Pamela’s Journal: Bad Hair Day
Dear Readers: Sometimes we forget, or maybe we don’t, what beauty is all about. One of my dearest friends recently started her chemo journey. This is the first installment of her journal as she navigates her cancer treatment(s). It’s not always pretty but it is real, honest and courageous. From time to time, Pamela will share her thoughts and emotions. We’re all with her. Every step of the way. Let’s all give her our support, love and a moment of our time and thank her for sharing her soul. xoxo NJ, The Brunette
In a nutshell: BAD HAIR DAY
I run my hands through my hair and countless strands slip out, unbidden, released from my scalp, abandoning me.
I’m a glass-half-full kind of girl. I thought I might be the lucky one who wouldn’t lose her hair. After all, I have so much! A lifetime of thick, unruly tresses that used to drive me nuts, frizzing at inopportune times (miniature golf date when I was a teenager, or parties at the beach). The kind of hair that only a hairdresser can manage, twice a week at %&$# dollars a pop. Even if my hair thinned out, I might still have a head full.
But it appears that my hair is going with the program, gradually giving ground… Chemo is winning (as I want it to, of course!) but oh to be spared with regard to my hair – not THOSE fast dividing cells!!! If only the chemo were smarter and could be programmed to differentiate. Nab THESE cells – not THOSE cells. I want discerning, hair-protecting chemo, rather than the seemingly primitive, take-no-prisoners chemo. It will come, I have no doubt. But it’s not here today, for me.
It started yesterday. Valentine’s Day. I drove to the salon with my paraben-free, sulfate-free, vegan shampoo and conditioner – hoping for the best. Marco, who washed my hair, said I was losing a bit more, but not too bad. Oh goodie! Maybe another week… Maybe it won’t happen at all! Patrick blew out my hair, a bit more circumspect, a bit more careful than usual. It looked beautiful – and I was relieved. I had visions of him blowing out sections – literally – the hair adhering to the brush – never returning to my scalp. I had brought along “Miss Fancy,” as Patrick dubbed my wig. Miss Fancy needed a blow dry too – even if she was just hanging out on her wig stand, the kind you see in the windows of wig stores, a white styrofoam head mannequin. I was tempted to paint a tear on one of her chiseled cheeks.
This morning I awoke with my hair still looking normal – but with strands still slipping out in my hand. Our housekeeper, Nina, was cleaning up stray hairs from the bathroom floor where I guess I’ve been leaving a trail of traitorous tresses. She called out sympathetically, “Oh, Mrs. B!” and started to cry. I kept my head high, denying the sadness, determined to hang in there and keep my eye on the ball – on the end game of getting well. Determined to be above being devastated at losing my hair. I’m summoning up my mother again. Proud and tough. But it’s hard and I have a terrible lump at the back of my throat.
Tomorrow is my birthday. It could well be the day where it all falls out. It starts with single strands, then handfuls (where I am now). When it starts coming out in hunks, that’s when I call Patrick for an emergency house call. The plan is for him to buzz me (like my kids buzz their hair). It looks like I’m not going to be that girl who defied the odds and didn’t lose her hair after all. I’m going to be just like everyone else who’s gone through this. Patrick will touch his buzz-cutter to my scalp. There will be a whirl, a bzzzzz; my hair will melt like butter and fall to the ground, yielding to the process. A mess on the floor. Like my heart. I want to be above caring about my hair. But I won’t be. It will be tequila and tears.
With love and a smile, Pamela
I remember “painting” my grandmothers face after the chemo had robbed her of her signature perm. She had bought a wig to hide her peach fuzz hair, but something didn’t look right. So she handed me some make-up and ordered me to “do the eyebrows”. I messed one up, giving her a permanent quizzical look, and we laughed until tears came.
I can’t imagine what it’s like. No one can, unless you’ve lived it. What I do know is that this is a truly touching post, so real, it’s like a breath of fresh air. Here’s to your fighting spirit, here’s to your hair coming back stronger and more beautiful than before, not unlike yourself.