© 2017 by Lauren Wiatrek - Austin, TX
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Hardly Recognizable

10.11.2017

Here I am four months after all my hair fell out. It was a traumatic scene for me (read about it here) and what felt like it would take forever is now right in front of me. In May, November seemed eons away and now I am inching my way closer to phase two of my cancer journey. Getting used to myself without hair took some time, and now that it is growing back I am out of my comfort zone. The last time I had hair this short I was probably 5-6 months old. And now that my hair is legitimately growing back, I have no idea what to do with it. I have this strange cowlick that makes it look like I have a diagonal faux hawk (and I really don’t think I am one to pull off a faux hawk). It is still too short to do any cute styles, but long enough that I think most people would pass me in the street and not think twice that I am battling cancer.

 

Although if they looked close enough they would notice my eyebrows and eyelashes are not there. As soon as my hair started growing back on my head, my eyebrows and eyelashes fell out… hopefully soon here they will get on the same page.

 

It is strange to take this step forward where I can go out in public and not everyone will assume I am battling cancer. I wasn’t a huge fan of all the looks and stares at first, but eventually I was just a mom living my life, too busy to notice. But it made me wonder, I don’t think I have ever recalled noticing a cancer patient among me in the crowd in the past. And I am sure I was near one, or a few at some point, but maybe they were wearing a wig. Desperately, hiding behind the replica mane to grasp some normalcy amidst the chaos we live day in and day out combatting cancer.

 

Personally, I just couldn’t wrap my head around the wig…I loved it for my bachelorette party over six years ago…I wore a fuchsia bob and rocked it all night long in my emerald green dress and sky-high heels, but that was before my hair fell out, before this crazy train left the station. As I thought more about this wig conundrum, I thought…what if more cancer patients didn’t wear a wig. What if instead of going braless (okay fine, maybe not ha!) we throw off the wig? What if we are determined to truly highlight the reality of facing breast cancer by choosing not to wear a wig. What if instead of hiding behind a wig, we bravely face the public to show how serious breast cancer is. What if instead of trying to keep our focus on the rearview mirror, we throw off our wig and focus on the present and the future…showing people that breast cancer is prevalent and the numbers of our sorority are growing fast.

 

 

Each person is allowed to embrace their own journey, and trust me I fully understand fear in this game. Being diagnosed with breast cancer was the most terrifying news my family and I had ever heard. Ever. Each phase is terrifying. But once, I stepped outside myself I became determined to help others. To create REAL awareness, to help empower women. And I think by removing our wigs we will be creating real change- change by not allowing the public to ignore the rising toll of victims of breast cancer. We will create real awareness by showing how real this problem is, how cancer is determined, it does not care who you are or where you are from, that cancer will pounce the moment you least expect it. We will create real empowerment showing survivors, newly diagnosed or future diagnosed cancer warriors that just because we have breast cancer does not mean we can’t live big, dream big, and refusing to accept mediocrity or bubblegum shields to keep this calamity sugar coated.

 

 

As breast cancer warriors, we can no longer live blissfully ignorant, and as uncomfortable as it may be we have to continue fighting and spreading the word, not just in October but the other 11 months of the year. Because cancer doesn’t vanish once October is over… it just starts knocking on more doors.

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