So, it is only natural that my main goal following my 2014 brain surgery, was to regain feeling and movement in my hand and arm so that I would be able to put Avery's hair in the ever-coveted ponytail once again. It was within a week that I met and soon surpassed that goal. But then, soon after, it became a gauge of my progress once again. My hair had fallen out following radiation and was recently starting to regrow. To me, getting it long enough for a ponytail would mean that I was getting somewhere with the regrowth process; but unfortunately, I wasn't able to meet that second milestone because my hair had started slipping through my fingers, literally, soon after the first cycle of my chemotherapy treatments was complete.
Once the radiation was complete and my hair follicles passed being dazed and confused, my hair eventually began to grow back. Very. Very. Sloooooowly. I originally anticipated a pixie cut by Christmas, but I barely even had a 5 o'clock shadow by the time the first snow fell last year. It was a chilly winter, hiding under my wig or fashionable head scarves, but eventually, when the spring flowers started blooming, so did my hair. I was so thrilled to have my hair coming back, that I hardly noticed that it looked like a reverse Mohawk. The sides were growing much faster than the top section of my head, so in essence, it was giving me a backward version of the famous rock and roll coif. Of course, to add a little insult to injury, the gray strands were growing the fastest.
When I learned that I needed to start chemotherapy, I knew instantly that I was going to lose my hair again. The type of chemo that I am on has more gentle side effects, but there was no getting around the most prominent side effect of hair loss. I finally had a full head of hair, but this time, I would face further hair-loss. It wouldn't just be just the hair on my head but also my eye brows and and eyelashes, as well. Chemo's job is to target all the cancer cells in your body. Unfortunately it cannot tell the difference between healthy cells and cancers cells so it ends up kills all of the rapidly dividing cells in the body and that includes both the cancer cells and the healthy cells. Hair follicles are some of the fastest growing cells in the body and so when the chemo kills them, there is nothing for the existing hair to hang onto and it prevents future hair from growing. So, if you notice me hanging around town with a crooked drawn-in eyebrow, or a set of fake lashes haphazardly hanging down my cheek like I'm sneaking back in from a late-night bender, cut me some slack.
Hair is just a thing and you will probably primarily hear that from someone who has never lost their hair. It seems like it would be a comforting thought to share, but for me, losing my hair was hard. Both times. I'm not always good at showing my vulnerability and instead, I tend to hold my feelings close to my heart, but I will admit that it was a blow; especially the second time, when I had come so close to resurrecting my hair styling tools, products, and even that always desired ponytail. Okay, maybe I wasn't that close to a ponytail, but a girl can dream.
I decided to take charge of my current situation again and lose my hair on my terms. I got to spend the summer with my cute little (mostly) red-ish colored, curly, pixie. It was sassy and it was something that I would have never dared to try if I would have gone about it with a traditional haircut. I actually became used to it and so when I tried on my wig for the first time in months, I didn't even recognize that blonde girl with long hair. Instead it looked, just as it was, as if I was wearing a wig. My hair was already short but I wasn't going to watch the strands float off my head and into an oblivion, so I decided to shave it. And when I did, I wasn't alarmed when I faced myself in the mirror this time. In fact, running my hand over my bald head was like shaking the hand of an old acquaintance.