A Thing of Beauty
We should be lifting each other up and cheering each other on, not trying to outshine one another. The sky would be awfully dark with just one star. (Stacie)
I want to start this blog by telling you right now, I think YOU ARE BEAUTIFUL!!! Whether you are going through hair loss or not, most of us need to hear it. We can spend all day telling ourselves “you are fine”, or “everything is fine” but rarely do we say to ourselves “you are beautiful”. Maybe your new self-talk should be “you are beautiful, you got this.” Can you imagine what the differences this could make to your overall feeling on a daily basis?
When I began losing my hair and decided to take the step to shave it off, I thought it would be a dramatic event for me. Instead it felt good because it was me taking control of a situation when I felt it was out of my control. One of the first things I heard was, “you’re lucky, you have a nice shaped head.” It was hard to respond to that statement at first. Going from always having very thick hair to nothing was a challenge. Eventually the response of “Thank you” was all I could muster, because what else could I say? I have no hair, but I have a nice shaped head so I should be grateful, I guess. I by no means want to say I’m ungrateful to all the people that tried to make the best of my situation. Everyone I came contact with was always trying to be positive, and I am so appreciative of that, but there were days I just needed time to figure out the new me.
The new me had to figure out what made me feel beautiful in a different way. Making an effort to feel good about myself became a priority. Putting makeup on, even though I didn’t plan on leaving the house made an occasional glimpse of myself in mirrors easier. Walking out the door with a fun outfit and coordinating scarf/hat, earrings and bright lipstick gave me confidence to be out in the public. It was never easy at first, but you realize most people are genuinely supportive of this journey you are on.
People did ask to see what my bald head (it wasn’t completely bald all the time, I still had some random hairs that stayed) looked like. Whenever they asked, I would usually just whip my hat/or scarf off. Showing someone what you looked like was not going to change the fact that you had no hair. From the time I was diagnosed, I knew I wanted to be as open with people about my journey as I could. I had so many people’s support, how could I not be open. Thinking back, I didn’t think beautiful was a word that I thought of very often, but I did learn to feel good with my new normal.
Once I finished chemo, I was so anxious for the hair to come back. It felt like it took forever. But it did start growing back. Again, people were always curious at what stage of hair growth I was in. Finally, I ripped the band aid off so to speak and stopped wearing anything on my head. Once I did this, it was a topic of discussion, usually daily. Sometimes I felt like a pregnant lady because people even wanted to touch it and usually did with my okay. Why not? People wanted to support me and experience it with me, so I did not deny them. Letting people in during your journey gives you a healing that is so important during this. It gives a chance for the healing to happen on the inside (like your heart and head) knowing that so many people are with you.
I’m now 7 months post chemo. My hair is now salt and pepper….maybe more salt than pepper. It is very curly, which I have never experienced in my lifetime and it is again super thick. As this journey is always challenging you, I’ve had to figure out how to make myself feel beautiful. Sometimes each day may hair feels different, some days you just have to do your best. I’ve found that what works for me is to keep it short, otherwise the thick curls get a little too much for me to handle. It may look easy, but most days it just feels out of control😊
What I have learned from this part of my cancer journey is this: We all have different ideas of what beautiful means. I believe each person is beautiful in many different ways and we need to take time to remind ourselves of this, often. So, switch up your self-talk, you know, that voice that replays in your head and make a point to tell yourself many times during the day “YOU ARE BEAUTIFUL.” If you need some convincing, here is a great song by MercyMe that reinforces it (play it on repeat!!). Learn from me, don’t just feel good during your cancer journey, FEEL BEAUTIFUL!