How we feel about our hair

My mother had an endless array of hairstyles throughout her life. She seemed to have had no fear in changing,cutting and colouring her hair. Based on my observations I wouldn’t have described her as someone particularly attached to her hair. It was however a very different situation when she lost her hair.

When reading cancer forums it is clear that this feeling is shared by many woman going through chemotherapy treatment.

It makes sense. I’m very precious about my own hair, it is I think an extension of my identity and makes a real impact on how people view me. I think that apart from the obvious appearance change it was more the state of vulnerableness that upset my mother.She was a strong woman and losing her hair would create an outward appearance of not being able to prevent a particular situation – cancer. In time we were able to make fun of the baldness, the wigs and the similarities in appearance with her brother when she had no hair, but that took time.

One particular memory around hair and my mother stands out in my mind.True to her nature and with the help of a kind aunt a very bad situation was transformed into a celebratory event of sorts. My mother had started a round of chemo just before our yearly December holiday by the sea. It wasn’t long before her hair started falling out and I remember seeing her sit on the beach in her bikini crying. After a few days of these sightings my aunt took a direct approach. This is how I ended up walking into a bathroom with giggling women drinking wine. My mother was sitting in the bath while her head was being shaved by my aunt. There was laughing but there was also crying. All
in all I think it was a brave move on her side. Obviously the wine helped.

She spent the rest of the holiday ‘rocking the hippie look’ as she put it, wearing a variety of colourful bandannas. It turned into a very entertaining holiday.

I don’t think that I am in a position to give advise on how to deal with this scenario if you are currently in it, I myself would be devastated at the prospect of losing my hair. I do think that there is something inspiring watching people deal with bad situations in a brave humorous manner and I can only hope that I will follow my mothers example for future problems I need to face.

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