The C4YW Blog is overwhelmed by the amazing and inspiring writing that continues to pour in! Today, we welcome another new blogger, Jennifer Acee, with her first blog entry. Her strong voice and particular story is one of the many that C4YW strives to represent. Be sure to visit the website and register for this year’s event in Seattle as time is running out!
I am 28 years old. I have breast cancer.
I am two weeks into my first round of chemotherapy and the ominous day in which my scalp beings to tingle and feel heavy has just arrived. I run my hands across my recently-chopped-short hair and they come away covered in dislodged strands. It’s happening.
Immediately, I want it shaved off. I don’t need to lose it in clumpy stages or to hang on to scarce strands among a desert of baldness. (Gross.)
The metamorphosis into bald is a pretty significant kick into the emotional struggle of a cancer diagnosis – the full weight of which will take me months to understand. Overnight, I will become a person who looks so ill that people actually perceive me, with one glance, as someone who is dying.
Tonight, I lose it (my hair that is.)
I am sure my husband never imagined he would shave my head. We’ve dated since high school, been together a decade now and faced all manner of odd things that life pitches. But this is a new one for us both.
I didn’t envision it as a particularly traumatic experience for him. Rather, I think I know him well enough to accurately conjecture he would be thinking about how I was handling the situation as he passed the buzzer across my scalp. But a girlfriend implanted in my mind that shaving his wife’s head might be a little hard on him too. Fair enough.
So on this night, as we were (quite literally) facing tribulation head-on, I attempted to lighten the mood, for his sake. Okay, cue lame attempt to be light-hearted: “Well,” I say, “I guess I don’t need my keys anymore…” too long of silence while I try to build up the punch-line suspense and he stares at me blankly… “I’ve lost my locks.”
Out to the driveway we head, for ease of clean-up, with a chair and the clippers. My 2.5 year old, in PJ’s and rain boots, follows behind and out into the action, as though this were a normal family activity.
As my husband passed the noisy buzzer across my scalp, which hadn’t been exposed since I was an infant, I had planned to look up at him and say, “I better not wear a turtleneck, I’ll look like a roll-on deodorant,” my second, prepared bald joke that I had looked up online moments before we began. But I ended up not having the heart. The clippers were really loud and uncomfortable and I just wanted to get it over with as quickly as possible. (Note, my husband was keen on starting by shaving a mohawk and taking a picture, so I guess he was handling the situation just fine after all.)
So yes, in summary, my husband shaved my head in the driveway while my son stomped around in the hair in his rain boots. Just another normal evening…
The first person I let look at my bare, bald head is my 2.5 year old son, a good 24 hours after our driveway-shaving. We were in the bathtub when he suddenly looked surprised, noticing my naked/hairless head joining us in the tub. I tried to explain to my happily-oblivious toddler that my hair is simply gone now, which I don’t really like, so I’ll be wearing a lot of hats.
My son nodded casually and then concluded our heart-to-heart by pointing at my head and saying, “Mommy don’t like that.”
“That’s right son, I don’t really like it like this.”
And so went the next 5 minutes with him repeating “Mommy don’t like that,” as he pointed at my head and tried to process what I had told him.
Over the next week, as my baldness morphs into normal for him, he will occasionally recall this conversation and repeat the mantra. With beautiful succinctness and accuracy, my toddler will walk around proclaiming, “Mommy don’t like that.”
Jennifer Acee is a working mother who recently underwent treatment for Stage II Breast Cancer. She enjoys reflecting on life through her writings and her blog. Visit here to read more.