Losing my Hair
One of the side effects of chemo treatment is losing your hair. When I left my breast surgeon's office and was walking to the elevator with my sister, Denise, I turned and said to her "Bummer, I really wanted to have hair for my son's wedding". Funny but that was my first response.
It's odd to think you won't have hair. I ponder things like: When will I know it's time to shave it? Will I have a tingling feeling? Tenderness? Will I lose my hair everywhere? Will I lose my eyebrows I desperately want to keep? How will I really look in my wig? I look horrible in hats, how's that going to work? Will I opt to wear nothing? How will my kids handle it? How will Bob? How will really look without hair? I have pin head for gods sake, this will make it look smaller. A silly thought pops in my head - well that travel shampoo I bought was the perfect size. There's enough left for one shampoo - lol!
Not having hair makes me feel like it's a neon sign flashing "Look she has cancer". The world will know I have cancer, how do I feel about this? Right now, no one call tell.
One of Riley's concerns when she left for Barcelona was how I would look when she came home. Losing my hair upset her immensely. As a 21 year old with gorgeous hair that would be your worst fear. She will be coming home this Sunday and my hair will be shaved by then, so during one of facetime chats I tell her my hair will be gone when she gets home. I want to prepare her. She starts crying and so do I. I hate to see her sad. We talk and I explain to her that this is a part of the healing process, this is chemo doing it's job and the most important thing - this is temporary. I tell her I don't wan't to pull my hair out in clumps. I rather be in control. I ask her if she wants me to wait until Sunday to shave it when she's here or Facetime her when I do it. She says no, don't wait for her. She says she understands but it's so frustrating that this happening. To lighten the mood I tell her Dad is excited - he thinks I'll look exotic. She laughs, I say I know right? We get off the phone, she understands.
I get a text message from her a little later:
I'm sorry for crying and always making you sad. I just keep forgetting this is real and it's actually happening. You are SO strong it's truly amazing. You don't have to wait for anything. Go ahead with your plans. You're right, you are in total control of this. I'll make sure to get you a pretty scarf for the days you don't wear your wig.
I'm glad she's forgetting about my cancer. This is exactly why I wanted her to go to Barcelona - to explore the world and forget about life for awhile. My response to her:
Don't apologize for your fears and feelings. This is one reason I wanted you to to go Barcelona. Cancer is just a part of our lives not the majority. You DESERVE this experience. I told you I get great energy knowing you're exploring the world and having a grand adventure. I want you to forget about cancer for awhile and just have fun!!! I'm doing just fine. Enjoy this last week and eek out as much fun as you can! Love you!
Riley set - now I can deal with me. I've been told by my oncologist and nurses that it usually starts falling out around 14 days after your first treatment. On Tuesday of this week I go to swim and in the shower as I'm washing my hair strands come out. When I run my fingers through my hair, strands come out. It has begun. The next part of the process is here. My hair will be gone in the next few days. I will have a new normal. Thinking about it, I will not have hair until next year. I will have what my dad used to call a baldy sour - OMG!
Time to look at the bright side Carey! Getting ready just got slashed in half at least. I will no longer have to do my hair (something I hate doing and suck at!). I will never have a bad hair day. I won't have to shave my legs - score! No more chin hairs (and who invented those?!? Really?!?) I hear your hair comes back thick and curly - double score! And it's TEMPORARY!
I have to keep reminding myself - this is all temporary. All these horrendous side effects are temporary: the constant nausea, the fatigue and losing my hair. This is what I signed up for by taking this path with chemo. If I embrace chemo, I embrace all its side effects warts and all. I muscle through the tough days knowing they are temporary and after a few days I'll start feeling better. I will shave my hair in the next few days and know that it is temporary. I will create a new normal. I will look in the mirror and not look at myself as a "poor cancer patient" but as someone on a path to healing. This is what healing looks like, nausea, fatigue and losing my hair. Yes, looking in that mirror - I will see a woman on the path to healing. This IS what healing looks like.