Monday, June 6, 2011

This Thing with Our Hair

Hair is a big deal.

My niece, Karla's daughter Summer, upon being told of her mom's cancer and about the things that will be happening--that Mom will be tired, sick, and that her hair will fall out--said, "I don't want to see you bald!"

I guess that would be rather disconcerting for an (almost) eight-year-old, wouldn't it? I was thinking about Summer's gut-honest reaction the other day, when I was at the hair salon (oh, and I do spend a couple of hours there every four weeks--I do!) and I saw a girl Summer's age. It made me remember going to the salon with my mom when I was a little girl. I remembered how it smelled of chemicals and sprays. I remember how it sounded: the murmur of the ladies talking with frequent outbursts of wild laughter. I thought of the "honor system" Coke machine (You reached into a cooler for an icy drink and put your $.20 in a nearby cup) and the bottle opener on the side. And I was reminded of how my mother always left there with a smile on her face and a spring in her step. The little girl I saw the other day wasn't a mere spectator, however. Nope, she was there as a participant. With foils resting like stairsteps in her hair, she looked like a mini-version of the other ladies there. I wondered what amount of pleading she had to do to negotiate the highlights she was getting, and I thought, It starts early, this thing with our hair.

Karla has explained to her kids, "Well, the chemotherapy is killing the bad cells in my body, and when it does that, it will actually kill some of the good cells, too. And that is what will make my hair fall out."

Danya (@danyamusic) and her Aunt Karla (@kpmartin1026)
Danya just got Karla set up with a Twitter account!

Knowing that hers is going to fall out around 13 days after the first chemo treatment (which is tomorrow), Karla took the initiative and got a short cut a couple of days ago. It's really adorable. But in a few days, her husband is going to shave it all off for her. It's kind of empowering--to take the hair off before it falls out. "I’m so not in control right now," Karla admits. "I have very little control of my life." So she's going to get the jump on the hair thing. "It will be a shock," she says candidly, "and I know I will be emotional, but it is what it is. There’s nothing I can do about it. Hopefully, I will have a nice-shaped head."

I am not my hair. I am not this skin. I am a soul that lives within.

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1 comment:

life just saying said...

So hard watching a loved one fight cancer, and the many side affects. And, yeah...the hair. I will pray for you all.

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