One year ago today I shaved my head while treating breast cancer. It was a bittersweet day, one filled with sadness but also overwhelming love. It was a necessary evil to my healing process.
I will tell you it’s an odd feeling not having any hair. You try to prepare yourself for the inevitable. I planned for it. I bought scarves, hats and wigs. I scheduled to have my hair shaved to give me some control. But when it happened I found it a little life altering. Logically, I knew it was part of my healing. But my emotional mind needed to process it. I not only lost my hair but my identity changed. I could now be seen as a woman treating cancer. I couldn’t hide, my hair was gone everywhere.
I would learn to navigate my life without hair. Wigs, scarves, hats, learning how to strategically put on my makeup - all a part of not having hair. Creating another new normal in my life. Navigating another part of the healing process.
There were times I actually forgot I didn’t have hair, I’d look in the mirror and stare at the bald headed woman staring back and think is that really me? And to be honest with you, I really don’t look good without hair – lol!
I chose the wig route. Always wearing the ever faithful Gladys. I will admit just putting on a wig before I went out saved tremendous time in getting ready. And my hair always looked perfect!
Watching my fellow warriors during treatment I saw how each of them chose to handle their baldness. Wigs, hats, sometimes nothing. Each of us finding our confidence in our own way. Each of us navigating life as a woman without hair. There was comfort and power knowing you’re not alone. Another kinship of belonging to the Big “C” Club.
The chemo ended and I anxiously waited to see some growth. I was desperate for some sign that I was on the path to healing. I naively thought once chemo finished – presto whamo – a full head of hair would appear. That would not be the case. It was months before I had any hair. And yes as I wrote before it came in the form of a white chin hair. Of course!
It finally started to come in and just my luck it came in shock white (as the nurses told me it would). I had tiny white spikes followed thankfully by jet black hair. It’s coming in thick and curly. Score! I finally have hair!!! Whoop Whoop!
It’s a year today that I shaved my head. I look back on this past year and all the journey entailed. Some things were difficult both mentally and physically but the good things outweigh the bad. So many life lessons, so much personal growth, so much to be grateful for. I survived cancer for the second time. I survived chemo and all its side effects. My hair is growing. A year later and my head has hair. Life is sweet. What a difference a year makes.