Last night was cathartic. I had been anticipating my second haircut for what seemed like weeks. It had been quite some time since I had a pixie cut. My long, curly hair had been my signature for 18 plus years and part of my self-worth. Of course I understand it’s not me as a whole, mind you, but I will admit to some vanity when it came to my hair. This haircut was daunting to say the least. My inner dialogue debated what I already knew as almost certain. I argued nonetheless, clinging to that small percentage of ‘what if’.
Me: “Honestly, I haven’t lost much real hair so why do it”?
Truth: “Lyane, a major side effect of chemo is hair loss”.
Me: “Well maybe I won’t lose it. I’ve broken so many other rules and I hardly feel any side effects right now.”
Truth: “Lyane, chemotherapy drugs are powerful medications that attack rapidly growing cancer cells. Unfortunately, these drugs also attack other rapidly growing cells in your body — including those in your hair roots”.
Me: “Well my body is in rebellion again and I’m breaking these odds too”!
I felt defiant and headstrong. My friends and my original plan ultimately fell through due to some scheduling conflicts and I was silently relieved. I realized I just wasn’t mentally ready for this step and I was not easily letting go. I liked my current hair style. It was familiar. I could look like ‘myself’ for Quinn’s graduation in a few days. Bonus!
My son’s graduation and re-scheduled hair cut landed on the same day. As I shower and wash my hair that morning, clumps fall out... oh shit! Standing in the shower, I stare at a small pile in my hand, transfixed. I am suddenly thankful I still have so much. I survey the rest of my body and realize I am losing it everywhere. I smile thinking it was the most comfortable bikini wax I’ve ever had! Yes! I finish my shower and continue my preparatory routine. I am now acutely aware of my hair loss and am seeing it everywhere, the shower, the sink top, my bed, the floor. I collect the hair my body has discarded and make peace with the ‘inevitable’. In typical fashion, I flip the situation in my head, focusing on the positive, the chemo is working. The afternoon passes rapidly and I head to Claremont to see all my girls. Tonia informs me one of my friends, Vicki, is coming to visit and she would be the one to cut my hair. Perfect! Things continue to fall into place. Another celebratory haircut with a different set of friends, wanting to support me on this journey. I am grateful they are able to share a part in hitting these milestones! It’s heart-warming. The love and support from my different circles of friends has been no less than overwhelming! The shears come out and I’m dying it crimson red. I have to thank Vicki for the wonderful job completed via car headlights so we didn’t make a mess on the floor. Voila! Short hair and a new version of me. A redesign. I admire my reflection in the mirror and laugh at my previous anxiety. I realize how much I look like my mom. My strong, funny, sassy mother is back! And with that I feel closer to her, like she’s here with me again, healthy and vibrant. Emotions flood in again, but this time it is nostalgia. I pick up with my inner dialogue. “I miss you mom and I wish you were here”. These are times when a mothers love and comfort are most needed. I allow the momentary reflection and suspension of reality before I force myself back to the present. At least I get to imagine her when I look in the mirror. I’ll accept that. With that realization, I check my emotions once again, tucking them away in the box in the corner of my mind, and rejoin my friends.