Friday, November 15, 2013

Hair Trouble with Tribbles

Chemo does a lot of fun things to your body. One of THE most dreaded is hair loss. I've watched this side effect wreak it's physical and emotional havoc on many many loved ones and friends. It sucks. It sucks when you walk into walmart with a bald 4 year old and the looks of pity, the looks of despair, the looks of saddness.  Even more so are the looks from your loved ones, their despair and saddness when the person losing the hair- is you.

I was not afraid to lose my hair. I know women who have turned down chemo for no more than that reason alone. It's hair- it grows back.  All it needs is the right environment and time. Sometimes in order to get a plant to bloom it's best flowers- you have to dead head it. It then is forced to channel all of it's energy into growing roots instead of the pretty but temporary blooms. So although for a time the plant may be bare- once it's roots have latched on- the new flowers will be better, bigger and healthier.  Chemo is a form of dead heading.

It's not fun. The hair loss doesn't hurt, but my scalp was tender- like a sunburn. Hair usually starts thinning 3 weeks after chemo with any drug that causes hair loss. Last week mine started coming out in bunches. Bella would grab handfuls every time she walked by.  Gifted some crappy genes- I also got good, thick hair genes.
I took a shower and there was a tribble in the bottom of the tub. It was hideous. It was an obsessive compulsive nightmare. Anyone who's ever lived around girls- knows the shower drain issue is a huge point of contention. We shed.  The mass evacuation started.  The kids were having a tough time dealing, so I offered to let them cut it. Bella was the only one excited. Of course- the day of my first chemo she expected my hair to be gone, even adults have a tough time with the process- I had to explain to her it would take time. I knew one thing- I didn't want to battle it. It was going to happen and I wasn't gonna let it linger miserably with Donald Trump denial.
So after avoiding showers and watching the wisps of hair spiral around the bathroom while trying to dry it, I had enough. My friend Lani found a salon here, Salon808 whose owner Henry donates and styles wigs for cancer patients. She hesitated- the catch is they need to shave your head so the wig will fit right. No problem- I had already promised Bella she could do that. I asked her to call and  make an appointment and that would be our deadline. Thursday it was. The problem was getting Phil and Phillip and Lily on board. My friend Debbie was on call to share in the night and was kind enough to take pictures-all photos from here on out are with heartfelt thanks to Debbie Leanne who continues to bless me with her friendship, quick wit and photography skills despite throwing her into cramped spaces with poor lighting conditions. But there was wine...of course she brought that too.
Phil's faced much adversity in his life and most people have no idea. His compassion and no nonsense attitude was cultivated out of years of necessity. I hate that this cancer bullshit is bullshit and in anyway a part of his life. I could not and would not be the person I am without him beside me and I know he feels the same way. The hair is symbolic of the sickness and how much it is threatening our happily ever after. I get that. But I am a picker- I rip scabs right off and this one had to go. The deadline was key- for as much as he dreaded being a part of this major moment, he would never ever miss it. Although he did drag his feet plenty.
Debbie beat him to the house with treats and appropriately themed wine! Like I said- she's a keeper.
I texted my sister in law. Another amazing and selfless soul- to be at our beck and call while caring for 2 babies and still trying to get settled while her husband travels. But I knew my nephews were a necessary part of the distraction for both Phil and Phillip. Hopefully they won't feel compelled to cut off everyone's hair from here on out.
Lily requested to cut my ponytail off. If we had waited a day or two longer- there wouldn't have been one! Clumps of hair pulled out every time she tried to grab on. Someday I will read to her about Sisyphus and she will get it. She probably would anyhow.

Kiera wanted to stylistically cut my hair. A wedgy bob like hers.  She took her time and actually proved to be fairly skillful. I've had worse haircuts at supercuts.

Bella couldn't wait to shave it off, but kept herself busy collecting every bit of hair as it fell.

Well- this fuzzy picture was mine...won't let Debbie take the fall for this one.....

Phillip wanted no part of it. We coerced him into cutting a piece. I think I've shaved leg hairs that were longer than what he managed.

We tried a Miley Cyrus do...

And a flat top.....

And finally the full monty.....which is when it hit Lily.
But this is part of the process. I want my kids to know I face it head on. It's Ok if they want to do something different, but they are a part of me and therefore a huge part of this. Hair is temporary. I didn't break. Was it hard- sure. I know it was a zillion times harder on them.  Do I want to keep this look- not really. But without boobs and without hair- sometimes people are forced to look you in the eyes or look away- then you can really find out who needs to be in your life without all the pretenses. It's a lesson I would have much rather taught my kids over hot cocoa and a broken heart or a friendly spat, but you play with the cards you are dealt. And the ones that matter will make the journey with you, even if it's uncomfortable.

And in the end you also find out Bella never really wanted to shave your head- she just wanted a Tribble.


  1. Beautiful. As you share this moment, i love your detail. Your ability to speak your truths, even when unpleasant. And i love how you lead us by example in living life head on with courage and faith. All is well my friend!!! Love, addie

  2. That's really one of the more unfortunate effects of chemo therapy. The dread in which is not so much it knocking down your look, as what the loss of hair could imply, in terms of your condition and whatnot. So it really is a matter of aesthetics. But then, it doesn't really give you much of a choice : anything is better than a worsening cancer. But then, you can take a bit more steps back and look at an even larger spectrum of possibilities outside whether or not to get a 'dead treatment'. You can artificially get your hair back somewhere down the line, through extensions and whatnot. I mean, if it was a matter of aesthetic then, well, it is just aesthetics now. So you could just as well put a little bit of strands back in, and get back to the look you started with.

    Collene @ Baja Hair Center

  3. Even more so are the looks from your loved ones, their despair and saddness when the person losing the hair- is you. Queda de cabelo


Lily Kay Monkey

Lily Kay Monkey
November 2008 Photographed by Shelley Detton (7 Layer Studio)