I've been growing out my hair since there was the fear of losing it when chemotherapy treatments started at Huntsman in the Fall of 2011. There have been three minor trims, but that is all. I was lucky. My hair thinned a great deal, but I didn't lose my hair completely. We planned for it. If you remember, I use the Royal We at times, because you don't go through cancer alone. Case in point of not doing it alone: My Aunt Ruthie's knitting club knitted and donated caps in the event of my hair loss. Since getting the all clear, I had a dear friend diagnosed with leukemia and I passed on these caps to her. She did need to wear them. After a time, her hair did come back. After another time, she got the all clear also, so we passed on the caps to patients at Huntsman that needed the comfort and safety those caps provided. Losing your hair is more than just, losing your hair.
I have been holding on to my hair, the ability to grow it, to not have it taken from me, in an attempt to conquer the fear that Cancer holds over you. It strips away your identity, of whom and what you thought you are, you were. My hair has gotten long. REALLY long. I had no style, no shape. It's just long. So when talking with Siss about getting my haircut, she brought up Locks of Love. "Ooooooh, why don't we donate it? Wouldn't that be great?" I said "Who's this We?" We laugh and that's the end of it. But it isn't.
I wasn't able to sleep. Why did I hesitate? Why wasn't the decision to donate the easiest decision to make? Why wouldn't I immediately feel inclined to give what I have been so fortunate to regrow? I felt greedy and selfish. Scared and silly. I literally tossed and turned for two nights straight. This August marks tens years of the world being without Stephie. Right before she passed, with all the radiation she had on the tumors in her brain, her one wish to not have to wear a wig in her coffin was sidelined when chunks of hair started falling out. She saw it as a loss of her dignity. Here I am, alive, walking the earth cancer free, balking at gifting a piece of myself that could do good. I won't be that selfish.
As I looked at the eleven inches of my hair in two ponytails, on the kindest and most patient hairdresser's station, I was dizzy with amazement and relief. Those ponytails looked like timelines for the last three and a half years. Instead of rings on a tree it was strands of hair.
I feel freer, lighter, lucky and younger. I am selfish in the joy it brings to ease someone's burden during the struggle of Cancer. To share the We.