Posts Tagged: hair

Dec 12

The Hair (or lack thereof) of Christmases Past

This Year

Last Year (Lily is on the inside!)

Two Years Ago

Three Years Ago

Four Years Ago

Jan 11


Today at the Cancer Center a familiar-looking woman sat down in the chair opposite me. I thought a minute….and remembered her, from this summer. It was July. She had shoulder-length hair and she had a breast cancer diagnosis and she was receiving her first dose of chemo. She was scared. We talked about chemo and cancer and we talked (inevitably….I find that this is such a pressing concern for women with cancer) about hair loss and what it is like to be a bald woman. I showed her some of the pictures that Adrea took of me. I told her that she was beautiful and strong and that that wouldn’t stop being the case just because she had cancer, just because she was going to be bald.

So she sat down opposite me and smiled at me and we both started talking at the same time. We talked for an hour (until my Rituxan ran out and the IV line was flushed and I was disconnected). We talked about chemo (she felt like hers really wasn’t so bad, though she wasn’t overly fond of the weight that the medications made her gain), we talked about our families, we talked about world travel. We talked about being a bald woman and we talked about fear and about how, sometimes, things just work out the way that they have to work out and, somehow, it all ends up being ok, in a strange sort of way. She told me that meeting me that very first day in the infusion room was a miracle, that she needed it. That she has been thinking about me all these months and drawing strength from our conversation. That I was her inspiration.

I don’t tell you all this so that you think that I think that I am so great. I think I am a woman who did what she had to do, when she had to do it. I tell you this so that you can know, just like my new friend and I, that sometimes things turn out a certain way–not the way that we had planned or expected or desired–and that life can seem scary and weird, but, sometimes, life can inspire you anyways. Soul-level conversations can happen anywhere, even in the midst of chemicals and lab coats and needle pokes and blood pressure readings. They can happen right when and where you need them.

Nov 10

Which is worse?

I was just now staring regretfully at my face, which has decided that it didn’t have enough fun making me self-conscious in my adolescence and is now bumpy with zits. I thought to myself for a second (just ONE little second) about how nice it was to not have pimples for the entire duration of my cancer treatment. And then I remembered that when I was completely and totally bald, I did, at one point, sport a LOVELY head rash which anyone, obviously, could see (as I was BALD and all). So….actually….maybe these aren’t that bad after all. I’ll take face zits over bald head zits any day.

Mar 10

iPhone, do u phone?

So…I got an iPhone. And now I’m all cool like that, running around texting people and listening to Pandora in my car, and playing with stupid Apps. It rocks. This has seriously upped my hipness factor. Unless…maybe the iPhone is on the way out? It could be. I feel like I’m always the last to know these days. Adam laughs at me for my Facebook “addiction” (no, I’m not admitting it because that would mean I would have to change and I’m not willing to stop posting to the world that I am drinking tea or that my kid just said the cutest thing), claiming that it is so passe. Ha. Just because he’s a tech guy, he thinks he knows it all. Well, he kind of does. He’s already ordered the iPad (and I’ve made the requisite menstruation jokes because I am extremely juvenile, when it comes right down to it).

Also. New Hair News. I can do pigtails. Sort of. Leeetle teensy tiny pigtails, at the base of my skull. Two of them. I am immensely pleased. I would post a picture except I already washed all my makeup off and even though I love you, I don’t love you enough to show you myself in my “going to bed” look (unless your name is Adam Gray, but that only applies to one of you out there and you have already seen this look. And the pigtails because I believe I woke you up early one morning to proclaim my new hair styling ability). I was feeling even better about this yesterday–whoa, amazing! It was like no time at all ago that I was bald! And all of a sudden, my hair is long enough to put holders in it–until I realized that this “all of a sudden” was actually 15 months ago so….yeah, it has actually taken quite some time. Still. Fifteen months ago I looked like this:

My “Baldy McBaldster” Phase (not that anyone called me that to my face but, let’s be honest here, it is an apt description), December 2008. And now I have lots more hair that that.

