grateful amazement

finding wonder…everywhere.

July 2010 – July 2015 :: A Cancer Survivor’s Retrospective :: Day Six

on July 6, 2015

Oh.
That Hair Thing.
I remember this post from my CaringBrigde journal like I wrote it yesterday.
And I remember even more clearly what it was like to have Stan shave my head, while I slobber-cried, on November 27, 2010.

I don’t have many pictures of me sans hair.
I do have a few in which I’m sporting the hats that got me through those 18 hairless months.
I remember I stuck mostly to hats because the two wigs I had felt so Not Me.
They slipped and itched and caused a lot of Social Flop Sweat.
It wasn’t pretty.

Kind of like when we put on personas that are so Not Us.
We want so much to blend in, to not call attention to our differences, to silently slip by unnoticed.
Even if those Pretend Selves we try on have us itchy and sweaty while they slip and we tug, desperate to keep them in place.

How about if, just for today, we take a big, brave, deep breath and Let. It. Go?
Drop the Pretend and put on the Real?
Even if it sounds scary.
Even if it seems crazy.

After all, the Real fits and feels so much better, if we’re honest.
And, when we wear our Real, we give others the permission to do the same.
Then none of us will feel the need to don ill-fitting wigs…or masks.
How awesome is that?!
**In case you’re wondering, my hair is now the longest it’s been. And I’ve colored it PINK in honor of this whole Five-Year Celebration. It fits. It’s Me. And I love it!

~~~~~

November 23, 2010
I have to admit it…I am nervous.

It is hard to put into words… It’s given me a lot of grief over the years. I’ve spent a LOT of money on it, too. I’m told it started out REALLY thin. Something about Dippity Do and bows used in order to lessen the gender confusion experienced by strangers. It’s never really been long, but it has been really, really short. Boy short. A couple times. It’s been several different colors – first for fun, then out of ‘necessity’. It got nice and thick through my pregnancies. I’ve never really been great at knowing what to do with it. Somewhat challenged, I’ve always said. You’d think, just reading this little snippet, I’d be happy – or relieved – to have a chance to start over with it. But, happy and/or relieved I am not. I am nervous.

Today is Day Fifteen since my first Chemo. Most people who’ve been treated with the same Cocktail I’m getting lost their hair on Day Seventeen. Day Twenty-One is the latest Hair Loss Date I’ve been able to find documented anywhere. That puts my own Hair Loss Date at anywhere from Thanksgiving (really?!?! Do you get the irony there?!?!) to Monday the 29th (which is the day of my 2nd round of the Big Cocktail). So, you see, I am nervous.

I’ve always joked – at least, I was mostly joking – about being vain and shallow. And, truth be told, I was raised in an atmosphere that instilled in me the Importance of Appearance. As I’ve gotten older (does that make me sound ancient?), it’s been revealed to me, through much reflection and truth-seeking and some hard lessons, that appearances are, indeed, NOT the most important thing. The whole ‘for God sees not as man sees, for man looks at the outward appearance, but the Lord looks at the heart’* thing IS TRUE…but, oh, so hard for someone like me to internalize. It’s been one of those Repeat Lessons in my life. And, it seems this cancer stuff could be the Final Exam in relation to this particular Misapprehended Belief. <<gasp! I am nervous.>>

How the heck does one prepare for a Final Exam like that?! Unfortunately for me, I never learned very good study habits because I found I could just ‘cram’ an hour or two before the test and score a fairly high grade… That doesn’t really bode well for me here, does it? Now, I am REALLY nervous.

I guess maybe admitting that I am nervous could be a first step in preparation. (Being honest with one’s feelings – naming and owning them – is a good first step to most growth-enhancing opportunities, I think.) Then, maybe having the courage to reach out to others in the face of this Loss (yes, I believe even Hair Loss is a True Loss to some, me included) could be considered another step. (I’d say admitting to all of you here in this very public forum counts as reaching out, huh?) After that, making sure to have a hat or two and possibly even a wig or two ready and waiting might be Step Three. (I do have a few hats – not that I’ve ever looked good in hats – and a couple wigs from a precious friend along with the free, not-so-attractive-one from the American Cancer Society ready. I do believe I may order a wig from my awesome stylist sometime soon, too.) It’s also been well-documented that taking some control of the situation by shaving one’s head prior to the Major Fall is a positive step in combatting the emotional toll taken by the Loss. (I’ve been prepping Stan with the idea that he’ll have the honors of revving up his Conair shaver and giving me a GI Jane when it becomes obvious that the Major Fall is imminent.) Since just before this whole new chapter began to unfold, God led me to start meditating on a few key words that have become somewhat of a mantra for me – ‘I am safe. I am loved. I am healthy. I am beautiful.’ Perhaps remembering to calm my spirit using these precious words from my Heavenly Father can be considered another step.

I am still nervous. But it’s a more calmed, centered nervous (yes, I believe there is such a thing) now that I’ve taken the time to write it out. Thanks for journeying with me down this path. 🙂 I hope you don’t mind that I keep writing as I experience some much-anticipated growth in regard to the Loss of my hair and reframing my belief about appearances.

The very steps we take come from God; otherwise how would we know where we’re going? ~Proverbs 20:24 Msg

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