Sunday, March 7, 2010

T-Minus 6 days, or Why Im Lopping Off My Locks in the Name of Cancer

As many of you know, the amazing lads of the Tartan Devils Football Club are sponsoring a benefit event for BRICKS on Saturday March 13th, in cooperation with Pipers Pub on the Southside. The banding together of locals fills me with an amazing sense of community that Im very proud to be a part of, and there is a clear sense of solidarity with our brothers and sisters diagnosed with cancer in the act of shaving ones head. What at first seemed like a simple and fun event has really made me consider my surprisingly deeper thoughts on the idea.

Its obvious that all of us participating in this event recognize that we have the OPTION of losing our hair, something our cancer affected peers do not always get to chose. Ive never really been one to be so full of self esteem regarding my physical appearance that making a change to my hair would be a big decision, I didnt have a whole lot of vanity to put aside, I suppose. But I have realized that I hide behind my hair, its my cover, a shield. Could I really have the confidence to go from this:

to something like this?:

When I start to have doubts, I think about how cancer affected my husband's appearance time and time again, especially in the last couple of weeks of his life. He lost weight, his skin was dry and yellowed, he let his hair and beard grow wildly before the chemo could take them from him. He took self portraits in the bathroom mirror and when I recently stumbled accidentally upon them on the laptop I was taken aback by the old, haggard man looking back at me. I remember that after he took those pictures he shaved his hair and beard, making a decision about his appearance before chemo could make it for him, returning to the familiar scruff and stubble of his healthier days.

Cancer leaves you exposed and vulnerable, open to constant poking and prodding and probing. Medications, procedures and illness itself can alter your physical appearance in innumerable ways. People handle this with great variety- some in anger, others with quiet acceptance. Some with scarves, wigs, tattoos, clothing. Regardless of the method, there is coping that happens, because it has to. You adjust, do your best to feel whole and like yourself, and you carry on. Sometimes acceptance never comes.

For me, should I remain as healthy and fortunate as I am now, this haircutting shouldnt be a big deal. My hair will grow back, if I allow it to. I have the opportunity to raise awareness about young adult cancer, raise some money for BRICKS, and have an amazingly fun time with new and old friends. No doubt I will stumble into the bathroom the morning of Sunday the 14th, and be shocked by what I see in the mirror, but hopefully I will do less hiding, and go out into the world more confident for having gone through with it.

My love and respect for those organizing and participating in this event grows as it approaches, and I hope through doing this they realize how important this event is to me. For my friends and loved ones who have been on the other side, who have experienced the involuntary loss of their hair due to cancer, Im doing this for you, in honor of your strength and courage. This is about so much more than just a haircut.


  1. That's awesome! I am growing mine out so that I can cut it off for Locks of Love, too. I have a looong way to go!

  2. theres a program through pantene where you only need 8inches of hair to donate, as opposed to locks of love, who requires 10inches. the pantene program makes wigs for adult cancer patients! so you dont have to wait as long, AND your hair will go to someone in our demographic group. its a win-win. i think my hair form the event will end up going to pantene, its not quite ten inches long. someone would be lucky to get your amazing red hair, cara!