So when you lose it all to Chemotherapy where is your glory then? I found solace in two popular sayings. Beauty is in the eye of the beholder and the eyes are the windows to the soul. I was the kind of woman who enjoyed fixing (insert Southern accent here) my hair, learning new ways to braid, and the attention that being a blond afforded me. I did not enjoy the dumb blond jokes but I'd just laugh then kill the jokester with my brain (reference to Firefly).
My husband also had long, golden locks. His hair was part of his personality. He'd grown it out in college and kept it that way for over twenty years. I loved running my fingers through it, playing with it on long trips in the car, and burying my face in it while we slept. Just for the record. He doesn't like dumb blond jokes either and his brain is more powerful than mine.
|Back when we first started dating|
After we found out I needed chemotherapy, I sought advice from other cancer survivors at The Caring Place. They said, "Your hair will fall out within fourteen days of starting treatment." I thanked them for the information and thought, "Yeah, right. No one can pin point it that closely."
Just in case they were correct, I devised a plan. Before it came out in clumps, I'd go to my hair stylist and dear friend, Rocio. I would ask her to shave my head. This seemed much less traumatic than dealing with large clumps of shoulder length hair falling out in the shower. To my surprise, in an act of loving solidarity, Todd announced that he'd shave his head too. If I had the courage to be completely bald so did he.
I remember attempting to talk him out of it. He held fast. One thing about my husband, when he makes up his mind don't bother trying to change it, especially when it comes to loving me in the best way he knows how.
When we showed up at My Salon, Rocio's smile faded. I'd already told her of my plan when I visited her in August and we'd taken the first drastic step. I wanted to know what it felt like to have dark red tresses. Against her best judgement, Rocio colored my hair. If I didn't like it, so what? It would fall out soon anyway. So for a short time I pretended to be Jessica Rabbit.
The day came for the final step. Rocio hugged me and led me to her chair. She held the electric razor near my head then pulled it back. My beautiful Peruvian friend began to cry. "I can't do it. Let me do what I want. Come back when you can't take no more. I shave it then. Please."
I agreed. She trimmed and trimmed, leaving me with a very stylish, very short pixie cut. She felt better and it in a strange way I did too. It was as if she were the first on the scene of my car crash and wanted to help but felt paralyzed by the severity of my injuries. Afraid to perform CPR, she offered the next best thing. A 911 call and some damn good hand holding until the ambulance arrived.
Rocio motioned for Todd to take my place in her chair. She asked one more time if he was sure. "It's going to be big change but you have nice shape head."
He assured her this minor step was nothing compared to what lay ahead of me. More importantly, he needed to show me that he was "all in". She proceeded to take it "all off". I've never loved him more.
|A precious moment|
Exactly fourteen days after my first Chemotherapy treatment, the majority of my hair fell out. Seeing my hands covered in short red hair was still traumatic but I imagine less so than it could have been. I went back to Rocio and she shaved my head. No tears. The time had come. She told me I had beautiful eyes and that I was lucky to have "Nice shape head too."
"When this is over, I work with your new hair. We make it gorgeous, huh?" She hugged me. Rocio always hugs me when I leave her salon.
I usually wore a scarf when I went out. I found many places to buy lovely scarves and bandannas. I learned fun ways to twist them. I only had one epic fail with my attempt at a turban. Yikes. Unfortunately our friend, Mickey has a picture or two on his camera. In my defense, I thought it looked good. Not.
At home I went au natural most of the time. My family didn't seem to care and the kids knew better than to say anything, even to joke about my shiny head, in front of Todd. He was and is my greatest fan. What more could a woman want?
He loved my bold look ( I do mean bold not bald) so much (at least, he made me believe he did) that two months after Chemo ended he urged me to put on a sexy dress and leave the scarf at home. He wanted to take me out for Valentine's Day and show the world what a gorgeous, strong woman he had as a partner.
|Reminds me of Annie Lenox in the 80's|
I thank him for that. Beauty is in the eye of the beholder. I'm very lucky to be with a man who, even when I was at my weakest, made me feel like the most beautiful woman in the world.
My hair grew back very slowly. Yours will grow back too. If you can, don't dwell on its loss and don't pine for it to come back. Instead, take the opportunity to start over. Your bald head is a clean slate, of sorts. Do your best to enjoy your new hair in all it's awkward stages. There will be many. Try new cuts, new colors, new styles. Hold your head high and smile if a stranger stares for a moment too long. It's okay. Your eyes will light up the room and they will see the real you.
This is Todd and I a few months ago with our daughter before prom. I'm still evolving, still playing with the new me.
|Taken at the indoor garden at the Bellagio|
I wish for you to have a Todd in your life to remind you that beauty (with or without hair) begins in your soul and radiates through your eyes for all the world to see....and they will see. I promise.