In other news, my weight is fluctuating like no one’s business. It’s not your business, and yet, somehow, it is, because I am writing about it here, like it or not. I’m not overweight but it is a little bit of a mind-freak to bounce around the scale like this. I’ve gained 15 pounds since I came home from the hospital in January. Which is a lot to gain in a short amount of time (but I was obscenely malnourished after having been on the feeding tubes and TPN). It’s just….weird. I keep fluctuating, in my mind, between “whoa, better get a hold on that before I balloon up” and “life’s short, let’s eat, drink, and be merry!” and the latter attitude, coupled with a needy preschooler, a husband who has been traveling more days than not the last couple of months (to continue for the indefinite future) and….life, it has been difficult to do anything but sit back, relax, and enjoy the ride. It’s hard for us women to not put a lot of stock into our weight though, isn’t it? We’re going on a cruise at the end of next month and part of me is like, I look fine, I look great, no problems here and then I’ll catch a glimpse of my pale and scarred and not flat belly in the bright light of day and think, holy shit, what the hell happened there! Maybe it is time to buy a one piece bathing suit? Nah. I’m wearing this ol’ body of mine as a badge of honor. If you don’t like it, look away. Also, I don’t believe in tanning. Too many suspicious lesions removed to make that sound like a good idea. Maybe I should get one of those spray tans? I tried the do-it-yourself tanning lotion stuff last year and my sister can vouch for the hilarity of those results (can you say “splotchy???” and extremely uneven?). Time for the professionals?

Anyway. I want to be better about exercising regularly. Just like I want to be more organized and tidy but there are too many other things calling my name right now. I guess I could let one of those other balls drop but I like baking all of our bread. I love sitting down with some knitting in my hands. I need to spend time reading every day. I keep thinking that maybe some day in the future I’ll have time for all of this but I realize that something else will come up then. I’ll be on some committee, like the PTA, or I’ll be sewing Anna a costume for a school play or….whatever. That’s life. It gets in the way sometimes. Or, maybe, just maybe, this life is the way that this life is and to hell with the state of my desk drawers. OH, how I vacillate. I think that this is probably one of those classic “find the happy medium” things. Balance? What’s that? My personality is so ALL OR NOTHING that it is ridiculous. I’m glad that I’ve at least acknowledged that now because I know that I spent a fair amount of time despairing over this or that because it wasn’t absolutely perfect with a capital give me a break.

I’m really cutting myself some slack around here. I’ve found it is one of the perks of age and experience. I realized recently that I’m always waiting to just survive this day so that I can get on to the next big thing. Just hanging on until Friday, the weekend, the dinner out, the vacation, the birthday, whatever. You know what? The ultimate thing we’re all headed for? That big end thing? (Yes, the D word–death). THAT. That is the thing we’re all headed towards. And without melodrama or a sense of the macabre, I’m embracing this time I have right here, right now, even if I don’t have the perfect body or the perfect tan or the perfect wardrobe. Is this all there is? Most definitely, and it is perfect. All of it, messy drawers and all.

I’m not giving up–I’m still fighting the battle of keeping a clean refrigerator (one of my character quirks, for those in the know) but I’m trying to not let myself sweat the small stuff. The small stuff is the stuff that most of the fights in our marriage have been about, not anything of consequence, to be honest. And that is not what I want to remember. That is not what I want the here and now to be about. I want the here and now to be about things like today, the perfect stay-at-home mom day, where Anna and I went to the bank and the grocery store and the bluffs and beach at Ellwood and played with friends and ate delicious food and ended the day happy and content with our lot in life.

There are things I want, things that are cool (like my new iPhone) or would even make life easier (like that big kitchen with plenty or storage that I dream about having someday). But here I am, full belly, full heart, happy for what is, for the now, for the moment. You can’t take that with you, but you sure as hell can enjoy it for the now.

