I Got A Real Haircut After Chemo
A couple weeks ago I made an unexpected decision to cut my hair. Not a trim, like a real haircut after chemo. I chopped off a significant amount of hair. Six inches to be exact. This is a big deal for me.
To many people it is just hair. But for me, my hair was part of my identity. It is part of my body, and I lost it. And in some ways, I lost myself because of it. Looking back, how I view my hair, how I handled my hair, and how I speak about my hair almost symbolizes my life and my relationship with cancer.
I didn’t really feel the impact of hair loss until after chemo. Because during chemo, I was only focused on one thing, and that was wanting all 4 of those tumors to shrink. Thankfully, 3 out of 4 pretty much melted away. And the one that was left shrunk to 1 cm.
Struggle With Myself
But after chemo, I had other treatments and thank goodness the side effects were no longer hair loss. So about a month later, I started seeing peach fuzz on top of my head. That was around the time I started to really feel the hardship of cancer. My body doesn’t look, feel, and function the same way. I learned that some of these changes could be permanent. Also, I felt lost, and worst of all, I didn’t feel myself. I was hoping maybe if my hair comes back, I could re-identify myself again. That process felt long.
It became an obsession checking my hair growth. I would look at old pictures of myself, and grieve over who I had lost. At the same time, the hair growth was ridiculous. The sides and bottoms were growing faster than the top. I really did look like I had a mullet. Many people suggested I get a haircut after chemo so that the hair growth would be even. But I refused. A haircut after chemo to me felt like I was regressing. Like I am cutting away all that progress. I am regressing on myself. So I tried really really hard to mask the mullet by wearing a headband. If you look at my 2016 and 2017 blog photos, you’ll see what I’m talking about.
My mullet was getting more apparent and it started to hinder my self-confidence. Which was confusing to me because I thought hair growth would mean I will re-gain my self-confidence. I guess I did re-gain it because something in me did feel new and different and I was proud of it. But man that hair, it did take away the progress I made with my confidence. I needed a change to reflect the person I became.
It wasn’t until 9 months after chemo, I had the courage to get a trim. I shared that experience with you all and it felt sooooo good!! That first haircut after chemo felt way better than I expected. I started loving myself a little bit more. In fact, that haircut actually made me feel more feminine, more me. As if I got a little bit of my old self back. But you guys it took me 9 months to get there.
After that experience, I got trims here and there. Each trim I felt better about myself. My life and relationship with cancer got more complicated and at the same time better. Each trim represented a piece of life I was ready to let go of and overcome.
Last summer, I had this epiphany with cancer. I accepted it in my life. After I accepted it, it was as if cancer was a part of my daily routine and I could breathe again. It probably was because I stopped fighting what I couldn’t control. Acceptance is an amazing thing. The pressure was released.
After that summer, conversations about cancer just didn’t come up naturally anymore. I had the urge to talk about other things that really make me happy and bring me joy. I’m sure you all noticed that because I don’t have as many cancer posts anymore.
Fast forward to last week, and that post chemo-hair just really bothered me. It felt as if I was constantly carrying extra weight with me. I was happy, soooo overjoyed that I got my hair to grow pass my foobs (if you are new here that is what I call my breasts because, well, because I no longer have my breasts.). That was a very huge accomplishment. I never thought I would get my hair that long again.
I’m Ready For What’s Next
But I was ready. I’m ready for what else life has for me. Cancer will always be part of my life. But it doesn’t define who I am. So when I walked into the hair salon (for those asking, I shared in this Q&A where I go for my hair) I was ready to chop off all the post chemo hair. I wanted the world to see the woman I have become. Peace out to those 6 inches of hair! Same experience as my first haircut after chemo, I felt more myself again.
And you guys, I rarely felt this (even before cancer) about haircuts but I freaking love my haircut! I feel so alive. Like I revived who I was from three years ago. I can look in the mirror and be happy with who I am looking at. I’m still a work in progress. No way in hell do I have my life sorted out. I struggle, and struggle a lot. I may not always write about cancer or feel the urge to write about cancer, but there is still that cancer struggle. Does this mean I will stop talking about cancer? Heck no! But the feeling of joy helps me overcome all of that. So this is why my REAL haircut after chemo is so significant to me.
By the way, these photos were taken in Austin. This is in Perlas. We went to Austin for the YSC Summit. If you are a young women diagnosed with breast cancer, I highly recommend checking out Young Survival Coalition. This organization was life changing for me, and helped me heal and recover with cancer.