A Mother and her Two Daughters

05 March 2011

A Tribute To Hair - With or Without It

Yesterday was a mini-celebration of sorts as it became necessary to buy a hairbrush to manage my new short locks.  While the whiskery mane has slowly been growing back, it’s been so darned short, making it easy to manage with only my fingers – until the past several days.  A hairbrush became very much in need.  Yeehaw!   So yesterday I drove to the Walgreens store and painstakingly shopped for a brush.

My new brush is shiny red, a very stunning hairbrush for someone like me.  And as I sat on my sofa last night, I looked back at my entire escapade with hair this past year.

This is how my hair used to look before chemo.  There wasn't anything stunning about it, except that it was mine and I was quite used to it.  Like all women, I complained about it, wish I had somebody else's hair, that is until my hair would be obliterated by Adriamycin, a.k.a. the “red devil."  It only took about two weeks for red devil chemo to do its dirty work on my hair, while cleansing my body of the cancer.

This is a photo taken in my courtyard, the morning my hair really began falling out in big clumps, 20 March 2010.  My dear friend Beth came to my rescue, as she did so many times this past year.  She brought over her “hair scissors” and helped lesson the pain by just cutting the long locks off.  When we finished, she honestly told me she thought I looked younger.  Nice friends say things like that to hair-challenged friends like me.

This was me a few weeks later, with a completely naked head, wearing my pink pajamas from Susan, trying to smile while knowing I look like a freakazoid from another planet. Losing my hair and being bald was a big loss, a very devastating feeling some days.  I think that's especially true when you’re a woman.

This is my first real fancy outing – the Oxford American’s Best of the South Awards Gala.  I was doing my best to feel elegant wearing a black floppy hat on my head, a gift from my friend MaryKay who now lives in China. The hat made me feel like I was wearing fairy wings, but it would be Tim and Morgan Freeman who led me to believe I was the most beautiful girl in the room that night.  We enjoyed our time with him so much, especially a conversation to always be remembered about life and bucket lists . . . "Have you found joy in your life? Has your life brought joy to others? "

I became the perpetual shopper of wigs, never finding what I wanted, never satisfied that I had found the perfect rug to hide the nakedness on my head.

I only had one request to wear a wig, not a hat.  Allyson and my Mom asked me to wear a wig for Allyson's college graduation.  This is me wearing the wig at Mizzou's graduation.  Only a few hours, at a party with Allyson and friends and family, I would totally scare one mom to death because my wig was hanging halfway off my head, and I didn't know it.  I hated that wig! To wear a wig or not to wear a wig is a very personal decision for everyone who goes through this. I simply hated the wigs, felt much more comfortable in the hats.

As time went by, it was the cancer that really weighed on my mind, not the hair loss.  It would be later that I would attempt to have some fun with being bald.  Here I am enjoying my blue beehive hairdo, with many thanks to my crazy friend Gary who adorned me with several funny wigs enjoyed by the girls and me.

In August, I was gently nudged by a dear friend to take off the hats.  He told me I looked healthy without them, that the hats reminded him of the cancer that I had successfully managed to kick its butt.  So I did.  I took off the hats and I never looked back.

The old hair was brown, usually cut at the shoulders.  And it never changed from the time I was a born – always baby fine with very little body. My new hair – well it’s grayish, a much different texture, much thicker; thick enough to have “bed head” which I’ve never had before.

Yesterday I bought a hairbrush, and right now that $5.95 purchase is probably the most special thing I own.  It’s my red wonder brush.

Give me a head with hair, long beautiful hair
Shining, gleaming, streaming, flaxen, waxen.
Give me down to there, hair, shoulder length or longer.
Here baby, there momma, everywhere, daddy, daddy
Hair, flow it, show it
Long as God can grow it, my hair . . .

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