Monday, August 25, 2008

Hair or Tennis?

With my second chemo treatment looming this week, and several doctor appointments to make sure I have enough blood cells to kill off, I had to leave the Mamma Mia! tour and fly back to Vegas. That is where I am now, home sitting on my bed with my laptop and trying to grasp what I am feeling.

My hair has been thinning each day since last Wednesday, but tonight in the shower it was coming out in handfuls. Wet gobs of hair. I stayed in the shower letting the hot water spray my body and knew this was it now, that I couldn't imagine it was going to be a pretty sight. I wondered how much had come out, what would I look like when I looked in the mirror. I had visions of big bald patches and whispy strands of hair sticking out here and there. Scary. I wasn't in a hurry to find out. I wondered how long I could stay in the shower before the hot water ran out.

I didn't get emotional, I didn't cry, I just kept grabbing wet gobs of hair and wadding it into a ball to place on the edge of the tub. Okay this is it, what I had been dreading.

I decided I couldn't stay in the shower forever, I just needed to face it, get it over with and deal with it. I turned the water off and slid the shower curtain open with a determination to be strong and face this new me. I looked in the mirror and it was frosted with steam. I was thankful for the blurred image. A slight reprieve. I took my towel and wiped a circle clean and saw whispy hairs here and there and a nice bald spot on top. I stared at myself for a long while and realized that at this point I had two choices. Hang on to every strand for as long as I could and deal with the irritation of the stray hairs that continued to shed, or whack it short and prepare for the eventual shave. I run my fingers through what's left, open the drawer and grab the sissors. I pulled up hair and cut the remaining hairs to an inch of my head. I stare at my reflection for a while to get a feel for this new image. Not so bad.

I keep thinking I should be feeling really depressed about this, but I'm not. I had a great day today and this evening I was back out on the tennis court with my team for the first time in 7 weeks. It felt great running around and smacking balls. Given the choice, I'd pick tennis over hair any day. I think I need to find a cute hat. A tennis hat! Yea, it's not so terribly bad after all, just another day in the life! And life is what it is all about....the living, not the whining!


Peter said...

Exactly: live is about living, not about whining.

But when something major like chemo treatment hits you, you've got every right to whine: I'd read every line of it all.

A friend of mine who lost both breasts bought a hat too: I can recall her sitting with me on a Normandy beach in France, that last summer in 2007, while she was trying to find a Wifi signal (that obviously wasn't there).

Way back then I was stunned watching her just enjoy that beach ("Obama beach", where the US troops came on land to liberate Europe): she had gone through so much surgery and radiation that her sheer defiant "hey, I wanna live" attitude will be engraved in my memory forever.

On a personal note: I tried to call you in Tampa to ask you how you felt (you read my blog and your hotel IP connection told me where you were staying) and I also mailed you afterwards: the mail came back "not read", so maybe you had no idea who I was, or what I was trying to do.

I really admire that you're back on the tennis court!

Hang in there!

All the best,
Antwerp, Belgium, Europe
(that last part is for any reader who might be geographically challenged ;-)

gary rith said...

oh goodness--hugs from NY!

V-Grrrl said...

I admit I'd be devastated to lose my hair. I'd cry desperate pathetic tears. I just would.

I'm glad you're not me!

Since you're a theatre grrrl, I'll invite you to sing this song in the shower: "I'm going to wash that cancer right out of my hair, I'm gonna wash that cancer right outta my hair!"

Rachel said...


PEACE said...

Peter, I'm so impressed with your creative attempts to contact me, all that were unknown until just now.

V-Grrrl, you always make me laugh, I think I could change the words to "I'm going to wash that hair right off of my head!"