The Low Down on (potentially) losing all my hair…

“Mommy when is you hair disaster going to happen?”. That’s the question my colorful 7 year-old asked me the other night… I thought that was so hilarious, we both bursted into laughter!!!

I have lost a lot of hair this week but since I have quite thick hair to begin with I still have a full head of hair. Some people say their hair thins out but does not fall out completely. I am keeping hope that it might be the case for me but at the same time I am preparing myself for the possibility of losing it all. I also wanted to prepare my boys so it wouldn’t be too much of a shock if it happened. When my oncologist told me I had 85% chances of keeping my hair, I was thrilled for many obvious reasons. When my hair started falling after this second treatment, I was bummed, really bummed… I never expected the idea of losing my hair to be so emotional.

One of my biggest concerns about losing my hair had to do with my children. Lightening hit our family and now I am feeling hypervigilant with my boys, I want to protect them and shelter them from the awfulness of this disease. I don’t want them to be scared, I don’t want them to know how serious this is, I don’t want them to see me as being “sick” although they know I am. I still cannot believe what my oldest son told me when I was putting him to bed the first night I told them I would probably lose my hair. As he was hugging me good night, he said “mom I don’t care if you lose your hair because I will always know who you are inside”. I made him repeat it to make sure I heard him right. How can a nine year-old little boy come up with something so deep and profound, so compassionate and sensitive? I was fighting back tears as I left his room.

Since I received my diagnosis, I have always said that I would rather have my life than my hair. I didn’t really care if I lost my hair if that was the price I had to pay to be alive. Now that my hair started falling, I realized that I cared a lot more about it than I thought I did. One day, as I was getting out of the shower and looked at myself in the mirror, all I saw was my chemo port sticking out of my chest and when I imagined my self bald, I stepped on another land mine – another blow, another explosion and I totally lost it. Wasn’t getting a Stage 4 diagnosis enough? Couldn’t I get a break somewhere?

I woke up one night and couldn’t fall back asleep. I kept asking myself why losing my hair was such a big deal. Why is my hair so important? I guess our hair is part of our image and our identity. I had already lost my identity as a psychologist, did I really need to lose another part of my identity? I also realized that by losing my hair I couldn’t hide having cancer, I couldn’t hide it from myself and couldn’t hide it from the rest of the world. My bald head would be a constant reminder that I have cancer. I have been surprisingly open about my diagnosis as I am usually quite private about myself. I think I have been so outspoken because, for once in my life, I feel like I cannot fight this battle alone, this is by far the biggest challenge I have been faced with. I am usually so independent (sometimes to a fault), I never ask for help and just get things done myself. I always took pride in this because to me this was a sign of my strength, I always saw myself as a strong woman and wanted others to see me this way too. So as open as I have been about my diagnosis, I don’t want the “whole world” to see that I have cancer. When I pick up the kids at school or go to the store or gym, I cross so many people who have no idea I have cancer and can’t tell just by looking at me. I can just smile and continue walking and somehow this is a good feeling. If I lose all my hair, this diagnosis is going to be written on my bald head. I don’t want people to now see me as a vulnerable and sick person. I do not want anyone’s pity and will not tolerate any “pity eyes”.

Unbeknownst to him, I think my piano teacher made the most empowering comment to me. He said “you could be like Sinead O’connor”. Although she is quite controversial and I can’t say I like everything she has said and done, she strikes me as a bold, outspoken, and fearless woman. She has been dubbed as the founder and pioneer of the “Bald-Headed Hot Chicks fashion movement” – I say that woman has got balls and that I admire! (don’t get too exited though, I am not getting her tattoos lol!). A friend of mine, who is also a mom, is now fighting a recurrence of this disease and will most likely lose her hair too. She said to me the other day “we are going to be two hot mamas” – cheers to that my friend!

So chin up paddleboadgirl chin up!

By the way, if I lose my hair completely and you happen to see me, Beware! Put your best poker face and waitress smile on and no pity eyes whatsoever, I will call you on it you can be sure!  Just smile at me and say “Hi!”  –  Understood?

“I see your true colors

And that’s why I love you

So don’t be afraid to afraid to let them show

Your true colors

Like a rainbow”

                        Cindy Lauper…

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5 thoughts on “The Low Down on (potentially) losing all my hair…

  1. You radiate wisdom, strength and beauty. You shine on the inside and out – hair or no hair. I know your true clolors and love you for all of them. I will say hi, hug you and carry on.

  2. J’ai commencé à lire ton blog dès que Jul m’a envoyé l’adresse! Je te redécouvre, petite soeur de ma grande amie! Je t’envoie toute mon admiration et mes énergies! Pour avoir longtemps accompagné des personnes atteintes de cancer, je peux t’assurer que tu as tout à fait l’attitude que tous les psychologues qui travaillent en oncologie souhaitent pour leurs patients! Parce que, oui, des miracles ça existe, les pronostics sont faits pour être déjoués… Et parce que, oui, il y a moyen de vivre cette maladie sainement malgré les mines qui explosent et les émotions qui débordent! Je t’embrasse xxx Doum

  3. Salut Rachel!
    Sur le bord de la méditerranée,à Marseille,plus précisément, tout est couleurs et sensations chantantes. Je t’y amène en pensées car je crois que tu aimerais. Love you paddleboard girl!

  4. Hi! My name is Robin Owens. I live and am from Rockledge. I was diagnosed (at age 32) with Stage IV colon Cancer with mets to my liver. I would love to be in touch with you. I have 2 young daughters and have been through, and still going through, many of the same experiences. Please feel free to contact me by email: rowens815@hotmail.com. Or the website that my friends have kept going for me is HelpingRobin.com. I look forward to hearing from you! I think you and I could learn from each other and relate to a lot of the same side effects, hair loss, kids discussions etc. Best Wishes!

  5. Rachel, my dearest friend, your strength and power shine through every word you write. What an amazing capacity you manifest here, pure poetry! You are a true inspiration. Personally, I always liked the marine cut or baldness in women but I realize it makes a difference whether one choses it or forced to it. I love the expressions of your sons and see in them your strength, resiliency and beauty. I wish I would be closer to you and accompany you in this journey. Sending you healing energies from Boston with much love and admiration,
    Estee

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