I had a moment today.
Putting all my scarves in my top draw. It seems only 5 minutes ago that I ceremonially folded them all up and packed them back in their boxes to be placed in the back of a cupboard, along with my old shoulder pads and clip-on earrings from the eighties, never to see the light of day again. But here I am dragging them out again.
My hair is like velcro now, so short and spikey and unfortunately attracts a lot of foreign objects. Like when I looked in the mirror the other day (which I routinely try to avoid these days) and saw this piece of fluff stuck to my velcro hair. It took a while to realise it was the lint out of the dryer…. Nice look glamour puss!! Needless to say, I’m very thorough checking the velcro in the morning to make sure I don’t have one of the Brave man’s socks stuck to it or something.
So it got me thinking. I’ve had more hairstyles than hot dinners over the last 6 years, I’m not even sure who I am anymore. Even poor little Sienna is confused. Since she’s learnt to draw, she’ll often bring home drawings of me that she’s lovingly done at school. At first with long blonde hair, the next short ‘mannish’ hair and the other day it was a drawing of me wearing a scarf.
I don’t know whether to hug her for her cuteness or hug her because I wish so much she had a normal mum.
Unfortunately the only hair that has remained consistent like a loyal dog, is one little black hair that hangs from my chin, like Fu Manchu. It’s chemo proof, bomb proof and nuclear proof. What’s with that? It’s up to the ‘Troops’ now to be alert but not alarmed and tell me when they can see it, so I can get rid of it……this is what they do.
I remember when I first had chemo back in 2006 and the chemo nurse was telling me how some women’s hair grows back like a tight perm. I remember thinking at the time, how awful the poor things, If it’s not bad enough going through cancer and losing your hair but then for it to grow back like an eighties perm, is just terrifying. I know the oldies love a good set and perm, but not me, I was 36 years old. Not for a minute did I think it would happen to me.
It’s one of the biggest challenges losing your hair, eyebrows and eyelashes, looking totally unrecognisable to yourself, any glimpse of your reflection and the pit of your stomach gets a big knot in it. You know it’s not the real you and it’s a reminder that you are really sick. I feel sorry for my Brave Man, I’m not the girl on the outside he married, I look like that guy out of that comedy Little Britain. I’m so glad he loves me for who I am.
The other issue I face with being a Chemo Chameleon is all my ID’s. My driver’s licence, passport and other ID’s are all different. I must look like I am committing identity fraud with all the different looks.
Now and again I would get strange looks when I had to produce ID, but it wasn’t until I was in the Post Office one day last year that someone made a comment.
I was sending a parcel to a friend and had to produce my Driver’s Licence. My Driver’s licence is nine years old and the photo is of a very blonde me, with long hair. At the time I went into the Post Office my hair had just grown back & it was very short and black. The lady behind the counter looked at my driver’s licence photo and then looked back at me and said, “I much prefer you with your long blonde hair.” I was a little taken aback, it wasn’t my fault that I looked like GI Jane, yes I’d much prefer my blonde hair too. And without thinking, I blurted out, “Yes, cancer will do that to you”. Well the poor lady, she was so apologetic and then proceeded to go through her family tree of who had had cancer in her family.
Photo taken by my friend Rachel Devine
3 days after my first chemo for 2011
So who knows why your hair grows back in all different ways after chemo, it’s a question, I’ve never had answered. All I know, is that once my hair starts growing back it means that treatment is finished and I can move on.
I don’t think I’ll ever have bad hair days again, I’ll just be happy to have my hair back and go back to being me and my little girl can just draw the one version of me.