I just got my hair cut. Yep. It might not sound very exciting to you, but it’s been over a year since I’ve been able to do that. A year. A long, kick my butt, exhausting, “am I really going to get through this,” nightmare of a year.
When I first found out I was going to have to go through chemotherapy, and facts were being thrown at me in the span of a few days, it was hard to process everything. But the facts that really stood out in my mind were:
1. I was going to be ok, thank goodness.
2. I was going to loose my hair.
3. There would be good drugs to help me get through the side effects of everything.
You wouldn’t think hair would be up there next to “I was going to live,” but it was.
I know hair is an insignificant issue in the big picture, but I was pretty bummed about the prospect of loosing mine.
Actually really bummed.
Losing my hair was a big deal. A really big deal.
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People would say to me, “It’s just hair. It will grow back.” And I knew they were right. But they weren’t the ones who had to look in the mirror, everyday over the past year, and see their bald little head.
I tried to control as much of this as I could. I immediately cut my long, overly chemically straightened hair into a bob, hair that I loved, and tried to get used to seeing it shorter. I needed to do that for me. For my kids. I also bought a ridiculously expensive wig.
A wig I didn’t want.
After the first round of chemo, and nothing happened, I thought, “I might just prove everyone wrong.” But no such luck. It started falling out in clumps, and that’s when I needed to cut it short, again. Back to the hairdresser I went, where she cut it into a pixie style, and then we waited: waited for it to all fall out.
And after the second round, out it all fell.
Looking back, that was probably one of the hardest moments I had. That’s when you start to REALLY look like a sick person. Before then, I still looked like myself when I glanced into the mirror. But after that, well, I screamed cancer patient. And I didn’t want to be one.
My sweet hair stylist, Jennifer, was nice enough to make a house call, and into my bathroom we went. She cut most of my hair off, and we played around with the wig. It was a hard moment. I put on the wig, and looked around at my hair all over the bathroom floor. I felt sick.
I remember thinking, “HOW DID I GET HERE?” But that’s the thing, how does anyone going through something like this, get there? One day life is great, and the next, you’re bald and looking at your hair scattered all over the floor.
I didn’t want to wear the wig. It felt fake and hot, and I was sure it would slide off my head. It’s not like I was a famous pop star, wearing a wig during my onstage performance. I didn’t want to wear scarves either. I settled on a baseball cap, most of the time, and that was about it. When I did wear the wig, I hated EVERY moment of it. When my hair started growing back in, I stopped wearing it as soon as possible, donated it to Cancer Services, and embraced my look.
At this point, I didn’t really care.
I had changed.
It’s amazing how much you change when you go through something like this. Priorities become clear, and your whole view of the world is altered. I’m only interested in being authentic and real, and I don’t have a lot of patience for people who aren’t.
If you’re someone who is going through treatment, I know it’s hard. Really hard. But, you will get through it, and your hair will grow back. I promise.
Stripped down, without having any hair, made me feel vulnerable. I couldn’t hide behind it. It was just the real me. I learned to appreciate myself, who I am as a person, and not the external facade or image I used to try to present.
I hope my kids always remember their self esteem isn’t based on having a good hair day.
Today, it was fun to get my hair cut. But, mostly because I recognize it for what it symbolizes: life is getting back to normal, I got through my hard year, and everyday that I’m alive is a true gift.
And I don’t want to waste it worrying about my hair.
Find meaning each day,