For years when people would discover that I was a cancer patient, 9 out of 10 people would say, "You don't LOOK like you have cancer." For years I thought to myself,"What am I supposed to look like?" Am I supposed to be pale, jaundice and bald; what DOES a cancer patient look like? Clearly, it wasn't what I looked like on the outside. I felt like I was either, surprising people with my healthy look, or disappointing a few that I had hair. However, I FELT like I had cancer; I felt fatigued, sick and very weak at times, all due to my low blood counts that I had as a result of cancer.
This morning I woke up late. The night before I was battling severe back bone pain. It was a pain that took my breath away and fought nausea, to boot. I have been able to tolerate the nausea, but last night I broke my "not-throwing up" streak. It was terrible. Sleep was not a friend of mine and the little sleep I got, I woke up to instant nausea this morning. The fun never stops around here. I called for my nurse and she brought me meds for nausea so I could at least get out of bed and take a shower. Taking a shower was goal #1.
I headed to the shower, with my IV pole sitting outside of the shower, and began completing goal #1. Then a strange thing happened when I went to wash my short pixie style hair that I got right before being admitted to Karmanos. There seemed to be more than just suds in my hands as I worked the shampoo through my hair. I lowered my hands and saw white bubbles and handfuls of black hair. It scared me at first, seeing so many hairs in my hand. I rinsed my hands off and continued to wash my hair, but more and more clumps of black hair kept filling my palms and between my fingers. I then decided to gently pull my hairs with the water running on my head to get whatever hairs were loose, but to my surprise, it didn't seem to end. More and more handfuls of hair fell to the shower floor until the entire drain was covered with hair as well as my entire body. I quickly rinsed off my head, washed up the rest of my body and turned the water off. I stepped out of the shower and looked into the mirror. I could see patches of missing hair all over my head. I knew that this would happen, that's why I cut my long hair off before transplant, thinking that if anyone was going to take my long hair that I loved, it would be me. Still, prior knowledge of this happening didn't lessen the blow. It was hard to see; the minor side effect of cancer, but that's exactly it. It's because of cancer that I am seeing myself with bald patches. It's because of cancer that I am losing time with my son, hair on my head, being with people that I love; I hate cancer.
Back to my reflection in the mirror. I knew I would have to shave my head to avoid any further "hairy shower" experiences. Plus, I didn't want to find hair all over my pillow, bed, etc. throughout the entire day and night. It just so happened that my friend from work, Sarah, was planning on coming up later in the day, so I asked her if she could come early and shave my head, knowing she used to be a hairdresser. Sarah is an incredible woman. She's full of life and love, making her someone who you want to be around all of the time. She was in my room soon after my call, hair clippers and smock in hand, and began to shave off all of my hair. It had to be done and I was actually happy to know that I wouldn't experience clumps of hair coming out anymore, even though shaving my head was not something I was looking forward to doing.
So, NOW, I look like a cancer patient, people. I have the iconic bald head so I "fit" the cancer image. There won't be anymore confusion for anyone from here on out.