P.S. Some business: Still waiting on my tech guy (cough cough *ADAM* cough cough) to help me switch my site over to WordPress so that I can enable comments again. Haloscan (what I used for commenting before) has kicked the bucket so I’m in a holding pattern for the moment. Please feel free to email me or, hey!, FB me. Be my friend. I just might be lurking on your profile anyway so why not?

P.P.S. I knit this sweater. Aren’t I clever? It is wool. Yay! Just in time for the 70-degree weather we’ve been having.

P.P.P.S. Whoa. How did it get to be so late? Good night.

Sep 08

Good times are here again….until the next chemo round, that is….

Feeling chipper and hungry and semi-energetic today, for a change. What a world of difference. OhMYGOSH am I ever glad to be back on this side of normal. It’s like I had forgotten what it was like to like food, or to not feel like going to bed at four o’clock in the afternoon (still did feel like a nap by 10 am….and took one mid-afternoon….baby steps….baby steps…).

And now that I’m coming out of my cancer/chemo fog (for the moment), I finally have the vision to see something quite incredible and it is simply this: I am surrounded by love everywhere I look. And sometimes love doesn’t look like a hug or a bouquet of flowers (though sometimes it does). Sometimes love looks like doing loads of laundry or running all over town looking for the perfect water bottle. Sometimes love looks like a homecooked meal, delivered straight to our door. Sometimes love looks like childcare, arranged every day of the week, so that I can have time to rest. Sometimes love looks like sending a book of waffle recipes. Sometimes love comes from people I have known a long time, or a short time, or from someone I only sort of know, and it looks like a letter or a card or an email (these ones usually make me cry–in a good way). Sometimes love comes from people we’ve never met, but who still feel like good friends nonetheless.

There are so many small kindnesses every single day it boggles my mind.

I don’t know how to talk about one person without talking about another and I actually have more to say about today so maybe I’ll leave all the thank yous for another time. But, if you have reached out to me in some way, please do rest assured that despite my failure to send you a personalized thank you card in the mail, I DO thank you. Thank you thank you thank you. You are helping me get through the day now and the days to come. Your flowers brighten my day, your words bring me comfort, your small gifts make me smile. Thank you.

We went here today:

I cried. But only for a little while.

As much as I make light of this part of it, as much as the cosmetic things really shouldn’t (and don’t, in the grand scheme of things) matter, it still sucks and I still don’t like that I am becoming scarred and bald. I really, really don’t like that. If you think me vain, please forgive me. I’ve spent most of my life looking the way I look and it’s really hard to let go of that.

But beyond my feelings of…whatever….my “consultant” at the Wig Store was actually sweet beyond belief and, even though her style suggestions were crap (sorry, but they were; I started cringing every time she brought her comb up to the wig because I just knew I would hate the way she would style it on me), I actually even ended up buying one (well, it’s on order).

Me getting some help from my new friend Louise the wig lady:

Me in and with some of the rejects:

The last one, above, made me feel like a slightly less-punk-y redheaded Joan Jett. Sorry, it just wasn’t me).

Today I learned that human hair wigs are expensive and difficult to care for, but really soft and amazing (I bought a synthetic; couldn’t deal with the thought of having to wash and “set” a real hair wig). I learned that most wigs have bangs because they help disguise the fact that they are wigs (less severe hairline). I learned that long hair wigs seem like they’d be a real pain because you can’t just throw them up in a ponytail like you can if it is your own real hair.

I ordered this wig in a slightly different color (less ashy colored, more like my natural color). I hope you like it, but if you don’t? Please screw off because this wasn’t the easiest thing I’ve ever done in my life.

This is actually remarkably similar to a haircut I had a few years back. Maybe that means it’s not in style anymore. Oh well. It works for me so I’m going to go with it.

Okay, let’s get back to something that makes me feel a little less emotionally sensitive.

Today I got these slippers in the mail and, while dubious about their fashion appeal (they look like psychedelic Muppets to me, which means that Anna automatically LOVES them and wants to marry them), I swear to you that these things are so comfy that my feet giggle when I put them on.

Also, if I keep eating the way I ate today, I will have no problems with the weight thing. I ate with carefree abandon today and it felt great.

