hair apparent and other after-treatment news

Driving by my old hair dresser’s shop yesterday after my first Osher class of the new season, I decided to stop in and surprise him, sporting as I was, my new au naturel look. I have about two inches on top, with slightly less on the sides. New growth from formerly bald, I’ve learned, is erratic and uneven. The color is salt and pepper, leaning a little more on the salt side.

Most of the summer I’ve been waiting for my hair to grow. Technically, it’s supposedly been growing since about three weeks after my last chemo treatment, which was sometime around the end of April–how quickly we forget. That means sometime in May, maybe around my birthday on the 12th, I noticed the straggly hairs on my eyebrows that grow low nearly on the eyelid itself, which mostly disappeared during treatments leaving me a Clara Bow hint of brow, were the first to pop their ugly coarse hairs up again. Not much luck with the more important kind–that on top of my head–but lo and behold, sometime around the end of the month there was definitely more than a five o’clock shadow up there! And HOPE. That a new, full head of hair was indeed in my future. And that there was a future, indeed, to look forward to!

The bad news about the new hair apparent is that the texture is just as soft–like cotton–as it always was.

The good news is that it takes less than 10 minutes to have a perfectly fresh “do” to go out with in the mornings. The color’s not bad, and I’m planning to try one of those “silver” hair shampoos and save a lot of money not having my hair blonde-streaked ever again. I still cling to my wigs for backup, but they’re no longer out waiting on top of my dresser anymore. I’ve packed them away into their boxes. Just in case. Most of the time, I’m very happy to go about sporting my own–yep there’s enough to call it that now–HAIR.

The funny thing is how I feel as if I’m really presenting myself as myself now, perhaps for the first time in my life. I had a neck injury when I was young that left me with a lump on my neck at the top of my shoulders that makes me look a little like a turtle with his head sticking out of his shell if you see me sideways. I will always believe that my grandfather’s teasing me and pinching my breasts at a crucial period of my young life resulted in my rounded shoulders. If he didn’t notice the “Sunday bumps”–as he called them–he wouldn’t pinch them. I began hunching my shoulders when he was around. Eventually, I stopped noticing how I was hunching more and more, even when Grandpa wasn’t around.

I always feel as if I’m standing perfectly straight but candid glimpses of myself reflected in storefront windows and in pictures reveal the truth. For most of my adult life I’ve hidden this anomaly with either the “right” hairlength or the “right” kind of blouse or jacket as a disguise. Wearing wigs made this even easier because there was a heckuva lot more vinyl than I had real hair. The wigs are tiresome after awhile though, and they get awfully hot some summer days.

Eventually I decided it wasn’t worth the hassle. It was time to get over it. Going cold turkey with my appearance–figurative warts and all–seemed the only way. Why now, you may wonder. In the spirit of looking for the good that comes from every bad thing that happens to you, I’ve decided that cancer has taught me it’s time to let go. In spite of how we tell ourselves we do, I know that none of has any real control of his life. The best we can do is learn to roll with the punches and simplify life as much as possible. At 68 I have nothing to prove to anybody anymore.

It’s been very hard to present myself to the world without all the props, especially when SIL reprimands the grandson in my presence to stand up straight. At the same time it’s been so “freeing”, so I just give SIL the benefit of the doubt and not infer that he’s reminding Thomas that he doesn’t want to wind up looking hunched like Grandma. It is a parent’s job to teach their children to stand up straight and proud, after all, and another thing I learned from having cancer is that people care a lot more than you can believe. You just have to be honest with everybody. This is me, folks. Get used to it.

So Kim, my hairdresser, a guy not a girl despite his name, tells me he kinda likes my new “do.” So for the future cuts, I gave him carte blanche from here on out to cut it however he wants to. And I think he’s already planning to go with the new look, beginning with a “shape up” in a few more weeks when I have an inch or so more hair to shape. And then, a trim every five weeks or so to keep it neat. Now THAT’s when I figure my hair will really start to grow. I’m sure you’ve noticed how fast your hair grows when you have to get trims at $xx.00 a pop every five or six weeks! In spite of Hubby’s sorrow, I’m so-ooooooooo looking forward to it.

12 thoughts on “hair apparent and other after-treatment news

  1. I remember this feeling oh so well! That baby goose down fuzz is hard to tame and create a style with. Just gel it up and go and soon it will regain some texture and shape. It does seem to take forever though! I ran into a friend the other day whom I hadn’t seen in 7 months and barely recognized her because her hair was so much longer than before. She has also been through chemo in the last few years but had kept that short spike style. Now it was chin length and full and shapely! I asked her what she’d been doing and she says she takes large amounts of the vitamin called Biotin. Maybe that’s worth a try but ask your doctor first and for how much you should be taking. Good luck! In another year you’ll be spending lots more time getting ready in the morning like me! That gives my husband one more thing to sigh about! Ha ha!

    • You’ll never know how much your encouraging comments mean to me! Especially when I visit motherspreciousgems and see pictures of your beautiful self. I so hope things are going well for you too. Thanks so much for commenting!

  2. A few years ago I ran into a woman I had not seen for about a year. She was sporting a new, quite short but very attractive haircut, and I complimented her on being able to carry it off since she had worn her hair long for so many years. Then she told me she had been undergoing chemo and her hair was just starting to grow back. I was so embarassed, but she told me it was one of the nicest compliments she’d ever had because I wasn’t being sympathectically gratuitous due to her illness. It made us both feel great!

    • Oh, even better than that! Since I’d already had my lunch right after the class, I went shopping (just browsing) and bought a new tweezer and on a whim before I went home I had my eyebrows waxed and treated myself to the biggest chocolate covered doughnut I could find in the deli counter. Yum! 😈

  3. Your courage, insight and willingness to share your story — mighty fine fashion accessories that look great and wear well! Grandpa’s part of the story, however, broke my heart. I have an acquaintance who went through the same physical and psychological agony, only at the hands of her father. Along with the remarkable advances in cancer treatment, I pray that advances in what is acceptable means that young girls have advocates in their families who stand up and halt such abuse.

    • Wow, thanks! I never expected those modifiers associated with me, but I sure like the way you said it. I know that a grandpa doing that would be thought of today as a sexual predator. I don’t think of him that way, and I don’t believe he was. He lived in an age when men were less enlightened regarding the feeling of women and children. And women hadn’t learned not to let themselves be treated as objects so they weren’t always able to recognize abuse, much less help daughters cope with it or defend them against it. Tickling children (both sexes) until they pee in their pants falls into the same category I think. I thought it was okay when I was kid, but today I would never let anyone in my presence either tickle a child to helplessness nor pinch them anywhere on their body. We still have a very long way to go in society before we can call ourselves truly civilized. Wouldn’t that be a great time to live! Thanks for commenting.

  4. Oh you will laugh at me. I gave my hairdresser carte blanche, and she cut the sides in wads that are shorter than the back. I can’t gather them back into a clip, so they hang, dangle, and drape into my eyes leaving me saying words I shouldn’t. Serves me right. 🙂

    • Yes, carte blanche can be a serious thing. Have you thought of putting those sides in little short dredlocks? Start a trend! Isn’t California where all those trendy things start? You’d be so cool, too. 😎

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