Wednesday, December 9, 2009

Breast Cancer, Chemo, and Losing your Hair Not your Head

How to lose your hair, not your head......

I thought I would post my journey from head of hair to baldy Rebel Girl, because, frankly, I don't think I can handle the ackwardness of people seeing me out of the blue, with a wig, or a scarf or hat and having that "Oh crap, what do I do, where do I look, do I say anything?" moments. So, I am posting the journey here. So you can, in your own time, process the change. And when you see, know the etiquette of staring, touching, questioning, and all that goes with dramatic visual changes.

My gift to you.

What can you say?
Whatever is on your mind, "Holy shit! You cut your hair off!' (because if it weren't 20 degrees out, I would go bald. I love it bald. I feel awkward in a wig, and sick in a scarf. But bald feels freeing and natural, no hiding.)

Say, "Wow, that is so weird, and hard to get used to."

Say, "You look different, but beautiful."

Say the truth. Ask direct questions. I don't mind. What I do feel awkward about it is the NOT acknowledging the elephant in the room. I like the direct approach.

And yes, you can touch it. It is still stubbly, and feels a bit like a sharks skin. But it was VERY irritating because hairs were falling out even with it shaved with an electric razor using no blade. When I put on wigs or scarves, the hair acted as a sandpaper, and got Velcroed to the hat or wig and was painful. So off it all went. I had splotches anyway, no Sinead OConner look. Bummer, I liked it that way.

But please, do not do ANY of this around Kara. She is so upset. I haven't seen her this upset about any of the journey. She has been upset before, but not like this. She asked us to stop talking about it in front of her, but she promised to talk about it to her therapist. So we agreed, no more baldy talk, for now.

So, here is the footage. I really dislike I had to do this NOW. When I see other people footage, they are healthy. At the beginning of their journey. As you can see. Cancer Rebel Girl over the summer, I am not on steroids to control the chemo nausea, not on bloated, not pimple faced, not exhausted with dark circles under my eyes from weeks of being sick PLUS chemo, OH and moving in a week.

BUT, none the less. The other people seem awkward with it. And sad, but trying to stay strong. I LOVED it. It was freeing and and load off. I guess a year and half of treatment, I know this is the least of my worries and concerns. It really really felt freeing. I feel MORE beautiful bald, than I did with that mop of hair falling out allllll over the place.

So, here it is...the video.

Sarah Cannon did the honors. She rocked rocked rocked. Jim was my support. While he couldn't bring himself to cut it, he did the memorial video and photos and was an all around moral support.

Kara snuck in and out. And tomorrow, we will go with Jeri up into the mountains we know live at the base of, and find snow and bury the hair there with notes of hope and healing that will melt with the snow in the spring and summer and give the birdies the nesting they need at the right time. I love it.

Sarah Cannon....I can't thank you enough. She has pictures of her and I together I hope to get very soon to post here as well. She was the first to kiss my bald head. :) Jim got the second. Kara finally got the courage to touch it and I agree with her assesment, it feels weird.

Cancer Rebel Girl got a new chance to unleash. And yes, if you are right with yourself inside, bald makes you feel empowered and sexy as all get out. SOMETHING comes unleashed when you go mohawk, and even bigger power comes unleashed when you go bald, and feel even more beautiful and powerful than before. ROCK ON! Maybe it is the artist in me exploring boundries, and social mores about sexual roles. I have had long long long, short short short and eveything in between. I don't mind experimenting. I thought my hair before made me feel pretty, and safe. Now I know my power is NOT in my hair. I may always keep it cropped after this, or grow it long as I can if chemo ever stops and lets it grow back.

Oh, and I plan to play while I can. Lots of wigs and lots of different styles. What better times to play with color and style than now? I have one wig right now. I feel more uncomfortable in that, than I do bald. Strange.

I feel the storm settling, the rain is passing, the sun is starting to show through the clouds after a very very very very long thunderstorm. But the air is clearing, and healing and peaceful times are afoot. I feel it.

If I can get through all of this year, and come back to hope and peace, I can get through anything. We are SO much stronger than we know. So much healing on so many levels has taken place. In me, in the circle of people around me, in family, in friends. I love this place. I love learning my courage, my vulnerability, my ability to overcome, other peoples ability to overcome and face the most challenging parts of their lives (thank you Jim!) and seeing just how wide are light can expand, even when we feel very very very dim.

Unfotunately, the video is not functioning properly. The sync between video and audio drifts out. So for now, pictures will have to do.


Melisa said...

Right now I have tears in my eyes -- tears of sorrow for Kara, tears of joy for you and Jim -- tears of tenderness for this new segment of your journey because, well, it is simply powerful. Thank you for sharing this and I wish that my hat knitting skills were up to snuff! But, alas, they are not and the 6 month old size I'm knitting now I guarantee would not fit!

MiMi said...

To my beautiful daughter, you are beautiful with and without hair.
From the heart
I too thank you Jim. You and Jenna both have grown sooo very much through this journey. Seeing you two work together this last week through the move and the hair and the pain and most of all loving your daughter. I stand amazed and in awe of you both and your selflessness and strength.