The hair thing

Alright, you knew it was coming: I have to talk about my hair.

Objectively, the hair thing just seems so…trivial. I mean, if a genie came up to you and said, “[Your name,] I’m going to let you live a long, healthy life – provided that you go six months completely and utterly hairless. If you refuse, there’s a 30% chance you’ll die.” You’d obviously take the half a year of baldness, right? I mean, I totally would. Wouldn’t I?

Also, what kind of asshole genie would ask that?

But subjectively, when B-Day (that’s Baldness Day) starts to sneak up on you, it becomes this big, distracting deal. I was tired of dealing with the stress of that when I really needed to be focusing on the fact that while yes, chemotherapy will make me look temporarily like an alien, it’ll also be saving my life. So I made a decision that I was going to take charge of the hair situation. And then I hemmed and hawed about it for a while.

As a woman with cancer, there’s just no getting around the hair thing. As a guy, maybe you can pull it off. Maybe you joined the Marines or you’re taking control of your premature balding. But as a woman, owning the baldness thing takes a whole lot of swag – swag, I am sorry to say, I don’t possess. I dress more or less like a 20-something Liz Lemon (blazers and cardigans FOR DAYSSSS), and the most adventuresome hairstyle I ever had was the full, blunt bangs my mom cut me with manicure scissors when I was 4. I’ve spent all of my teen and young adult years with hair cascading in waves down to at least my shoulders, in varying shades of blonde and brown. I barely even ever wore it in a ponytail. And I’m supposed to jump from that to bald?

Nuh uh, my friends. I need a transitional phase. I need something to help me adjust.

See, when you don’t have any hair, all that’s left is your face. You can’t curl your hair nicely and hope it’ll distract from the zit on your chin. You can’t sweep your bangs down over your eyes to hide the fact that you haven’t tweezed your eyebrows in weeks. Without hair, your face is the main attraction. You’re a walking marquee sign proclaiming the latest features: CHECK OUT MY NOSE. DO I HAVE ANY PIMPLES? I MIGHT KINDA HAVE A UNIBROW. I DIDN’T PUT ON EYELINER TODAY!

I happen to be of the opinion that cancer has taken enough from me, especially when it comes to my femininity. It took my breasts (although my plastic surgeon gave me better ones to replace them, if I’m being honest). It may take my fertility (although the fertility doc says we’ll be getting 12-15 eggies in the freezer by Monday). So if it’s going to take my hair, it’s going to do it on my terms.

I’ve been determined to go ahead with this pre-chemo cut since my diagnosis because it’s basically my hair’s way of saying, “You can’t fire me, I quit!” But I have to admit that the whole ordeal was a lot less frightening because my bold, beautiful friend Katie Bo went before me. Without telling me, she cut her own long, dark, voluminous hair into a pixie and donated the rest to a cancer charity. (I’m secretly hoping I’ll get the resulting wig because her hair is far more beautiful than mine ever was.) Anyway, because she looked so chic, stylish and feminine in her pixie, I was excited instead of filled with dread when I walked into the salon.

I told my hairdresser the situation and warned her that I might burst into tears at any moment during the cut. “I promise it’s not because you’re doing a bad job,” I added.

“Don’t worry,” she said. “I’m going to make you adorable.”

How’d she do?


Truthfully, the experience was far less traumatic than I was expecting it to be. There were no tears, but plenty of laughter. And because it was a laid-back Friday afternoon in the salon, lots of the hairdressers came over to play with my newly shorn locks, apply product and show me all kinds of styles. I briefly sported a fauxhawk, which actually looked cute, if I do say so myself, and may be recreated on a day when I’m feeling particularly bold.

I thought I’d leave the salon in tears, hating my pixie cut. Instead, I honestly love it. It’s a pity that it’ll all fall out by mid-March.

37 thoughts on “The hair thing

  1. Vicki says:

    That cut is adorable on you!! I thought I’d give you a few positive things about having to go bald: 1) you’ll save on hair products and shampoo. 2) you’ll be done with your showers in less than 5 minutes! 3) no more xtra time having to use a hair dryer! 4) no more bad hair days 5) no more bed head in the morning.

