Monday, November 10, 2008

On the Subject of Hair...

When it really comes down to it, I am very vain. I learned this when I lost my hair during my chemotherapy. It bothered me more than losing my breasts believe it or not. I am much more attached to my hair than I ever was to my A cup chest.

The other issue for me is that I am really not that attractive without my hair. Many of you gorgeous women can pull off going bald or simply donning a headscarf. I am not so fortunate. I looked too much like my seventy two year old father. Sorry dad!

My children didn't like seeing me bald either. It reminded them that their mommy was sick. They were scared when I took my wig or hat off. I tried to spare them any more trauma in their young lives. They were only five and seven at the time. It was surprising how much the hair loss affected them. When my son found my wigs in the closet before my hair fell out, I had to deal with his anxiety about my illness and what hair loss represented to him. Bridget had a sense of humor, as usual, and at one point even modeled my wig. Thank goodness for Hannah Montana.

My approach to this dilemna was to wear a wig most of the time I was out of the house and a hat at home. My hair started to fall out on Christmas day of 2007. "Take lots of pictures, dad" I said, " My hair is going to be gone by tomorrow." And sure enough it was.

I felt like my wig gave me a little bit of anonymity from my disease. People who didn't know me didn't know that I had a wig on. I could go to the grocery store without the stares or abashed looks. People who did know me often forgot I was wearing a wig. In fact, I went to a party and friends remarked," Oh, you didn't lose your hair." I was as bald as a newborn baby but my wig looked so much like my real hair you REALLY couldn't tell the difference. I felt a little bit pretty and a little bit normal.

It made me think about how cancer differs from many diseases. When someone has diabetes there is no Scarlet "D" on their chest announcing to the world their condition. We have to deal with other peoples emotional baggage about this disease as we walk around with our bald heads. Personally, I didn't have time for their baggage, I have enough of my own. Maybe it is the Southern girl in me coming out as well, we southerners want to put others at ease.

Having said that, I think it was easier for me to wear my wig. I wanted some dignity and privacy in my life. I wanted people to see that we cancer patients are just like everyone else- dealing with the hand we are dealt. It gave me some power over my situation.

I got my wig on the internet at It was $150.00. My friend Katie and I got on the website and looked at the different wigs. I ordered several; a couple of human hair wigs and a couple of synthetic hair wigs just to see the difference. I found the human hair wigs to be softer and more realistice looking. I sent the other ones back. Then I took one of the two I chose to my hairdresser before my hair fell out( I kept the other as a back up, just in case). She cut it and colored it to look just like mine.
In the spring, I even went skiing in it. I was afraid that it might fall off as I went down the mountain but it stayed in place. Swish, Swoosh, Swish, I even had a little bit of fun thinking about the shocked faces that might appear if my hair were to actually fall off on the slopes.
It is eleven months since my hair fell out and it is taking forever to grow. I wasn't prepared for this. I thought it would come in alot quicker. As Luke and Bridget say," Mom, your hair just keeps getting curlier and not longer." It is true. It is also a different color than it used to be. I look in the mirror and I often do a double take. I guess it makes sense though. I am a different person than I used to be. Maybe my hair is simply the outward sign of the metamorphosis.

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