Just a little over a week until my next chemo and I’m nervous already.

So glad I’ve got this great little motivator to make me want to come through the other side of this hell:

Just look at that little girl! I just wanna nibble her all up and cover her with kisses.

Sep 08

Do blondes really have more fun? Special guest: Adam Gray in a wig. (Now you really have to check this one out)

Reader participation required. So yesterday, during a moment of feeling kind of low, I decided to drag out the dead animal pelts wigs from the bag that the Cancer Center gave me. For free! I get to keep as many as I want, says the Social Worker. I figured a photo shoot was a necessity. Keep in mind, I did not “groom” or “brush” or otherwise attempt to make these wigs look good. I really think that this adds to their appeal. Also keep in mind that there are many, many other wigs out there in the world. These ones are free. I will also be checking out the wig store in town this coming week (which is awesome and most excellent because I have always wanted a reason to go into the wig store. Their fake mustaches are so cool).
Anyway, on with the wigs!

Platinum blond #1

Short brown mop #2 (This one is terrible. If you vote for this one, you must really, really hate me and want others to hate me, too):

Brownie #3 (it really is worse than it looks here, I swear):

Bonus Shot: Adam in platinum blonde wig. Sweet. I love this man, I really do.

The other Brownie (I feel like a politician’s wife in this one) #4

Bonus shot: Adam in dirty blonde wig. Yikes. Maybe this is what he would look like if he surfed all day and didn’t work, thus being unable to afford, or care about, getting haircuts. Or not. I am glad I don’t have to find this out.

Redhead, the one Adam calls “Spicy” #5

Bonus: Adam in “Spicy”

Blondie #6 (Almost as butch as Brown Mop, but not quite).

Blondie #7 (there was something….not quite right about this one).

Blondie #8 (Don’t you just love the dark eyebrows with the blonde wig?).

And…saving the best for last….Blondie #9

I was thinking I could tease up the bangs and spray them stiff with hairspray and–voila!–relieve the 80’s. Whaddaya think? It’s kind of Dolly Parton-esque or something. Big hair! Wheeee!

I’ll never forget this…..Adam loves me enough to wear one of these. And agree to let me put the picture up on the internet for all of you to see. What a guy. Love you, hon.

I can highly recommend wig trying-on as a fascinating and uproariously funny afternoon activity. Just don’t try to get your toddler up from her nap whilst wearing one of the wigs because it will freak her out. That’s personal experience talking, people. Advice like that is priceless.

Now, please, PLEASE, for the love of all things good and non-cancerous, leave me a comment. Even if it is to tell me that I look ugly in a wig. On second thought, leave that to yourself. But do tell me your favorite, wontcha?

Sep 08

Haircut and Chemo

Big day today. Haircut this morning (funny thing, I just mis-typed haircut as haircute and that is actually so true!). I got to go to a fancy salon courtesy of our friends Andy and Jill who know Walter Claudio (owner of the lovely Walter Claudio Salon here in Santa Barbara). Mr Claudio (Walter? not sure if we are on a first-name basis or not) came over and gave me a hug before we left. He seemed like a very sweet guy. A sweet guy with lots of style. Fabulous style. I like that in a person, maybe because I kind of consider myself a bit of a plain kind of gal, not a whole lot of glamour for me, usually. My hair stylist, Carrie, was very nice and really “got it” (i.e., the whole reason for my short notice, super short haircut). My big ol’ ponytail got all packaged up for Locks of Love.
I thought it was very cool that they would send it out for me. I love my haircut. Tres chic. My only disappointment is that it won’t stick around for long… I’m told that my hair will start to fall out within two weeks (7-14 days from first round of chemo). More pictures from the haircut:

We brought Anna with us because we were worried that me showing up at home with short hair might freak her out a little bit. She seemed to have fun at the salon and was especially fascinated by the hairwashing station. Anna actually seems pretty nonchalant about the dramatic change in my appearance, not all that interested in looking at or touching or talking about my new look.

