I’ve been thinking a lot about autumn. It’s my favorite season, but that’s not why it’s on my mind.
My next PET scan will be around September 27. I wonder what my lungs are up to these days. I’ve barely thought of them since starting whole brain radiation (WBR) two weeks ago.
The end of September… By then the short-term WBR side effects should be wearing off. I certainly won’t have any hair; that won’t grow back until December (if I had to guess).
And frankly, I’m tired of waiting for it to fall out. I know I’m going to lose it, so let’s just get this over with already. Let me go through the grieving process. Let me be mad and upset and stomp and cry and scream. No amount of logical reasoning will prepare me for the emotional storm that’s coming. I’m sure my friends and family are sick of my bellyaching on the subject, too. But this is a very personal and traumatic event. No one can cushion that blow.
I have ten treatments down and five to go. It’s falling out slowly, and I’m noticing that the bald spots from CyberKnife have expanded into small patches. These were all underneath the top layer of hair and thus relatively camouflaged. The patches aren’t noticeable to others yet, and I’m not going to shave it until I can’t stand looking at the radiation-poisoned me in the mirror.
I’m not even sure where in the house I’ll do it. Or if I want Seth’s help or not. I know I don’t want to go to a barber shop or salon; it’s much too personal a process to share with a stranger.
I suppose I will need to cut the bulk of it with scissors before buzzing the rest with a short guide on the blade. Will I feel empowered or will I bawl through the entire process? I’d like to say I’ll be brave, but I think I know how this is going to play out.
Many people lose their hair after ten treatments. Of course, I’m receiving more, smaller fractions of radiation over a longer period of time than is standard. But who knows. I guess it could take another two weeks to fall out. Your guess is as good as mine. At this point, the sooner I lose it, the sooner it can grow back.
And now that I feel like I can “pull off” shorter hair, that’s even less time until I will consider it “acceptable” again. (I’m really trying to find anything positive here.)
It’s not that I’m overly vain, either. I’m really not too concerned if people stare. I’ll make funny faces in return!
No, this is about how I see and feel about myself. I’ve always had very low self-esteem and a poor body image to boot. Honestly, I’ve felt for many years that my hair is the only thing that’s made me a palatable member of the human race.
It’s also what makes me feel feminine. I’ve never worn makeup and jewelry by habit, and I know that will need to change if I want to be readily recognized as a woman.
There’s another thing, too, which I think many healthy people don’t get. Like every other treatment I’ve had, WBR is a palliative therapy. But unlike some others, this has really felt like a step towards the eventual end. I won’t be pulled back together as a healthy person when this is “all over.” That makes a world of difference and is why when most other female “survivors” tell me they went through it, I just can’t identify with them. Many of them grew back hair and continued on living their lives. Without being too dramatic, I’m just hoping to have the time to regrow a thick, full head of medium-length hair.
On a lighter note, I’m on the lookout for cute hats. I don’t see myself as a wig person, but I do hope to amass a small collection of hats (no chemo caps needed) for autumn and winter. If you see something online, send me the link! And if you need my address for anything (I look forward to getting the mail these days!), please drop me a line at stageiv (at) live.com.
Hair today, but certainly not gone tomorrow,