The Hair Follies

I’m really torn about this whole process—I hate using the word ‘survivor’ re: cancer. So many other people have to endure debilitating conditions every day, year after year, and their lives are such a struggle!!  We endure short-term treatment, and for the most part continue to live on relatively carefree. Those people would gladly sacrifice their hair if they could trade with us! Does our perspective make us all seem incredibly vain?

We live in a society in which a mole, crooked teeth or reddened skin is embarrassing and affects our self-esteem. Don’t we try to teach girls that self-esteem comes from what we do and who we are, rather than how we look? Are we just “talking the talk”? Do we not have more important issues to concentrate on? What happened to “beauty is only skin deep”?

That being said, I know we all worry about how this very obvious sign of health and beauty affects how we are perceived within old and new relationships—platonic and otherwise. Women accept me as I am—I have made several new friends since treatment—but am/are I/we worried about how men look at us?

To be perfectly honest, as a newly single woman, the answer would be a resounding “YES”!! If I wear a wig, I wonder, how do I tell someone I don’t have hair? If I don’t wear it, will I ever get a date again?

Does this angst surface because this breast cancer thing usually happens at a time when our bodies and faces are degenerating naturally and we feel vulnerable to our lost youth and the comparison to those younger, firmer, prettier and, well—more intact?

The cancer treatment speeds up that process tenfold and the medications we must take results in side effects our grandmothers may never have experienced!! How would we feel now if nature had just been allowed to take its course without a cancer detour?

I am still not sure—even if it was widely known that some patients’ hair would not grow back—that it should be a deciding factor for treatment. The body-altering surgery we endured is accepted without question. I guess the difference is that no one can see it.

I had such a dire diagnosis, I’m not sure I would go back and change anything. If sacrificing some hair keeps me alive, then so be it. I guess the big question is, “The chemo made me bald, but is it working?”

I’m 54, but look older thanks to the ravages of chemo, have little hair and can hardly move some days due to my medication. It’s difficult to realize that all this might be for naught. I am trying to live what could be the last few years of my life concentrating on important, rather than superficial things. Where is the hair issue on that spectrum…..???


2 thoughts on “The Hair Follies

  1. I know the feeling! I have always considered myself to be a tough lady, but the chemo made me realize that I am really a pantywaist! Chemo was tough, but I have often thought how unfair it is that not only have I (and others!) endured the ravages of chemo, but we also now have to face the realization every day that our hair loss is permanent. To make matters worse, the fear of recurrence is as real as the hair loss. And, sadly there is no cure for fear either.

  2. I recently got a nice compliment from a friend. It’s harder for me to accept compliments these days. I know you understand. I made my friend smile when I said I ‘dismantled’ myself at the end of the day. But, like I said, I know you understand. Remove the wig, boobs, wash off the drawn-on eyebrows and then sadly see the ‘real’ you, the new real you, the new real android you. The hardest part is knowing that this new reality is the not temporary. Permanent is a difficult reality. I’m not bitter, just kinda sad – oh, and mad as hell! 🙂

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