By Becky MacLean
I never really considered myself someone that cared too much about how I look, but when I realized that my hair was going to fall out I was worried. I was worried that I’d have a bumpy, deformed, ugly-shaped noggin. Who knew what hideous forms were hiding beneath my hair? I knew there was nothing I could do about that but wait and see. My hair was down to my shoulders. I hadn’t had it shorter than that since growing it out in grade 5, and now it would all fall out. Worst case scenario I could hide it under a hat. Having an affinity for hats, that wouldn’t be all that bad.
Thank goodness I got the news before school started, but what luck! I’d be starting my senior year as a cancer patient with hair, and in a matter of weeks, I’d be bald. I was grateful I had some time away from my peers to consider my options. My hair was going to fall out. It was nearly inevitable, a common side effect for the chemo drugs I’d be receiving. So, what could I do about it?
I decided that I couldn’t bear the thought of seeing my hair come out in long clumps. Since it would be falling out anyway, I decided to cut my losses and shorten it preemptively. I wasn’t ready to sport the “sick” look yet, so short would do. I was really scared to do it, but I had some amazing support. My mom, who rarely even trimmed her hair–let alone cut more than a few inches off–decided that she’d cut her hair with me! It was a brave show of solidarity and really helped me with the situation. We went to Marjorie’s and got our hair buzzed down to #2s. Short, but long enough to be spiky.
After my second round of treatment, I started finding hair coming out on my hands in the shower. I knew it would start happening eventually, so it wasn’t too upsetting. I decided once again to cut my hair and ease into the transition. The bad news was, my hair was falling out. The good news was I could finally get a mohawk without resistance from my parents. It was a small victory, but it was mine.
Somewhere around the cusp of that first and second month of treatment, the rest of hair came off, and I was finally sporting the look I’d been so afraid to see. Bald and you know what? It wasn’t too bad. I didn’t really look like me, but I still felt like me, and nobody treated me any differently for it. I already had a few new hats to wear, winter would be coming and people really liked to help me out with hats. I always had something for my head if I wanted it. Sometimes it was a hat, and others it was something a little funkier–fake tattoos.
Yup, those silly, little rub on tattoos. Why not? I couldn’t see them, and it was entertaining do. I had ones with dragons, skulls, snakes, hearts, daggers, and glitter. Without the hair, my head made a great canvas, and every now and then someone would ask if they were real. Every now and then, I may have told an innocent lie. For me, losing my hair was not a fun prospect, but with some support and an open mind I was able to actually enjoy the experience.