The Second Time Around
They say that the second time is the charm. I believed them until this happened. What is "this," you ask? This is the shaving of my head. Hair loss from MBC. The first time, my sister flew down from the Bay Area and shaved it because - in the still of the night - chemo decided to sneak in and steal my hair, leaving only scattered portions. She couldn't abide that, so she flew down and shaved the rest of it off.
Growing up in the church, we were taught that our hair is our glory, and I believed it and took that teaching to heart; however, once the razor hit my scalp, I suddenly felt that my hair had been my bondage.
Why hair means so much to us
As the hair hit the floor and the tears hit my chest, I felt a freedom that I had never felt before in my life. The type of freedom that you get from a bald head can never be felt anywhere else, in my humble opinion.
That is how I felt nine years ago. After the first time that my hair was stolen, I made it my business to grow it back and keep it for dear life. I was successful, or so I thought. My hair grew back, and I loved it, every luscious strand of it.
I would fluff it, twirl it, color it, protect it, and I tried to preserve it. I was successful until about a week ago.
I had a treatment in June. While the treatment helped substantially with my current lung dilemma:- to breathe or not to breathe - I found that it put a strain on my hair, especially mixed with the stress of my apartment complex's burning, which caused a swift, unplanned exit from my home of eleven years.
As the multiple traumas were occurring, I barely focused on my now-bailing tresses. It began as small bald spots, then ventured into broken pieces, and finally it leapt off my scalp as if it were training for the Olympics.
Holding onto our hair
At first, I was in total disbelief. Was my hair shedding once again? Would I be bald a second time? Would my hair ever grow back? Was being bald the new bold and the beautiful, or was it an open wound that never healed? The questions were many, but the answers were few.
One morning I woke up and there was no denying that my paper thin hair had to go. There was nothing left to hold onto. It had become wispy, brittle, and bare. I was left with no option but to release it from its misery and let it go.
I told my husband that I was going to find a barber and have him shave the remainder of my almost absent hair off. He gave his reluctant agreement, and off we went, hand in hand, to find someone skilled in head-shaving.
Right around the corner from us was a quaint little barbershop that looked like part of a Hollywood set.
A perfectly shaped head
As we reached the barbershop, a sign read, "No walk-ins. Call and make an appointment." As my husband turned to walk away, I convinced him I should go in and at least get a business card so we could make an appointment, all the while knowing that someone in that barbershop was going to shave my head that day.
Once inside, there was an older gentleman that told me that he had one appointment coming in thirty minutes and that he wouldn’t be able to do it. I informed him that I really needed it done and that I could not be walking around looking crazy by the head. He conceded and asked me to have a seat in his chair.
Once I was seated, draped, and seemingly ready to be scalped bald, the tears began to fall. I was reminded at that moment that no matter how great I may sound or look, I simply was not okay.
He patted me on my back and began the task of shaving my head. He even chuckled and said, "At least you have a perfectly shaped head."
Rocking my head with or without hair
As he shaved my head, he talked about everything under the sun: his wife, children, mother, siblings, his love of cars, and his heart's desire to always own a barbershop. As he finished the job at hand, he patted me on my back again, wished me the best, took my money, and sent me on my merry little way.
As my husband and I walked out of the barbershop hand in hand, I knew two things: 1) That no matter what journey I would have to face, my husband would be by my side holding my hand, and 2) I had a small head, and I could rock it with or without hair.
After being diagnosed with advanced breast cancer, how many times did you lose your hair?
Have you gained new friends in your metastatic cancer journey?