A month from now, I’ll be done with cancer treatment. I’m sure I’ll celebrate with close friends after I recover from the mediport removal, and I plan to hold a larger party to benefit Pink Jams in early October. But, celebrations seem bittersweet right now.
I’m beyond lucky and blessed that this aggressive strain of cancer was caught early. And, I’m thankful that I’m almost done with treatment. I also appreciate that my life has been enriched and my relationship clarified because of my diagnosis.
“Then why is this bittersweet, City Girl?” you might be wondering.
The short answer is that I still don’t feel like myself. I was the girl who would receive compliments from strangers about her hair on a daily basis. I was the woman who could get a guy to notice her just by a flip of her long, red locks. I was the 36-year-old who was approached by a modeling agent because of her height, weight and hair.
Then, I was the girl who got attention for being bald. I might have felt ill and frustrated by the weight I had gained from the steroids, but I could justify that. I was a walking advocacy opportunity.
Now, with my short hair that curls at the end thanks to chemotherapy and the inability to lose those last ten pounds, I look like I’m auditioning for a middle-aged woman who can blend in the crowd. And, suffice it to say, I hate blending in a crowd.
Are all of these concerns vain? Completely.
Are all of these feelings valid? Yes.
I keep asking people not to talk about my hair, and I just smile and say thanks when people say that I look great.
It seems nicer than saying: Yes, it’s great that I’m not still in chemo and that you feel more comfortable because I now have hair.
“But, your hair will grow back!” I’ve heard.
Yes, it will — in approximately three years! You don’t tell someone who’s starting law school that they’re almost done, right?
I have been doing more over the past two weeks, and for that, I am thankful. But, I’m still getting sick almost every day from the non-chemotherapy cancer medication that I took for only five days last month!
This, too, shall pass, I realize. And, I fully appreciate that this could be so, so, so much worse. But, please, let me be vain and angry and not have to roll my eyes with all the well-intentioned comments about how beautiful I look and how short hair flatters me.
If you have a couple of minutes, this scene with Maura Tierney from Rescue Me (at about 4:30-5:30) captures what I want to do anytime people say how great I look or how wonderful it must feel for this to be almost over.