Friday, June 6, 2008

hair, part two

So I hacked it off over the bathroom sink just before dinner. Steve helped hold the Ziploc bag until Benjamin started crying for his bottle, and then I flew solo. I wondered, didn't Sharon Stone wear her hair this short once? But then I looked at the back of my head through a hand mirror and saw where a big patch of hair is already mostly out, and I'm pretty much bald.


After it was all over, the photos for posterity and everything, I sank onto the sofa and cried about how ugly I suddenly felt. How, for the first time, I look like someone with cancer. (Yesterday, I heard a Neil Young song in the car that brought me back to my college days, and I cried because whoever thought back then that when I was 40, I'd be fighting for my life, much less pulling my hair out by the handful?) I cried because from now on, whenever I leave the house, I am going to have to make sure I have something on my head. I cried because when I look at the big pillow of hair inside the plastic bag, I see that it is beautiful — glossy, shiny brown. I never appreciated that like I should have. I always complained about my hair, about how I could never get it styled right, or about its tendency toward frizziness. I should have just loved it because it was, after all, my very own beautiful hair.

But I must move on. And if divine intervention plays some role in this whole game, it certainly did today. This afternoon, while my friend Shannon and I were at Creative Kidstuff checking out toys, I saw a woman with the most gorgeous headscarf tied around her head. She wore cool glasses and had her face neatly made up. She looked chic and beautiful. I myself felt hot and sweaty, and my hair was sliding off my scalp whenever I moved my head. It was all over the shoulders of my fleece jacket. I approached the woman while we were standing in the checkout line and asked her where she got her scarf. She told me about how she goes to a local fabric store and buys 34-inch-square pieces of fabric to go with every outfit. She has, like, one wig at home, she said, and she never wears it. Scarves are so much more comfortable.

We started chatting about chemo. (I'm learning that no one on this journey is a stranger.) Suddenly, she said, "Is your name Emilie? Do you have a blog?" It turns out she is a friend of my friend L., who had mentioned my blog to her. (I'm keeping names out of this to protect privacy — but please let me know if you want me to remove this.) What a small world. Like me, she was diagnosed with cancer shortly after she'd had her second baby. In her case, she was nursing and had noticed what felt like a plugged milk duct. But it was breast cancer. Before she knew it, she was having a mastectomy. I can't imagine what that must have been like. Having to wean Ben so I could start chemo was one thing. Having to have my breasts cut off feels like quite another.

Anyway, she got me thinking about scarves, so tonight I tried some on, just to get the hang of it. My hair is still falling out right now, so I'm holding off on wearing the wigs until I get it all shaved off tomorrow. I wonder what I'll ending up preferring — wigs or scarves. Geez. I feel like there are a ton of hair puns in here somewhere, but I can't summon one up for the life of me.

I don't think Daniel is the least freaked out about me losing my hair. Not yet, anyway. Yesterday, as we were lying next to each other on his bed at naptime, he reached over and grabbed a handful of it. A little clump came out in his hand and tickled his face, and he laughed. No ... I think he's handling this part just fine.

47 comments:

Anonymous said...

Emilie,

You look BEAUTIFUL!! I love the scarf, and what a great picture of you and Daniel. Good for you!

Shannon

Anonymous said...

I am thrilled that you two amazing women have met!! You both have such beauty and strength. I do think the scarves look chic on you all- Daniel too! -Lisa

Wordgirl said...

They took the words right out of my mouth!

You do look beautiful -- and what a terrific photo...

Anonymous said...

You do look BEE-U-T-FULL...
I bet that you will look even better than Sinead O'Connor did.
--Aunt LizzieBoo

kristine said...

I agree - I think you look just gorgeous! Your smile shines more than anything!!

Christina said...

You have the facial features to pull it off with flair. In fact, I think it brings more attention to your lovely face.

Kristie said...

Hair or no hair you are beautiful. You don't look like someone who has cancer, you look like Emilie.

Love Daniel's scarf, he is so chic.

Anonymous said...

Not to sound redundant, but you truly look beautiful! Your lovely facial features are so striking in that picture with the scarf. And of course Daniel looks adorable in his as well. I'm so glad you made the perfect new friend during your time of need.

Anonymous said...

I found your blog through Ahuva's in late April. I've since thought about you daily (well, more than daily to be candid as your story is a bit close for me right now), though I've not commented before. I just wanted to tell you that I think you look so beautiful in your newest photo - such a warm smile and spirit showing in your face. You are in my daily prayers.

