In life, I try to find the bright side of things. If you are telling me something awful, I am listening and already trying to figure out what I can tell you to make you feel better. It is annoying sometimes, I know, but I can’t help it. If you are sad, I do not want you to be sad. Period. I am going to try to help you find the bright side.
Sunday I shaved my head. The hair was gone.
By Saturday night, my decision had been made. I had to shave the rest. Sunday morning, I went to church with my husband, and my son. After church, my mother-in-law offered to let me use her clippers to do the job myself, but I just couldn’t do it. I didn’t want that memory in my home. My husband and I went to Supercuts. My husband sat down first. The stylist shaved his head. Then I sat down. I told the woman behind the chair what was happening, and what I needed. She turned me away from the mirror and shaved my head. People in the waiting area who didn’t know my story looked shocked. This little twenty-something girl, wearing glasses and still dressed in church clothes, was shaving her head. The looks on their faces were just what I had been expecting. Dreading. Once they put it together, they knew my story. The stylist turned me back around. It was done. I got up, paid, and left all of that hair along with the memory of the moment to be swept up and thrown away.*
I went home. I can tell you that even though I was sad that I had to do it, I really did feel a million times better. There was no more anxiety over the anticipation of what was going to happen. There was no more wondering and worrying. It was done. Swept away. Gone.
When night finally arrived, and the house was quiet, I had a date with the mirror. I had avoiding it a little. I had given it a glance, of course. We even took some pictures of my new bald head (pre-digital, so I didn’t see what they looked like), but I hadn’t really had my chance to stare at it. So I did. I was sad. It was just so strange. I wasn’t sure if I even looked like myself anymore. My face was swollen from the Predinsone I had been taking. The biopsy scar on my neck was now more noticeable because my hair wasn’t there to detract from it. My head was literally sore. I couldn’t figure it out at first, but I finally did. The hair had been used to being held down by weight of long hair. Shaving it off was like taking hair down from a very tight ponytail, when you can still feel the soreness of the way that it pulled. I was a mess.
Then I suddenly felt my need to find the bright-side boiling to the surface. I had a little list of why losing my hair was a good thing.
- Losing my hair shows that the chemo is working.
- Shaving it was much faster than slowly losing it over time.
- Think about how quickly I can get ready in the morning!
- I can find a cute wig. That’s fun.
- And how about all of those cute scarves?
- My hair will grow back .
- As it grows back, it will be fun to try new hairstyles.
- It is just hair.
- It really isn’t that big of a deal.
- You are fighting for your life. This is just hair. Get over it.
- It is just hair.
But I didn’t want to hear it. I did not want to hear any of it. I wasn’t in the mood for honesty. I wasn’t in the mood for the bright side. At all. And, regardless of the fact that every single one of those bright-side bullet points were correct, I didn’t want to hear any of them. I needed a night to just be sad. I knew I would wake up in the morning, and be able to move on, but I just needed a chance to mourn a little bit. I wasn’t mourning my hair. I really wasn’t. It was more than that. I was mourning my anonymity. I was no longer going to be able to hide what was happening to me. Cancer. People would ask questions. Or stare. Or both. And, I wasn’t sure if I was ready for that. As I looked in the mirror, I looked like a person who had cancer, and I wasn’t sure if I was ready for that either. I wasn’t ready for any of this. But, like it or not, it was happening. All of this was happening. And, tomorrow I would try to find my bright side. I would find a way to face all of it. I knew it would all be okay. For tonight, I was just going to be sad, and for me, that was okay too.
* More of that day: https://thecourseofalife.wordpress.com/2011/10/07/bangs/