I’m thinking this will be my last post on my own chemo induced hair loss, at least for a while. The hair loss thing has been a pretty big deal for me as it is with most chemo patients, but even I’m getting tired of the topic.
I finally succumbed and shaved off the rest of my hair with David’s help. Even though I was definitely ready, it was still difficult and emotional. Tears started flowing pretty freely during the process. I’m glad I waited until finishing chemo. For me that was the right time.
After shaving my hair off, I’m finding it even less fun to look in the mirror these days. Sometimes I think that makes me seem shallow, but I think it’s just that looking at my reflection is so startling now. I hardly recognize the person staring back at me and sometimes I say to myself, “who is that?”
When I think of all the physical changes my body has gone through over the past few months, it’s pretty staggering. It certainly gives a whole new meaning to the saying “beauty is in the eye of the beholder.” Thank you David.
My new look has made me stop and reflect upon what I used to think were my “best features.” When I went to high school and college, most girls had long straight hair and mine was as well. A couple of my friends always told me they really liked my hair, even though I’m pretty sure mine looked about the same as theirs! Then I got older and my hair started turning gray and a bit thinner. I started coloring it and it looked alright, but it was definitely no longer my best feature. Now when I look at recent pictures of myself, I marvel at how much hair I had only a few months ago and I’m pretty envious.
Next, there are my eyelashes and eye brows. It seems I need to squint while looking in the mirror to see them these days. Again, they used to be one of my better features, or at least I worked hard at trying to make them that. I started wearing mascara probably in seventh or eighth grade. That adds up to a lot of tubes of black mascara over the years! Today it seems almost pointless attempting to curl my sparse lashes and apply thickening mascara that only seems to clump onto two lashes per eye. I end up just looking kind of silly.
Then there is the rest of my body between my neck and ankles. I’ll just lump it all together to spare myself additional uneasiness. Needless to say after a bilateral mastectomy with ongoing reconstruction, I look nothing like I once did in that region either. However, I must say I’m actually pretty amazed at how easy these particular changes were to adapt to.
That gets me down to my feet. Along with my hands, they are pretty much the only body parts that haven’t changed much over the past months. Oh wait, they are still numb, but hopefully that’s temporary. At least my fingernails and toenails never fell off from chemo.
The simple but important point of all this silly reflection is actually pretty serious. I try not to judge people anymore by their appearance. That goes on a lot in our society. I always tried not to do that before cancer, but now I actually really think seriously about never doing it again.
I try to remember that beautiful qualities on the inside of people are indeed what really matter. We need to look beneath the “outer layer.” That’s what I always tried to teach my own kids as well as the ones in my classrooms. Such a simple lesson, but yet it’s not.
Cancer is indeed a great “hands on” teacher. It makes such things crystal clear, even things we thought we already knew.