I am not as Vain as I Thought.
I am not as vain as I thought, or perhaps I'm just delusional about what I look like. My entire head is now covered in hair. I don't think I look sick anymore. Weird in a pregnant-military-chick sort of way, but not sick. Before I finished cycle 1 of chemo, I informed Boris that I was going to buy makeup and start wearing it when my hair grew back in. "And I want to wear nice clothes every day. No sweats or anything." Not a fan of makeup or dressing up (and I rarely do either), Boris wanted to know why. "Because there's a fine line between having short hair and looking fashionable and chic, and looking butch," I told him. Let me be clear that I have no issue with women decorating themselves however they choose - but butch is not a look I'm interested in.
But now that I have my covering of hair, looking fashionable and chic while 9 months pregnant and lugging a 27 pound toddler to the park is not really a priority. I'm content to leave the house in sweats without makeup. I'm just glad I can leave the house quickly without worrying about whether my scalp will get sunburned, without tying a scarf or putting on a wig. In fact I haven't worn my wig in a few weeks and have been going everywhere with my newly sprouted hair. It's actually quite thick (not surprising given the amount of hair I had pre-cancer, but you never know) and I'm overjoyed. Overjoyed may be a bit of an overstatement since I'd be much more joyful if I had my long curly hair back, but given the alternative that I've been living with, I'll take it.
When I go out, I think I make people far more uncomfortable than I feel. When my hair was more sparse (and yes, I still went out sans head coverings), people would stare or try to be discreet (you know when someone turns around pretending to look at something else but you know they're really looking at you), but I'd just smile or wave and they'd nervously smile back and turn around quickly. I recently had lunch with a pregnant with cancer friend who had completed treatment and was getting ready to go back to work. Her hair had just started to grow back in and was still pretty sparse. She told me that she really wants to go to work without a wig or scarf but was concerned about upsetting her co-workers. "My goodness," I said. "That is so nice of you. I wouldn't give a shit if I made anyone else feel uncomfortable. I only care about whether I'd feel uncomfortable or not!" But now that my hair is thick, I don't feel uncomfortable at all and most of the stares have stopped.
People Like Talking About Hair.
My new do elicits a lot of unsolicited conversations. They're mostly friendly and encouraging and it's pretty fascinating. A mom I see often at the park told me she didn't recognize me with my "new haircut." I'm not sure who chooses this haircut, but it was nice that she didn't think my hair screamed cancer. Another woman who I was sitting next to at dinner turned to me to tell me that her daughter cut off 10 inches of her hair to donate to Locks of Love and now has the same haircut as me. I smiled and told her to thank her daughter for being so fearless and generous. Then I told her that this wasn't a haircut, but rather that I lost my hair during chemo and it's just growing back. "Well," she said. Then silence. Then "you look beautiful." But of course. During a particularly rainy day, an older woman stopped me on the street and told me that I needed a hat to stay warm. And at my most recent blood draw at Tower, I was approached by a cancer patient who ran (really, she ran) up to me to tell me how fantastic my hair looked and how she couldn't wait until her hair was as long as mine. "I just had to talk to you," she said. "You are awesome and you are going to beat this. I know it." I immediately welled up with tears and said "I hope you're right." "I am right," she swore. I hope I hope I hope.
Never in my whole 34 year old life have I been told so often that I look great. Someone tells me on a daily basis. I'm not sure if I looked like hell before cancer or if people are just expecting me to look like death and are pleasantly surprised that I don't, but the compliments are never ending (not complaining!). A few months ago I was having a pilates lesson and was in my workout clothes (with my belly hanging out) and a scarf. A woman with short hair walked in, looked at me and said "you are beautiful." It turns out that she is a cancer survivor and must have known what was, or rather what wasn't, under the scarf. Now that I'm strutting around town with my buzzcut I get even more compliments. One woman recently told me that she would look terrible with such short hair but I'm "so pretty" with "such striking features," that I can pull it off. Puh-lease! Not to be self-denigrating or anything but give me a fucking break. I appreciate the compliment and all - but as I've said before, I am no supermodel. And no one who is accustomed to long locks thinks they'd look great with a semi-bald do and quite honestly, would look better with more hair. Myself included. I do appreciate that people routinely tell me I'm a bad ass for going out looking the way I do and Boris repeatedly tells me how proud he is that I'm so comfortable with the way I look.
I often catch a glimpse of myself in a mirror or window and sometimes stop and pause. "Who the hell is that?" I often wonder. I am unrecognizable to myself. In the few dreams I've had recently that I can remember, I look like my old self. I have tons of hair and clear skin and am wearing normal clothes. I know the maternity clothes part will end soon - but the rest...not so much. Even though I've endured 6 rounds of chemo and am gearing up for more treatment, I still can't believe this is happening to me. I've asked my chemo dates if they can believe this is happening, because I can't. Even bald and hooked up to an i.v. I just scheduled all of my post-pregnancy scans and as I was setting up appointment after appointment I turned to the receptionist and said that I was still in shock that the appointments were for me. Sometimes as Boris and I are getting ready for bed and I'm slathering my body in Aquaphor, I'll turn to him and ask if he can believe I have cancer. He can't. I have cancer. Me neither. I have cancer. I think. I guess the cancer has been removed. We hope. We don't know for sure and won't until I have my scans. So I don't know if I have cancer, am battling cancer, am a survivor? How surreal?
The C-Bomb Works.
I'm shameless. I know. But sometimes a girl's gotta do what a girl's gotta do. If Pizzeria Mozza is booked, I just tell them I'm pregnant with cancer and voila - they're not booked anymore. I just purchased a new couch and when the clerk informed me I wouldn't get it before Miracle Warrior arrived, I told him that I had cancer and really needed the couch as soon as humanly possibly. I had it 4 days later. If I'm going to go through this shit - I'm going to milk it for all I can.
I No Longer Care Who Knows I have Cancer.
When I was initially diagnosed I only wanted to discuss cancer with a select few. The marines of my life if you will. Now, not so much. If anyone comments on my hair (or sadly, now, my lack thereof) I blurt out that I have cancer or am being treated for cancer. If people comment on Baron's name ("it's so unusual!") I tell them it means warrior and he and I went through chemo together. I shock people all the time and really, truly don't care.