The necessary sacrifice of hair on the cancer journey.
I decided to sit and write in an attempt to ride some of the waves of panic that are now sweeping in. And feel compelled to elucidate more upon the loosing of ones hair, because it is a fundamental to our image of ourselves, and more personally I am choosing to shave my head pre chemo, which starts next week. I guess in writing this I wanted to get up close and personal into this relationship we have with our hair. I know it may seem very odd to say but, loosing my breast was almost easier, perhaps because a missing boob can be hid under the right clothing, but hair or lack of, is there for all the world to see. This is a defining moment in my journey, because it is the moment I will look like a person going through cancer treatment. The declaration will be out and I am wrestling with a huge urge to hide away after the shave.
Ironically though I feel the urge I know I can’t hide. But something akin to the vulnerability of wearing my heart on my sleeve or head in this case will be with me. Can you do me a favour? And try not to come out with too many platitudes? This is not a choice I am taking lightly, you shave it or watch it come out on your pillow. And though there is an option of a cold cap, that offers no guarantee of hair remaining and it prolongs the process of the chemo treatments by almost another two hours, not to mention the brain freeze sensation. Nope, that is not my path.
Then there is the loss of all my hair and time of the baldness. Somewhere from 2 weeks after the first dose this will occur, though for me I’m not clear if that is round one or round four, as I’m on two different cocktails of chemicals. One lot is for the first three rounds and the other for the final three. Its a guessing game then when the balding will commence for me, but a certainty that it will. And I am told it can be a very sensitive on the scalp and into the hair follicles as its happening, what joy! Kind of fits with the pirate image right? Another good reason this is a journey about becoming a pirate. Wildie one tit, with her arsenal of golf ball size tumours and a scarf covering her shaved head. I kind of want to add an eye patch for good measure, a tricorn hat and maybe a green parrot. Good costume ideas, one has to find some solace in it all.
I have shaved my head twice before, but both times I was glad to do so and my shaved head was a rebellion to perceived ideals of how I should look. I loved it both times and hated the growing out nightmare. These moments were freely made choices. This shave is something I choose to do now to save the chemicals doing it later. It is a huge journey for men and women alike the loosing of hair. How much the visual markers set our opinions hey? I know many of you have asked about wigs and scarfs and yes sure I will be getting one, some, though I’m not certain I will wear them. Its a sensation thing but we will see. So 48hrs to go…
…And… its done. Simple as that. Eight carefully elastic banded sections are all that remain in a bag at the bottom of my bed. My dear friend did the deed with her immaculate gentle precision, thanks to you sister, it was indeed a rite of passage. I didn’t cry. The crying had been done in the lead up. Instead I found a detached curiosity in the process and a sensation of being lifted as the hair fell away. Another dear friend said after that I look like I’m on a pilgrimage about to climb the mountain and I concur, I do feel somehow washed clean and readied. There is a rightness to the extreme sacrifice of ones hair on this particular voyage. Though I miss my long unruly locks, I had forgot that there is nothing quite like the soft velvety feel of a shaved head. Perhaps I will come to enjoy the feel of the bald scalp too.
I will let you know.