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Wednesday, November 27, 2013

The lock


A couple of weeks ago, I had my first real haircut post chemo. It was an important step to feeling like a human again. While I was in the chair, the stylist marveled at the new texture of my hair as she ran her hands through it. It was curly, and coarser, too.

"And it looks a bit darker, don't you think?"

I did think so, but hadn't been sure. I thought that maybe I was remembering my hair wrong. Later at home I pull out the braided lock she cut off for me last October. It was finer, blonder.

What she said was an acknowledgement of everything that's happened in the last year. She saw me, before and after, and noted a change.

It may seem like nothing, but it's important. Most of the time people say things like, "You look good!" which I know is meaning to be nice, but actually feels like something of a negation of this experience. It feels like they're saying, "You don't look sick," or like they're saying that it's over when it's not. I know I should just smile and say thank you and be grateful for the compliment, but it rankles me.

Am I like my hair? Have I become darker, and rougher? Maybe.

7 comments:

  1. i just wrote a whole post yesterday, begging people to stop telling me I look good. I don't. i look OK. I look like I'm not going to die. but I don't look good!
    my hair is also coming in a different color.

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    1. I know! There's SOME middle ground between looking like shit warmed over and actually looking good.

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  2. Someone close to me repeatedly told me I looked fine and should go out to work without my wig when my hair was perhaps 2mm long and really no more than a dark shadow on my head. And I had no lashes or eyebrows. It made me furious - and it hurt me. I felt exactly the same way, that the person was saying "its no big deal" and negating the experience and how weird I felt I still looked. I look back on photos of me at that time, one year ago, and see a puffy steroid face in an awkward wig with huge bags under my eyes. I really didn't look fine. And now, while I pass on the street as fine, I don't always feel fine. And don't know if I will be fine in the future. People don't get this - I am constantly told how lucky I am I had breast cancer since it is curable, or treatment options are so advanced, or some variation on the "it isn't a big deal anymore" theme. And so I get why you are rankled. It isn't a bad thing to be courser and darker - the world is not entirely a light and airy place. We have a hard time acknowledging bad things because we are generally protected from them.

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    1. You are so right on. The bad/scary/sad things make people very uncomfortable -- there's nothing wrong with that. But they make us so uneasy that we just don't deal with them. So when people say, "You look good," or "You're lucky," I feel like they're really saying to themselves, "See, she's okay! Nothing to worry about."

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  3. I haven't been through as much as you, but I HATE when people tell me I look good. How am I supposed to look? You captured my feelings perfectly.

    And as far as the post above about how lucky we are...that's another one that gets me going. Lucky is never having cancer.

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    1. I love that -- "how am I supposed to look?" line! I might say that, if I'm brave enough. I'm terrible at being stroppy face to face.

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    2. Misti aka Anonymous aboveDecember 9, 2013 at 10:23 AM

      Just do it, people don't think... and I know they're trying to be "positive" but life isn't always positive. :) Hope you are well, thanks for the blog. Wish it didn't have to be about your struggles/victories with such a horrible disease.

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