Monday, November 25, 2013

Hair and Back Again: A Hair-Razing Journey

Now that it's been over eight and a half years since I had nuclear-bomb strength chemo for fast-growing lymphoma, I don't mind people seeing what I looked like during that sickly time. If you know someone going through chemo, this might encourage them that their hair WILL grow back.

I wrote this poem about a year after chemo, and later published an article with Coping With Cancer magazine (link below), but this is mostly a photo journal.
age 21--my preferred length
I've always had long hair.
It was part of what defined me.

Hair doesn't make a person, though,
does it?

So why do I feel as different
on the inside
as I do on the outside?
First I dyed my brown hair red
for fun, I said.

When the red hair began to fall out
I cut it short
to lessen the mess, I said.
Then it all poured off one day
except for two stubborn strands
and I shaved them so I could feel
that bald was my choice.

It wasn't.
For weeks I had three personas:
Long brown curly wig,
Short red sassy wig,
Scarf topped with hat.
Before I lost eyebrows & eyelashes
Not one hair left on me--this was the worst I felt.
Under each of them I hid,
trying to figure out who I had become.
No hair yet but now in remission!
At last the hair began to grow back
Marine recruits had more than I did.
Hats were still my best friends.
3 months post-remission
Now it's longer, very curly
and people tell me, "Cute."
But still I mourn my old hair,
and the old me.
7 months
One year
Two years
Three years (goofy bangs!!!)
I did ask my oncologist if she'd put "Miracle Gro" in my chemo, because not only did my hair come back, I've stayed in remission for eight and a half years--and counting!

Link to Coping With Cancer article


  1. Your real hair will always be my favorite, but that red wig is a close second.

    1. Ha, ha, me too, Robert! I'm keeping that red wig in case I ever need it again, but hopefully I never will! :)

  2. What a wonderful blessing to share your story with others. I've followed you from the beginning. What you have shared through the years has taught me a lot about how to react to suffering. Thank you.

    1. Thank you, Diana. You're a sweetheart AND you're making me blush. ((HUG))

  3. That was a terrific photo journal, Katy. You are so strong, and you were one gorgeous baldie! When my sis and mom were suffering the same effects of chemo, they both went the bald with a scarf route--but I have to admit, that red wig was pretty awesome, too!

    1. Thanks, Ann! I didn't feel gorgeous when I was bald; I felt like a Galapagos tortoise. (Actually I didn't mind the "feel" of the bald head, but it was really difficult to look at myself in the mirror.) Scarves are definitely more comfortable than wigs! :)