I have hair now. For a brief time (and by this I mean for one, super, long year) two years ago, I did not have hair. Breast cancer’s chemo had left me without hair. Shortly after receiving the news that you have cancer you will hear this next word…oncologist. Oncologist, in my mind, means chemotherapy. And certainly, with my group of honest and fast moving doctors there was never a moment that I did not know I was going to have chemotherapy.
However, in my mind, even though I knew it was crazy, I expected the oncologist to say, “Yes, you will have chemo. But, I have incredibly good news… you are the rare person who is going to have a new, fabulous chemo in which you will not loose your hair.” (After watching the documentary, I do feel possibly, that is what they said to Farrah Fawcett). It is not shocking to learn that the oncologist did not end up saying that. What he did do was recite a long list of possible side effects, none of which bothered me, until he got to the last one, where he said, “and then there is, of course, hair loss.” And then I cried.
After the news that I would loose my hair, I knew that I had about six weeks before it would actually fall out. This was a predicament because I have my hair colored, and I was due for a touch up. Now, while I feel that women need to keep themselves up, and I do not ever think that can be done at home doing your own color, I also didn’t feel like spending a $150 dollars on a fabulous coloring that was going to fall out. Certainly, I thought a small perk here is that I can run down to Walgreen’s and do the deed for a mere $5.99.
For the record, Naomi was not in agreement and had an absolute fit. And, for the record, Naomi was right it turned out horrid, but it also turned out all over my bathroom floor, so who cares. I avoided cameras and there is no record of the store bought hair color.
The reality is by the time the first round of chemo made its way through the listed side effects, I could care less about the hair loss and it was the LEAST of my worries. One night I pushed my fingers through my hair and when I looked down, the hair was in my fingers. I gave it another go and, yep, more hair.
In a moment of, “What the Hell inspiration,” I called my girls and we spent a fun hour hacking and shaving my hair until it was gone. When all was said and done, my three year old looked at me and said, “Mommy, you are beautiful.”
Really? Beautiful? Well this isn’t going to be so bad. The next morning I sat proudly in bed, still confident from last night’s announcement of my beauty. When my three year old came in, she made a horrific face and disappeared into my closet. She returned with a knit hat that someone had given me, “Here, I think you should wear this,” she announced before heading out the door, thus ending the “You look beautiful as a bald woman,” phase of chemo.
The truth was, I did not look beautiful bald. I get that there are some women that really rock that look and embrace it when they go through the whole process, and I had planned on being one of them, but it just wasn’t going to happen. So I wore a knit cap at home and a baseball cap for doctor’s visits, but as we all know, life goes on, and so it did, even though for me it felt stopped.
A wig was purchased for those “life goes on” moments and I did the best I could. The wig never felt right to me. It was awkward and hot. Simply put, I hated it…a lot. But, my cousin was getting married and there were family pictures, and I would need to return to teach a group of fourth graders for the last month of the school year so, on we went with the wig.
Eventually, I was done with the wig. I put on a baseball hat the last week of school and it stayed on until there was enough hair to look as though the cut was a decision I had made. When I finally wore the baseball cap that last week of school, I was worried about the kids in my class. I need not have. During the last week, at a very hot outdoor moment, I took off the cap to rub my head and let it breathe. At this moment Brittany (a fabulous little girl, who was a favorite, even though I am not supposed to have them) said, “I am glad you are wearing the hat. It is good to have the real you here.”
After the year had ended and summer began, I found myself at Disneyland with Naomi. It was a great trip. One of those, “Thank God I am on the other side of this!” moments. One day found us at the new “Princess Extravaganza.” Basically Disney had moved all the princesses into one area and they put on shows, arts and crafts, and signed autographs. On this day they all entered the “Extravaganza Area” by walking down the aisles and then floating onto the stage. As I sat there with Naomi, it hit me. I punched her and said, “Oh my God! That’s what I had…with my wig…really BAD Disney Princess hair!” Naomi started to deny it, you could see it as her lips moved together, but in the end she looked at them and said, “Yes, that really is the look you had going.” And we laughed, until tears ran down our faces and we could laugh no more.
I am not certain what the statute of limitations is on my hair situation. I know this…I should never complain about my hair. I know this, but sometimes I want to. I don’t like the cut, I’m not happy with the color, I wish it would look differently when I straighten it, and the list goes on. But, since I have been hairless, I feel I have no right to complain. And because of this I often say when people compliment me on my hair, “Well, yes, it is good to have hair!” And it is.