Answer by Elissa Baldwin, Leukemia survivor:
Shave day was, hands-down, the worst and most emotional day of my life. I had only been diagnosed with leukemia 29 days earlier on June 1, 2016 and had been trying to prepare for this moment since that time.
Nothing can prepare you emotionally for shave day. Nothing.
As the day got closer and my hair started to fall out, I had decided that I wanted to make the day at least a little better than just doing a quick shave. So, I asked my cousin and friend to come in. My cousin would photograph it and friend would give me a makeover, shave and then trim my new wigs that I had ordered online.
I knew it was getting close, so I told them that Wednesday would probably be the best day. My friend couldn't do it till Thursday because she worked. I was trying to hard to keep my hair in until that day (didn't wash it or really touch it at all for fear it would come out in clumps).
My plan didn't work.
I woke up Thursday morning and was horrified to see that my hair was almost completely gone at my temples. Thankfully, I hadn't noticed the bald spot in the back until the pictures came back. I looked and felt awful and didn't even want the nurses seeing me like this. So, I put on a scarf that a friend had sent in a care package.
My parents came to visit that morning like always and my mom asked if I was practicing with the scarf. I completely broke down and showed them my head. The girls weren't coming until late evening, so I had to somehow make it through the day with bald spots.
I messaged my leukemia survivor friend throughout the day and she shared her shave day story with me. It helped to connect with someone who understood. But I still cried all day.
Finally, the time arrived. The girls showed up and I broke down all over again. But they did their best to make it a fun atmosphere. My friend did my makeup and then it was time for the shave. I was doing pretty well at the beginning. I remember thinking that I might actually make it through without crying.
Nope. The tears started slowly. Then I completely broke down. When that happened, my cousin put down her camera, sat in front of me, and held my hands as we just looked at each other. This was my most emotional day, but that was one of the most touching moments of my life that I will cherish forever.
This was my new life as a bald cancer patient. I still had months ahead of going through cancer treatments and this just made everything a little bit worse. What was the worst part of cancer for me?
Don't ask me how I managed a smile. My best guess is because these two amazing women did their best to make it a better experience for me.