Monday, February 27, 2012

The Moment of Truth

I recall an incident during my high school years when one of my older sisters agreed to "trim" my hair. I should mention that in the '70s, it was thick, straight and hung down to the middle of my back. By the time I realized her idea of a trim was different from mine it was several inches too late.

I cried for days, but eventually got over it when the layered look came into style. :)

Little did I know at sweet 16 that 41 years later I would face a challenge worth a few tears. However, to prove that I'm tougher than the affliction, I want to share a series of photos taken of me since last Friday, February 24.

Let's begin with one taken of me on February 2, days after my last hair cut.  According to my daughter, I had a nice salt and pepper thing going there. One friend even called is a sassy cut.  :) The point, however, behind getting the pixie cut was that I knew it would soon begin to fall out and thought it would be a less drastic change if it were short to begin with.

The information I received from the Cancer Center indicated that I could expect the hair loss between three and six weeks after the first treatment. Last Friday, February 24, was exactly three week and the first day I noticed the clumps of hair on the shower floor. I won't lie, I said something like, "Oh crap." I don't know, I might have used a few stronger words. At any rate by Saturday morning the situation got worse.  I showered again, lost more hair, and when I blew it dry, I had to vacuum every surface in the bathroom; sink, floor, window sills, tub.  It was truly hideous.

This is what I looked like by Saturday evening (24 hours later).

Impressive, huh? Oh, it gets better. This is when I started to get a bit desperate. I knew two agencies in town provided services to cancer patients, but I had no idea how much red tape would be involved in getting a wig and/or how quickly I could get one. That's when my thoughts wandered off to Monday morning, going to work, and how I'd deal with it. 

Sunday I decided to wear a scarf around the house for no other reason than it was really getting disgusting. One sweep of a comb produced a handful of hair. My shoulders were constantly cover with it, and the prospect of going out on that windy day made me feel like a dandelion seed head fearing the slightest breeze.

This morning I showered as usual, blew dry my hair, then proceeded to vacuum the bathroom. By this time, I had some patches of beautiful scalp starting to show. Naturally, I didn't dare comb it. Instead, I gave my new do and extra bit of hair spray and went to work.

I decided to lay low at work and stay in my office as much as possible. If any of my co-workers noticed my bald spots the few times I ventured into the copy room or down the hall for something, they didn't mention it. Thanks guys! :)

I took the afternoon off to see about getting a wig  so after lunch, Jessica and I went to the Little Red Door.  This organization has been in town for as long as I can remember and depends on donations.  To my relief, I was only asked to fill out a short form after which a very nice lady led us into a room full of wigs that were nicely displayed.  Okay, I have to say, it was a blast trying them on.  I'm a sucker for trying on hats too. LOL  Anyway, I was thrilled to find two that seemed as if they would work. In fact, Jessica and I were both impressed at how great they looked.

When we got home, I was more than ready for the next step.  Jessica hadn't seen me in about a week so imagine her shock when I started to comb it out one clump at a time. This next photograph was taken late this afternoon. Lovely, huh?  Only one thing to do...

Keep scrolling ....

Keep scrolling ....

So is bald really beautiful?  It is when you feel this good inside. To be honest, it felt great to get what little was left  buzzed off.  Jessica was the designated beautician who kept saying, "On mom, I'm so sorry." but never stopped cutting. Tracy, on the other hand, chuckled in the background while he took some of these photographs.  Did I mention laughter is the best medicine?  Believe me, there is always a bright side no matter how horrible the situation may appear to be and today was certainly one of the brightest!

So much has happened since mid November when I first learned of the stage 2 breast cancer. Decisions had to be made quickly and no matter how right I knew those choices were, they didn't come without the fear of the unknown.  The next chemo treatment is this Friday, March 2, with two more to follow and although I know I'll have some rough days, I'm thankful the worst is behind me. No fear, no pain, no doubt.

But wait, that's not the end of my story. After all I did mention I walked out of The Little Red Doors with two wigs, right?   So...what do you think?

By the way, I was warned that my lashes and eyebrows might be next to go and if they do, so be it.  Hmmm, never wore false lashes before. ;)  2012 is certainly a year of firsts!

My deepest gratitude to the great team of doctors on my side and the wonderful folks at The Little Red Door!