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Friday, January 30, 2009

BALDIE (Blog 5)

So yesterday (Sunday) I had every intention of going to church but I woke up sensing that it would be a difficult day on many levels. First, another hair massacre occurred overnight and I half-filled my small bathroom trash can with nothing but locks of hair from my pillow, brush, and bathroom floor. It was at that moment when I realized that the day had arrived for me to part with my part. You may be wondering what happened to my plans of having my hairdresser shave it off last Friday when my mom had her touch-up. Andrea, bless her soul, was terrified. I asked her if she would just DO IT anyway since she couldn’t possibly mess it up. She half-heartedly agreed but then made it subtly known that she intended to do so in her usual chair which, as it so happened, was the FIRST chair on the right immediately upon entering the salon. I would be in plain view. I voiced my concern—and later, my outright objection—but she tried to convince me that doing so there would be empowering. She said things like, “why hide it?” and “own it, girl!” I so appreciate that—I do—IF I WERE ENLISTING IN THE NAVY SEALS!!! Instead, she perked up and suggested that she do it at her mother’s house over the weekend. Since, again, it can’t really be screwed up, I was all… “done!” My mom sadly apologized, “honey, if I could help you get it over with, I’d do it. But I just can’t. I’m sorry, I just can’t bring myself to do it.” To be honest, I understood her position better than my own. I know my own strength and my own limitations; I could not, however, imagine watching a loved one struggle while standing by helplessly. God I love her. 
Back to my Sunday: I came to terms with the fact that this is no different than anything else I'm dealing with when it comes to cancer. The few choices I have are eventually revoked when decisions are eventually made for me. I could choose to continue losing my hair in rapid-fire succession until my thinning scalp becomes alien-like with ugly fuzzy tufts (cute on a baby, not so cute on a post-pubescent female) or I could take care of it on my terms. The annoying inner cheerleader in me urges that, similarly, I could choose to say SCREW CHEMO and give up, or I could say SCREW CANCER and fight. The reality is that anyone and everyone with cancer is quite literally dying until they get treatment--whether it be Stage 1 prostate cancer (which I'm quite confident that I won't get) or Stage 4 Breast-Ovarian Carcinoma Syndrome. It matters not. 
One night's hair loss
Secondly, the Texas fall sh*t in the air stirs up even more inflammation in a lymphoma-infested chest and neck which, in turn, makes breathing difficult, swallowing painful, and thinking a chore (although many of you would fail to see the difference with the latter.....especially since about a dozen of you have mused whether or not my roots will grow back blonde. THANKS!! :)) 
At noon my hair stylist invited me over to her mother's house--where she keeps the aforementioned tiny private salon--for the blessed event of shaving my head. Andrea is just awesome and insisted on praying with me and my mom before she would even pick up the scissors. She twirled me around in her chair so I couldn't see my reflection, cut off my ponytail and handed it to my mom, then suddenly started shaving. My mom silently held my hand while Andrea kept sniffling and saying REALLY unhelpful things like, "damn, you're brave" and "I can't believe this is really happening." God bless her blonde little head (Shout out to you ditzy blondes....HOLLA!!!). The whole process took a surprisingly long time--it felt like 10 to 15 minutes although it was likely much shorter--and then she slowly turned me back toward the mirror. Shock and horror do not begin to describe what I saw looking back at me: my only reaction was to bury my head in my hands and cry. My mom and Andrea were crying too and the three of us hugged for a long was a very Steel Magnolias moment minus the 80s perms and Louisiana accents.  We then pulled out Noreen and gave her a trim (after having been banished to a corner of my bathroom sitting atop a hairspray bottle for several weeks her choppy little layers were totally OOC) and pretty quickly got the F up on outta there. I don't cry much but when I do it's absolutely draining.  The drive home was long and quiet. I promptly took a Xanax and slept for two hours before going to my church group (which is more like a group of young professionals who debate philosophical viewpoints). I have absolutely no recollection of the night's topic--given the mild sedative effect and the blatant scarf covering my blatantly bald head while Noreen simmered down back at home--but I was somewhat relieved to get out and face the world for the first time since "the unfortunate incident." I got home at 6:30, we ate dinner at 7:00, and I was asleep by 9:10 when Desperate Housewives was over.
My love of makeup
Today I took Noreen with me to the grocery store but she was still a tad unruly (not to mention stuffy on my head after a few hours). Mom drove back to Rockport and I attended a program at my treatment center sponsored by the American Cancer Society called Look Good, Feel Better. Even though I'm a girly-girl who LOVES makeup and already knows how to apply the dark.....wearing mittens.....I was interested in learning how to fake the eyebrows (sketching them on is quite different than filling in the gaps) and care for chemo-fried and dried skin and scalp. Plus, I RECEIVED GOODIES!!! Seriously, I am not above a makeup handout. I got a Fair Tone kit filled with full-sizes of high-end skincare and makeup products from the likes of Chanel, Clarins, Lancome, and Benefit at an estimated cost of $500. Score one for cancer.  On my way out, one of my chemo nurses said, "You HAVE to come back to the infusion room for a sec!" I did, and they showed me a stuffed cow with huge, red lips that sways its head and sings "Besame Mucho." She told me that when another patient brought it in that morning all the nurses said, "That's Sarah Brannon after her allergic reaction!" My wicked plot to achieve infamy has finally hatched......
Last night a relative was in town for business (we determined that we are second-cousins-in-law but part of the unbreakable bond of family nonetheless). Bob took me to Aldo’s for dinner and it was fabulous: the company, conversation, Eggplant Parmesan, and cabernet. Although I had walked Lola and gone to my church and treatment center wearing a scarf (all very “safe” places), dinner with Bob was my first time really being “out there” in public with my new ‘do. Aldo’s is a popular, upscale medical center restaurant so my baldheaded debut was a big one. There were times that I was self-conscious that the rest of the world was looking at me strangely or that perfect strangers knew my not-so-well-kept little cancer secret, but for the most part I was able to focus on having a great time. On my way home after dropping Bob off at the hotel, I ripped off my scarf to let my head breathe, then instantly regretted it seeing as I’d have to walk from my parking lot to my apartment as a q-ball. Instead, I tied it around my head and under my chin in the grand tradition of old ladies the world over. As you can tell, these are the little issues/details I’m noticing with time and experience.

With that, I am so ready for bed. Good night and God bless you all. Thank you for taking the time to read my daily minutiae.
And FYI: the $@&*! CANCER party is THIS SATURDAY, OCTOBER 11th at 7:00 pm. Let me know if you can make it.
Love, S

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