I know I have a vain streak. I always like to look presentable – although that’s more to do with feeling good on the inside rather than looking good on the outside. I do it for me and no one else – so I shave my legs every day without fail, I wash and straighten my hair every morning and always start the day with a full face of makeup regardless of what I’m doing and where I’m going. It quite often goes down hill from there, I’m not one for touching up my makeup all day, but I like to start the day feeling good.
So I always knew that chemotherapy induced hair loss would be a big deal for me. My hair pretty much defines how I feel. If I have a good hair day then everything is well with the world. If not then… not so much! A couple of weeks ago the inevitable happened and my hair started falling out. I knew it was coming. My daily leg shavings were already down to a couple of times a week as the hair growth slowed. It was just a matter of time. At first it was just a few too many hairs falling while washing it and then a bit too much coming out in the brush while styling. But just 5 days later it was just getting a bit silly and fairly traumatic. Trying to style my hair after washing it became impossible. The brush was clogged up in no time, I couldn’t blow dry it properly, it felt way too thin and I resorted to wearing my wig over the top for the day. Ad was seriously considering taking out shares in Mr Muscle plug hole unblocker.
It was time. I decided to take control. I have friends that have also been through this too and they had always said that they were relieved when the deed was done. I put my faith in them.
We had a good day that day – Lilly joined us and turned us into a family of 5. She’s an overweight, daft, cross bread (husky retriever probably but I doubt we will ever know for sure) who immediately put light into my family’s eyes.
So in some ways it felt a bit wrong to decide to shave my head that evening. I knew it would put a dampener on things – but then maybe less upsetting following a day of highs rather than lows? I agonised for a while but there really was never going to be a good day for this job and it was hanging over me, the thought of doing it dragging me down. I couldn’t wait any longer.
Ad had agreed to be my hairdresser for the evening. The kids were given complete choice as to how involved they wanted to be – they could take themselves away, watch from the sidelines, yield the clippers. Whatever they wanted was fine by me.
I try not to feel sorry for myself too often. I try not to shed pity tears. One thing I’ve learnt over the years is that things can always be worse. I’ve watched people go through bigger, scarier times than this. The tears I cry for myself usually come from fear – and since the treatment began there are way fewer of those. I also cry for what my family are going through – their pain, fear, disruption, distress. All the things I would give anything to protect them from but can’t. But the head shave was different. I decided that I would shed tears for myself. The kids knew I would be upset and Josh in particular wasn’t sure whether he could handle that and initially chose to be in a different part of the room where he could be close by but not see. But the minute he heard the clippers go on he was there, wanting to be there for me. My brave boy. Abbie was there too, as supportive as always, telling me it would all be fine, and I’d rock a grade 3 buzz cut. There were definitely role reversals going on that evening! She got camera duties – it may sound a bit odd but I wanted this massive moment captured. Ad held the clippers, knowing quite what a huge deal this was for me. We were set.
But not for long. The minute I heard the buzz of the clippers get close I was gone. I legged it. Did a runner. How old am I? All a bit silly but at least we were laughing, as the 3 adults in the room (them) coaxed the child in the room (me) back to the hot seat. I think this was pay back for all the times I sat trying to hold them still at the hairdressers as babies! I thought they may resort to chocolate button bribes but I womaned up and skulked back to the chair with my tail between my legs.
So then it began. As soon as the first locks fell I knew there was no going back.
Strangely we were laughing a lot. I wasn’t expecting that – “Mum, I’m eating your hair”, “Mum, there’s more of your hair on the floor than your head”, “Mum, you have shorter hair than Dad”. At one point Abbie nearly lost her hair too as she hugged me and Ad got confused with whose hair belonged to who!
The tears did flow. I did shed pity tears. But my incredibly strong, brave family totally got me through. I didn’t want to look at myself, look at the photos, didn’t want to see what cancer had reduced me to. But it wasn’t so bad with the children holding my hand.
In fact, within half an hour, all tears and self pity had dried away and I was starting to see the positives in this. My morning routine will now be shower, makeup and wig and should at least halve the time it takes to get ready. And think about the cash I will save on hair products and hairdresser appointments (more funds for bags, clothes and shoes!). I also fancy having a selection of wigs to choose from – mix it up a bit and confuse the hell out of everyone. And I’ve also got some bald related gifts to rock now too – tshirt from my husband (not sure I’m buying the slogan yet though!), scarves & beanie hats from friends plus a “wonderful” knitted hat beard combo from a friend with her very own wonderful sense of humour!
I doubt I’m going to flaunt my bald (well stubbly at the moment) head. I’m not even sure I can face people in anything but a wig at the moment. Which has made me think long and hard about adding a photo of the new me. But I feel I’d be doing this half baked if I wimped out. So scroll past quickly now if you don’t want to see!
So that’s it. Another step on this mountain climbed. Emotional – definitely. Liberating – hopefully. Traumatising – no. In fact the memory I take away from this was holding my children once the deed was done and telling them how proud I was of them for how fabulous, grown up and supportive they’d been. Abbie whispered in my ear “But Mum, All I ever do is try to be like you”. Heartwarming . ❤❤❤❤❤❤❤❤