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.
It’s an odd experience when complete strangers tell me that I’m so brave in reference to having cancer. “Brave” to me, suggests there was a choice. I didn’t “choose” to have cancer. I’m not brave about my hair, I had no choice, and I was somewhat traumatized, especially as chemo had not been part of the original treatment plan. Cancer drugs attack all the fast-growing cells in the body: hair, nails, eyebrows, eyelashes, mouth, and gastrointestinal tract, as well as the cancer cells. (I am thrilled that I still have eyebrows and eyelashes, although they have definitely thinned out.)
And on the other hand, I do believe there’s a higher plan for my life. From that higher perspective, I do believe that we (our soul, spirit, higher self) design the major forks in the road before we enter this lifetime, and then blissfully forget that we did so. And while our little local selves may not remember, we knew what we were doing; and that by design, we are stronger than whatever we may create. And these kinds of obstacles further hone that strength, and prepare us for the next thing.
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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