Hair. Turns out it is a big deal.

I’ve been thinking a lot about my hair. I’ve never been a big hair person. Well, I did grow up in New Jersey so I guess technically there was a big hair period in middle school, but for the most part I’m a wash and go kind of girl. My make-up consists of a tube of concealer for under my eyes and one tube of mascara. I wear my hair in pig tails every day. It takes me under 5 minutes to get ready to leave the house, and that’s IF I remember to apply the make-up. A lot of you see me regularly, I don’t have to tell you that my look is not high maintenance. I’ve never worn my hair long unless I was growing it out to donate. I have never gotten upset after a hair cut because it was shorter than I wanted it. I didn’t think losing it would be a huge deal. But I’ve been thinking about it a lot. And you know what? It is a big deal. Big enough that I know I need to make the appointment to get it cut and I’ve not made the phone call for 3 days. I didn’t shy away from the medical tests, but making me call the salon is suddenly a problem. So I’ve been thinking. Why is it so different? Why is it a big deal to me? Isn’t cancer the big deal? Isn’t it all worth it?

So here’s what I’ve come up with. Denial. When I was told I have cancer, it was a medical thing. A problem to be dealt with. I was pissed. How could something like this grow INSIDE me? The ultimate betrayal, my own body. Secretly conspiring to do me in. That bastard. Of course it has to be dealt with. And the “business” side of my brain has been doing that. Make the appointments, get the tests, start the chemo. Check, check, check. But the “me” side of my brain has been in denial. That’s all I can think – why I walk around in a bit of a fog all the time, not feeling the excitement, humor, emotion that is normal in my life. The denial is so deep, so all encompassing, that all my body can do is be numb. Get through it. I can’t see any problem. Right now the only signs are purple bruises, yellow splashed across my skin, and the healing incision from the port. Oh yeah, and that little sucker that’s always there, making part of my brain constantly aware of its presence under my skin. But I can’t SEE the cancer. I deal with the side effects. I deal with the appointments and get through them. I deal with feeling a little bit sick – while at the same time knowing that feeling will get worse with each treatment so I better not wallow in it at this point. But my hair. That isn’t invisible. That is a physical manifestation of what is going on inside of me. That is real.

It’s not so much the rest of the world. I’m not concerned about society at large and I’m certainly not concerned about my friends. I have awesome friends. I don’t doubt all the support I have. I know strangers will look and I don’t doubt that I will hurt sometimes. I’ve read it’s actually better to have a physical appearance that strangers will respond to – so people help me when I need it, etc. If they can’t see something is wrong, they’ll just be morons. I think really it’s about me. This change demands my attention. It disturbs that gentle balancing act I’ve got going on in my brain. The “me” can’t completely deny it anymore. And that’s tough.

I have always wondered what it would be like to shave my head. My guess is most girls do. Honestly I don’t know that it will look all that different since I always have my hair pulled back against my head. It’s not like I have a huge mane of free flowing hair. I think it’s more of a mental stress rather than the physical. I’ve had a lot of offers to shave heads and please, for now, let’s not do that. I think it is going to be harder for me to look at other people with shaved heads while I’m dealing with the transition. Once I get comfortable with things, you can do as you will. Just putting that out there.

My plan is to cut it pretty short. It will start falling out in the next week or so. I don’t know if I’ll leave some hair to style or just do a pixie cut. Please feel free to give me your vote.

I found a tutorial on making wigs – how to secure the hair with a sewing machine into little strips so you can build hair pieces or wigs. Our plan is to keep my hair, sew it securely to be able to style it and try to make a headband with pigtails out of my own hair. I could then wear them under whatever hat, scarf, etc. and look somewhat like myself. I’m thinking to do this best I probably need to cut it pretty short so we have more hair to work with. Mom will of course be taking on the bulk of the work so I thank her in advance for her time, efforts and of course all the unending love. I would just buy hair pieces but I can’t find any in pigtails. Apparently I’m the only adult still rocking them.

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3 Responses to Hair. Turns out it is a big deal.

  1. Robyn adkins Brock says:

    Jen, Adam and I are thinking of you and sending love your way💗. Love your pigtail idea. The best advice I ever had was from a stranger on the street while going through one of the worst events of my life, and I’d love to pass it on to you. It is simply this, you stay Beautiful girl:)

  2. Mary Yadon says:

    Jen, You’ve written about “chemo brain” which my sister talked about during her chemotherapy. But your blogs make it perfectly clear that your brain is working just great! (I’m a quilting buddy of your mom and my younger sister had a double mastectomy and chemo 10 years ago. She’s doing just fine.) Attitude has so much to do with recovery and you have an amazingly strong approach to all of this. Thanks for sharing. Mary Yadon

  3. Barrett says:

    As a fellow pig-tailer I think your idea is a great one! I never even considered that you could make your own with your hair, that’s amazing.

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