When you or someone you care about has a serious illness, sadness is inevitable. All the feelings that pop up settle into your chest, into your heart. You’re forced to figure out what to do with all that emotion, and it often leads to sadness.
I felt sad about my breast cancer situation and about what the future held. I experienced sorrow for what was changing in life and how it affected my family. After treatments, I was very weak and sick, leading to a sad day or three. For one event, my sadness culminated, and I felt the full force of its blow.
When I learned I needed chemo, I figured I’d lose my hair. My oncologist confirmed it, saying that the combo of drugs I’d receive would cause complete hair loss after the second treatment. I took a few deep breaths after that. I needed an action plan.
To help me prepare, I wanted a wig. Honestly, some women look pretty without hair and are bold enough for that, but not me. (On later reflection, I looked like my dad!) I found a wig place in a nearby town, had a fitting, and ordered a $300+ wig to match my hairstyle and color. It was a strange process but I felt compelled to go through it.
Next, I got my haircut shorter than usual. I thought it might soften the blow to lose shorter hair. It made me a little sad, and the stylist and I talked through tears. My mom said how much she liked my new style. She was sweet.
My first chemotherapy session was on January 27, 2016. As the days went on, if I ran my hands over my hair, small clumps came out. Every day, there it was, in the sink, on my clothes, and on my pillow. It was hard to see it happen, little by little. I was always fretting over it.
After my second treatment and much deliberation, I said, “Jeff, shave my head!” My hair was going to be gone soon anyway. He was more than willing, of course!!! The power I put in his hands … not really. It was a heavy responsibility for him because it was my choice, and I had asked for it. Still, it threw me into a great deal of sadness.
As Jeff shaved, I cried. The hair fell on the floor, I cried. I was shaking with grief. It was so hard to take. I saw myself in the mirror, and, well, you know already. I didn’t want to accept it, but it was the right thing to do. Why was hair so important compared to lifesaving treatment? All the weeks and months of emotional events bubbled up like a volcano of sadness. I let it flow out, my tears were my lava.
Within the next day or so, I accepted life as a baldie. People had started to send hats and headscarves, and I’d wear one each day. I joked with my boys that I looked like famous bald people like Uncle Fester. I posted on Facebook and we laughed some more. I giggled over being bald. I can’t ever say I liked being bald or without eyebrows and lashes but I made light of it and found ways to deal with my appearance. I was going to be okay with this!
Remember about that wig? I never wore it. I don’t know why. I took to headscarves, mostly. The expensive wig is in my closet, acting as a talisman, some odd form of protection from recurrence, and I can’t get rid of it.
If you’re facing a disease or sad situation, acknowledge your emotions. Feel the sadness, it’s okay. Cry. Talk it out, or do whatever you need for release. Just don’t let it turn into a full-blown state of depression, a well you can’t climb out of. Get support from friends or family members. Talk to a counselor, if needed, to put your sadness in proper perspective. Up on the surface, there’s still life to live and moments to enjoy. I don’t want you to miss any of them.
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