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.