Friday, January 28, 2011

This Pixie Cut Is Not A Wig

One could look at this picture two ways, I'm visiting a friend.  We are both relaxing in Lazy Boy recliners, laughing it up, telling jokes.  Obviously, I'm knitting, as usual.  And I'm holding my knitting project up for the photographer (Dwain) to admire; adult-size slippers, which I will probably end up gifting to some precious soul, like I did recently to my friend Jane who broke her hip.  Now she can wear these slick-bottomed things and fall again.  Sorry, Jane.  Just kidding.  Just for the record, Jane did not break her hip because she was wearing my slippers.   That's my friend Janell Bush in the chair on the other side of me.  Prior to this picture being taken, we had not previously met, although we've both lived in this little town most of our lives.  Janell also has breast cancer; was diagnosed about the same time as I, although her diagnosis, surgical treatment and doctors were different.  Nonetheless, we both had our very first chemotherapy session on the same day, at the same time -- different chemo medications, though.  Hers has a side effect of neuropathy, which the doctor decided not to give me since I am a court reporter.  Neuropathy can cause nerves to tingle in the legs, toes, hands and fingers; and occasionally it causes numbness.  Nope, that just won't do.  My fingers seriously rely on the sense of touch to feel the position of those keys below them.  My chemo drugs come with a whole set of other side-effects (all chemo drugs have side-effects) that I just refuse to Google up or delve into very deeply.  I'll end up obsessing and having phantom symptoms.  But when Dr. Abdelaal mentioned neuropathy and steroids, those were two words I did not have to look up to know what they meant or how they would affect me.    I informed Dr. Abdelaal that I don't do well with steroids.  Explain, he said, with great patience, what they do to you.  I said, "Have you ever seen a hamster wildly running in a wheel going nowhere, eyes wide and glassy? That was me about an hour after I'd taken a steroid.  Then everything started to itch, even my hair.  Have you ever felt your hair itch, Dr. Abdelaal?"  

Even though my chemo drugs were different from Janell's chemo drugs, they are made to do the same thing; attack fast growing cells.  Doesn't matter if they are good cells or bad cells, the mission is to obliterate them.  Cancer cells are, of course, fast growing.  But so are the cells that create your lovely locks of hair -- and eyelashes and eyebrows (sometimes even your fingernails and toenails ~shiver~). 

Janell is taking her chemotherapy every four weeks and I'm taking mine every three weeks, so it turns out that we may never have another chemo session together again.  But that doesn't make us any less chemo-buddies.  Janell has become a "friend" on Facebook, and we message each other often.  She messaged me yesterday (Thursday) when her hair started falling out while she was taking a shower.  She asked if I still had mine.  I didn't see her message until I got home from work, but I felt her sorrow -- belatedly.  She said it didn't bother her that much, but then again, I think Janell has a fabulous attitude.  She says that means the chemo is working.  Well, I guess that's one way of looking at it.  Still, I so resent that this had to happen at all -- breast cancer, that is.  NO FAIR!  

I reported to Janell that, yes, I did still have my hair.  Hummm...  I went to look at myself in the bathroom mirror and pulled on it a little.  It seemed to be firmly intact.   All Janell had, though, to cover her head was a scarf that her daughter brought over.  What?  You have no head covering?  Do you have a tlc catalog, I asked her? No? You're kidding?  How could she have escaped getting one of those?  I think I have four or five of them floating around the house right now.  She asked me if I would drop a tlc calalog off at her daughter's place of business.  Duh! I'd have been happy to take it to Janell's house, but she said she lived too far out in the country (as if I didn't).  Well, anyway, I got to meet Bev, Janell's very pretty daughter. 

When I awakened this morning, I halfway expected to find my hair in a heap all over my pillow.  When I didn't, I tentatively ran my fingers through my scalp to see what I would draw back.  Nothing.  The tentative tug came next.  Still nothing.  Then I took a deep breath, found  bravado buried somewhere in my bowels, pulled it out and jerked my hair.  Hard.  One or two little hairs fell out.  I wasn't sure what I was going to tell Amy, my hairdresser.  You see, today was the day I was scheduled to get my regular, ever-four-week haircut.  Should I still go?  What if she started washing my hair and it all fell out in her hands?  How embarrassing would that be?  Well, I went anyway and just told Amy the truth.  Mostly she was sad that I might not be back for months and months and months for my regular appointment.  She asked me if I would like for her to cut my hair in a pixie cut today.  

Amy and I have both decided that if I still have hair this summer, we are definitely going to keep this pixie cut.  I LOVE it.  But better than that, Dwain loves it.  In fact, he was the one who took this "after" picture. 

I may wake up in the morning with my pixie cut all over my pillow, but at least I had my own hair for one more day.  And I'll thank God every day for this blessing of having hair  every single day that I have it; a blessing that I always took for granted before. 

I took a lot of things for granted before. 


  1. I LOVE your new pixie cut! I meant to tell you today, but we were so busy talking about other stuff I never managed to get the words out. Adorable! And I admire your positive "attitude of gratitude" more than I can tell you.

  2. I, too, love the new pixie cut!!!! YOu look great in it! I did have the chemo that affects the toes and fingers, but it seemed to only affect my toes. After two and a half years, they are still a little numb and tingly. Guess that will be my constant reminder!!! I remember my head itching, and after I lost my hair, my scalp was so tender!!!!

    Isn't it great to have a new friend and one that understands everything you are going through???? My sister was that to me, as she had gone through it all just 2 years before I did.

    I agree with Celia --- your positive attitude of gratitude will get you through all this!!!!!

  3. You are being so brave, mom. And I'm liking the new pixie cut too. I bet it's easy to manage, and when all the hair grows back later on this summer, it will be so easy to manage. :o) Easy-peasy! That's my motto!

  4. SUPER CUTE pixie cut. My scalp in tender too, Cora. Megan, hold on to that precious hair as long as you can....and keep it cut just like that when it comes back, so becoming on you.

  5. Megan-
    you are radiant! My hair fell out day 13 or so after my first treatment. By day 15 we cut it and shaved my head so I could donate those 15 inches of long hair to a good cause. After that, it was wigs and scarves for me for about 9 more months until I finally decided I would go alla natural. That was now 17 months ago and I have so much hair now I don't know what to do with it all! (About 7 inches) So, just know that it DOES come back, and in the meantime I hope you'll just have fun with the new looks you can have using wigs. The short pixie style will be one you're gonna be rockin' in the fall! And yes, it is super duper easy!

    I don't know how much of my blog you have read, but I would say that bacterial infection control is not a joke, and something every chemo patient has to watch closely. I got MRSA while in treatment and it was not irraticated until 6 months post chemo and 2 surgeries later to remove to lesions that had become so infected and wouldn't respond to even the last resort anti-biotics! No matter how clean a treatment center is, this deadly bacteria is everywhere. Take good care of yourself! It is a long road but thankfully one that has an end point. You can do this!! We're behind you every step and here to help any way we can. hugs to you!