I remember talking with my mom about the impending loss of my hair when I was beginning cancer treatments. We both wondered how it would happen. I mean, would it all fall out at once? Would I wake up one morning with a huge “nest” on my pillow? Would it fall out in clumps here and there? As we imagined different circumstances, we would end up laughing until our bellies hurt. Never did we imagine what actually happened… and never, ever did we imagine it would be so funny that we would laugh about it for years to come!
From Grace: A Child’s Intimate Journey Through Cancer and Recovery:
Dad nearly collapsed , and his eyeballs bugged out from his head. I guess that was the first time he ever really noticed the progression, or shall I say regression, of my hair loss. What occurred was quite fascinating. I had expected for hair to fall out everywhere, leaving patches of hair and no hair until all was gone. But instead, my one-eighth-inch part grew wider and wider until a stripe of a little over an inch created almost a “freeway” on my head. Hmm . . . Route Baldo . . . kinda has a ring to it. Anyway, each attempt to brush my hair resulted in more lanes being added, my own personal “tax dollars” at work. I needed some cones to set out.
A bit further on in Grace:
The mirror was a visual aid in grasping the reality that I had just about as much hair as a naked mole rat. My male-pattern baldness was most prominent where my part once stood. From there on out, the forest became slightly thicker. The near crop circle on my head was disturbing, yet hilarious. The phases went from top to bottom, and looking into the future, I saw myself with almost a “curtain” of hair along the side of my head, but nothing on top. I laughed so hard that it hurt.
“Mom,” I shouted, still in a slur of giggles, “I’m gonna look like Ben Franklin!”
We laughed until our bellies hurt, our eyes were watering, and we were nearly
peeing in our pants. And then . . . we laughed some more.
As my crop circle continued widening to the extent of covering my entire head, I would gather the few strands into a tiny pony-tail on top of my head. My mom called me Cindy Lou Who… “who was not more than two!”
After this photo was taken, I returned home to the razor…
With Mom on one side and Nicholas on the other, we crawled down the hallway, as if preparing for launch. My hand grasped the metal hair buzzer on our bathroom counter. I was ready. With a “click,” I fired it up . . . all eyes watched my steady hand. As though using my own personal, mini-lawn mower, I executed a perfectly straight line from the center of my forehead to the crown of my head.
I paused. It was an epic moment, and I knew it . . . everyone did. The now free hair floated elegantly down to the waiting floor as I began to form a parallel row. Feeling the cool air on my bare head, I giggled. It was something virtually no one experiences, let alone a thirteen-year-old girl.
I followed the contour of my head. I had never really known what shape it was. The tiny, delicate hairs slid down the back of my shirt, making me itchy. Carefully, I formed a giant circle on the top of my head, trying hard to make it as even as possible. The circle grew larger, just as a crop circle mysteriously forms in cornfields at 3:00 a.m.
Suddenly, I stopped and stared at the stranger reflected back at me. I had purposely ceased midway to, truly, be the one I resembled. I was Ben Franklin. With only straggly hair running around the majority of my head’s circumference, I depicted the founding father perfectly! Laughter erupted, and I found a chuckle that squeezed shock, excitement, embarrassment, and joy right out of me.
I am thinking I should Bring Ben Back– even for a few moments on my shave day– this Saturday, March 30, at Oakland Children’s Hospital for St. Baldrick’s Foundation.
Kids need fun. Adults need fun.
Cancer is no fun.
Let’s stop cancer together.