100,000. The number of hair follicles on the average human head. It is day 27 of my chemo treatment. I was told all of my hair would fall out on Day 16. I was told this would be the worst year of my life. Cancer has already taken 3 body parts from me (two breasts, one colon). Parts I was really fond of, they all served me well. I wasn’t planning to give any of them up anytime soon. So yes, holding onto 100,000 little hair follicles feels like a huge, fecking victory right now!
This is me, enjoying our annual tradition of choosing a Christmas tree with my family on Day 25, and relishing in a chemo break/spa day at my favorite place in the world (The Ocean House in Watch Hill, RI) on Day 27. With those 100,000 hairs on my head still attached.
Does keeping my hair, thriving, and enjoying every day of my life through chemo, despite periodic bone pain, fatigue, and mind-numbing, crippling fear, feel like a big FU to cancer? You bet it does. More than vanity, or not upsetting my kids any further with my physical changes, it feels symbolic, and like a personal victory. Some control in an uncontrollable situation.
But more importantly, I am putting this out there because if I had read this, or seen these pictures, of a woman with advanced breast cancer, going through chemo, looking healthy and enjoying her life, I would have believed I could get through this too, that it would be okay. It would have made it all a lot less scary. Hair or no hair. So please read and pass this on to any brave women or men in your life facing this challenge and give them a virtual high five from me. Stick a collective finger up to cancer and take a vow to LIVE while you’re alive. No matter what.
…and tell them about Cold caps and The Rapunzel Project.