Yesterday marked six months
from my last chemo treatment. I'm feeling good. I'm healthy, happy,
hopeful, AND . . . I have almost 2 inches of hair!
Yeah, we dug out a ruler
Before I had cancer, I took
my hair way too seriously. I spent a lot of time and a lot of money
getting it to look. . . just so! It was colored, highlighted, and styled
with a standing appointment every 4 weeks. I used expensive shampoos and
styling products to give it just the look I wanted. I liked my
hair. I really liked my hair. I never wore hats -- even if I
was freezing -- because I didn't want to mess it up. My hair was . . .
ME. It was part of how I looked, and how I "presented myself"
to the world.
So you can imagine,
probably, how upset I was to learn that. . . it was all going to fall out after
I started chemo.
And -- fall out it
did! I dealt with it. I bought in. (And - who knew? - I found
out that I have a great head shape!) During the bald-months, I usually
wore some pretty fabulous looking pre-tied scarves. I also had a wig
(nicknamed "Wiggy") that my hair stylist helped me pick out and
style. It looked amazingly like my old hair, but it was really
uncomfortable. I also discovered the joy of knit hats! (It was
winter, after all.) I started wearing BIG earrings. I tried to keep
a good attitude about it. I tried to think about all the money I was
saving by not having to mess with my hair (more money to buy. . . yarn or
plants, for example). But, when it came right down to it, I hated not
I think that what I really
hated, though, was that not having hair is such an obvious symbol of . . . not
being well. Yes, I had cancer. Yes, I was in treatment.
But I still wanted other people to see me as a normal person. I wanted
them to treat me normally. I wanted them to laugh with me and talk about
inane life events. I wanted to enjoy running errands or grocery shopping
or eating out or watching a hockey game without people feeling pity for
me. In a scarf, people saw me as a person-with-cancer. . . and they
treated me that way. When I wore "Wiggy", it was completely
different. People either couldn't tell or "forgot" that I had
cancer. They treated me normally. At home, I wore scarves. In
public, I wore "Wiggy."
After treatment is over,
your hair doesn't just. . . come back. It's a slow process of
re-growth. At first, I noticed a very, very light covering of very white
"fuzz" on my head. I used to get really close to the mirror and
turn my head this way and that. . . because you could only see the fuzz with
backlighting. But I was thrilled -- because it was a start! After a
couple of months, I had enough hair to look "chic" and
"edgy." I was so eager to get rid of the scarves and
"Wiggy" that I sported my New'Do in public when it was still very, very
I am in Chicago
during early May. Under "The Bean" (the Cloud Gate sculpture in Millennium Park), Tom was able to get a
front-and-back photo at the same time!
It felt so, so good to be
out in the open air -- with no hat or scarf or wig -- and to feel the breeze on
my head! Ahhhhhhh! And, when people actually complemented my
"hair cut" . . . and didn't look at my with pity or recognition. . .
it was so nice! Normal,
here I am, six months out from chemo.
My new hair is
grey/white. It is curly. It is short. It is EASY. I
actually really like it! And my attitude about my hair? It's
completely changed. Although I will probably get it cut and styled, I am
going to keep my natural color. I will probably keep it quite
short. I'm not going to obsess about my hair. And I will definitely
wear hats when it's cold.
After all. . .
it's only hair!