This journey is full of milestones, some are reason to celebrate, most are valleys that dare to dip into a pity party, because they royally suck emotionally. The first is pretty obvious, the diagnosis. Then there’s finding out all the details of your diagnosis and how far your cancer has officially spread. Then the anxiety of starting chemotherapy. Then dealing with the hair loss situation. I have purposely decided to be ahead a step or two, because I didn’t want to be blindsided anymore, I had enough of that when I found out I had cancer in the first place.
A few weeks into my diagnosis, I decided to chop 10 inches off my hair. It took me a bit to get used to the short hair, but I still had my hair so it was much easier to adapt to. I liked not having to deal with my long mane during the summer Texas heat. I didn’t have to worry about brushing it or the tangly mess that always occurred underneath, by my neck.
Then a few weeks later, my hair started falling out. I knew this would happen, but nothing can really prepare you for that emotionally. Again, I chose to shave my ahead earlier than necessary, because I didn’t want to deal with gobs of hair on my pillow or in the shower. It was definitely a harder transition from short hair to a shaved head. I felt like I looked like my brother (which he is very handsome and we’ve always looked a lot alike growing up), but I couldn’t face myself in the mirror. It was so hard to look into the eyes of the person staring back at me. Who is that girl? I wasn’t sure I could even recognize her anymore.
Finding the proper head gear for me is even harder. I still can’t quite figure out what works for me. Going into this, I surely thought I would be a baseball cap kinda cancer patient. But I felt so masculine and hated it. Which is ironic, because I’m really not that girlie, but suddenly I wanted big pretty scarves, earrings, lip gloss, mascara, colorful hats, anything I could find to help me feel like a woman again.
And truth be told on my happy weeks, I feel pretty darn normal. I found myself grappling for that normalcy, with the 4th of July weekend I wanted to enjoy friends and family without stares or pity, I just wanted to have fun with my family and those we loved. Therefore, we went to two different gatherings, I swam, sipped teensy amounts (of carefully selected) alcoholic beverages and yummy foods. I laughed, loved spending time with my girls and hubby with our village.
Nevertheless, late last night I was given yet another reminder and milestone that despite my desperate urge to be “normal” I am anything but. I took a bath and after I washed my head, I looked at my hands and they were covered in hair. I wiped my head again, same thing. Suddenly I felt this compulsive pull to wipe my head until all the hair was gone. At one point, I sat there and just stared at all the hair in my bathtub. Finally, after deciding I couldn’t wallow any longer, I stood up and glanced in the mirror. Pretty certain 90% of my hair had officially fallen out of my head. The reflection I stared at was night and day from the girl who stepped into the bath 30 minutes prior. I went from looking like a hipster Austinite to a cancer patient.
Tears welled up in my eyes as my first thought was I would frighten my daughters if they saw me. Now I look like a cancer patient. I couldn’t get a hat on my head fast enough.
Here I am with another reminder that this is real. My world is forever changed, I feel like a rock formation that gets chipped away every time a storm blows in. It’s also interesting how that seems to happen right after I have settled into my new self. Earlier that day I was singing to KLOVE, wearing my hipster corduroy teal hat, happy and on the way to get my girlies to head to our neighbors. Consequently, I suppose the Devil is behind these threats to push me down the Mt. Everest I am climbing up. If I don’t force my chin above the water, I definitely could see how one can start to lose hope and slip beneath the surface.
This journey is anything but easy, even when you have a village behind you, even when you have a plan, even when you have amazing doctors, even when you are naturally upbeat and positive. So much of this is a mental game.
I am so fearful of slipping into hopelessness that my “cup half full” mindset and big faith in Jesus, figures out a way to fight back. So yes, this milestone may have knocked me down a few feet, but the Devil better be prepared for my backlash because as I said earlier, “I am the storm.”