I’ve weathered the 12 days since my inaugural chemo dose reasonably unscathed. Yes, I was fatigued, yes, I was nauseous and yes, I had an unscheduled trip back to hospital with an alarming allergic reaction to one of my anti-sickness drugs (involving constantly twitching limbs and a scary, trippy feeling in my head of somehow being trapped) but, overall, it has been bearable.
Now I am waiting again. It’s all about the waiting, this cancer thing. I am waiting for my hair to part company with my head. It is inevitable given the chemo cocktail I am being given, but no one can say when it will happen. For some, it is immediately after the chemo, which is obviously not the case for me. For others, it takes a couple of weeks. Some find their hair hanging on in there until after their second dose.
A very dear friend, who also happens to be a hairdresser, came over last week and cut my shoulder length hair into a very short pixie crop. Many cancerees do this as a half-way stage before chemo hair loss; it is far more bearable to see short strands falling out than it is longer swathes.
The cutting process was emotional for both of us. Tears were shed. The huge pile of hair we swept up on my kitchen floor left us both speechless for a second or two. But then I looked in the mirror, held my own gaze for a few moments, and smiled. I actually liked what I saw. Hugs and relief all round. When my hair has been and gone and come back again, I may well opt to keep it short. Sometimes we discover good things in the most unlikely ways.
It is very hard to describe how surreal this is, the wait for impending baldness. Every morning I open my eyes and give my hair a little tug. Yes. Still there.
Every time I wash my hair I scrutinise the shampoo foam in my hands, and peer into the plughole. No. None there.
Today my head has a strange tingling sensation going on and feels very cold. This could be a sign that the chemo cocktail, the poisonous healer, has worked its insidious way into my follicles.
I fear losing my hair and the consequences of that loss, mainly because I will no longer be able to masquerade as a ‘normal person’, as I have done thus far since my diagnosis. My status as a canceree will be writ large. However, part of me is willing it to happen; I want to hasten the inevitable; I want to get amongst it and deal with it.
It is often the case that anticipation and fear are far worse that the ‘thing’ whose arrival we await. I suspect – and sincerely hope – this will be the case when it comes to living the hairless life.