Tuesday, November 8, 2016

Bald Woman

I know what you did.

You shaved your head. 

Because chemo causes your hair to fall out. The meds the docs are using to save your life cause fast growing cells to die quickly. Our hair grows pretty quickly, so loosing it is the result. And it sucks.

Every time you ran your hand through your hair, when you pulled your hand away, your own hair is entwined in your fingers.

And you got sad. I remember that my heart would skip a beat when I had a bunch of hair in my hand. Because the reality would set in, and my inner voice would whisper cancer.

I used to let my long hair fly out the window, on sunny spring days. I'd envision birds finding it and bringing it back to their tree to weave intricately between sticks, creating a nest. Do they weave in the Fibonacci sequence? my inner voice would ask. Always forgetting to look it up when I got home.

And sometimes I would cry when my hair would fly out the window. Sadness. Relief. Fuck you cancer. I hate you. I am not in control of my body. 

Breathe. It's only hair.

SHAVE IT! I declared.

So I did.

Well, Jackie did it, actually. Because she's a goddess in my world.

And JJ was there, too...doin' what she does. Snapping and clicking with her big girl camera. Badassery. Early in my diagnosis, Jen offered to do a photography journal. As a Health Educator, I couldn't say no!

At home. With Randy. On the eve of our 16th wedding anniversary...two days before Mother's Day.

My choice: May 8th. It was the day that worked best for all of us.
The sun was out. It was a beautiful, sunny, spring afternoon.


Click. Click. Click went the camera.

Sit down, cape on...deep breath.... Scared. Nervous. 

And the buzz of the clippers.

Here we go....


Mohawk first! RIGHT? Because it's what you do! Have fun with this shit!

And it's gone. All of it. In a pile at my feet. Just like that. Less than 5 minutes.



Relief. Fear. Freeing. Tears. Liberating. Sadness. Reality. I am a Bald Woman. I have breast cancer.


Breathe. It's only hair. 

Remember to breathe, ok?

Through all of it. It's a process. All of it is a process. And it's only hair. It's gonna grow back. The important thing is that you are going through a process. You will survive this. Your hair does not define you.

Yes, Nathan shaved his head. He dug deep and let Jackie shave his head. It wasn't the first time she'd done it; but it was spontaneous for him, and people on the autism spectrum have a hard time with spontaneity.


Isaac chose to not shave his head. Seeing me bald wasn't something he was really prepared for. None of us were, really, but for whatever reason, Isaac was super uncomfortable with it.

I suppose when you're nearing the end of kindergarten and celebrated your sixth birthday only seven days before, your reality involves your mother having a full head of hair.

I remember he hid, and we all spent time trying to find him. Did he go out to the main road? Did he go to into the woods?

Jackie found him. She was headed towards the back part of our property, where the boys go sometimes to hike. She turned around, the sun shining on her beautiful red curls, and spotted him. Up against the house, in the back yard.

I ran. I had to instantly be a mom, and comfort my child after I just shaved my head because of FUCKING CANCER....

Thank you JJ for capturing these moments. You are an artist. I love you.

So...yeah...me being bald was kinda rough on I's at first. It surprised me: I thought Nathan would've had a harder time, because in Autism Land, we have a harder time adjusting to change. But he was much more accepting of my difference than Isaac was. And now, knowing what I have learned about my kids as they watched me go through both chemotherapy and radiation, I understand why they each chose what they did regarding their own hair that day. Your kids may not have responded the way you anticipated. Eventually, they'll learn to deal with you being a bald woman. And remember, your hair does not define you. It's only hair.

And you're gonna find your groove. Maybe you'll wear a wig. The American Cancer Society gives away free wigs. 

OH! And you need to contact Good Wishes! They are AWESOME!!! And they're just across the Sound! Hooray for Washington State!!! Good Wishes makes amazing headscarves for men, women, and children.

Maybe you'll wear 'do rags. My Auntie Betsy made some amazing 'do rags for my Auntie Carol when she went through breast cancer, and when I was diagnosed, Carol mailed them to me. I asked her if she wanted me to return them when I was finished using them. She immediately and selflessly said "no, pass them to the next girl."

I didn't know it would be you. I didn't know it would be so soon.

We never know.

And so, my dear friend, my advice to you, as a woman is to take this as it comes.

You are beautiful.
All my love always,