Jill came with Sasha and took Anna to their house for some play time. Adam and I went from the salon to our house (for all of 3 minutes, so I could try my best to wash the little tiny–and itchy–hairs off of my neck and chest and back) and then to the Cancer Center for (a) our Chemo Education session with a Physician’s Assistant and (b) a meeting with a social worker at the Cancer Center (both of which actually were sort of a waste of time; the P.A. wasn’t familiar with a couple of the drugs in my chemo protocol and simply read off the sheet to us–umm, thanks, I can read, too!–the social worker was unacquainted with child development and told us, in answer to my question about services for patients with young children, that children “don’t develop object permanence until about 7 years old, so don’t worry, she won’t remember any of this”….ummm, yeah, I’m sorry, I disagree.) On the upside, there are many wonderful (and free!) services for patients of the Cancer Center, things like yoga classes and a nutritionist and massage (free!). I also got some wigs to try out and keep if I like (don’t worry, photo shoot with assorted wigs coming as soon as I can get up the nerve to try some on), a hat (I plan on purchasing and knitting several more; I have lots of hats that I have knitted for myself, but I fear that the no hair thing is going to make some of them not quite right, given that they may be too big or too itchy or don’t cover enough of my head, or whatever), a couple of books from the lending library, and lots and lots of brochures and other assorted reading material.

As we were walking out of the patient education room, I saw a familiar face–my friend Christy from high school, wearing Cancer Center scrubs. Oh my gosh. It was just really one of those magical, meant-to-be moments. She gave me the biggest hug and it was just exactly what I needed at that moment because I had been on the verge of tears all morning, for hours, and it was just something about seeing the face of someone from my “old life,” my normal life that was just exactly right and just exactly at the right time. “Oh, Jen,” she said, “I saw your name on the patient list for today and….I just knew it was you. Oh, Jen, I’m so sorry.” Christy is a pharmacy technician and she got to be the one to mix my drug cocktails up. Yep, she’s my chemo bartender. But I’m getting ahead of myself.

Adam and I got to have lunch at Petrini’s (one of our favorite haunts), then headed back for my chemo session. It went….ok, I guess. We were there for over 3 hours (I didn’t expect that!), but the chairs were comfy and there were heated blankets and they had wireless internet and the nurses were just incredible, sweet and helpful and cheerful. The drugs made me feel pretty sick, but, then again, I’ve been feeling sick for quite a while. That was kind of the twisted little “joke” between us today, how everyone kept saying that the chemo might make me feel kind of bad (ha! do they even know how crappy I’ve been feeling?!??!), but that there were great drugs that would really take away the nausea. Ummm, no. Because directly after chemo I had to go to the pulmonologist to check on lung functioning and it was the worst half hour of my life (slight exaggeration, but not by much). Just imagine the horror of terrible nausea on both ends (ew, sorry to be graphic, but let’s just say that I was feeling the throw up kind of sick and the other kind of sick) and having to breathe really hard into a tube! Now pant! pant pant pant pant! Push ALLLL the air out of your lungs and hold it and then take a deep breath and hold THAT. etc etc. I understood that they wanted to check lung functioning as lung issues are one of the side effects of one of the chemo drugs but the timing could not have been worse.

And then, finally, back home. It really was the entire day away from home; we didn’t get back until after 5 pm. Hello, bed. Hello, bathroom (yuck). Hello again, bed.

More chemo tomorrow, actually. Another doctor visit (getting the stitches out of the neck biopsy site). Then some REST, I hope.

Here are some pictures from the treatment room at the Cancer Center. Who knew chemotherapy could look so relaxing? I don’t think you can really tell that I felt like puking the whole time.

Gotta love wireless internet. Also, hello gigantic hand veins. Ew.

Sep 08

Goodbye Long Hair

(All photos courtesy Adrea Scheidler, Brightwaters Photography

There are so many more….I had a hard time choosing which to share with you. These are just some of my favorites, just some of the ones that really show off the hair. Tomorrow it gets chopped off… long, farewell, audieu….