January 27, 2019. When Robin the Chemo Teach nurse told me I would probably start losing my hair after three treatments, I didn’t think she meant the very next day. But right on cue, my hair started shedding on Wednesday.
I’m not sure why I actually believed in my heart that it wasn’t really going to happen to me. I didn’t even realize that was my truth. But it was like a big old punch to the gut when I ran my hand through my mop and a mass of hair came with it.
My first thought was, I need Steve to take a photo while I still have something there to take a photo of. So he did.
Next I ordered a pair of electric clippers. I envisioned a buzz cut in the very near future. So near in fact, that I added next day delivery to the order. After all, I was leaving a trail of hair everywhere I went, my pillow was covered in hair in the morning. I was feeling sad. I wondered why.
Intellectually, I knew this day was coming. Who am I trying to kid? So I sent an email to a dear friend of mine who knows all too well what it’s like to lose one’s hair. In the subject I put “Hair,” and then I wrote, “Mine is coming out in handfuls. Any advice?” My phone rang almost instantly.
We had a sweet discussion about being defined by our hair, how short should I buzz it and mirrors. We talked about wig or no wig, how many hats I had, and reminded oursleves it will grow back. She said, “You know, it’s just a little misstep.” She made me laugh outloud.
Talking with her was super helpful. But what I realized in the course of our conversation was that the real reason I was so distressed was because losing my hair made what I was going through even more real. Not having my hair was like putting a sign on my chest that said, “I have cancer.” It brought my illness front and center, whether I wanted it there or not. Shit.
The buzz. Last night I handed the clippers to Steve while I sat on a chair in the middle of the kitchen floor. We were both pretty emotional as he put the buzzing clippers to my head and took the first pass. Our eyes welled with tears, and we had a quiet moment. Then he forged onward and before we both knew it, I had a new do.
All that’s left now is to go completely bald, which I’m certain will happen and within the next few weeks. Dare I say it again? Shit.
Whatever our souls are made of, his and mine are the same. —Emily Bronte, Wuthering Heights