Losing your hair to cancer
My hair didn’t dramatically fall out. Both times it took its sweet ass time and gradually fell. Counting the lost hairs on my pillow became my morning ritual and running my hands through my hair was like a game of pick up sticks. I tried to ignore it and put a ban on brushing, washing and exposing my head to anything more than a gentle breeze but eventually I realised it was just drawing out the heartache. I had to let it go.
I remember being so worried about how I would keep it covered up. The thought of letting people see my bare exposed head made me feel beyond uncomfortable. It was like my lockless noggin had suddenly become more indecent than the inside spread of a Playboy magazine.
Both times I did the shave I was surrounded by my girl gang. There was music, laughter, tears and bubbly in everyone’s hands. The first time my gutsy friend Gin shaved her head with me. (Man, I love that girl!) She casually picked up the clippers and just started stripping off her long black hair like she was peeling a cheese stringer snack. Why the hell was I so upset when she was choosing to take hers off!? It meant the spotlight was shared and we forgot for a moment just what this event really meant.
The second time I cried for different reasons. Not because I was worried I might have a misshapen head (thank god I don’t!), or because I wouldn’t feel like me without hair. More so because I had flunked chemo class 101 and I was being stripped of my healthy exterior again.
I'd say I’m a pretty confident girl, but when you’re follicley challenged, walking into a packed Melbourne cafe, cruising down the cereal aisle or long waits at VIC Roads suddenly become anxiety inducing exercises. Everyday interactions with other people require more courage and energy because without hair, you’re the odd one out. On a good day, when I'd nailed a turban this was totally manageable. However on a bad day, I desperately wanted to blend in and pay for my Weet-bix without turning heads.
I owe a lot to my friends and family that got me through cancer #1 and #2.
I had poems, pretty pictures, parcels in the post, manicures during chemo, a friend driven taxi service, chefs, walking buddies, surprise parties, a whole church praying for me, retreat days, and a constant stream of visitors. It was this this support that got me through some pretty shitty patches of life.
They were all little acts of love that let me know I was not alone while riding the C train.
Today I have released the Turban Together pack as a way that you can help your cancer warrior friends feel supported too.
The more people that wear the scarf, with or without hair, the less foreign it feels when you’re wearing one to protect a bald noggin.
So if you know someone going through the shit show that is cancer, rally your friends, pop open the bubbles, and get turbanning together. Don’t let her wear the scarf alone.