Updated: Jan 29, 2021
Surprise! My hair fell out. And, I’m halfway done!
Honestly, it was to be expected but I wasn’t sure how quickly it would happen. It actually happened before the start of round 2 and I’ve just been keeping it under wraps. Laura thinks I can pull it off, and even had a well-rehearsed, in-depth explanation as to why I look good bald. Let’s just say it’s working its way on me.
I have to say it was surreal to run my hands through my hair and have clumps of it fall effortlessly into my palm. It might as well have been a movie scene — clumps just falling out. It felt like I could’ve probably held on to melting butter more easily. In the instant it was happening, I made a decision; instead of waiting for my hair to fall out over the course of several days, prolonging the goodbye, I decided to shave it off. It gave me a sense of control over the situation which was much less unsettling than hopelessly holding on to it. Sometimes when there’s no choice, the best thing to do is to forge ahead, stepping on the gas harder to get up that ramp and over that perilous bridge. That’s what I opted for and rather than sinking into the bottom of the lake into despair, I feel like I’m soaring high into the air in a convertible and feeling the wind in my...head. The breeze feels pretty good though.
Side note, there is nothing wrong with sinking into despair over your hair either when battling cancer. My hair has always been a reflection of who I am. It’s a part of me I’ve always loved and you’ll see some of the craziest ones I’ve rocked shortly (sorry mom 😬). I say that point to say that there does come a time that denial can’t be where we stand and acceptance has to be where we move toward. Parts of the country still has a hard time with this (Ope, couldn’t pass that political plug up 😏).
To all the bald men in my life that I know, with all due respect I wasn’t planning to join your coalition anytime soon...or ever for that matter, honestly. But now that I’m here, well...I suppose shaving and head-care tips are welcomed. The bald and bearded gang still has more massaging to do before I make any headway there. I’m feeling like I’m more of a The Rock look — salute to him for making bald cool again after Jordan — than of the Purple People Eater look pictured in the gallery below. MN Vikings reference for all of my non-Minnesotans.
Now, I’m just going to put this out into the universe and say the man hair wig industry can use some innovation. These toupees which I have looked at are as bad as they come. And yes, I did do a Google search of some hair “options” 😉. I think the bald head and the stocking cap will be my go-to friends for now but who knows — it’s a wild world out there. Great aunt Carol please knit more stockings for me! I also see a fedora in my future — feels like the roaring 20s right now anyway so why not bring it all back, right?
I keep saying I feel like everyone is going through this with me. Your support and positivity is truly felt and is radiating. Another incredible person I want to highlight is my best friend, Isaac; upon telling him, he came back the next day on a FaceTime call completely bald. He just had to do it. Made me cry like Jordan during the hall of fame speech — I probably looked like him too.
Laura has offered numerous times to do the same but I’ve had to politely turn her down — she’d look great but I figured I’d make it easier for the nurses to know which one of us is going through treatment.
Speaking of nurses, it turns out I caused enough trouble on Gonda 10 to get on the nurses “naughty list”, which means I’ll be featured in their internal newsletter for unapologetically spreading holiday cheer. I’m banking on this leading to less painful IV sticks and more room option but who knows. Honestly, I’m happy to have an amazing nursing staff and my heart goes out to them for working on holidays, and cold winter mornings and evenings to take care of me. If music and Christmas lights bring a little joy, they can keep expecting it; and possibly a small lit tree in the chemo suite — fire department approval pending. Plus sunshine for all of them whenever I get room 30! (Room 30 is our favorite room with the most sun and best city views.) To all the nurses, we thank you!
Now one of the most heart warming, soulful, and endearing conversations of the week has to go to my FaceTime call with Mr. Sonju — my 6th grade teacher turned family. Many in my circle know him and many don’t but they should. Much of my love for science, people, life and helping can be accredited to this man. When I first walked into his 6th grade science class, I couldn’t have known how much it would change the course of my life. His support is enduring, influence profound, and care and love for people universally unbound. He’s so cool that he and his students have had lunch in the Oval Office with Obama. That should say enough about his level of coolness and impact. Sonju, truly, thank you for that call; just what I needed for round 2.
On that note of rounds, that was a lot on my hair so how was round 2? Big milestone is that I’m halfway through chemotherapy.
After round 1, I went from Hercules immune system to something way less impressive. My neutrophils (think soldiers or knights), took a nosedive into the moat. They can’t even lift their heads above the water to see who’s coming let alone be prepared for a fight. Now I have an immune system akin to Camelot’s knights — visible but completely useless.
After completing round 2, this warranted a single growth factor shot that came with a hefty price tag, upwards of $10K.
SIDEBAR: Now I pause to thank my work, company CEO, Chip, — he’s the coolest and cares about his people — and insurance, thank you. Without insurance, the other possible outcomes are death or medical bankruptcy, which many unfortunately and undeservingly face. Healthcare is vital — that’s where I’ll leave that tangent for now.
So with that level of protection, I’m avoiding all infections and contamination — taking quarantine and cleaning to new extremes. Actually, it’s more like Laura swatting my hands and yelling at me to prevent me from touching things while I desperately stand around looking helpless as she disinfects everything. I give her an A+ for her mommy skills. I think I’m giving a B+ effort in infection control but she’d probably say more like C-. All up for debate 🤷🏽♂️.
Overall, round 2 was good. Symptoms were all what you can expect. The gnarly insomnia that has me bouncing off the wall at 2am, the neuropathy in the hands and feet, the persistent audible ear ringing that I omit to Laura when she asks how I’m doing (until she reads this 🤫), and the nauseating taste that continues to ruin the little delicacies. The plus side is that my skin is so sensitive that my grooming products are cheap and hypoallergenic — all baby-dove sensitive products, baby! Not sure why I was ever paying for adult lotions and shampoos, complete rip-off!
There is much still to be done on my road to conquering cancer. Two more rounds. Additional tests and treatment after and a minor brain bleed we’re still sorting out — I guess pipes burst when the drains are clogged but that’s another story for later on. The win is we’re halfway through chemotherapy. I’m happy about that.
Finally, my friend and colleague, Jess donated a gallon of platelets in support of me and her selfless act inspired this part to encourage you to give back. It’s that time of the year and 2020 has been a hard year for everyone. I applaud your spirit and resilience. I also want to say you have the power to help people. You can give back in many ways. From directly supporting charities to going and donating blood, platelets, plasma (critically important for Covid-19), and bone marrow to save lives. With over 300,000 Covid deaths on top of traumas and diagnoses, there are many that can use your help. It’ll take maybe an hour of your time for some. You don’t even have to be a healthcare provider to save lives and that’s amazing. So I encourage you to go give a little bit of you to help save someone else this year. When or if you do please tag me in it, I’m inspired and energized by you!
Read more about donating and find your nearest donation center HERE.
To close it out, here’s a gallery of me with some of the hair dos I’ve sported over the years. From curls to afro to braids and everything in between. Rest In Peace young curls and hair...for now.
With love and gratitude,