Anonymous said...

Emilie, you look beautiful, truly!

Susan

Mary said...

That is such an adorable picture!!! Nearly all the people I've met who had sarcoma went for scarves and hats, and some of them went bald after a while. Actually, I don't know anyone who wore a wig more than a few times. Those scarves are cool on your head, and they really are cute. Fashionably comfy. ;) But maybe you'll alternate, go for something different everyday. I guess you might as well spice it up.

I never lost my hair (no chemo), so I haven't experienced it, but I can totally relate to your sitting on the couch and crying. I would do that too! People say that it is a sadness that disappears quicker than you'd expect though. I hope it will for you. *hugs*

Cibele said...

You look so beautiful! what a strong woman you are

Anonymous said...

Emilie,

To me, it's like a Christo art installation. He's the guy that wraps things so that we'll appreciate them in a new way when the wrapping is removed. Seeing you without hair is like having that wrapping removed; your beauty seems new and fresh.

Charles

surly said...

You look beautiful, seriously -- you have the perfect face and complexion to pull off the short (or no) hair look!

Molly said...

I can't claim to understand the emotions that must come with what you're going through, but I will say that you look stunning, with short hair and with the headscarf, and I'm certain that you'll continue to look stunning with no hair at all!

Chris said...

You look so stunning Emilie. You have beautiful features, I think you look fabulous in a scarf.
Every time I read your blog I feel so inspired, you are so damn strong.
Chris

Rebecca said...

All I could think was "beautiful," and then I clicked "comments" and saw that I am not alone. You are absolutely beautiful. You know what you thought when you saw the woman in the store? That's what we think when we see you.

Jamie said...

I think you look beautiful too! I love your scarf.

Meg said...

You are a beautiful woman Emilie.

Queenie. . . said...

No, really, people AREN'T just being nice--you really look GORGEOUS without the hair. I scrolled down first to see the other posts I've missed in recent days, and caught a glimpse of the first photo with the short 'do, and the first thought I had was "wow--she's gorgeous, even jacked up on chemo." But I still can't wait to see the wigs from the store all the drag queens frequent. Although, a scarf for every outfit also sounds divine. As you mentioned, this is hopefully a once-in-a-lifetime event, so why not make the most of it and try out every fabulous wig-hat-scarf you can find?

Courtney said...

I think you look beautiful. Your smile makes up for your lack of hair:) Daniel looks very handsome too.

Regina said...

I like the new look, especially that photo. I think the haircut, combined with the slightly defiant look on your face, makes you look like Natalie Portman in V. for Vendetta...

Anonymous said...

Em, those shots are fantastic. The radiance you show in the scarf shot is wonderfully bright-- I've been carrying it around in my head ever since I saw the shot a couple hours ago. Yes, indeed, something marvelous is going to happen through all this for you. Wouldn't we like a hint of what it is? Maybe a box to shake or a quick flash-forward?

--Laura S.

lori said...

you look beautiful. the scar is gorgeous, but i also think you are beautiful without it.

i'm so glad you met someone face to face who is on the same journey.

Anonymous said...

Em! I'm so moved to tears by all this!

In the top picture, I think you look quite pretty. Prettier, in fact, than when you had a lot of hair. The shorter hair brings out the bone structure of your face better. You look sort of like Winona Ryder.

I realize that even the short hair will be gone soon, and it sucks. But remember that hair, PER SE, can be beautiful, but it doesn't necessarily look beautiful against someone's facial features. Sometimes I'll see a woman with beautiful, long, silky, glossy hair, but the style does not flatter her face much. Again, just because hair PER SE is beautiful, doesn't mean it flatters the face.

I've held this opinion since before I ever had cancer myself.

- Susanne

Roxy said...

You look GREAT with sexy short hair! And the scarf looks fantastic - you have the perfect face to pull anything off!!!

and Daniel is too much!! Love him!

Heather said...

I was a total scarf/hat girl myself, and VERY vain about losing my hair! Wigs were just too hard to match to my hair color and too hot in subtropical Florida!

Beth said...

I think you look awesome and your attitude is addictive!

Barbara said...

Emilie honey, you are unbelievably gorgeous, inside and out, with or without your hair. And might I say, you look mighty chic in that scarf! (And Daniel--ooh la la!!!)

liz said...

