New Day

Pink Ink…

“My best friend thinks I am going to grow my hair to my butt when this is all done. I don’t think so. I may keep it super short. Aside from teaching my daughter that hair doesn’t make the woman, I think it looks kind of fly. At the end of the day…it’s just hair!”

That’s how I closed my post on November 13th. Halloween will forever be remembered as the day we shaved off my hair. We look back at those pictures and laugh, happy that we were able to turn the process of losing hair into a fun family activity. Here we are many months later and my hair is growing back!

Recently, I met two women at a symposium, who shared that they chose to forgo chemo because they didn’t want to lose their hair. I was dumbfounded. I actually had to sit back and collect myself before I said anything. As a Moderator, it wasn’t my place to judge…at least outwardly. Trust me, I am well aware that every woman’s journey is her own. I also am very clear on the importance that hair plays in our society, especially among Black women. Nonetheless, I was shocked, mad, resentful, and then finally, sad. When I asked if the women were happy with their decision, they both said yes. Instead of saying what was on my mind (“Are you that crazy? Your hair isn’t even that fly! So you would rather be dead?”), I directed the conversation to the way cultural perceptions about breasts and hair can direct how treatment is determined. I followed up with how we, as patients, should pursue the most aggressive treatment available. What else could I do?

But our dialog got me thinking, as I rubbed the fuzz growing on my head. Folks need to hear that it really does come back! So today, instead of dwelling on the fact that I am waiting to find out what’s going on IN my head, I thought I would touch on what’s on TOP of my head.

Now, if you are uncomfortable discussing hair on body parts, STOP HERE! You have been warned! LOL

Now to refresh, chemo kills. Chemo attacks all dividing cells in the body. So in addition to cancer cells (which quickly divide) chemo attacks in particular, hair follicles, the stomach lining, & digestive track. This is why patients get nauseous and lose their hair. The extent of hair loss depends on what drugs are given. For example, the Red Devil caused my hair to fall out…EVERYWHERE, except my eyebrows and lashes. My 2nd round of chemo was a different mixture. So then, my eyebrows and lashes came out as well. Now, I was a hairy chick before all this started. I believe in waxing. So I was happy to lose the unwanted hair.

Again, STOP HERE if you don’t want to read about body hair!

No light fuzz above the lip, no underarm hair, no arm or leg hair was great! Having no eyebrows wasn’t great! It got better, once I learned to draw them on. No eyelashes was no fun. My eyes were dry all the time. Now, no hair…down there…was…umm…interesting. Full disclosure, I was not a “Brazilian” girl. (The pain!) But landscaping is a necessity! Even so, to have nothing down there was a lot. Eventually, I got used to it. The only challenge was when in a public toilet. You know, squatting. When you have NOTHING, there is nothing to direct…the pee! So a few times, let’s just say, it didn’t all make the toilet. Hey, this is CANCER REAL TALK!

But back to the point. It does grow back! And let me tell you, it grows back with a vengeance! As with hair loss, hair growth has become something “the 3Bs” laugh about. Yes, it’s true that the hair on the head “changes”. My hair is now straight. It will be interesting to see if it stays that way. There is also grey now! That’s ok. I don’t mind that, even though I didn’t have it before. It’s also, the 1st time I have seen my natural hair color in years! I love a highlight! So “natural” is interesting. I am also amazed by how many people touch my head. Kind of like when you are pregnant. Side note…please don’t touch my head! As people now ask how long am I going to grow my hair, I realize that folks associate my hair growing back with me being better. Ironically, I miss my baldhead. I look back at my bald pictures with nostalgia. No, I won’t shave it. But I am going to keep it short.

Ok, here’s the crazy part. The rest of my body hair is growing in with the quickness! My hair…down there? Like it never left!! TOO MUCH! Unfortunately, my skin is still too sensitive to really wax. So shaving is a necessity. Underarm hair? Check? Legs? Check? SIDEBURNS??? CHECK! You read correctly. I didn’t have crazy face hair! I felt sorry for those women! But umm, now? Yeah, still trying to work that out! Other Survivors have told me it will fall out. But right now, when I look in the mirror, all I see is hair! All down the side of my face! Plus I have a light mustache! Cute huh? NO! LOL. I’m a tweezing fool. I’ll let you know how that works out. Lil B is tickled. Laughing, she says “At least it’s growing back mom!” My eyebrows are back in. I risked getting them waxed about a month ago. No bushy brows for me! But a month later, they haven’t grown back. So you never know how it will play out. In retrospect, I think I like my drawn on brows better than the real ones! Camouflage makeup is my friend. Thank you MAC and Bobbi Brown!

Why do I share all this? To make the point that hair DOES indeed grow back! Lil B is back to playing with my hair. She wants me to get a Mohawk. (No!) Why do I write about this? Because I want people to fight as hard as they can, even if that means losing their hair. Choose Chemo! Choose life! I did!

Per Alicia Keys…”I’mma live life. Live it loud, like’s there’s only one life. Have to live it up! One Life. Have to live it up.”

Because I chose chemo, because I chose life, I can sing with Alicia…

“It’s a new day, NEW DAY”.