The Kindness of Strangers.
|One year ago today, I started chemo.|
|Days before — in anticipation of my hairless winter — Lucy, Bayla and I had combed the annual Originals Christmas Craft Fair in search of a funky chemo cap.
An extremely generous and talented stranger, by the name of Debbie Etherington, absolutely insisted that I pick out any of her cozy handknitted toques and accept it as a gift.
|That cozy toque, with its warm thrumbed lining and its even warmer history, kept my bald head warm all winter.|
|Today, Debbie and I met again. This time I brought good news, gratitude,…
And a set of home made pillow cases.
|Not counting this|
|My last haircut was immediately after this photo was taken.
Two hours after my diagnosis.
|Many are the times, in the 14 months since then, I had the urge to pop into the salon and give myself a little lift.
|Then, suddenly, I had tonnes of hair.
|Today, I had that long-awaited haircut.|
- Watch it grow month by month
- They Make Me Feel Dressier
- Stubble Stings
- From the Mouth of Bayla #5
- Hair Shaving Celebration (video)
- Hair Shaving (audio)
Sorry about the photo quality. We were scrambling and ended up taking the photos at the Oat. “Not my best work, though. She wanted to look 48. I nearly airbrushed her into oblivion. Ended up checking ‘albino’ in the form“
Even after I’d lost them, I would have laughed right out loud at the thought of coaxing them back.
But, tonight I did just that.
I googled growing eye brows and then slathered mine in coconut oil.
We’re hard on ourselves. It fuels the economy. But after years of berating my body, my features, my traits, it feels good to know that I’d rather be me.
With or without the caterpillar brows.
I’ve been having a rough week.
- gaping bald patches (especially at the front of my scalp — exactly like the irate Taxotere victims)
- continuing harassment and threats from Josephine and Keith Ross
- news from my medical intuitive of two new areas of cancer
- distressing in-law challenges
- continuing discomfort in my right arm, upper back and left leg
- extreme parenting challenges
- declined EI medical benefits
- and the joy of sleepless nights
On the plus side, my good friend Caroline let me rant today as we walked to the hospital and back, so I’m feeling well enough to write this curse-free post.
ps. Andrea needs to care less…Andrea needs to care less…Andrea needs to care less…
Melissa Ethridge, on courage and truth:
Well, Courage. I’ve had a funny relationship with courage.
Because I often get … ‘Oh, you’re so brave, you’re so courageous!’
And I keep thinking ‘Ok, why do they think I’m so courageous?
Oh, because I said I was gay. I told the truth about myself.
Oh, because when I was bald, I was bald and that was the truth.’
And I started thinking ‘Wait a minute. We actually live in a society where just speaking the truth about ourselves, just saying ‘Hey, I’m a gay breast cancer survivor’ is courageous. Speaking our truth is courageous.
…Let’s just back up a minute and examine what we are considering courageous. And how about if this were just normal? If all of us agreed just to wake up every day and go ‘Hey! This is what I am.’
That would change the world.
Melissa Ethridge, from her session Fearless Love: Living Lives of Searing Authenticity and Audacious Courage.
Part of the Women on the Edge of Evolution audio series. 2010.
Mark’s parents paid me a lovely lunchtime visit last week. In honour of the occasion, I had changed out of my everyday recovery-wear into my Company’s Coming recovery-wear.
At the end of the visit, Mark’s mom motioned to my T-shirt and asked “Who went to Nepal?” and I responded, “My friend Bill. Twenty-some years ago.”
I realized afterward that not only do I recall the source and story (however banal) behind each item in my recovery wardrobe but the memories flit through my mind each and every time I put the clothes on. Which, for one outfit or the other, is at some point of every single day.
So, for the record and without the full details which flit at lightning speed through my mind each time, here they are.
- medium weight lycra tights – part of a fabulous chemo-survival gift parcel from my sister Linda, January 2010, in preparation for more stylish winter jogging.
- purple “Trek Nepal” T-shirt – a souvenir from my friend Bill Flanagan following his trek through the Himalayan mountains, circa 1989.
- CCKMA T-shirt (alternate T choice) – a gift from fellow breast cancer Survivor and neighbour Laurie Kingston, December 2009, on the occasion of our head-shaving party.
- peach Lululemon hoody – a pre-surgery gift from Mark’s mom and dad, October 2009, in preparation for not being able to lift my right arm.
- winter-weight wooly tights – my very first MEC catalog order, circa 1992 long before MEC came to Ottawa, in preparation for our bike trip across Newfoundland (2 identical pairs).
- red fleece undershirt – Phase 2, The Glebe, autumn 1999, on the recommendation of my friend and fellow strollercizer, Caroline Coady, in preparation for winter strollercizing (3 identical shirts).
And my daily hat choice is a selection from the stash provided by my generous and talented friends Whitney, Katherine and Debbie.
And guess what, all those good clothing vibes seem to be working.
When your hair grows back, it’s really fuzzy, so you might want too keep shaving it until it gets back to normal, or if you really want fuzzy hair then that’s okay but it won’t be very warm.
When you are in chemo, you should try to stay away fron sicknesses because you could get sick and it’s not just ” Oh it’s just a normal day of lying in the bed with the flu, I’ll get over it soon.”, it’s serious.