It’s been 14 days since my first treatment, and sadly, my focus has turned to one of vanity. Like watching the first leaves start to fall in early autumn, I’m watching individual hairs fall out each time I run my fingers through, comb, or blow-dry my hair. This morning, I experienced the first “breeze” as far more hair came out in my comb and had to be cleared from the shower drain. And to amplify it, the sun shines through our bathroom window like a spotlight right at the 15-minute timeframe in the morning when I fix my hair. This morning, I watched one after another fall almost in a steady rhythm.
As I said, I realize this is vanity. Losing my hair is not nearly as big of a deal as just getting well. Still it’s a part of the process that, from what I read, most people dread the most. I’m feeling that now. So far, no huge clumps have come out so I don’t look that different, but the pace is picking up, and I imagine the breezes will grow stronger very quickly until all that is left are the stubborn stragglers that refuse to let go.
At some point, I will grow weary of seeing those tiny little parts of who I am fall to the ground so submissively . . . and then I will shave my head, like many choose to do. I can’t even imagine actually doing that, but there will come a point, where I know that will be a relief . . . it will finally be done.
Then, I can start a fresh season! I have prepared with a cap for around the house and two wigs for when YOU see me. I warn you, they look very different from what my normal hair looks like. I decided to buy the hair I always WISHED I had, rather than try to match my own hair. I mean, since I can actually choose my hair, why not pretend I’m a movie star? So, while I may look ridiculous, I’m planning to rock those wigs! We’ve already determined that my family will know my mood by which wig I choose for the day, and Eric has warned the kids to watch out when Mommy’s a redhead! :-)
I will choose to make the best of it, because really, what else can I do. But, I am human and much of how women feel about themselves has to do with their hair. As with many cancer patients, that part of me is being stripped away, and I will be exposed before my family and those I choose to show . . . and me. Of all of those, I know I will be the one who will look at myself with the harshest eyes. My vanity will be a tough opponent, as I finally start to look sick.
You see, I cannot count the number of times I’ve heard people tell me how good I look (expecting me to look different than my normal) or that I don’t look sick. I’ve taken comfort in that and have really lived in a bit of denial of my cancer because of that. Once my hair is gone, there will be no more denying it to myself. I will look sick.
I think this will be a time of growth and self-pity and figuring out where my security lies. I am not at all sure that I’m going to be as brave and self-assured as I’d like, but I am thankful that my identity is secure. God doesn’t look at the outside. He looks on the heart. My heart is His, and I am secure in His love no matter what I look like or feel about how I look.
Still, I may decide to get a tattoo, because bald women with tattoos just look tough, you know?