May 2014 is when I first cut my hair. Since then, everytime I have had to show my ID, or received a compliment from a stranger, I have always said something along the lines of, “Oh yes, short hair not by choice.” Even though shaving my head was my version of “control”, or so I thought at the time, I never truly felt empowered. I have been saying for months now that I wanted to dye my hair blonde. I thought it would be fun to experiment and do things with my hair that I never would have done before. The day I went blonde is the day I got a piece of myself back. Doing this finally gave me my first sense of being back in control of my own life. I am slowly becoming myself again and not this poor and sick cancer patient. Just recently at dinner I ran into an old coworker who said, “oh wow I almost didn’t recognize you because of your hair. Short hair and blonde looks good on ya.” I simply replied, “Thank you”. No mention of anything referencing my sickness. I owned that compliment and that moment. I am not sure yet if blondes have more fun, but this one is definately going to try.
What girl doesn’t want baby smooth legs everyday? That part of hair loss is the fun bit. The loss of hair on my head is another. The funny thing is now that it is gone, people around me have begun this new quirk. I call it – being pet like a dog. If I am in a social setting with people I am either super close with, or even people I just know – a lot of them seem to pet my head. I am not sure why – maybe they just want to feel the buzzed head – but it is not the same as touching a pregnant woman’s stomach (which even that, people should ask the person first). Honestly though why do people think it is ok to just reach up and pet me like a dog? They smile and think it is cute and all I can think is – “Are you serious? I am glad you find this amusing because I am still dealing with the loss of my hair emotionally.”
So what do I do when I want to pretend to be “normal” for the day – I put on my wig. This however also causes people to act out of turn. Yes – I am wearing a wig – but why do you feel the need to remind me of that?
“I love your wig. If I didn’t know you I would think it was real.”
Well if I didn’t know you I would think your boobs are real but we all know there is a shit load of padding in that thing. Just as inappropriate to say. Please do not point out my insecurity. I do not comment on the fact that you look 15 pounds lighter because of your Spanx.
Maybe this is why some choose to wear a scarf on their head? I find this instantly shuts people up. It is like wearing a “I have cancer” sign around my neck. No one talks about my hair because it is clear I do not wish to show it, and no one comments on the fact I am wearing a scarf. It is the perfect solution! Only problem is I do not like to advertise my sickness. Next solution? I bought a ton of big winter hats. Now I am “that person” who does not take their hat off in a restaurant – but I really don’t care.
My arm hair though – still will not give up the fight. It is like it is saying to me, “Oh you think just because you have cancer I stop embarrassing you? Please bitch I am going no where.” Geeze arm hair – why you gotta be such a rebel? Like can’t you just thin out a bit? Now I don’t even wax it. I am just leaving it as an experiment to see how long it holds on till. Hopefully it shares its secret with my lashes and eye brows.
Now that I have been off chemo since June, all of the chemicals are right out of my system. What does this mean? Hair growth – and I was just getting used to never having to shave. My head hair is not sparse, and is growing in quite thick. I look less like a cancer patient and more like a girl who just chose to cut her hair short. I still wear my wig for more public outings like a nice restaurant date. I look at it like an accessory. Yes, you can go out with no jewellery on and still look nice – but do you not feel that extra dolled up once you have bling’d yourself out? That is how I feel about my wigs. I am confident in public without them, but I feel that extra special when I am wearing one.
The one thing that is really getting on my nerves now is when I am asked for ID. I have always loved going to the casino, but since my diagnosis I find I am going more often. It seems to be the only place where my brain shuts off completely, and all I think about is what machine I should sit at next. A full mind vacation. (Do not worry. I have discussed this with my therapist and she said it is perfectly healthy.) So as you can imagine I am now being asked for ID more than usual. Every single time I am now, it is a long process. I guess I look extremely different without hair? (I beg to differ). Honestly, there are moments after countless signature signing that I am tempted to just lift of my shirt, show them my wound, and ask them “Now do you believe me?”. I know it is there job but come ooonnnn. Next time I go I might just wear a wig. When they ask me to remove my glasses, maybe my hand gets caught a shifts my hair back. Give them a good scare. I would love to be asked to remove my wig in public. Oh the words I would have for that guard.
Friday was my hardest emotional day so far. I knew shaving my head would be hard, but I did not expect a full day event. In the hairdresser’s chair I could not stop crying. We started with a longer pixie, and slowly went shorter and shorter. Since I was not handling it well, she suggested we leave it as a super short pixie, and allow myself the weekend to let it all sink it. For the rest of the day the slightest thought about my hair would make me cry uncontrollably. Then like nothing happened, Saturday I woke up fine. I was now starting to become comfortable in this new skin.
I knew the pixie was just a transitional cut. Underneath the headband was all bald patches. I had a feeling shaving my head would be so freeing. Getting over the hurdle was what I was scared of. It seems easier to other people. Everyone says, “Oh it’s just hair, it will grow back.”. That is very easy to say when it is not your hair. My sadness was over the loss of control. This was something I HAD to do, not something I chose to do.
A few weeks back by buddy shaved his head for me. He messaged me on Sunday letting me know he liked my pixie and that his head was due for another shave. I told him the pixie was not sticking around, so he said “Ok, why don’t you shave mine and then I will shave yours.”. Sounded like a perfect plan. So tonight, in his backyard, we shaved our heads.
I now feel back in control. Also, the breeze is wonderful. 🙂
My rational thinking kicked in when I was crying on Monday over my hair.
“If all I can do now is wear a headband to cover up the bald spots, what is the point of keeping it at this length? Also, when I am in the hospital and at home stuck in bed afterwards – I do not want to worry about washing my hair.”
So I messaged my hair dresser and told her it was time for a buzz. She countered back with, “Let’s try a pixie first, if it does not work then I will buzz.” So that is the game plan for Friday morning. Most of you will be at work counting down the hours till the weekend starts. I on the other hand will be counting all of the hairs as they fall by my feet.
For those of you who say, “It’s just hair…. it will grow back….. I would shave my hair too….” Yes, staying positive for me is great and I welcome it, but also you try waking up everyday, looking in the mirror and seeing this…
Now, maybe you will understand why shedding a few tears or a lot of tears is well called for.
I am not worried about what people who know me will think of my shaved head – I can tell them to F-off if they stare. It is more the reaction in public that I am not looking forward to. My cancer to me is personal. By that I mean I can be in a grocery store and no one would not even give me a second glance. With a shaved head I feel like I will have the words “CANCER” tattooed on my forehead. I am not ashamed by this, but I would like to not be labelled day in and day out. Imagine you had a yeast infection and had to have that tattooed on your forehead. Not cool.
It’s ok though, I will just learn how to play up my cheek bones and look fierce with no hair.
It is becoming harder and harder to stay in a happy place daily. Who would have thought I would miss drinking this much? I was never a big drinker, maybe had one or two beers/cocktails every week. However when the girls get together with some wine, and I am drinking and ice tea, it makes me sad. Even at the cottage, sitting outside without a beer is kind of depressing. My hair is another thing dragging me down. Although my last chemo treatment was June 11th, it continues to fall out. My hair is now so thinned out that it looks dirty the same day I washed it. I am beginning to think that shaving it may make me happier. That way I would not have to worry about the hair all over the ground. It would also be much easier when I am in the hospital, not having to worry about my hair. Having people come to visit the last thing I should be thinking is if they can see how patchy the top of my head is now. I have less than two weeks now to decide.