Saturday, September 4, 2010

A Hairy Week - Part One

For most American women, our hair really is a very personal part of who we are.  Many of us spend ridiculous amounts of money to get the perfect cut, color, and more.  We notice new haircuts and are quick to compliment one another on our hair, and when life gets a bit dull, we decide it's time for a new do to add a little excitement. 

But, when you think about it, on the wants vs needs scale, our hair care is definitely a want.  We can survive without it and could easily do our jobs and accomplish what we accomplish daily, no matter what our hair looked like.  Somehow, though, our hair has grown in importance over the years, so that good and bad hair days really do affect how we feel about ourselves and, for many of us, how our performance and confidence levels are determined.  I'd much rather be out in public when my hair is doing what I want it to do.  There have been times I've hated to go home and waste a perfectly good hair day.  Good hair days at home usually mean I, at least, need to go buy milk and bread in order to share the great hair with fellow shoppers.  Doing my part for humanity.  Heaven forbid only the family gets to enjoy it.

Now, I know there are some of you who are finding this concept foreign and bizarre, but, in my estimation, you are few and far between.  American women want and are obsessed with acquiring good hair.  So, when I first learned I had breast cancer and would be receiving chemotherapy, you can guess what one of my first thoughts was. hair.  Seems sort of silly, in the grand scheme of things.  Life?  Death?  Hair?  That last one just doesn't fit.

So, I contemplated my bald future.  It took a couple of days for this to soak in, but, oddly enough, I quickly reached a peace about it.  You might even say I actually began to look forward to a warped, curiousity killed the cat, sort of way.  I started gathering wigs and headcoverings (all free, thanks to the Cancer Support Home in Fayetteville, Heavenly Hats, and France Luxe.)  And then I waited. 

I began this week feeling pretty sure that by week's end my head would be bare...but what an odd concept.  I know what it is to have short hair, but NO hair is another story.  What would I look like?  What would it feel like?  How pointy is my head, anyway? 

By Tuesday, all hair still seemed very much attached to my scalp.  It hurt to pull even one.  So, clueless optimist that I am, the thought actually occurred to me that I might possibly be the one in a million person whose hair was so dang healthy, thick, and stubborn, that maybe, just maybe, I would escape the chemo hair promise.  But, true to my bodies determination to stay in line with the textbooks, on Wednesday I noticed several strands would turn loose whenever I gave a gentle tug.  By Thursday morning (14 days out from my first round of chemo - textbook timing), I could pull individual strands and not feel a thing.  Running my hand through my hair brought multiple loose strands.  It was like my hair was just sitting there with nothing holding it on.  The glue had gone bad.  I didn't dare wash it, brush it, or walk in high wind.  My hair was really falling out.  I tiptoed through Thursday and tried not to touch my hair. 

The bald plan went into effect when my oldest son, JC, returned from class that evening.  He knew he was my designated cutter.  He used industrial strength scissors to cut it as short as possible, then several times over with the clippers, working down in size with each passing.  Considering we weren't working with high quality salon machinery and I have fairly thick hair, this took awhile. 

In the trashcan...easy come, easy go.
I've read about how sad and emotional this is for many women and wondered if or when it would hit me.  Would I break down in tears in the middle of it all?  I must be weird, because I actually had a good time.  I knew this would be (or certainly hope it is) the only time I will ever get to experience something like that, so, just like my trip to fears, just relax and enjoy such a foreign experience.  JC did a great job, while David manned the video camera.  Sean stuck his head in now and then, but mostly was stoic about the whole thing.  We tried to keep Harry from walking through the falling hair.  Cleo slept.

A little drama never hurts.

When this was done, I headed straight to the bathroom to see the new me.  Kind of shocking.  My head looks so much smaller without the hair, and no, thank goodness, it's not too pointy.  I showered off and dried off, marveling at how easy that process now will be.  I am also retiring my razor for a few months.  Jealous much?

Friday I wore a real wig for the first time in my life, feeling like such a poser and that I really should be trick-or-treating instead of teaching class. The kiddos got a kick out of it; some were shocked it was a wig and some "just knew it!".  Some were scared I would remove it and others begged me to (I didn't).  All of them, though, were encouraging and curious and free with kind of people.  Kids are so different than adults...who wouldn't want to work with them?

I met with the Nons after work and was encouraged all the more.  These gals are always a shot in the arm during major life events.  They were jealous of my great hair and thinking the whole wig idea might just be the way to go.

The hair is gone and I'm feeling great.  That's one more hurdle I've jumped as I move ahead on this cancer path.  Looking forward to attending a wedding this afternoon, then heading down south to spend the remainder of the holiday weekend with my in-laws.  The skies are bright blue, fall is in the air, and all is right with the world. 

Oh yeah...and no more bad hair days, at least for a while.  Now, where is that wig?

Okay...maybe a little pointy.
(And, as I write this, this little bit of hair is quickly jumping ship.)

1 comment:

  1. Kind of reminds me of Demi Moore in GI Jane or whatever that movie was. I have heard those who wear wigs say that it is the way to go. I am so thankful for your honesty on all of this and sharing your thoughts. Helps me so much more to grasp this world you were thrown into. I am curious to see when your hair comes back and HOW it comes back!