Back when I started off this cancer endeavor, my hair was wonderfully thick and had never been chemically treated. So as my hair slowly thinned through weeks of chemo, I was able to compensate, a fact that led to my last braggy entry. Just two fateful days after I posted it, I found myself asking, “Is there a bald spot appearing on the crown of my head? ”
To check, I carefully inspected my head in all my house’s mirrors using the different lighting conditions they each
reflected. I took selfies (is this mainstream lingo yet?) of my head with my phone. I philosophized. “Even if I make it to my next round of chemo with hair, I’ll just become bald anyway. At most, I’ll buy myself seven or eight weeks of hairiness. Is it worth it?,” I asked myself.
I also thought of this chick. I don’t know if you have to be a dork to recognize where she’s from, but I am definitely a dork and loved, loved, LOVED Star Trek in my pre-adolescence. This bald woman is from the first Star Trek movie–the one where we were reunited with Captain Kirk (or was he already Admiral Kirk?), Spock, etc. I don’t remember her name but I learned very young that being bald doesn’t mean you can’t be hot.
At some point, all of my picture-taking, inspecting, and philosophizing boiled down to a very basic question.
So this is what happened:
As my husband’s barber for the past several years, I was up to the task. I took the clippers and shaved it all off without consulting anyone. And when the deed was done, I asked myself, “What the hell did I just do?”
Seeing myself without hair was shocking. Suddenly the whole world could simply glance at me and see that I have cancer, and that feeling of vulnerability was profound and unexpected. I kind of panicked. Before my husband came home, I looked up YouTube tutorials for tying head scarves. I called a local salon that specializes in wigs for people with hair loss, made an appointment, and ordered a wig.
For the next several days, I felt completely weirded out in public. I felt like everyone was looking at me as a cancer victim, and I hated the feeling.
Then, as I waited for the wig, I became more and more comfortable with my lack of hair. In fact, I started to embrace it. And as I waited, I thought long and hard about the symbolism of the wig.
Wigs are not that comfortable. They’re kind of itchy. They feel weird on your head. So why do women wear them? Is it for their own psychic comfort or for the comfort of others? Why are women uncomfortable without hair in the first place? Just because they don’t look “feminine”? Isn’t that kind of messed up? I am the one with the cancer and I am the one who is uncomfortable. I should be comforted. If others are uncomfortable by my bald-ish head and what it represents, that is their problem to address.*
So when my wig arrived a week after I ordered it, I dutifully went in to have it styled to accentuate my features. The wig itself is pretty darn good. It looks like real hair even though it isn’t. But I’m not going to wear it. I did, however, find one great use for it:
*I say all of this with the big huge disclaimer that my opinion is just one of myriad ways to look at the wig issue. Others have their own compelling and personal reasons when deciding to don it or diss it.