    You may never want to go long again!!!

    • Michelle says:

      I’m already wondering what kept me from trying a short cut all these years! I bet that first shower is going to be totally surreal…it’s literally been years since I went without blowdrying my hair.

  2. Gordie says:

    What a Babe

  3. I Love, Love the short hair! You are totally going to rock bald.

  4. beadstork says:

    The cool thing is, sometimes chemo makes your hair come back different. I have known straight haired people who would have killed for wavy hair who have had their hair come back wavy, or a slightly different color. When your hair comes back in there’s no telling what fun you will have!

  5. norahsnet says:

    I love it!

  6. Love your attitude about everything 🙂

  7. Beautiful before and after. And I bet you’ll rock whatever you decide to do next.

  8. SDS says:

    Doesn’t hurt that your face is amazing, you could pull off a clown wig for 6 months if your life depended on it. This is adorable and very Audrey Hepburn on you! And as someone who changes her mind constantly between pixie cuts and three feet of hair, extensions can speed up the regrowth by a gazillion years (real time measurement) with very minimal hair to affix them to.

  9. OyiaBrown says:

    Reblogged this on Oyia Brown.

  10. jlorenzo93 says:

    Your writing is sooo inspiring!

  11. robindcole says:

    I love your blog, and I love your attitude! Thank you so much for sharing your experiences.

  12. Courtney says:

    LOVE the short hair on you. Not many can pull it off, you kill it!

  13. Sofia says:

    Its even making me feel like wanting to cut my hair shorter than usual! So adorable on you and congrats to you on addressing your hair issue beforehand. x

  14. lisa says:

    Love it! You can totally rock any style with that beautiful face.

  15. Tracy says:

    I’m sorry you’re facing this so early in your life and wish you lots of luck with your chemo and any other treatment they line up for you. Your Dr is right, it’ll be a tough time but our bodies are amazingly resilient. I finished chemo a month ago (still having herceptin), my hair is just staring to grow back but no sign of eye lashes or brows yet… every day is a day of feeling better though and that’s all that matters. Keep your positive upbeat attitude because it makes a huge difference.

  16. Your hairdresser made you even more adorable! And what a wonderful friend you have to donate her hair to a cancer charity. You’re both a “cut” above the rest!

  17. Is that a hairband with sequins? –You look darling b/f and after! Can’t wait to see a pic of you and Katie Bo together next week.

  18. katespadegirl says:

    It looks adorable!!!!!

    I like it. It’s very chic.

    ❤ Jules

  19. shesparkles says:

    Your haircut is hot! I like that you’re taking the “hair thing” into your own hands. I know this experience is developing your character and increasing your courage and stamina. I’m going to keep reading your blog because, even though I’ve never experienced what you’re going through, I know you need support in this experience, even if it’s just this one girl reading and commenting on your posts. Kick cancer’s ass girl!!!

  20. Sarah Karp says:

    Absolutely love your new ‘do! Very complimentary to your face shape! 🙂

  21. Erika Enlund says:

    You are such an inspiration ❤ The haircut looks great!

  22. I love that new haircut! Less hair is better anyway – less shampoo, weighs less, dries faster. Also, you have an awesome face for baldness. (I realize that’s kind of weird to say, but whatever.) You will look great.

  23. Your new cut is major adorable. I am a new fan, also with breast cancer and I am getting ready to join you in bald-land. It is impossible not to tear up at the thought. I think hair follicles and tear ducts are closely connected. I’m all worried about my wrinkles in the same way you you are thinking about zits and tweezing. My chemo will tweeze for me eventually. Life is in no way fair that you have to deal with this at 25. Your sense of humor rules and f*ck cancer and gene mutations while we’re at it.

  24. CodeForConfession [Kristen] says:

    It looks super adorable! My dad has Hodgkin’s Lymphoma and is going through chemo now – he’s just been pulling it out. Men! >_< He still has some hair left but its noticeably thinner. Now he wears a hat everywhere. You should get some cute hats and decorative headbands! They are definitely stylish. 🙂

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