Sunday, April 14, 2013

Let's Talk About Hair: I Lost My Hair in NYC

Photo Credit: Hiedi Hays Photography

Let's talk about hair.  You've all seen the picture.  It's great isn't it? There she is, taking the bull by the horns, controlling her destiny, giving cancer the middle finger by shaving off her hair.  Well as we learn in those "celebrities without makeup" sections, photos aren't always what they seem.  

Loosing my hair was a slow process, one I had a lot to time to think about and get used to.  Still, nothing really prepares a woman for losing her hair.  But if it had to go, I am glad it went the way it did. In phases, with love and support and just a few tears.   Check out everythng hair in Return to Health: Hair , Phase One - Short and Sexy, and St. Baldrick's Day. Here is Phase Two.

Phase Two - I Lost My Hair in NYC

I'd done everything I could to keep my hair as long as possible.  I read online to avoid using hair products and to brush your as little as possible.  I ditched the mascara in hopes to keep my eyelashes and stopped plucking my eyebrows.  My eyebrows and eyelashes hung on until the very end before the got chunky but my hair started giving way much sooner.

 After the first round of chemo my scalp started to ache.  It felt like it does when you tie a pony tail too tight and the hair has been slightly pulled over a long period of time.  It hurts all over, which is something no one tells you. I went back to Amanda on a Friday and got my hair cut even shorter.  She said it looked like it wasn't thinning at all.  And then just like that, it started thinning.  Brushing my hair led to tons of hair in the brush.  At the end of each shower I found more and more hair in the drain.

A few days later, on Tuesday, we left for NYC to see A Christmas Story on Broadway.  You might remember it from this post. We had an amazing time, all dressed up and looking sassy.  I tried my best to avoid touching my hair.  Each time I did more and more hair would be in my hand. It was nice to feel pretty one last time.

The next morning, I woke up to my pillow looking like this. 

It was time.  It was going.  Fortunately we were on the same block as the wholesalers who the street vendors buy their hats from.  So I walked down the street to a whole store full of hats at very, very cheap prices. I bought 8 hats and when I got back to the room, cleaned up the hair as best I could, and left a big tip for the cleaning lady.

On the train ride home, I texted Amanda, she said to come right in.  I texted my friend Meaghan and told her I needed her.   She came right over and drove me there.

When I walked into the salon, the only other two customers were two people I rode the school bus with every day growing up.  We exchanged pleasantries and fortunately, their sessions were up before it was my turn.  I just didn't know what to say or even how to speak at that point. 

As I sat in the chair, Amanda told me it would be alright.  Meaghan held my hand and handed me tissues as I cried. Amanda started in the back and the hair fell to the floor clump after clump.  I'd prepared myself, I talked to friends about it, I cried at a Siena game with Kaleigh about it, but I still wasn't completely ready. At this point, I still hadn't told a ton of people and it wasn't "facebook official" which we all know is what makes things true.  Losing my hair made it real, people would know was sick, I would have to accept I was sick.

As Amanda got to the front of my head and it started evening out Meaghan said to me, "You asshole, you even look awesome with no hair!" And the real reason I am an asshole is that was I thinking that same thing too!  So I lost my hair in NYC but I found my confidence to own my illness, to talk about my sickness, and rock my bald head that day in Amsterdam with new and old friends holding my hands, letting me cry, and even calling me an asshole. 
No sign of tears here!

Rocking the bald head!

1 comment:

  1. And as we all take note, I thank you again my dear friend, for your honesty and your willingness to share all of this and more. You are beautiful!