Fighting cancer is a very personal battle, having no hair makes it very public.
One of the things about losing my hair was not just losing something our culture defines as an attribute of beauty (although that was certainly part of it), but that I suddenly looked like a cancer patient. Not having hair publicly proclaimed what I was going through – I couldn’t hide behind the anonymity of hair and “normal.” Not even from myself, because every time I caught sight of my own reflection, I was also constantly reminded that I was a cancer patient… and I had actually managed to “forget” that fact fairly routinely. My appearance, and my life, mostly looked normal up until Day 14 of my first chemo round, the day my hair started falling out. Five days later, I had none. It amazed me how naked I felt without hair. Very public.
Since I originally wasn’t going to have chemo, I hadn’t given much thought (aside from major relief that I wouldn’t need to face the issue) to losing my hair. When my oncologist strongly suggested I have the chemo to increase my long-term percentage of success, she told me that I would lose it all. Even knowing it, doesn’t keep it from seeming surreal once it starts to happen. Day 14 of my first chemo round, every time I ran my hands through my hair, 2-3 strands would come out. By the next day, it was 6-12 strands every time. We stopped at Great Clips on the way home from my blood draw and I had my medium bob cut into a very short pixie. It didn’t slow down the hair loss, but it was somewhat less unnerving simply because it was shorter. By the end of the week, I looked more like a plucked chicken, and Jess shaved the rest of it off. Although it was traumatic, taking the week with it more gradually, made it a bit easier.
I'm learning more about my art, and from my art, every day. It's not so much a matter of skill or practice... mostly it's a shift in perspective, a way of shaping how I look at and exist in the world.
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