Until we find a cure for breast cancer, many women will face chemotherapy treatment with hair loss a hideous side effect. In honor of Breast Cancer Awareness month, today’s guest blogger is Ellen’s hair-do. We hope you appreciate this unique perspective of that aspect of treatment as we think of the members of our posse who are currently facing or have already endured this same very personal loss.
My hostess is 53 years old, and her hair (me) is now natural brunette, a condition she tolerates. You see, she wasn’t always dark-headed; until she was 10 years old, I was sunny blonde.
Excepting a six month period after her breast cancer diagnosis 7 years ago, I have been with my hostess every day of her life, a constant companion as she navigates the world. Most days I comply, but like a recalcitrant child, at times I have been her nemesis, causing her much frustration when I don’t conform to her wishes.
Since she was a little girl, she has always worried about me. At the beginning of each school year she’d ask her mother to re-style me for a new back-to-school look. Her mother didn’t have a lot of experience with hair-dos, always seemingly happy with her own unchanging style except the time she went groovy with frosting and teasing back in the late 1960’s. Thankfully for me, Marcia Brady emerged with the hairstyle of the moment.
I was happy to be long, straight and parted in the middle. She kept that look until high school when she found a stylist who was feathering all the girls’ hair like Farrah Fawcett’s.
Power Tools and Bad Stylists
Thanks to this new stylist and the invention of the blow dryer,
I was cut, shaped, blown, curled, permed and sprayed into all sorts of looks, some of which were becoming and some that clearly needed a friend (or enemy) to tell her otherwise. She wrestled me daily into submission with all the rollers, brushing and spraying imaginable. Her mother didn’t understand why she had to fuss with me every day, sometimes more than once!
When she entered the working world, several women in her office recommended Charles, a stylist she wish she’d never met. He was the first of a sordid few in whom she placed me with great faith, telling them what she wanted them to do to me, only to have them do the opposite? Sadly this happened right before her wedding. Like a knight in shining armor, Harry came to our rescue. He managed to make me look presentable on her wedding day, although when the bird seed went flying at the end of the reception, I ended up looking like a bird’s nest perched on her head.
The Great Move
When my hostess and her young family moved to Richmond, Virginia, one of her biggest worries was finding a new stylist. Joyce wasn’t a stylist to the rock stars but was conveniently located and inexpensive. I went through several questionably short cuts, but my hostess was too busy bringing up three babies to seek out a new salon. Because I wasn’t too atrocious, she tolerated Joyce’s mediocre talents until someone better came along.
To Color or Not to Color?
Enter Mike: a good colorist who caused Ellen to ponder my brunette-ness. I wasn’t gray yet, so I couldn’t figure out why they didn’t like me just the way I was. Even if I was gray, so what?! I think Ellen yearned for her younger blonde days and was mildly jealous of her daughters’ blonde locks. Mike said there was NO WAY he could transform me to look like her daughters’ hair.
I was thankful for his honesty, or she would have griped mightily about the cost to color me to that degree. She did color me slightly lighter for a while until she saw a church directory photo of herself in which I looked orange-ish. She was horrified. That was the end of my coloring.
After her diagnosis and surgery, Ellen’s treatment plan for breast cancer called for eight rounds of chemotherapy that would cause me to fall out. Having been with her for 46 years, I was shocked that she took the news in stride. I bet she took comfort knowing the hair that her sweet daughter mBf lost to her leukemia treatment returned in beautiful abundance.
If her baby could cope, so could she. I wasn’t afraid to leave because frankly I needed a break.
When the time came for me to fall out, she went with aMl to see Mike who preemptively cut me off. Mike turned her away from the mirror so she couldn’t see the shearing, but she could see the look of horror in aMl’s eyes as I dropped to the floor. I was set free on a six-month sabbatical.
Our separation was just what she needed from me. She devoted her energy to healing, not tending to my unruly demands. She got up each day, summoned one from her replacement team,
and went on about her business. Though grateful to do my part in hibernation, I missed seeing all the meals and treats that came through the door to feed her family but was glad to know others were taking care of her.
Slowly I made my return, and I’ll never forget the night she removed her wig at the urging of bald friends and family.
The longer I grew, the more she felt like getting out and about.
As my absence became a more distant memory, I became wild and curly.
My hostess liked me that way for a while because I was low maintenance. Growing out to longer lengths took patience I didn’t think she possessed, although we did hit a rough patch. She liked to put styling gel on me to calm the perceived frizzing, but I just looked really baaaad.
During this time Mike tragically passed away, and she moved to the adjacent salon chair to be consoled by Alli. After wrestling with shorter looks for a number of growing-out years, she and Alli became increasingly frustrated with me. Finally she told Alli, I am tired of fighting this style, all bangs and layers. Let’s just grow it out, and let it do what it wants to do.
She is much happier these days. I am not perfect, but I am better behaved now that I am not being forced into a shape that I’m not meant to be. She still uses her trusty tools,
but we have come to an understanding. She doesn’t expect perfection from me, and I, in return, do my best to keep her happy. Why did it take a traumatic event like breast cancer and chemotherapy to make her appreciate me just the way I am?
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If you’d like to help eradicate breast cancer and end needless hair loss, take the #ThinkPink Challenge. Click here to find out more!
October 13, 2014