Posted by: annnorris | October 22, 2012

And so it begins…the hair loss

(Warning – I plan to be honest in my accounts, and let’s face it, cancer is not pretty. If you have a weak stomach, don’t read.)

This is a God thing happening right now as I write. I have a christian radio station playing in the back ground and the song is Kerrie Roberts’ “No Matter What” (http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=F1VlOs634u8) I’m running back to Your promises, one more time A perfect song for what I am going through. Here are some of the lyrics:

I’m running back to Your promises, one more time
Lord that’s all I can hold on to
I’ve got to say this has taken me, by surprise
But nothing surprises You
Before a heartache, can ever touch my life
It has to go through Your hands
And even though I, I keep asking why
I keep asking why

No matter what, I’m gonna love You
No matter what, I’m gonna need You
I know that You can find a way to keep me from the pain
But if not, if not – I’ll trust You
No matter what (no matter, no matter what, no matter)
No matter what (no matter, no matter what – no matter, no matter what)

Wow! I put the entire song’s lyrics on my next post. Hopefully I will able to add a video to it.

When I went to see the oncologist, Dr. Diane Wilder, for the first time, she told me very straightforward that in 14 days after my first chemotherapy, I would lose all of my hair. Guess what? Yeah, this is Day 14. In everything I learned that day from Dr. Wilder I was most disturbed, distraught and concerned with losing my hair. I think had she told me that I would lose a breast, I would have handled it better. MY HAIR!

Sure, my hair will grow back. Sure, I can wear a wig. Sure, I can put on scarves. But why are we as women so completely connected to our hair? Women spend over 2 1/2 years of their lives washing,  blowdrying, styling, and brushing our hair. According to that article from DailyMail, we spend more time on our hair each morning than on our makeup. Given the choice, we will choose to fix our hair over putting on our makeup. Interesting.

Here is a passage I came across that really hit home with me:

1 Corinthians 11: 3. And I desire that you know that the head of every man is the Mashiyach, and the head of the woman is the man, and the head of the Mashiyach is Elohim. 4. Every man who prays or prophesies with his head covered, dishonors his head. 5. And every woman, who prays or prophesies with her head uncovered, dishonors her head; for she is on a level with her whose head is shaven. 6. For if a woman be not covered, let her also be shorn; but if it be shameful for a woman to be shorn or shaven, let her be covered….13. Judge for yourselves, among yourselves; is it becoming that a woman pray to Elohim with her head uncovered?[1] 14. Does not nature teach you that in a man, if his hair grows long, it is a reproach to him? 15.But for a woman, if her hair is abundant, it is a glory to her; for her hair is given to her for a covering.[1]

I wonder if this is the stem of our connection with our hair? For me personally, this is the first time I think I have read this. It could be just the first time it had relevance to me. That being said, I don’t think that’s my reason for needing my hair. (BTW ran across this passage and love it! Proverbs 16: 31 Gray hair is a crown of glory; it is gained in a righteous life.)  I think it has more to do with public image than anything else right now. It is something I can hide under/behind. I can jazz it up beautifully. I feel more beautifuly and present myself to others with more esteem. If I am feeling down, my hair will reflect that by its lack of “fixing” for that day. I think a lot of powerful women have great hair. Would they still be powerful without their crown? Who knows, but for me, I think that is why it hurts to lose my hair.

It shows my vulnerability. It shows me down to my soul. I feel naked and uncomfortable. I wonder if I am still attractive. Will I be shunned? Will I be seen in a different light? I know that is all my own perceptions, but they are still mine, still the way I feel.

Let me go back to the beginning of the story. Dr. Wilder had told me I would lose my hair on day 14. I’ve dreaded this every since I heard her say it. I’ve been preparing for it for about a week now. Monday, Sheri took me to St. Vincents Hospital in Little Rock to visit what I call “The Wig Place”. If you have cancer and will be losing your hair, you can go here to get wigs and scarves for free. First, I have to say that I could not have chosen a more perfect person to go with me. I cannot ever thank Sheri for being “my person” that day. I knew she would be the one to tell me in all truth and love, “Ann, not that one.” All of you who know Sheri, you know this to be true. But Sheri also helped me keep the trip light. Secondly, God could not have put a more perfect person to be in “The Wig Place” that day. Her name was Alesa Garner. She’s a tiny little ball of light and energy. As she talked to me, I knew without a doubt that her only goal was to make me feel pretty, have control over my situation, and make sure I knew lots of little insider cancer tips (She told me, “Don’t eat anything that can’t be cooked or peeled.” And, “Don’t eat at buffets.”) I chose a wig with a hairstyle I have always wanted but was too curly to pull off. I hope you all like it when you see me!

