You, my darling hair, have always been my crowning glory, a signature of my existence. I have spent far too much money on you in the past, keeping Olaplex in business and booking plenty of trips to keep the blonde, well, blonde. Growing you long & blond has always been my fall back option, even though I have cut you all off to a bob, had you dyed orange, had you short once when I was 9 (that was a mistake), been a brunette for most of my life, kept your naturally curly and fizzy state straight, via my GHD's or twisted you up into a messy bun, as if you were my crown. You my darling hair have always played a massive part in my life. Until you couldn't anymore. (I will now revert to not speaking about you in the first person, cause it's actually too hard, both grammatically and also, it makes me sad).
Yes, my hair coming out and having it shaved off was as traumatic as you think it’s going to be. But the trauma only lasted as long as I let it. Well, as long as my husband let it. It turns out that Cancer sucks and then you lose your hair.
My darling man took charge and went and bought a fresh set of clippers the next morning and by that afternoon my hair was in a buzz cut and the stress of it coming out in my hands was gone.
I will say I didn’t not feel empowered at the time of cutting it off. It didn’t feel ok at the time at all, I thought it would be empowering. It was not. It felt forced.
But that’s ok. My experience with cancer has seen me have to deal with a whole lot of situations I didn't want to be in, but I have found that accepting them, rather than rallying against them has lead me on a gentler path on this journey.
Now, now that’s it’s done, I’m not stressing about it coming out in my hands or worrying when it may or may not happen, or wondering what I will look like. I know now and that's ok too.
My journey with Breast Cancer has forced me to slow down. I'm a busy person by nature and on the go a lot. But with Omicron in town, it means I am isolating as much as possible from anyone outside of my immediate family and parents. So there is a an enforced slowness to my days that I have to work with. It's lead me to embrace a song, which has become my Cancer anthem; The Beatles, Let It Be. (I'm likely to become a #basicbitch and get that drawn on me as a tattoo after this shit-show is done.) And so it came to be, that this song was playing as my family and besties helped to first cut off my hair, then shave it to a buzz cut. I did find the music comforting, but possibly a little like I was watching a movie of the experience at the same time as it was happening. #awkward.
So my head apparently has a nice shape (my parents obviously turned me as I slept as a baby! Nice work Mum and Dad) and is now buzzed to the skull and my scarf tying skills are in practice mode. Wigs are a tbc at this stage, I'm not feeling them right now, but maybe further down the track I will embrace. This is just another experience in this experience-heavy season of life.
I look in the mirror and I see me, just a version of me I don't yet, know that well. She's trying to shine, but she's a bit tired, a bit scared and now, a bit scarred.
But I'm determined to learn from this experience and bring that learning to how I style and work with my clients in future. Having Cancer in the time of Covid has made me even more aware of the endurance and suffering we can experience as humans living with trauma, sickness or disability and I want to help people walk graciously, lovingly through their experiences as best as I can, with the tools and knowledge I have as a stylist, and now, as a Breast Cancer warrior. Yep, I'm calling myself a warrior, cause shit, with this haircut I looked like Ripley from Aliens, and she was one bad-ass warrior.
So darling Sisterhood, I hope by sharing my story, it will help someone else through their own shitty experience. I may be all smiles more than I am in tears, but it will always be something that this experience will leave with me for a very long time. I'm so grateful to my husband and two boys, who graciously agreed to let me share this story now. And why now? Because it's helping me to process the experience and I want to turn up and show up for my own life, hair or no hair. Please do share this blog with loved ones you think may benefit or feel comforted that they are not alone in this journey. I know that I am stronger by knowing there are others out there, walking the same path.
Before I go, here's 3 things that have given me comfort during Cancer, Chemo and Covid!
- My #fuckcancer playlist
- This fab Getting Curious with Jonathan Van Ness episode about Hair
- My Shakti mat - OMG, I have had one for ages, but make it a nightly ritual now to lie on it for at least 5 minutes. I'm a fan!
Love, EJ x