I prepared for losing my hair. Bought a wig and loads of cool winter hats which are plentiful in Missoula. What I wasn’t prepared for was the process and my reaction when it happened. A week before my second chemo treatment my skull began to ache. Strangely, I had not been warned about the pain involved when your body is shutting down its hair follicles. It felt like the sensation you feel after releasing a tight ponytail, times 10.
It was a week long process. Each day the amount of hair that would come out in my hands after running my fingers through my hair would increase. Watching T.V. one evening noticibly bigger swatches came out when I tugged. I was entranced and could not stop tugging. I made trips to our bathroom mirror to continue my engrossing new addiction, gathering handfulls. I started wearing a hat to hide my thinning hair. By midmorning of each day-long pharmacy lab I would have a headache.
I came out of the trance and my feelings changed. I was humiliated by my appearance without a hat. I’ll try to explain. After diagnosis, everything that had happened to me was with my consent. I choose to do everything I could with surgery to give me the best chance of avoiding recurrance. I chose to do chemotherapy after tests showed my cancer to be aggressive. I had up to this point felt brave and proud of myself. I did not choose to look like a cancer victim .
As with every other step along the way, with time my feelings lost their intensity. Going to campus every day and being open with my fellow students about chemo therapy side-effects, I found that people did not look at me with pity. My courageous and supportive sister offered to shave her head on the spot to make me feel more comfortable and I knew she meant it. She doesn’t bluff. So did John. I am just too vain to go without a hat or wig.