Hair today, gone tomorrow
Flaunt it while you got it.
Nothing prepares you for it. You know it's gonna happen, but when it happens, it's not what you think happens. Everyone knows that chemo makes your hair fall out. I'm on 12 weeks of Taxol AKA Attacks-all and they said my hair would fall out after my third or fourth session. I get all kinds of helpful and unhelpful advice. Helpful: "I hear if you wear an ice cap your hair doesn't fall out." Unhelpful: "My aunt had chemo and her hair didn't fall out." I felt like I didn't care. I raided my mom's vintage scarves and had a box full of wigs. My friend Lindsay sent me a beautiful wig that looked like my real hair but BETTER. I shaved my head almost down to nothing in high school. I am PREPARED! I'm READY! BRING ON THE BALDNESS!
If I'm going to cut all my hair off, I might as well have fun with it. I'm going to have the mohawk I've always fantasized about, like the one Anabella Llewyn from Bow Wow Wow had. I'm taking control of this! No one can tell me when my hair is going to fall out because I'm going to cut it off first and then it won't matter. I was recalling the photos my friend Diana sent me of her husband shaving her head when she was going through treatment and how HOT and intimate I thought that was, and how great she looked afterward. I wanna be like her.
Whoa-oa, I'm halfway there
The day I decided to shave my mohawk, I decide to make it a fun, family activity. My niece and her friend are hanging out playing with their Kylie cosmetics, and I ask them to help me with a beauty project. I get the clippers out and they are acting as if it's a trick. I tell them to go for it! They are giggling as the hair falls to the tile and in a few minutes, it is done. They are not punished, waiting for consequences. They are rewarded for cutting my hair off. I head into the shower to get the itchy fuzz off my neck.
I go back to chemo and I feel FIERCE! The nurses comment on my new 'do. It seems to lift everyone up to have a different style and I am not hiding the inevitable. I'm working it! It's chemo #3 and my hair is still intact. My nephew tells me I look like P!nk and I'm feeling pretty invincible. I got this! I'm on top of it!
I'm in bed with Kevin we are watching TV. I pull out the comb and start running it through my remaining hair, Clumps are coming out, What little hair I have is in a free fall. With every pull of the comb it is full of flax. I begin to crumble slowly. "Kevin....", I start to whine, voice wavering. He looks at me and my hand with a comb full of hair. I'm breaking down. "Please...I need to shave my head now! The rest of this has to go. I can't take it! I can't do this! Get rid of it". I envision myself with patches of long and short hair, looking like a pathetic, mangey egg, with no dignity, like a balding man who does not know when to give up and crop it.
In bathroom at midnight, he takes the hair clippers and finishes the job. Looking like Sinead O'Connor is better than looking like a diseased animal. I feel defeated that my amazing effort to rule balding chemo was an epic fail and I am a mere mortal. It wasn't my looks. Oddly enough, I don't really care what it looks like. It was the lack of control. I wanted to control the process and since I made it past chemo #4 with no adverse effects, I thought I would skate through the whole thing. Nope. Not even close.
After accepting that I would not be able to maintain my mohawk throughout my entire fight, Kevin went to work again, and drew crop circles and geometric designs into my head. He wanted to draw a map of the brain, but I have none so that was the end of that. Once I was over the initial shock of uncontrollable hair loss, the chains dropped and I realized anything is possible. I have to let go. It will grow back, I tell myself. It's not that it's gone, it's that there was nothing I could do to stop it. It's the control. I was helpless.
It's winter and I'm in Connecticut and no fringe is going to save me. I have two hand-knit caps, one given to me by Joey Kotfica (as shown) and another knit for me by Stephanie in Colorado. I now have to accept that no matter what I think I should look like, I am a cancer person and i'm looking to look like a bald-ass cancer person. I am not unique but I am not alone, either. Everyone's hair falls out. Everyone has to deal with it. I am not special. I guess everyone thinks they will be different and that's how con artists succeed I'll take a crop circle over a mohawk, but in another week or two, I become the mangey egg I swore I would not be. THIS is the test of my self-image and vanity. I hope I pass.