The Bald and the Beautiful

I miss my hair more than my amputated leg.

Let that sentence soak in for a second.

And yes, you did read it correctly.

I never realized how much I truly loved my hair. I have had long hair since I was a little girl. My hair was so long at one point that I would be sitting on it every time I sat down!

I remember the day I shaved all my hair off. I really wish I wouldn’t have done it so soon. I hear all cancer patient say, “Shave it before it starts falling out!” or “Take control of the situation before it takes control of you!” or something along those lines. My hair was definitely falling out when I shaved it, but I would have been much happier with thinning hair than no hair at all. I looked sick and I didn’t like it. That shaved head turned me from Marisa into a cancer patient. My shaved head was the stamp on my forehead that told everyone “This girl has cancer.”

Yes, I wore hats and attempted wigs for a bit, but I hated every second of it. Nothing ever looked right. Everything just looked and felt fake.  I wish I can say that faded away when my hair started growing back but I had to deal with so many awkward stages.

My hair grew in very thick and curly! Luckily, I didn’t get Shirley Temple curls, but it was enough to make it unmanageable for me. At one point I had a mullet. There was a little stage where I had little tufts of hair sticking up on both sides of my ears. My bangs did a whole other thing on its own. I think it ended up taking me about 15 months in order to get (basically) all my hair into one puny ponytail. It may be a silly accomplishment to most but what a momentous day for me.

I really wish I had known about cold capping when I started chemo treatment. I am not sure if it truly works but basically, they put this contraption on your head that is suppose to stop most of the blood flow up towards your scalp thus making the chemo unable to reach your hair follicles? I may have butchered the actual process of cold capping, but it is definitely something along those lines! I would have tried that in a heartbeat! I am assuming my oncologist didn’t mention it because he knew there was probably no way to save my hair.

I think I am at an ok stage with my hair. It currently reaches my shoulders. It’s been a long 16-month hair journey with no haircuts in between! Although I hope to never get cancer again, I think I would be extremely bummed about losing all my hair again. I wouldn’t shave it. I would hold on to every strand of hair until it fell out.  I always found it funny that people always told me I had a nice “head shape” when they saw me during treatment. It was a strange compliment to say that least. And I am sure people genuinely thought that but that compliment never sat well with me. I wouldn’t expect anyone to come up to me and say, “Hey, you looked way better with hair!” but I kind of wish no one would have said anything at all.

I have always struggled with self confidence issues and having no hair was a tough pill for me to swallow. I didn’t feel beautiful. No hat or wig on this earth could have made me felt better. A lot of people have told me that I should keep my hair short because it looks good and even though there are moments where I don’t mind the short hair, I know I wouldn’t want to keep it this way. Long hair is sort of symbolic of my past self. Although I am a different person, I want to get back to the normalcy I felt before I was diagnosed. Long hair won’t help cover up my scars or leg or scans but it can help me feel more confidence in tackling all the things cancer gave me to deal with for the rest of my life.