Week 4 – Self Portrait
Written at 3AM, Aug. 14, 2013 because the night after chemo I don’t sleep. Wired on steroid, exhausted from everything and nauseated. Fun times. Get up and write.
After 4 days with the fun pixie cut it, became apparent I had to call my new friend Tamara Lackey Dayton at http://www.oranjstudio.com/ to shave it all down. It was falling out by the handful. In the shower, on my pillow, anytime it was touched. Messy and distressing. It came out in more like it was thinning rather than in big chunks so I could keep it for a couple days once it really started to go, but when it was time I knew it. I called my 29-year-old brother, Dean, to come with me, as he’s ex-military and has some personal experience with shaved heads. He was the perfect partner that day. Tamara’s studio was bright and sunny, with lots of orange and massage chairs. The “so-homely-he’s-cute” dog first growled at Dean, then jumped on his lap and wanted love. Dean was a good brother, looking up from his iPhone on occasion to tell me I looked pretty good as Tamara worked in stages to see both how much hair was still there and out of kindness to not shock me with an immediate drastic shave. I got to see myself in a mini mohawk! I so love that girl. In the end, my final shaved head felt fresh and light. I thought about starting over with completely new hair and how many years of growth I was letting go of to create something new. I thought about all the different ways I could grow it out again, colors, styles, lengths. We declared it beautiful, and I decided I needed to go sit in public somewhere and “try it on” with myself, although it was the Monday after a chemo treatment the previous Tuesday, just 7 days, and I was very fatigued still. Together with my younger sister, Katy, and her friend Madeline, we sat outdoors at Ken’s Artisan Pizza in SE. My experience being bald in public was a good one. I watch others and no one, expect a fellow baldy, age 9 months, stared. Madeline said I looked like a model on an assignment. I went with that one because I recognized that it is my choice what I say to myself. With something this new I get to write my own narrative about how I feel and who I will be. The words I tell myself that repeat in my head create how I carry myself and perhaps what other people see and feel when they are with me. My question when I was first diagnosed remains: I wonder, if I truly believe and carry myself as a beautiful woman who’s bald, will others around me see that even before they see a chemotherapy patient. Or do we always see the cancer first?