It’s been nearly a month ago since I got my hair cut.
A short haircut, for the first time in seven years.
Shorter than I’ve ever worn it.
Even shorter than the pixie cut my mother thought would look cute on me in first grade.
Shorter than when I cut my hair to look like Julie Andrews, the summer before seventh grade. I know. Big mistake.
For most of my adult life I’ve worn my hair short, but after a concussion in 2010, I couldn’t stand the noise and activity in a hair salon, so for nearly a year, I just let it grow. I’ve kept it long since then.
At my first visit to see the oncologist after being diagnosed with breast cancer, she talked about the possibility of side effects, emphasizing how differently people react to chemotherapy. The one thing she said with great certainty, though, and with compassion…
“You’re going to lose your beautiful hair.”
No, I thought to myself, I won’t lose it. I’ll take it first. It’s my hair and no disease or treatment for it will take my hair from me.
So I had it all chopped off.
The stylist was great – just exactly what I needed – didn’t let me lose my nerve. She braided it wet so we could send it to Locks of Love, asked me if I was ready, and before I could answer, she said, “okay, here we go!”
And my long hair was gone.
I love it short again. Doesn’t take nearly as long to dry, so I’m not late any more.
Okay, I’m not as late.
My breast cancer survivor friends keep asking me how my scalp feels. If it’s itching yet. No more than usual, I tell them, but yesterday it started burning, stinging. Felt like a bad sunburn. Getting close, my friends said. The nurse at the infusion lab told me I probably would lose my hair before my second chemo treatment. That’s next Tuesday.
So I’m reminding myself these days that I’m more than my hair. In a culture that continues to raise little girls to focus on their appearance, to the point that so many women still believe that’s what’s most important about us, I will remind myself of the truth.
My mama said it’s what’s on the inside that counts.
Also, I have a nicely shaped head.
My ears don’t stick out.
And I look good in hats.