I set the date to shave my head down awhile back, and in a moment of genius my ex-husband and father of my children suggested that he and the boys shave my head together, in an attempt to make them feel like they were part of this journey. I agreed, despite the fact that many might think it a poor idea to activate ex-husbands and razors in the same room. Cancer changes things. I asked a dear friend to come by and take pictures, and here we are.
The hair is going anyway. I can honestly say I have no regrets about the way I’ve chosen to deal with that. This stage is interesting, though. It’s not that I mind being basically bald. What is significant about this is not the baldness. It’s the evidence of illness that is now unavoidable. Up until now, I have been able to pull myself together in the morning and leave my house and wander about (despite double mastectomy, half-complete reconstruction, PICC line, bruises from bloodwork and various injections, extreme fatigue, mild nausea, etc) town without feeling like people look at me and know that I am sick. Even tonight’s razor-short cut may buy me another couple of days. But I know it’s coming. There is no funky fix for chemo-bald. People will now have to stare it in the face when they look at me. That makes me uncomfortable. I don’t want to make people wonder what to say, or look around for a quick exit.
Cancer is isolating in some ways. You are forced to set yourself apart and make new sets of rules for yourself. Never one to say no to any social gathering of any kind, I surprise myself by making sensible decisions entirely based on my health, even when it means sitting at home while my cherished group of girlfriends heads out on the town to celebrate a birthday, as we traditionally do. There is something about this particular phase of treatment that forces you to look your illness straight in the face, and hunker down for the long haul. This hasn’t happened without grieving for me, and tonight I watched as my youngest son finally fell apart watching me get my head shaved, after a couple of difficult weeks of what looked like anger. Everyone around me will process this differently and in their own time, and I know that the visible reality of the illness, the hallmark bald head, will be particularly difficult for some closest to me.
To them I will say what I did to my son tonight. Each hair that falls out is a sign that this medicine is doing exactly what it’s supposed to do. Zapping out each and every cancer cell that has the audacity to attempt to find a place to roost in my body. This is a good thing. After the medicine has done its job, the hair will grow back, likely with a few more well-earned greys. In the meantime, I will wait for the lovely pink wig I ordered on e-bay the other day, I will experiment with scarves, and I’ll probably rub my head a fair bit, because it actually feels pretty cool.