The Path to Baldness.

My journey through the cancer seas

“There is a hair on your forehead.” I went to brush it away, thinking it was one of the endless cat hairs that he has been shedding, only to catch a tuft of my hair in the process. And it came away in my hand. No fanfare, just a quiet sigh of letting go as the hairs loosed themselves into my fingers. I crashed into emotional shock, waves of tears welled up and rolled down my cheeks as my dear friend held my hand. I cannot tell you how grateful I am to have had my long unruly locks shaved. The whole process comes into sharp focus now and I understand in a wholly experiential way that I stepped in front of myself to take the blow by choosing to cut off my hair.

The reality of a situation and our perceived idea of it are all too often gulfs apart. This is my experience of life. And I have to trust that the practical realist in me knows a thing or two about the impact of events. Not necessarily in a heavy way, but reality is weighty and gritty in its processes. Anyhow, that part of me knew and took the lead in carrying out the plans to minimise the impact such a moment was going to have. My God I am grateful for that side of me.

The hair is shedding now, moulting even. I'm resisting the urge to speed up the process, after all its a bald head that awaits and possibly a hairless body for a while. Less hair than a baby. Its taken a day or two to catch my breath in it all. The lovely gathering that I go to on Zoom was amazing, has been amazing the whole time of this journey. They all listened to me sharing, weeping and I felt calmer in the witnessing. No judgment, just love. As has been the case from friends all over the world. And my family. I can do this bit with your help. I can, I have too. I cant turn back now, I’ve committed and I need you all more than ever. This is the longest and the most challenging part of this treatment story this chemo. For now I am putting down this blog until I’m further along the hair loss process and can share more.

Well today is the day to continue this blog. I’m looking down at the keyboard at my short garish red nails and I don’t recognise my hands. I have never been a nail polish kind of girl, more of a proverbial tom boy. The endless dresses of childhood were smeared in mud, generally an hour after putting on. And my favourite toy was a red Tonka truck, which sat pride of place in my childhood room above the pile of ridiculous Cindy dolls, whose hair I had mercilessly cut off. I am struck by that image as I write now. And struck by the necessity of wearing nail polish which covers the decimation of chemo. It works on all fast growing cells, so yeah nails are included, cover them or watch them go black.

Regards my hair, that other fast growing aspect of my body, I am now in the Mohican stage. A dear friend asked how it was going with my hair and I explained it was falling out from the sides up. She replied, more of a Mohican than a Benedictine monk then! I guess so, and it fits for my temperament right now. Feisty, raw and about as honest as it gets. Each day I wear a cap or hat or scarf, that takes some getting used to especially in the summer heat, well that’s when it comes to England’s shores! Its as much to keep my dignity as it is to keep the hair flat to my head. Otherwise it bloody hurts if it gets lifted.

I shower each night and am coming to a more amused place when I see the shedding hairs hit the shower floor. Ok, sometimes I am amused, sometimes I am sad and wondering if I can trust that it will indeed grow back. A gradual shedding. That is how my hair is leaving me. Slowly, gently, day by day. I pat on the conditioner to the remaining hair and rinse it gently off. I wipe the mirror and observe myself, so alien, so changed, and still so me. I have a ritual of looking into my eyes and engaging and making sure I let myself know how much I love myself. Corny and new age I know, but effective. The bald bits feel soft, like a babies head, the top feels dry and spent. A metaphor for my life then, floating someplace between the soft and the spent right now.

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