Then it happened. What I had seen in the movies came to life. It was always sad to see, but I never imagined how horrible it would feel if it happened to me.
I don’t remember when it started, but my hair started to fall out. I was told I would lose about twenty-five percent of it, but following the first dreadful treatments that made me excessively ill, chunks of hair would stay in my hands as I washed it. I lost much more than expected. It robbed me of my dignity, my sex appeal, and my hope. I was disgusted by it and frightened of what it meant. I cried. What did this really mean? Was I dying inside? What will happen to me?
Since that symbolic event, even the little hair I lose when I wash it is a brutal reminder of facing death. My legs get weak, a chill runs through my body, and my belly turns upside down.
As I turned the water off, I grabbed my towel quickly to keep away the chill. I dried myself a little, and wrapped myself again before opening the shower door.
Stepping out, I rested against the wall by the shower to help regain some energy. I continued to avoid the reflection in the mirrors ahead of me. I wanted my mom to help me dry off, and she always seemed to arrive at the right time. Imagine at age thirty-five not being able to take care of yourself, becoming dependent once again on your mother.
Once I lost most of my hair, I didn’t wash it in the shower any more. I couldn’t bare to see bunches of it laying on the ceramic in the shower. My sister, Mary or Lisa, would insist on doing it for me.
“Come, I’ll wash your hair.” What was left of it was gently washed in the laundry room sink.
“Awh,” I sighed. Even though they did all the work, I didn’t feel like taking care of my hair. I didn’t want to see it, so I wore a headkerchief. The tied fabric around my head kept my hair pressed to my scalp, which made it look worse. Since I kept it covered all the time, and I hated the damp feeling that left, I would let them wash it.
Looking at myself was intolerable, because I could see what the chemo had done to me and to my long curls. I became afraid to touch my hair, for fear of losing more.
Me and my big mouth! I recently announced to my family that I just surpassed my highest weight since the operation. A couple of pounds may seem like a small feat, but they were as happy as I was.
Although I weigh myself much less now, the following day, I weighed less – under my threshold. Maybe the manual scale wasn’t well calibrated. Over a week later, weight seems back up again. Just goes to show how unimportant the number is. I feel and look “bigger” since only two-three pounds is noticeable on me.