For a while now, I’ve struggled with the knowledge that I will loose my hair. It’s just a part of the transplant process – start chemo, and 11 days later(according to my Team), bye-bye hair. And the loss of hair is something that so many go through; I’m certainly not immune.
But I’m still sad about it. And angry, too. And in a bit of denial. Yeah, let’s just add the third in for good measure.
For a while now, my hair has been a security blanket. It makes me feel feminine and even beautiful, at times. I hide behind it when needed, fiddle with it when stressed, let it blow through the sunroof while cruising down the freeway; at this point, it is an extension of my identity. Other women can rock short hair and baldness great – but me? Without my hair, without this extension of my person, how do I define beauty? And how do I view myself? Will others find me attractive?
I think these questions are all code for: without my long hair, will I be “enough”?
The obvious answer is yes, yes I will be enough. Years of therapy and hard work have helped solidify that belief in my head and heart. There are times when I think about the above and I just want to roll my eyes. Just get over it I think. It’s just hair, it will be FINE. And besides, you’re being hyper critical about something that doesn’t matter, it doesn’t define who you are as a person or on the inside.
But then another part of me, (the long haired part, of course), helpfully quips in with that’s just what you say to yourself when you’re bald. You don’t really believe it’s true for you.
So here I am. At this juxtaposition of beauty standards, feminine ideals, and years of learning to believe that I’m enough and I’m stuck.
There are moments where I’m frustrated, having a human moment or bad hair day and I think to myself it’s fine, in a few weeks it’ll all be gone anyway. But then I take it back, even though it was directed at myself (and is that even possible?) Since this is my blog, I’ll say that yes, yes it is possible. And then I apologize to my hair.
My therapist says that I need to hold myself in a place of compassion and empathy, self-love at it’s best. Okay, I can try. And then I want to make some smart-ass comment about that’s easy to say when you don’t have to loose your hair. Yeah….. that’s really not cool, so I don’t go there. I just unhelpfully internalize the thought.
At the end of the day, though, she’s right.
Like it or not, this train is rolling forward towards transplant. And I remind myself that this is my choice. I’ve opted to enroll in the GATA2 study at the NIH, and they have accepted me because of the seriousness of genetic deficiency coupled with the fact I’m a good candidate for transplant. The alternative is to end up with an aggressive leukemia or death via opportunistic infection, and there have been way too many close calls for comfort. My choice, in that sense, is easy. I choose to do this. I choose to undergo this transplant while I’m healthy enough to do well, according to all the stats. So if it means that I loose my hair in the process, well, I understand that it’s a very small price to pay.
I’m trying to look at the bright side, as I tend to be a glass-half-full kinda gal. Next weekend I’m donating my hair to Wigs For Kids and perhaps, getting a cute, albeit very short haircut in the process. And if I don’t like it, that’s cool, because I’ll be bald by the end of the month anyway, and there will be one less hairstyle that I’ll want to try while my hair is growing out.
So this week, I’m going to enjoy my long hair. And I’ll probably spend some time evaluating my personal beauty standards, and reminding myself that I am enough, with or without hair. Perhaps that’s another really good thing to come about from this transplant; the way in which I view myself has been from behind a head of long hair – maybe it’s time to try something new.