Task one down! Tuesday rolls around, and I know I need to have my hair cut short. I didn’t want to waste money on a haircut that would only last days, so I after asking around, my high school best friend texts me, “I would be honored to do this for you.” I cried, but she didn’t know. Again, such a small act from her meant the world to me. She came over prepared with scissors and clippers. Her first attempt was still way too long. I knew that I needed an extreme length for me to start to acclimated to my all too soon reality. She continued even shorter. We talked about our children, our spouses, our lives and how they have changed. When we were finished I had a perfect little pixie! Not as bad as I was fearing. And, to not be a cosmetologist, no one could have done a better job. I love you Barbara!

On about Thursday, I remember sitting at my desk working, when I started to get a tingle in the “down yonder”. For some reason, I knew just exactly what it was. It was as if I could feel my hair follicles opening and releasing the hair. After checking, it was confirmed. I was losing my pubic hair. Interesting.

That brings me to this weekend. Thankfully, the way things worked, I got to spend some time alone. Mark and Jake went to St. Louis to see the Green Bay Packers play the Rams. I enjoyed my day of cooking. I baked a ham, made homemade mac & cheese, and cooked Mark’s grandmothers’ recipe for Skillet Mac (a childhood love of Mark’s). I bagged and labeled it all for future dinners, placing it all in the freezer. I had invited my sister over for dinner since her husband and son had gone with my boys. I tried a new recipe for chicken and sun dried tomato bowtie pasta. She was to be over at 5:30. While cooking, I started feeling a tingle on my head that I remembered from a few days ago. I went to the bathroom mirrow. I tugged on my hair. A wad came out in my hand. The tears welled up and started to flow. I called Beth and asked when she was coming. I couldn’t get much out of my mouth, but she knew what was going on. She called my mom. Soon my kitchen was filled with my family. And, much to my surprise, my moment of tears had passed. I had been preparing for this day for 14 days. I was as ready as anyone can be.

That night before bed, I put a sleep cap on just in case the hair came out on its on throughout the night. I didn’t want to wake up to a mess. Not being able to shave due to the chance of a nick that amay get infected, my leg hair was starting to look a little bit like an apes legs. Because of this I must confess that I was hoping I would wake up with smooth legs! (Then I could have “fresh sheets, smooth legs” day everytime I washed the sheets without even having to shave!)

Upon waking in the morning, this morning, I hadn’t lost all of my hair yet. (And my leg hair was still there holding very tight in that follicle!) While I could pull out clumps and clumps, but was able to wash it and go to church. In the shower, I realized my underarm hair was coming out easily too. YEAH! Clean, smooth pits! However, when I got home, I started having some realities set in. I had planned on doing some more cooking today. There’s no way I can cook and be losing my hair. I would have to clean everywhere I walked as hair fell out. Only one answer, shave my head. So, I hunted down my clippers, and started. Soon it was apparent that my hair was too thick for the clippers. I got out my scissors and started cutting my hair down to the scalp. After I was finished, I went over it with the clippers.

Hair was everywhere. I still have not gone back in the bathroom for the clean up. I think I still have a few hours before the boys come home.

How do I feel about it? Not real sure. The bandana is HOT! I am not cooler as a result of clipping it all off. But, its still me. I still have the same flaws, the same loves, the same sense of humor, the same love from Jesus. I am still the same me.

(Just FYI- my wonderful college freshman son who usually has long hair, has cut his hair very short for me. Isn’t he sweet? Just wait a minute, he did it so the girls at school will ask him, “Why did you cut your hair?” To which he can respond, “I did it for my mom. She’s going through chemo and has lost her hair.” And the girls reply, “Awww, you are so sweet!” Those of you who know Jake knows that there is always two positives in most of his actions! LOVE THAT BOY!”


Responses

  1. I love you, Ann. You are such an inspiration and I know a joy to the Lord! You are amazing. God will be with you every step of your journey. May you continue to feel his presence.

  2. WOW! I love how real you are and I love your attitude. That’s the Ann I know and love. As i read your story, I am in agreement about the whole hair thing. It’s part of who we are and it’s hard to think of losing it. To be bare before the world. As I ponder what that must feel like for you, it hits me that you are one step closer to understanding Jesus’ sacrifice for us. He was stripped bare, stripped of his earthly robe, wounded and hung out for all to see. He felt alone, and although it was hard, He trusted the Father with His life. I know cancer isn’t like being crucified, but it is suffering in a slightly similar way that He did. And as you know, you too can trust the Father. He will hold you as He held Jesus, never taking His eyes from either of you. Don’t forget that, no matter what tomorrow may bring. I’m praying dear friend. I love you!

  3. And BTW, your eyes are shining bright and beautiful in this picture, hair or no hair- they are gorgeous!

    • Amen to this comment by Pam. Your eyes are the very first thing I noticed. HUGSSSSSSSSSSS

  4. Holy crap, Ann…you have me bawling like a baby…such strength and bravery!


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