Thursday, October 17, 2013

Undefining Moments- Going Bald

With cancer comes chemotherapy, with chemotherapy comes hair loss.  It sucks.  But why is it such a big deal?  Everyone says, "It's just hair"...."Hair is overrated".  Am I so vain that I let my looks define me? Well, yes, I did.

It's hard to let go of the security blanket my hair provided.  Losing it is the equivalent to losing a part of me.  It's part of who I am.  It's practically a body part!

But I knew when I started chemotherapy that hair loss was a side effect.  I read that day 14 after the first treatment was the magic day.  No matter how much I kicked my feet and held my breath, it was going to happen.  So just like I always say and try to do, let's make the best of it.

After my first chemo treatment, my friend Brenda drove me straight to a haircutting place.  I wanted to do three things:  First, if I can no longer use my hair, let somebody else.  So I wanted to cut as much as possible to donate to Locks of Love.  Second, I wanted a short cut to transition into losing it all.  Plus, I figured that it would be less hair to clean up.  And lastly, this was a life-changing moment as I began my fight, so I wanted something I could visibly comprehend as major change in my life.  Regardless, it was and still remains surreal.

Then, after the shock and acceptance of my new "do", I started to get excited about it.  I felt like I was back in high school with my short hair.  Bring on the Pat Benatar look.  I was rocking it.

A couple days later, my friend Heidi and I made a trip to the Cancer Society to try on wigs.  It was overwhelming to see the love and compassion of all the people and businesses that donate to those with cancer.  And it was also a bit intimidating to sit in a little room with thousands of wigs, trying to decide who I will be now.

I almost cried when she put the first wig on.  Why does new fake hair make me so emotional?  It wasn't just the hair affecting me, it was a moment of realization that this WILL happen.  This IS happening to me.  It was hard to swallow that pill of reality.

Then, I let go of the fear.  I put a smile on my face. We made the best of it, and we laughed and had a good time.

Okay, I had my new hair in hand, along with hair nets to catch falling hair and turbans to wear at night so my head doesn't get cold.  I still had my real hair for now, so I was able to let that moment go and get back to day by day.  Then came day 14, right on schedule.

It was terrifying enough to go back in for another chemo treatment.  I was sick to my stomach and shaking at the thought.  But then to add insult to assault on my body, my hair started to come out faster than I could catch it.  It started in the shower.

I spent more of my shower washing the hair off of me than I did actually getting clean.  I hated that moment.  It was a sickening feeling on top of already feeling bad from chemo.

When I got out, I looked for that special bag from the cancer society that was filled with hair supplies.  I found one of the hair nets and put it on.  All the while thinking, when will this be over?  When can I go back to what I knew?  How do I get out of this?

More and more hair kept coming out even through the hair net.  It was on my clothes, my furniture, my pillow, everywhere.  I didn't care how ridiculous it was, I took the vacuum hose to my head to try and get all the loose hair so that I could have a moment's peace from the reminder.

And then I gave up, gave in, and accepted the inevitable.  My friend Deana brought a pair of clippers to me, and even offered to throw a party to send off my hair.  But this was a very personal moment for me.  This next task was something I wanted to experience alone.  The magnitude of what I was about to do was again, overwhelming.  To let go of my identity as I know it, to undefine who I am in the mirror, to change what the world sees, and to feel like I still have control over anything was a moment I had to acknowledge, appreciate, and document by myself....

I am still here, FIGHTING.  I am not a victim.  I have been undefined and redefined.  I will no longer be defined by how I look, but by who I am, Anncredible.


  1. You are beautiful. And it's not your hair that makes that true, but you know what? It does suck and I would feel like I'd lost a body part too. I remember LOTS of things about your hair. That hard brush/blow dryer routine you used to do in high school, that streak that was sometimes gray and sometimes blonde, when you finally figured out to handle all those curls and how you and MY kid inexplicably have the same hair! Oh, Ann. I love you. You're doing a great job being amazing and strong and real and please don't ever stop being you!

  2. Bravo! Of course I wasn't trying to demean your experience and I understand about the hair, I just want you to know that I stand tall and firm with you and if you need a shoulder to lean on, we can do it together...


  3. Heck, I think you look better with out the hair! You are a beautiful person!


  4. Yes you are! Prayers will continue to fly to you.
    Nancy Jordan

  5. You are beautiful to me and will always be...

  6. Hi Ann! I was actually just reading a few of your posts and really enjoyed this one. I love the pictures and to be honest, bald or not, you look fantastic! I just had a quick question about your blog and was hoping you could email me back when you get the chance, it would be much appreciated thanks!


  7. You look great, and you're a brave, inspiring woman. Fight on!