I never in my life thought I would type the following sentence and have it be true: Last night I shaved my head.
On Thursday, my hair started to shed. Slow at first, and then faster. I couldn’t resist pulling at it. Maybe I’m making it all up, and it’s not actually coming out. And then I would pull ever so lightly at a clump of hair, and it would easily slide off right into my hands, proving that yes, indeed, it was coming out, and fast. Yesterday after pulling out a decent chunk, I decided it was enough. Time to pull a Fantine and cut it all off. It was tempting to try to keep it as long as possible, especially since I have (had) so much hair. But I needed to get rid of it. To take control. To stop thinking about my hair falling out and start thinking about something else.
My little sister starting cutting and my husband commenced buzzing. I watched the entire thing in the mirror, which in retrospect, may have not been the best idea. Everything started off fine. I’m shaving my head, no big deal, people do this. We put on some upbeat music and made some jokes and laughed a bit. But then, as we got closer and I started to see the actual skin on my head, I lost it and entered full mental case meltdown territory. I don’t look like me. My hair is all over the floor. I am 28 years old. I have cancer. There is nothing OK about this situation.
After a brief but necessary pause and some major “you are not your hair” pep talk from my sister and a few deep breaths, we got on with it and powered through. No more tears. Just one more thing that needed to get done, so I got it done. A big check mark on the to-do list.
Everyone said the hair loss would be rough, and they were right. Actually harder than I had thought. I am a pretty confident person and it is not really a vanity issue, although I would be lying if I said I don’t miss my long, beautiful hair. But that’s not the hardest part. What’s difficult is looking in the mirror or catching my reflection, and being reminded that I am sick. That this is real. Before, I could try my best to ignore it. But now, it’s out there for all the world to see. For me to see. No escaping or denying it. This is happening.
So what is there to do, but wait for the tiny pieces that are left to fall to the ground, and move on to the next challenge, after dealing with this one in my own way, on my own terms.
My sister said I look tough and like someone she would never want to mess with. Normally I would never be able to intimidate a soul, so the idea that I maybe could, is kind of cool. My small silver lining for the day.
And here I am today. No wig or scarf. Just me… minus a few hairs.