Wow. You look gorgeous! If we were strangers and I saw you in a store, I'd think the very same thoughts about you: chic and beautiful.

Ahuva Batya said...

I agree with the comment about Winona Ryder... the first picture of you with super short hair is so beautiful. You have the most beautiful face and if you had just shown up on my doorstep with that haircut as a surprise without the reason behind it, I would have loved it just as much. And you are so glowing, from the inside and out. I love the headscarf. I love the way you find so many wonderful things to think about during this time.

Ellen said...

Coming from a girl living on Portland's eastside, I think you look normal :-)
Em, I think you look good in the scarf because it brings out your great smile and eyes. You definitely have the panache to look good in them. I know it's a lifestyle change, but look-wise I don't think you have anything to worry about, honey!! Your natural beauty has meant you don't need to wear a lot of makeup to look good, and so your natural beauty will carry you through these times.

Sully said...

That is such a great picture - you look beautiful and strong. Don't forget that - stay strong!

Tracy said...

Love the scarf, you have a really nice small head (hey, some people don't) and you can wear a scarf and look amazing, you do have such a pretty face.. I say a huge thumbs up on the scarf!!

LutherLiz said...

Not to sound like a broken record with all the other posts, but man, short hair works for you. You look just great! And you can pull off the scarf look just as well - although I prefer the colors of Daniel's :)

Anonymous said...

Love the scarf. The wig is very cute, too!
I say go for comfort!

You have amazing strength.

Lizz

April-C-A said...

Em, you have such a nice head! (I bet you never expected someone to say that!) A friend of mine went into chemo (ovarian cancer) with straight hair and afterwards her new locks came in totally curly! She's having a lot of fun with her new style and it actually makes her look younger! I never knew scarves can be considered another fab. accessory, but it makes sense. So many bold and pretty patterns out there.

Marketing Mama said...

You really do look great, Em! I think the scarf is a nice touch and I love that other woman's idea of having a ton of them you can rotate to go with different outfits. :)

Emma said...

Emilie, you look beautiful! Your story has touched me. I will be back often and will pray for you.

Autumn said...

Hi Emilie,

It was lovely to meet you in person last week, especially since I had been thinking a lot about you after first reading your blog. I would agree with everyone's comments, the scarf looks beautiful on you and I do like the short hair cut as well (I've always been partial to short hair anyways). I hope it's okay for me to say this since I just met you, but when I saw you in the store the look on your face was of fear and timidness but in the picture of you and Daniel (he's
adorable by the way!) you looked very confident and ready to fight this battle head on. Good for you!

Please give me a call if you want to talk or get together for lunch or anything, I'm home all day.

Autumn

kate hopper said...

You DO look beautiful! I've been thinking of you so much and sending healing thoughts.

Anonymous said...

Hey girlfriend, I have a weird comment. Why are you wearing fleece in June? Is chemo messing with your temperature, too, or is it really cool in MN still? My car panel showed the outside temp to be 106 degrees here yesterday. I am about to melt. Come here for a visit and you will be glad to catch a breeze on your pretty head.

Two teachers at the elementary school lost their hair to chemo this past year and one of them came to school totally bald. The kids LOVED it. She totally embraced it, and the students thought she was the coolest, baddest, bravest teacher ever.

So, see, you are now the coolest, baddest, bravest mom/wife/friend ever.

Leigh

Muriel and her Mom said...

You are beautiful!

Tracy Smith

Good & Crazy said...

Wow. I just clicked on your blog from MarketingMama and wow. I'm impressed you can do this. Blog it all out there.

I'll be on the look out for beautiful scarf material...

Jo on the go said...

Em, you are gorgeous and I think you should let your inner Carrie (SATC) out and try a different look every day. Sure, it will take an extra 2 minutes to decide between the purple wig, seafoam wig, 10 great scarves, etc., but what fun accessorizing!

You are so good at making lemonade. You inspire me.

Love, love. I cry a lot these days, too.

Jennifer said...

Emilie - I just stumbled across your blog. I wanted to let you know that I admire your strength. I can't imagine the struggle you're going through, both physically and emotionally, but you are a beautiful woman - with or without hair!

Best of luck you to on your fight. I hoe you don't mind, but I'll be checking in often.

Wishing you the best,
Jennifer

Piccinigirl said...

I'm speechless, but in awe of that spirit of yours!!!

the scarf is beautiful and so are you. Daniel you have a gorgeous smile!!!

*hugs to all*