Tuesday, August 20, 2013

Learning to accept change

When I lost my hair in June, it was one of the most difficult times in my life.  I felt ugly and angry and scared and extremely sad.  I didn’t want anyone to see me without hair.   When your hair comes out, it’s a process.  It doesn’t all come out at once.  Each day, I had less and less hair.  Finally, it looked so awful, I knew I had to have it shaved. 

Having David see me with just a few hairs here and there on my head was so traumatic. I cried and cried. What if he didn't love me anymore? What if he was disgusted when he looked at me. I know that David loves me, but at that moment, it seemed impossible that his love would continue once he saw me without hair. I couldn't look at myself in the mirror, but David was so kind and gentle and caring, and just held me, and told me it was fine, and I shouldn’t worry. As he always tells me, "No big deal."  

He said he would shave it for me, which he did. He did it so gently, and he even made me laugh a couple times.   He told me that I had a narrow, horizontal strip of hair that was still growing. It was at the lowest area on the back of my head, and it was still growing because it was outside the target zone of the radiation treatments. Dave told me that I had a start on a good rattail. That made me laugh.

At home, I always wore a cap, and when we went out, I always wore my wig.  Sometimes David told me not to wear my cap at home.  I was embarrassed, but he was kind, and I gradually got past my embarrassment.  

The wig I had was the same color as my hair, but I hated the texture of the hair.  It was so scratchy and tangled easily, but everyone who saw me wearing it said it looked just like my hair.  Even my friends, who didn’t know all my hair had come out, told me how much they loved my “new hairstyle.”  They were shocked when I told them it was a wig.

I wanted another wig, but didn’t have the courage to go wig shopping.  I’m not a shy person, so it was surprising to me that I was so uncomfortable with this situation.  

I finally picked a wig on Amazon that I thought looked like my color and was a nice style.  When it arrived, I was so excited that the hair was so soft and shiny.  The only problem was it was too long, and the style was not as nice as it had appeared online.

I took it to a local salon to see if they could trim it and make a few style adjustments.  They said they could, but I would have to be wearing it while they trimmed and styled.  Reluctantly I agreed.  The waiting area was full of people that day.  Hopefully, they wouldn’t pay any attention to me when I got it trimmed.

The appointment started fine, but at one point, the stylist was trying to comb through a part that had tangles in it, and the wig nearly came off.  I was terrified for a moment, but quickly readjusted it on my head.  The stylist was so embarrassed and apologized several times.  I knew she hadn’t meant for that to happen, so I tried to act like it was no big deal, so that she wouldn’t feel bad.  I didn’t look around to see if anyone else had noticed, because I really didn’t want to know.

Finally, it was finished.  It looked nice.  I was just relieved to be done.  By the time I tried it on at home, I realized I had been in too much of a hurry to leave the salon.  It really needed another inch or two trimmed off of it.  I really didn’t want to go back to the salon.

The next morning, Kylia took me to Stewart’s Caring Place in Akron, a place that offers support services for cancer patients and their caregivers.  All of their services are free.  The hospice social worker had told me that they had wigs, and I could get one for free there.

The receptionist showed us to the wig room.  There were about 100 wigs and several boxes of scarves, hats and caps.  I tried on 4 or 5 wigs, most of which made me cringe, and but finally found one that was pretty good. It was close to my hair color, and was a cute style, just a little shorter than the way I usually wore my hair.  

I was ready to leave, but Kylia said that I should try on a wig in a different color than the brown hair that I usually wore.  She pulled out a curly, blonde wig.  

“Oh no!  I’m not wearing that.”  I said.

Kylia answered, “Oh, just try it on for fun.  You don’t have to take it home.”

When she said that, I realized that I wasn’t making this a very fun trip for her or for me, and I was stressing about something that shouldn’t be a big deal.  I tried it on.  And we both laughed so loud.  It was definitely not for me, but that changed the mood.  It became a fun adventure, instead of a traumatic event.  

On the dresser, there was a wig stand with a bright pink wig on it.  It was to stay on the dresser in the wig room as a symbol for breast cancer.  I could try it on, but I wasn’t supposed to take it home.  

“Try it on,” said Kylia.

I hesitated a second, then tried it on.  We laughed even louder than we had at the blonde wig.  Kylia said she wanted to take a picture of me wearing it.  I told her, “No way!”  

“Oh, come on, Mom!  It’s actually cute on you!  I love it!”

I finally agreed to let her take a picture of wearing the pink wig.  Then she took a picture of me with the blonde wig on, and another picture of the one that I was taking home with me.  She said she was going to send them to Dave’s email address.   I rolled my eyes and said, “OK.”

When we got home, Dave said he liked the pink one, and I should make the picture of me, wearing the pink wig, my profile picture on Facebook.  

“Oh no,” I said.

Then he said he had already emailed the pictures to Kelly and his sister, Barbara, and they had already written back that they liked the pink wig.  Finally, I agreed, to post the picture on Facebook, which I did.  Within 2 minutes, it had 4 “Likes.”  I took a deep breath and made it my profile picture, which means it will be shown with everything I post on Facebook.

Kylia and Kari were “over the moon” excited that I posted the picture of me wearing the pink wig.  Dave kept asking me throughout the evening, “Now how many ‘likes’ does it have?”  

The last time I checked, there were 100 “likes” (65 for the regular post of the picture, and 35 for the profile picture.)  The comments ranged from surprised to excited to hilarious.  Really, people are so easily entertained…  

As traumatic as losing my hair was for me, I have finally reached the point where I can face it.  It wasn’t a life and death situation when I lost my hair, but it felt like it.  I know many women breeze through that challenge easily, but for many, including me, that was a very stressful situation.  

I am grateful for my family for being patient with me as I struggled to come to terms with it.  It’s interesting how cancer can turn someone with a good sense of humor into a frightened, angry person, even if only for a short time.  

Life is too short to spend it worrying.  Life is for living, laughing and loving.

1 comment:

  1. I love your pink hair! And your brown hair! And when you wear a cap! And when you don't! You are always beautiful Mom