HOPE OVERFLOWING

stories of grace, hope and life beyond cancer


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My first proper haircut in four and a half years!

I don’t have many cancer milestones or hurdles these days and for that I am very grateful. But the one area that was still hanging around that I couldn’t quite bring myself to deal with was my hair.

In 2012 I had chemotherapy and lost all my hair, every last strand of it. Before the chemo started my hair was really really long and thick but even so when I was told that my hair would most likely all fall out with the chemo, I was surprisingly calm and not too fussed about it. To me it seemed like a small price to pay for a much better shot at long-term survival.

After my chemo started I decided I didn’t want to wait for all this long hair to fall out for various reasons, the main two being that I found the hair falling out physically quite uncomfortable and even painful and also emotionally it was hard.  I particularly hated how every time my baby son grabbed onto my hair a handful of it came out in his hand, and so I decided it had to go.

So in a fit of enthusiasm,  I went all GI Jane and got a buzz cut (without a guard on the shaver so it was really really short!) To be honest I slightly regretted going quite so short as my head was like Velcro, which made sleeping difficult as I just stuck to the pillow and in the end it actually took quite a few weeks for my hair to fall out entirely (I definitely should have just gone for a pixie cut, but you live and learn!).

Cath and little manHappy family

(Me in my hat and wig)

About five months later my hair had started to grow back (sort of) so I gave up on the hats and wigs (which I hated by that point) and once again sported the military look. The first time I went out with no hat/wig it was to a barbecue with about 80 people, most of whom I knew. I had just had a mastectomy and was feeling pretty awful. It took all the courage I could muster to not wear a hat/wig but I didn’t want to hide anymore so I just went for it.

I think I was looking pretty terrible and although everyone was really kind, no one mentioned my hair which was disappointing because to me it was a really big deal. About halfway through the party one friend came up to me and whispered, “You look beautiful” in my ear. I blatantly did not look beautiful. My skin was grey and I couldn’t move one arm after my recent surgery. I had gained so much weight from all the steroids and I basically had no hair or eyelashes. But in that moment, I felt seen by my friend and I felt so loved and I was so grateful to her for her kindness.

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(Hair just growing back)

Since then, I have never had a proper haircut, just a trim every now and then to make sure my hair didn’t look too 80s (which, I have discovered, will happen if you are growing your hair out from zero). Every time I went to the hairdressers I would be sure to clarify that I didn’t want them to cut anything more than absolutely necessary off. And so my hair has been getting longer and longer and longer.

Fast forward four and a bit years and my hair was once again really, really long and really really thick and to be honest it was driving me nuts. It was this frustration with my hair, rather than some deep philosophical revelation that made me realise it was time for it to go. So on Friday I had about five inches cut off and am now sporting a new look.

I’m not sure why it took me so long to get to the point of being ready to cut it off and I don’t know why up until now it was the one thing that I couldn’t seem to let go of. Maybe it was vanity. Maybe it was something to do with feeling like growing my hair was part of my recovery and so if I cut it my recovery must be over.  Maybe it was because I wanted it to get to the point that it was at before it all fell out. To be honest, I’m still not really sure and I still haven’t had any deep philosophical revelation about my hair and its length!

But, what I am sure of is this. I am so glad that I have finally felt ready to let go of another of the legacies of cancer and to take one more step towards normality. I am so thankful that cancer is part of fewer and fewer of my key milestones and life choices. I am so thankful for every day of good health and of course, I am so glad to have options with what to do with my hair!

Thank you to all of you who have supported us through all of my hair lengths. We love you and couldn’t have gotten to this point without you. Here’s a shot of the new hairdo (excuse the shiny nose!!) X

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Where is my hairbrush??

I love the show Veggie Tales! For those of you who don’t know it is is basically Bible stories told by cartoon vegetables with other funny sketches thrown in the mix just for kicks. One of my favourite songs that they do is called the Hairbrush song (and no it is not related to any Bible story whatsoever. I have posted a link at the bottom of the post – it is really sweet).

In the hairbrush song Larry the cucumber is lamenting the loss of his hairbrush following his shower. Bob the tomato comes in to tell Larry that he has given Larry’s hairbrush to the peach as the peach has hair and Larry does not. Larry finally makes peace with this situation and waves farewell to his hairbrush.

This song got me thinking about the holiday that I am currently having from my hairbrush due to my lack of hair (although unlike Larry no-one has physically given away my hairbrush)… The loss of my hair has been another area where I have really seen God’s faithfulness. Losing one’s hair is supposed to be one of the most traumatic parts of the cancer journey but after I shaved mine off (the falling out bit was a bit traumatic, rather uncomfy and seriously messy) I quite enjoyed sporting the GI Jane do and no tears have been shed over the hair! Don’t get me wrong, I am very much looking forward to my hair growing back and Joel and I have decided to have a race when my hair starts to come back to see whose can grow the fastest… But I feel that God has given me the grace and strength I need to deal with my hair’s summer vacation!! (I hope it has gone somewhere sunnier than the very rainy UK! 😉 ) I have been reminded that my identity is not found in how I look but in who I am as a much loved daughter of the King. Just another example of his never ending and abundant provision…

I have never posted a picture of me sans hair online but here is one of me with my little man and of course the link to the Veggie Tales! http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=LtHr7gluh08