I went to high school in the mid eighties.  In the mid-west.  We did hair BIG.  By big I mean we used Aquanet by the case full to make and keep our hair BIG.  There were times water would bead off my big hair.  My bangs added like 4 inches to my overall height.

I went to college and graduate school where hair was much less of a thing.  Parenting took its toll on my hair as well, a ponytail was my main go-to look outside of work and date night.  Hair wasn’t really a big part of my life, I kind of saw it as a nuisance really.

Cancer and chemotherapy has a way of forcing you to re-evaluate, to re-prioritize, to see things from a wildly different perspective, you know, like hair.

After my second chemo infusion, my hair stated falling out.  Not thinning, falling out.  You can try to prevent this with a cold cap, but I didn’t since hair wasn’t really a thing for me.  I would wake up in the morning to what seemed like a full head of hair on my pillow, it was alarming.  This was about the time I stopped really looking in the mirror.  Friends and family sent chemo caps and hats.  I wore them knowing people loved me, like a head hug! 

The day came where it was silly to keep any of the hair I had left.  It was time for the clippers.  My husband, wonderfully thoughtful, placed a chair in front of the TV, put a towel around my shoulders and clipped what was left away.  I cried.  I cried much harder than I thought and the experience was much harder than I thought.  He put a hat on my head and held me for a long time.  When I pulled myself together, we got a few more hats from Amazon.  I started my ‘look’. 

I don’t think I looked in the mirror for much more than a glance for the next 4 months.  So much was changing, and different it was overwhelming.  And people kept telling me how fearless I was, how brave.  I thanked them and wondered what they would think if they knew how much I missed my often neglected, Goody tied back hair.  How I am grateful for all of the doctors skills, the early diagnosis, the treatment to bring me back to healthy, but I miss my hair.  So silly I know, even though I really liked the majority of my hats—I stole the line from Patrick Swayze’s character in “To Wong Fu, Thanks for Everything, Love Julie Newmar” today is a say something hat day.

One day I noticed that my hair was starting to grow back.  White.  And gray.  There are curls in the back, my hair had previously been somewhere between ‘body’ and ‘wavy’ and a mousy brown–except for a few perms and dye jobs in the eighties and nineties!

The time came to give up the hats and go with my new look.  I was hoping for an Annie Lennox type look, I think I managed a little old lady look.  It was hard to leave the house for church without a hat.  I put one in my purse, you know, in case I got cold in the AC.  When I left the house the next day my husband walked me to the car and kissed me goodbye.  As I was pulling off the driveway I noticed that he took the hat I stowed in my computer bag, again for AC reasons.  He took my safety net. He was helping me deal with my fears and insecurities like he always does. 

Published by survivorsherpa

I am a wife and mother to three daughters, a chemist and a breast cancer survivor. I would very much like to help others by caring and advocating for them while sharing my experiences and tips that may help to thrive during and after treatment.

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