Tuesday, 7 September 2010

The Big C

My wee sister has breast cancer. She has only one more chemo to go and then it's on to radiotherapy, which is equally hard going but in a totally different way.

I knew she had lost her hair but as the wig she has been wearing is so natural looking, I had been fooled into thinking that she had been saved that trauma. That was until a few weeks ago when she asked did I want to see her without her hair. This was a huge thing for her to do as her hair was always her crowning glory! She never left the house unless it was just right.

I tried really hard to not show my emotions when she removed her wig but as my face is so expressive, it totally let me down. To me she was still the same just minus the hair and she had this luminous beauty about her It brought back so many feelings that it kinda took my breath away. I quickly headed into the kitchen to make tea and get a hold of myself.

After we'd had our tea and she had left, I was so out of sorts and tearful. She is the third person in a short time, who I am close to, who has been diagnosed with cancer. Both my friends, Angie and Maureen have been through it in the last year. Although their cancers were different types, the story is the same. They both endured numerous painful operations and the horrendous painful recovery, coupled with chemo it didn't make for a fun time. Angie didn't lose her hair but Maureen did.

Maureen was very proactive and had her head shaved for charity. I was totally traumatised! lol

You see, I have had cancer. I was 24 when I was diagnosed with Non Hodgkins Lymphoma. The diagnosis was not good but with chemo and radiotherapy I had a chance.

I knew I was gonna lose my hair cos while I was in the hospital the "wig person" came to see me. My hair was long, past my shoulders and so she tried to get me a wig that matched my hair. I was so not impressed! lol

Like my wee sister, my hair was my crowning glory. I was a Head Receptionist in a hotel and that required me to look my best so I never went anywhere without the hair looking glossy and lush and my face made up. It used to drive my friends crazy cos I was always late for a night out cos I would be busy sorting the hair or make-up. I'm reading this and thinking that it makes me sound vain but I totally wasn't. I guess that it was because I didn't feel like I had the greatest figure so I made more effort with my hair and face.

I wasn't able to go back to work after starting my chemo, just as well cos within a week of my first dose, my hair was starting to fall out and boy there was a lot of it. After finding so much of it in the shower and in the bed, I decided in my infinite wisdom to get it cut short.

So I got Pam, who worked at the hotel but who used to be a hairdresser to cut it short. She really didn't want to do it and the two of us were crying but I was insistent. The end result was pretty cute and at least then there wouldn't be so much hair to clog up the shower.

It was just before my second chemo that my boss and the hotel owner asked me to lunch to discuss my illness. I was all dressed up and trying to gel my hair but soon realised it was a no go when I ended up having more hair stuck to my fingers than gel in my hair. The more I tried to get it off the more the hair kept getting stuck! lol Abandoning the gel, I headed out to the hotel.

During lunch, I was sitting between the boss, Jimmy and the owner, Louigi. Everytime one of them spoke, I would turn to look at them. After a short time I became aware of little piles of hair collecting on my shoulders with every turn of my head. I was completely mortified but they just brushed it away and told me to stop moving my head! I think one of them even moved so I wouldn't have to. It was hilarious and traumatising at the same time.

Later that week my mum was through to see me and I had just had my second chemo and OMG I felt rough. So there we were, me lying on the sofa, doing my dying duck routine and my mum sitting beside me stroking my head. That was ok at first but then she was creating a nice pile of my hair on the floor and I now had a bald patch in the middle of my forehead. I remember saying that I think she should stop now otherwise I would be bald by tea time. Next thing we were laughing hysterically and crying with laughter although let me tell you, it was so not funny.

My hair finally lost its grip on my head on the 15th December 1990. I remember that date cos it was the day of the Christmas party that Allan's work was holding. I had been determined to go wearing my own hair but it wasn't to be.

I was given a hair net to wear in my bed for collecting the masses of hair I was losing and when I got up that morning, it was a Saturday so Allan was at home, the first thing I did was take off the hair net. To be honest, I didn't even look in it to see how much hair had come out but just carried on watching the TV. About 3pm Allan ran me a bath and after it cooled a bit I headed into the bathroom, looking forward to a long soak. We had a big mirror in the bathroom and it was all steamed up so I gave it a wipe and to my horror saw that most of my hair was gone! I let out a scream and Allan came running in, he was waiting for this cos obviously he had seen it and was just waiting for this moment. I couldn't stop crying but eventually got a grip and had a proper look.

It hadn't all come out but now I looked like an old man who was sporting a comb over and had a stripe of hair from the top of my ear to the bottom of my neck, all the way round and I just looked like Rab C Nesbitt off the TV. The only thing missing was the string vest!!!

I spent that hour in the bath, crying and pulling out the rest of my hair til there was nothing left.

That night at the Christmas party,I was really self concious but everyone was very nice and one particular lady said how surprised she was at how good I looked and wasn't I lucky to have not lost my hair! I nearly choked on my drink cos there was no way this wig on my head could be disguised as real hair.

Anyway it soon became apparent that it wasn't when I started dancing and every part of me moved except my hair! Oh correction it did move just not in the way you would expect as you see the damn thing was quite itchy and it got so bad that I had to lift the wig and have a scratch underneath. After doing this a few times, the parting on my wig was soon half way down the side of my head instead of in the middle and Allan had to sort it! Tee hee hee

I only wore it a couple of times after that. The last time was to go Christmas shopping with my mate Kathy and we had to have quite a lot of pit stops for tea as I got so tired, just as well cos it was only then that she would get a good look at my wig and would have to sort it as I'd been scratching again. She used to make me laugh cos she would look around to see if anyone was looking first before she would "fix" me.

The wig is still in use to this day, Allan gave it to his mate as part of his best man speech cos Topper was starting to lose his hair. It went down a storm and to the best of my knowledge the wig still makes the odd appearance now and then usually when there is alcohol involved :-)

I preferred to go without it and wore a turban instead. Being bald had it's perks, it was really useful for keeping my neices and nephew away from the Christmas presents underneath the tree cos I used to threaten to show them my baldy head if they didn't leave them alone!!

Really effective I might add. God I am wicked!

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