Saturday, November 8, 2008

Shirley is Right

Ding, ding, ding, ding!
We have a winner. Shirley, over at Rhubarb Whine, left a comment on 'Hair Today, Gone Tomorrow'. In the great scheme of things, I know that losing my hair is a vanity issue, not a matter of life or death, but it's something that I'm really struggling with. A bunch of you offered some really insightful comments, and I was able to look at them and see the truth in them all. However, Shirley commented "Perhaps it is the understanding that people 'know' something is afoot when they see a woman who has lost hair. One of 2 reasons, usually, for the loss. Like wearing a sign on your back." As soon as I read that, I knew that was it. Right there. Shirley had hit that nail square on the head.
Although I don't hold much back on my blog, the fact is, I'm more comfortable writing what I think than saying what I think. So 'cancer' is not something that I'm really comfortable talking about yet. If someone raises the topic, I'll talk about it. But if it's not mentioned, I don't mention it either. I don't want people to think that I'm looking for pity, or that I'm a big whiney baby. Sometimes, I'm afraid that if I begin to talk about it, I won't be able to stop. Or maybe that I'll begin to cry, and I won't be able to stop. I'm afraid of people's reactions. I was raised in a family where if you were feeling poorly, you simply took a deep breath and continued on. It was considered a sign of weakness to complain, so I've always been a bit of a stoic. Until now. Until this cancer thing. I'm everlastingly grateful to Mikey for making me take up blogging...I'd have probably burst by now if I couldn't type all this frustration and fear out of my system.
Like I said, yesterday, I went wig shopping. You have to understand that I am not a woman who spends a lot of time on her appearance. I've got my regimen down. Except for undergarments, I buy my clothes at a second hand store. I'm self conscious about myself. I just don't spend time or money on myself, either one. But yesterday, I walked into an actual beauty shop, which is a rare thing in, and of, itself. The lady cutting hair asked if she could help me, and I said that I needed to look at a wig. 'M' was summoned from the back room. I had to explain about the $75 grant from the cancer society to buy a wig. And right away, you saw people's shocked looks, and the pity ('Oh, the poor thing, she's so young'). 'M' told me that the wigs were $100. and I was trying to ask questions in a self conscious way, and she was simply trying to get me to pick out a wig. I finally did, but it was $175. and I realized that she was telling me that my share was $100. I not only looked like a pitiful cancer person, but an impoverished pitiful cancer person, and I was mortified. I just said, "Thanks. I don't want a wig," and I fled. Really. Fled. And I got to my car and started crying again. (Keeee-ripes! How much can one person cry over the course of a month. It's really starting to get embarrassing.)
Tim and I went to the chemo education appointment. We talked to the doctor. Tim asked questions. He's pretty concerned about the chemo. He's come a long way. The cancer diagnosis was a big shock to our marriage. He sought to comfort himself by pretending it was not happening. I sought to comfort myself by reaching out to my husband. Now, finally, we have reached the point where we are, once again, comforting each other. And for all the fallout in the comment section of a recent post, I gotta tell you - I've been reading up on this, and it appears that the rough patch we endured was fairly typical. Anyways, when we got home after this appointment, we were both quiet for a while. Then I tried to explain about the wig, and how awful it was, and embarrassing, and I didn't want to go to get my head shaved where people could see me, in case I cried, etc. etc. etc. So we looked at wigs on line. He picked out one that looks like I wear my hair now. He measured my head, and we picked the size. While I ordered it, he called my brother in law. He asked to borrow their clippers next weekend. My chemo starts on Wednesday. My wig should be here by the weekend. We figure that it's probably best just to cut the hair before it starts falling out. He'll do that for me at home. He won't care if I cry.
In the end, when it's all said and done, I know that I will weather the loss of my hair, and I will be perfectly fine. It's just contemplating that loss that is so difficult. Once I lose that hair, Shirley is absolutely right. There will be no denying the cancer. Whether I'm ready to talk about it or not, people will know. No matter how self conscious I am, I'll have to deal with this.


Anonymous said...

And we will be right here if you need supprt. Be it holding your hand or a lick in the pants (metaphorically!) we will be here, always.

Hang in there, Debby.

And if you have ever wanted to do anything 'wild' with your - like dye it pink something - now may be a good time...?

Anonymous said...

Argh! That is KICK in the pants, not lick! Oh Deb, can you edit my comment - please!

Debby said...

Shirley, dear...we cannot edit comments on this site. Or if we can, I have not the foggiest how to do it. I would ask Jeanie our computer genie, but as she's planning a wedding and kind of scattered right this minute, I'll let her be. Sorry about the lick/kick schtick.

