Sunday, June 14, 2009

beauty and the beast

I've decided to have some chemotherapy treatments. It has taken me a while to reach this decision, because there have been many factors to consider. I've decided that I will be more worried and scared if I don't take the drastic drugs than if I do. There are some pretty frightening potential side effects, but they pale in comparison to what the cancer will do to me if it returns. And chemotherapy, combined with hormone therapy, gives me the best chance of removing it from my body for good. So now I'm readying myself for the one certain side effect: losing my hair.
There are much worse things in life than being 40, female, and bald. Being deathly ill comes to mind. But I'm not going to lie. I'm vain.  And I'm going to miss my hair. 

Certainly of the side effects that chemotherapy may carry with it, hair loss is one of the least troublesome because it is temporary.  And I've been thinking of the benefits. I'll get to see what my scalp looks like, a mysterious region that many of us never uncover. I've always wondered how I'd look with really, really short hair, but I've been too chicken to try. I've gotten really tired of dyeing my hair, and this will be a good chance to see how it looks without an awkward transition. Well, if you don't count the bald period, anyway. Really, though, no strange color combos. Hell, I'd almost talked myself into looking forward to this particular detour. 

Then the other day I was looking for a good magazine, and by good I mean one that wouldn't require too much brain cell activity. Maybe People or one of those decorating magazines... and then I spotted it. A magazine about hair. The whole magazine. Just hair. "No more bad hair days" exclaimed the cover. How original. 

At first, seeing the magazine made me feel bad about my impending hairlessness. But as I considered it further, I realized that the existence of a magazine devoted to pictures of hair, articles about hair, and undoubtedly countless ads about hair made me feel a little less shallow. If a 150 page magazine about hair and only hair has a place in our society, then I am certainly not alone in feeling pretty fond of my tresses. 

When I started contemplating what it would be like to live with a bald pate, I thought about doing something silly, crazy, fun. Something that a teenager might do, like tattoo her scalp or sport pink hair. I exhibited my share of rebellious behavior as a teen, but it never involved my hair. But once I was seated in a chair to talk wigs with a professional, all those ideas melted away. Really I just want to look normal. I just want to look healthy. I don't want to look like a teenager, and I don't want to look like a cancer patient. So I ordered a wig that looks a lot like my own hair. Actually, I think that I might like it better than my real hair. So thick and lustrous and brown. I know that wigs can be uncomfortable to wear, and I know that I might not end up wearing it that often. I know this from friends' experiences. But I'm guessing that I will wear it, a lot. And that I won't have many bad hair days for a few months at least.

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