Yup, it happened. I said goodbye to my long, thick, sometimes shiny, almost always frizzy hair.
It’s been almost three weeks since “the shave” and my hair has thinned out a lot, creating fresh bald spots. Currently, Zach, who shaved his hair as well, has more hair on his head than I do. Hell, Quincy has more hair on one paw than I do.
Sometimes I loved my hair. Sometimes I hated it. AH PAST TENSE, SHUDDER. I mean, besides Beyonce, most of us ladies have this really messed up relationship with our hair. It’s what makes us feel feminine, but it’s also a time suck. We love the glamorous feeling that comes with a blowout, but when we do it ourselves we get annoyed, hot, and if you don’t have Michelle Obama arms – then you’re in for it.
It’s our best and our worst accessory. It makes our day or ruins our self-esteem.
It happened January 29th. The week before, my hair had been oilier than ever and it was starting to fall out. By Saturday, I was leaving hair behind like I was lost in a forest and needed to find my way back home via my trail of tresses. I had to keep my hair in a low bun to lessen the mess and my scalp was so freaking sensitive. It was painful and annoying to have hair. So, I texted a magical human and beautiful friend, Olga that Sunday. She brought her equally beautiful man, a camera, and clippers. I stepped into Zachy’s barbershop and he went to work on my head, while Olga documented the whole experience. She freaking killed it with these pictures. RIGHT?!
Okay, so here’s the thing. My hair had been a nuisance. Sure. But shaving it was accepting this new role of what people expect a cancer patient to look like. I felt like I was now shoving my cancer in people’s faces. And also – VANITY. As a woman, I’ve fallen back on my hair often. Now I had nothing. I was relying solely on my face, which let’s be honest, is mostly just eyeballs and eyebrows. The latter of which I might be losing shortly anyway. So yeah, my mind was in a shaky place, but hey, that’s what cancer is all about!
I feel okay now. I don’t mind the stares I get at red lights. Trips to the supermarket are always brief due to my immunosuppression so I barely notice the looks I get. Kids seem confused by it, but it’s the sad eyes I get from adults that make me uncomfortable.
In addition to a mostly bald head, I have the darkest under eye bags I’ve ever had. The skin on my right hand is darker and drier. I lose feeling on the tips of those fingers or just feel weird tingles on my nails beds (it’s called neuropathy). I think I’m even losing nostril hair. Isn’t that weird? Then there’s my wolf-like sense of smell. Not something I’m entirely thrilled with since I’m nauseous most of the time and smells aren’t typically soothing.
The vanity stuff is hard. But what’s even worse, is feeling like my brain is slipping away. I don’t remember simple things, yet I used to have the memory of an elephant. I lose my train of thought, forget certain words, and I’m not super confident in expressing myself. I could barely describe my symptoms to my onc the other day. I’ve had trouble writing this blog. All of that mixed with this insane fatigue is why I haven’t written in a bit. All my brain power has been poured into my job that I haven’t had much left over to collect my thoughts and write them down.
I’m taking a leave of absence from work soon, so I hope I can get a little piece of myself back. Because right now, I don’t feel very much like me.
We got this, fam.
P.S. – I was cleared of a pulmonary embolism after a CT scan the other day. So. freaking. relieved. My breathing has been a lot better. I’m hoping it stays that way. 4th treatment, here I come.