A bit of this and that...with added frangipani.

Thursday, November 8, 2012

Cancer doesn't care about the wig in my closet.

Aside from the anxious gut-churning feeling I get whenever I go to the doctor for a check-up, something remains from my experience with cancer.

I still have my wig.

At the time of diagnosis, I had long hair that went past my shoulders. When it became evident that chemo was on the cards for me, I decided that it would be better if I got my hair cut very short prior to undergoing treatment. I felt it would be an easier transition for my young boys if they saw my hair short before they saw me bald. I think it was probably more for my own benefit than theirs. It gave me a chance to get used to the idea, to come to terms with it. I don't think I was a vain person, but the thought of losing my hair was certainly a hard pill to swallow.

The Cancer Council arranged for me to receive a wig. I visited a shop in Mareeba with my friend, and I tried on every wig in the place until I found one that suited me well enough. I also bought beanies and scarves, so when the time came for the first cycle of chemo, I was as ready as I was ever going to be.

The first chemo treatment came and went, and when I turned up for the second cycle with a full head of hair, the nurses in the chemo ward were surprised to say the least, but afterward it started to come out fast and furious, in hideous clumps. I called in a mobile hairdresser and asked her to get her clippers out. She shaved it all off. Taking control and making the decision was a powerful act. Leading up to that point, every time my hair would come away in my hands, it was like a knife piercing into me.

I wore my beanies and scarves most of the time, because the tropical Cairns weather made it uncomfortable to wear my wig for long periods. I saved the wig for social settings, so that I could feel like just one of the crowd. When I wore the wig, there was no 'elephant in the room'. I could have conversations that didn't revolve around treatment, and I could just feel normal, if only for a few hours. Having my wig helped me to choose when and where I would think about cancer; it didn't have to invade every aspect of my life.

Photos of various hairstyles as a result of cancer treatment
Top Left: 1 day after diagnosis;
Top Right: A short style before chemo;
Bottom Left: Taking control by shaving it;
Bottom Right: At the Look Good Feel Better session
I started treatment in May of 2008, I finished in October and I was able to sport a short hairstyle by the time my oldest son embarked on first day of school in January of 2009. It has been almost four years since I last wore my wig. I am fast approaching my 5-year cancer-free milestone. So why am I hanging on to it?  Why is it still tucked away in my closet? Well, I can be superstitious, and I feel that when you give or throw something away, you'll find you need it very soon afterwards. This is not really a big deal when you're talking about old plant pots that have been sitting in your garage, but when it's something as serious as a life-threatening disease, you really don't want to take any chances. I don't want to 'need' this wig ever again, so I hang on to it.

Shelly and MasterSix on her birthday.
Happier times: taken on my birthday this year
Nevertheless, I've been considering donating my wig to the wig library at the Cancer Council. Someone else could use it; it might help her take control, to feel normal when it all gets to be too much. That's more important than holding on to a silly superstitious belief. Cancer doesn't care whether or not I have a wig in my closet. If Cancer wants to knock on my door again, it will. The only thing I can do to is to try to reduce the risks. Eat well, drink moderately, exercise more; these are the things I can do to keep Cancer at bay. So tomorrow, on my way to the grocery store, I am going to drop my wig off at the Cancer Council offices.

Have you been thinking about going for a short hairstyle? Why not donate your locks to a good cause?

Monday 12th November will mark the launch of the inaugural Beautiful Lengths National Donate Your Hair Week in Australia kicking off with a hair donation event at Martin Place in Sydney CBD with Pantene ambassadors Barney Martin and Zoe Foster.

Alongside its charity partner Look Good…Feel Better, Pantene will be offering free haircuts with leading hairstylist and Beautiful Lengths ambassador, Barney Martin, and his team of expert hairdressers to the first 100 women who donate their hair.

A gift bag packed full of haircare products will be presented to every woman who makes the kindest cut and pledges her ponytail, and all donors will be in with a chance to meet Beautiful Lengths ambassador, Naomi Watts, when she arrives in Sydney on 15th November.

In order to participate, hair donors must be able to travel to Martin Place for 8am on 12th November and have at least 20cm of hair to donate. To take part, please visit https://rougemag.com.au/pantenendyhw and complete the registration form.

Hair must also be less than 5% grey, and free from chemical treatments, hair extensions and permanent dye. A detailed list of donation requirements can be found at www.beautifullengths.com.au

Anyone who wishes to donate their hair but cannot get to Sydney for the event on 12th November can find out how to hold their own donation party by downloading a party host pack from the
Beautiful Lengths website.
If this opportunity had presented itself in May of 2008 when I was planning to cut off my hair, you can bet I would have taken it up--an easy way to do something good. My blogging friend, Trish at My Little Drummer Boys, is going through her own experience with cancer, and she has donated four ponytails! Good on you, Trish!

Disclaimer: I have blogged about Beautiful Lengths National Donate Your Hair Week because I think it would be of interest to readers, no money or goods has changed hands.
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