Saturday, March 17, 2018

Hair today, gone tomorrow

November 6, 2009 by  
Filed under Patricia's Journey

One week ago, after three chemo treatments, my hair began to fall out. A couple of days later, a hair cut reduced the fall out on my pillow. Not that less hair fell out, but with the length cut by 2/3, it didn’t seem as great. My best guess is I have lost about 75% of my hair. Several friends have asked if I’ve considered shaving my head. That is one of those questions you ask when it’s not your head. It may sound odd, yet I prefer the gradual process of losing my hair to the abruptness of instant baldness. It is a matter of days before I see my scalp. Or should I say see more of my scalp.

My hair was a crowning glory. Naturally curly, easy and blow-n-go, I felt blessed. When it wasn’t so glorious, I didn’t feel as beautiful. Let’s not even go into how much of life I missed due to managing my mane. As you can see, it was big enough to hide behind!

The Mane, aka big hair

The Mane, aka big hair

Prior to losing my hair the first time, I was unaware of the degree to which I had come to identify with it. You gain this physical appeal that safeguards you from finding out someone may or may not love you for who you are without the distractions of hair…and eyelashes and eyebrows. Yes, you lose all your hair.

There is a sadness as I look at all the years I tried to keep up with this perfect version of myself, the version of me I would see in the mirror. Not the me everyone else saw. Everyone else saw the real me and loved me. Only I saw and loved the illusion in the mirror.

Losing your hair can involve more than hair loss. You lose an identity and some perceived value. The first time was unnerving. What would I discover? What would I see when I looked in the mirror? How would people react? How would I react? Secretly I was praying I would be one of the lucky ones that kept their hair. And secretly I knew I would be one of the lucky ones that lost their hair. Shedding my hair was the catalyst for shedding old identities that no longer served me.

It was still a process for me to love the nakedness of my bald head. I didn’t venture out very often around others while bald. The losses had come too rapidly. I lost my health, my job, my home and my relationship all within a matter of weeks. I didn’t have sea legs in being so vulnerable. Security became a platinum blonde wig. This was a great escape from the reality of baldness…until I moved to Hawaii. A synthetic wig does not fare well at the beach :)

My Platinum Blonde persona

My Platinum Blonde persona

One day while shopping with a girlfriend, I went sans wig. Even though my hair had grown out about two inches, I had not embraced what it could teach me. While washing me hands in the bathroom at a Barnes and Noble, I looked in the mirror and gasped. It was as if I saw my reflection for the first time. It was me in the seventh grade. It was the last time my hair was this short. In the seventh grade I was told more than once that I was ugly. Until that moment, I was unaware of carrying the belief inside of a 13 year old girl who did not feel beautiful just as she was. It was time to face the truth of that untruth and let it go. That was then, this is now. A few days later I went to put the wig on, and I couldn’t wear it. It no longer fit.

Losing hair allowed me to see and love my face. I came to know the woman in the mirror I had avoided eye contact with my entire life. It wasn’t the hair at all that people responded to. It was me. It was the core of my essence, the graciousness with which I embraced people. That essence was the true beauty.

3 month old new hair- June 2008

3 month old new hair- June 2008

“Our inability to see beauty doesn’’t suggest in the slightest that beauty is not there. Rather, it suggests that we are not looking carefully enough or with broad enough perspective to see the beauty.”

– Rabbi Harold Kushner

As I move through this process again, it is my intention to go out in public bald and experience the total liberation of being me and being bald. I will answer questions of anyone willing to ask. I might unknowingly touch people and alter their life experience. I will stand tall for myself and my experience. And yes, occasionally, the platinum blonde persona will show up. This time by conscious choice, not because of an unconscious belief.

The Tibetans have a saying “Who looks not with compassion sees not what the eyes of compassion see.” My compassionate eyes now see a woman who is enduring and transforming the experience of cancer through faith and bravery, and in the process, transforming herself.

Nov. 4, 2009

Nov. 4, 2009


4 Responses to “Hair today, gone tomorrow”
  1. Jan says:

    I think you look absolutely stunning in short hair!! I love it on you–100% honest. What a warrior spirit for your mom to get in that plane and fly over to be with you!! Brought tears to my eyes. I just love reading what you write. I have always said you are exquisite with the pen!! Think of you very often and miss you lots. Hugs, Jan………..back in the sunshine sans snow
    :-) !!

    • Patricia says:

      Jan, it is you more than anyone in my life who have taught me about connection and friendship. You are a master at staying connected and demonstrating love
      regardless of distance. You are a loyal, devoted, compassionate, right by my side friend. And that is just the icing on an accomplished, intelligent, talented, dedicated,
      passionate woman. I am so very grateful for the blessing of you in my life.

  2. Debbie says:

    Hi Sunshine,

    Just got on your website and saw that you are losing your hair again. I don’t know who said it but I agree and have always said even the first time you went through this that you look beautiful inside and outside no matter what. Even when I had the honor of giving you your massages when Pamela was gone I would marvel at your beauty when the wig was off and you were completely vulnerable to me for maybe the first time ever. I couldn’t have loved you more at that time. I saw your light and love glowing all around you and felt so much better myself as I was trying to give you some of my healing energy as I massaged you. That was one of the greatest gifts you ever gave me, the opportunity to really feel what it was like to totally give of myself to another. I do hope it helped you in some small way too since it seems like the one giving got all in return. I love you much and yes, one day I will be walking on that beach beside you, and we will be laughing and singing our way down the beach.


    • Patricia says:

      My Dear Friend,
      I do remember that precious time we shared. You gave me your time and your loving touch. Until now, I wasn’t fully aware of the gift we give to each other with our vulnerability. At that time in my life, I could give moments. Now, my intention to live in that state of vulnerability being completely open to God and to my friends. Thank you for putting into beautiful words what we shared. You are an extraordinary friend and I love you.

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