Tuesday, 1 December 2009

Hairy Moments

People are getting in touch all the time with their own tips, advice and experiences. I only wish I’d known half of this stuff back in summer when I was diagnosed with breast cancer. I had no clue as to where to begin. I knew no-one who had been through it.

Everything happens so quickly. One day in May I was told I had cancer. A week later I had surgery. Three weeks after leaving hospital I commenced chemotherapy. Friends put me on to friends of theirs but I was too overwhelmed, afraid and it has to be said, ashamed, to ask for any useful advice.

But that is why I started Chemo Chic.

I felt horrified and bereft at the prospect of my hair falling out. Back BC, I had a long, thick mane of glossy auburn. My hair was my crowning glory, so much a part of me. Losing it was losing a piece of my identity. The day that my hair came out in my hands I cried and cried. I felt so powerless in the situation.

So I am delighted to pass on to you the following brilliant strategy from Andrea, writing on the Chemo Chic facebook page. Before being diagnosed with cancer, Andrea had bum length dreadlocks. She had grown them for eleven years. Everybody knew her as “Andrea with the dreads”. You can only imagine how much a part of Andrea’s identity those dreadlocks were. Faced with the prospect of having her hair ‘taken’ by chemo, Andrea decided on a preemptive strike. She organised a huge party and invited all her friends. The culmination of the event was Andrea having her head completely shaved. In the process she raised over £700 for Breast Cancer Care. Andrea writes that she did not shed a single tear as her hair was removed.

Now, I know that Andrea will have down days and there will be tears to come. But the ability to turn adversity on its head will give her strength to make it through the ordeal to come. Given the choice none of us would have Breast Cancer at all. But we don’t have that choice. The only choice we have is to get through it with grace and courage or to get through it kicking and screaming. I have had my share of bleak moods and crying jags but I hope that on most days I have chosen to see cancer from a positive perspective.

Now I’m sitting here running my fingers through a fabulous thatch that's at least half an inch long all over. I think it may be time to colour it. Mum advises me to use a chemical free vegetable dye. Wanda says that vegetable dyes are rubbish. Naturally, I agree with both of them. I'm just pleased to have such a high-class problem.


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