Anonymous said...

Hi Deb I just got myself a wig in the style I had always wanted my hair to be and waited to see what would happen. Didn’t use any chemicals on my hair during treatment of course so it went to the flat straight stuff I was born with and had battled with all my life – minus colour – eek! As it happened I didn’t have a dramatic hair loss. I lost a proportion of hair and only used the wig a few times. It was good to have it for those times though, but I am not a good hat wearer either as they annoy me, and I would take it off as soon as I got home. Don’t like photos of myself much during that time though as I looked a bit tired and the flat hair didn’t help.
I am amazed at how little support help you are finding. I am sure you would have tried doing a search online for support groups. Can the university centre at Pittsburgh that is organising your treatment put you in touch with help? Or ask when you go to start treatment how you can find help? I didn’t want a lot as wanted to feel I was still a part of the mainstream world, but it was good to know they were there and I did access some help when I really needed it. Even a general cancer support helpline that you can phone and talk to someone may tell you things you need to know to access information that you need.
Remember, we are people who have something called cancer. People first, condition second, like diabetes, kidney disease etc. Once, the last couple were even quicker in their effect than cancer and nobody takes a step backward when they are mentioned. I always said the word cancer out loud when I was talking to people as think it should be accepted like any other health problem. I think the world ought to get used to it.
Just like people with fat legs, bald heads, one arm etc, we are all people first, not our physical condition. We are all are still the person we have always been - apart from living and growing in knowledge and experience as we progress on life.
As usual, apologies for the long post
Love and hugs Barb

steviewren said...

I glad you and Tim have found your way back to being a comfort to one another. I'm glad you won't be going through chemo and hair loss alone.

Bush Babe said...

Like Mum said, not everyone loses hair. But if you do, it's good to be ready for it with a plan. I suspect you would rock bald!! Heh.

Seriously, I feel your anxiety. And I applaud your bounce-back from those first knock-out blows. I am so proud of Tim too. He's stepping up beautifully and he is quite a few miles from his comfort zone. You are fighters. And we are cheering you loud and strong.


jeanie said...

Good on you, Tim and Debby, for being strong enough to know what was going on behind the jitters.

Do you know that Pagi and SSB and V all roll their eyes when all three of us girls are together, and you are in our conversation because it is exactly like we do know you and you are part of the extended women of our clan!!

Pencil Writer said...

Debby, sorry the wig shopping experience wasn't with someone more experienced in handling women with cancer and all the fear and tears that accompany it. Back of the establishment, one on one, please, if you don't mind!

But I have a thought...why not just get a really short new do rather than shaving it all off.

That way you'll have some time to adjust to a "new look" and feel, AND your hair probably won't begin falling out immediately, will it?

It's just something to think about. Take care. And glad you and Tim are a little more back to "norm". :-}

Doris said...

My hubby's hair did not begin to come out until after his 3rd chemo treatment, so you have a few weeks to get ready for it .The cancer center here has a nice assortment of hats and wigs abvailable also. Hats are free, I don't know about the wigs but you should ask. Hubby got 2 hats there but he would not even consider a wig ! His dad was bald and so was one of his brothers. Praying for you to be ok, I feel you will be. Best wishes . Doris

PaintedPromise said...

if i was close enough i would be happy to shave your head for you! i believe my friend Lynn just wore a scarf or hat most of the time, at least when i saw her... which would save a lot of wig money lol...

and i have an adorable bluejean hat i could send you for a while if you want! it is really cute and would hide a lot of head... let me know...

love ya Deb big hugs!!!

Renee said...


I am reading your blog from the time of your diagnosis and hope to get to today before bedtime.

I was diagnosed with breast cancer June 2008 with surgery in August 2008. I had my first chemo one year ago. Reading your blog was like listening to me talk. All the feelings swirling around the brain, needing the husband to step in (which mine did, thankfully!), making sure everyone else was "okay" with my cancer diagnosis.

The hair entries . . oh, the hair entries! I so agree with Shirley. Though my hair is now about 3-4" long, it's not MY hair. It's curly, frizzy and semi-blonde with grey/white, while my REAL hair is straight and blonde. I wonder, if it goes back to my REAL hair, will I stop thinking about cancer and feeling like people know I'ved had cancer? Hmmm, something to ponder about in my blog.

Thank you so much for sharing your thoughts and feelings with us. It truly helps others get through their journey knowing that what they are thinking and feeling is "normal".

Many blessings to you!