Hair Today, Bald Tomorrow… Will #MyLeftBoob Rob My #Femininity? Heck No!

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This was taken on the veranda of a hotel in Amsterdam, Netherlands, in 1990. I was 20 and while my hair looked fabulous, I definitely had a “bitchy resting face.” This was one of the few times in my life that I was actually having a “good hair day.”

Society places so much power in people’s hair. So much of our self-esteem, beauty and femininity is wrapped up in “good” or “bad” hair. We see it on TV, in magazines, plastered all over billboards; beautiful women with long, luxurious hair.

In Biblical times, Sampson’s strength came from his long hair and when it was gone he was just an ordinary person. In fairy tales, Rapunzel lets down her long hair so her lover can visit her and rescue her up in the tower. And in Greek mythology, the goddess Athena was jealous of Medusa’s beauty and turned her into a monster with snakes for hair.

In modern times, Sinead O’Connor and Britney Spears were both scorned when they decided to take the shocking “F.U. everyone” step to shave it all off. And soon, I will join them in the “bald is beautiful club.” But I won’t be going bald to make a political or religious statement. My hair is being taken from me, against my will….because of cancer. It is not a choice. But what I can choose is my attitude about it.

With all of the scary, uncomfortable procedures a cancer patient will face, losing their hair is the hardest for many. I was told by a lot of women who went through this that I should cut my hair very short so that when it begins falling out, about two weeks after the first treatment, it will be less traumatic. I haven’t had short hair since I was a teenager.

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This is my niece and I when I was 16 and rocked the bi-level Madonna-wannabe new wave look.

I think my teenage daughter is having a harder time at the thought of me losing my hair than I am. We were looking at pixie undercut hairstyles online recently and she said, “Do you have to get it cut that short? Right before my party?” We’re celebrating her birthday two months early so that I can feel good and we can be “normal” before I begin chemo. I had an appointment scheduled for next Friday but after seeing her reaction to such a huge change, I’ve decided to wait to get my haircut until after her birthday party so I can still look “normal” to her and her friends. She’s 14 and at that age looks are everything.

On April 1st I will begin my first of 8 chemotherapy treatments over the course of 16 weeks for Triple Negative breast cancer. I’m really not looking forward to the “chemo curls” I’ve begun to hear so much about. As I wrote in my last post, I’ve always had a hate-hate relationship with my curls. My hair never feathered like Farrah Fawcett’s in the late 70’s and I could never get that roller skating queen feathered-back look in the 80’s because my hair was always naturally curly.

When I learned I had Triple Negative breast cancer I joined an online support group because I had a hard time finding anyone with this rare type of cancer. Women were  joking about their new “chemo curls.” I had no idea what this was. They explained that chemotherapy attacks the cancer cells and the cells responsible for hair growth which is why it falls out. Chemo damages the hair shaft and the cells that determine hair texture which is what causes the chemo curls.

While breast cancer robs so many women of their breasts, their hair, some of their friends and sadly, sometimes their lives, I refuse to allow cancer to steal my femininity. And it won’t take my life. I am Stage 1 and it has not spread. It will be a hard battle but one I will fight with strength, dignity and sass. There will be some physical changes, including the loss of my hair, but nobody and no disease can steal my fighting spirit, inner strength or femininity.

There are other ways a woman can look and feel feminine besides just having beautiful hair. She can have a smart brain,  a beautiful  spirit and a pure heart. A little makeup, a flouncy skirt and some heels can’t hurt either.

3 Comments (+add yours?)

  1. Dawna Eastman-Gallo
    Mar 12, 2015 @ 15:17:56

    There was just something about this, I think in the NYTimes? About how hair loss was an obvious public sign of illness, usually cancer. Some women are using very cold caps on heads to try to eliminate hair loss…has to start with chemo, though.
    Sorry to hear about the “upgrade” to triple neg.


  2. Trackback: Dumb Things You Should Never Say to a Cancer Patient – #MyLeftBoob Chronicles | Wendipoprock's Wild Ride

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