenty years of practicing oncology, and it was bothering him on a personal level.
A close family member of mine discovered her lump precisely at the sametime I did. She cried with me as I shared my own demise back in 2005. She supported me immensly as I went through the pain of treatment, and lifted me high with loving support through my entire journey. As I started on the road to recovery nearly two years later, and my folicles starting reforming flowing locks, she confessed to me that she too had cancer,but regretfully, her discovery was now two years old. I was dumbfounded. I couldn't understand why she would wait. She saw me getting better, and my journey gave her the courage to finally decide to go get checked. She admitted to us that she had known all along, but was paralyzed with fear to even go to the doctor because she didn't think she could muster the strength to deal with this seemingly unsurmountable obstacle. The utter fear of the unknown, made her shutter, and she opted for the path of least resistance, and tragically, she is no longer with us.
A 2009 New York times study stated that men were 12% more likely to leave in the face of a serious illness. Some patients have admitted that they even received pressure from family members who discouraged them from having treatment because of their own fears of seeing their loved ones lose their physical attributes. Women have confessed that they avoided basic screening procedures and checkups, because they are frankly afraid of losing their hair, losing their breasts, and losing their loved ones. Some even choose to ignore the signs out of grave denial or worse, by conscience choice. If those of us who have been through it can inspire others to take action, hopefully we can save lives. Angelina Jolie's public bravery shone a light on the risks and rewards of having the tools to beat this disease, and her story will hopefully help other women to find their courage.
This condition may be deep within each of us, and we should check our inner voices often to make sure this conscience or subconscience affliction isn't affecting our health decisions. The loss of my dear friend and family member who allowed vanity to prevail over all else, inspired me to bring this conversation to the table, and her daughter works full time with us to make sure other women have the confidence they need to get through this. When my sister was diagnosed five years after me, I didn't want her to be experience this fear at all, and it led to the accidental creation of our family business. Our work empowers women to improve their self esteem and self confidence during treatment. Through my two year journey and near brush with death, having no hair, no eyebrows, no eyelashes and no breasts, I learned that my soul was the thing that had to be perfect! There is a sisterhood out there, a lifeline of women who have paved this path bravely, and they are there to support any new members who never asked to rush this sorority.