My hair was pretty much gone after my second infusion of Adriamycin. I was expecting it, so I was mentally prepared to deal with that loss. I did not cry when I went bald. I did not cry when I shaved my head. I did not look hot either, although people insisted I could pull off the “bald look.” I knew I looked like a Martian which now fits me perfectly because I also have a mutated gene. Oh wait! That’s the Xmen I’m trying to compare myself to. Nevermind.
I only have one or two pictures of myself bald, which I took with my dumb-phone (I don’t own a smart phone) so the resolution quality of the picture is lacking. I was serious when I said I didn’t want to call any kind of attention to myself when I was diagnosed, so I refused to allow people to take pictures of me. I knew the pictures were not being taken because I looked nice. They would have been taken because I had cancer and because I was bald. Yeah, yeah, don’t try to convince me otherwise.
People continually told me, “hey you look hot bald!” I went along with it because I didn’t have the energy to argue. “I know I look hot. Don’t need to point it out, girl!”
Then my hair started to grow back, all neat and…super grey. I had to take a picture of that because I honestly thought I was transitioning into an old lady very quickly.
Again, people continued saying to me, “How cute are you? Your short hair makes you look so young!”
Seriously? Most of it was grey! So again I went along with it and allowed the “Big D” (denial) to kick in to make myself feel better. And to make them feel comfortable.
Hair started to grow more normal two months after finishing chemo treatments. I had baby hair, so curly and wavy. I liked it. Others liked it too.
All my life, before this, I had very long hair.
It made me feel very feminine. I liked it better long — until I was diagnosed. I now refuse to let my hair grow long. I feel more comfortable keeping it short— it makes me feel prepared.
Now I wear what I like to call, “my stuck-in-between-two-worlds” haircut:
Even the look on my face has changed. It feels right. I also feel ready. If I ever have to shave my head again, there will be less work to do. At the same time, I also don’t want to be part of my old world. I am not the same person I used to be. This is my new “comfort zone” — to keep my hair short.
But recently, more and more people tell me they miss my long hair. “How come you don’t let it grow?” they say to me. And when I get it cut, they now say, “Oh no, you cut it short again?!”
Were they lying to me when they said I looked hot bald? What about when they said my short hair looked adorable on me? Is it that they are sick of my short hair? Does it remind them of my cancer?
No, I think it’s the old me they miss.
But does it really matter if they were lying or not? It’s not like I had a choice to change anything. I also can’t magically become who I used to be, because I can’t. I am stuck in between two worlds now: the cancer world and the one where denial hangs out. I can’t belong to either world 100%. I need to split myself between them and part of that split involves my physical look, too.
Why, you ask?
Because I refuse to be dropped again, the way I felt when I first heard the words, “you have cancer.” I was not prepared. I was not even warned. Now I know better than to get too used to fantasies. Ok, maybe “hair” is not really a fantasy, but it is not so important to me anymore.
I know I have to live my life, and I am truly trying, everyday. But I also want to get used to the idea that this life won’t last forever – one of my ways to feel “ready,” in addition to keeping my hair short. It’s also the way I cope with my “new normal.” My new comfort zone.
And ironically, a good way to truly live life to the fullest.