Society has a strange relationship with hair doesn't it? The western world at least has an incredibly twisted engagement with it, with certain types of hair loved and loathed, much of it viewed as worth discussing (in the case of female armpit) by some while tacking on extra hair to some lengths to make it longer. Women can be heralded or hated based on their eyebrow plucking habits, and there is a new almost competitive atmosphere around the growing of beards. The moustache championships are deemed to be one of the most intense competitions currently around. Even above all this other bodily keratin strands, it is easily the hair of our head that we are all the most obsessed with.
Like I said before, many of us attach more hair to our hair to make it look like we have more hair. We dye our hair to previously natural or seriously unnatural shades. Some people shave strange patterns, weave strange patterns, leave it boring or grow dreadlocks. The attachment so so many of us have (myself included) to our hair sometimes seems just as much as the attachment we have to limbs or facial features. One MP this week attributed huge spending mistakes due to hair loss stress.
Baldness is obviously an issue when your hair is loved this much.
In an encounter with cancer, many people seem to speed a huge amount of time dealing with thoughts about hair (or the lack of it). Having recently relapsed, started chemo and lost my hair (again) it is something that plays as a massive subject of significance.
I could hazard a guess as saying that hair loss is something that early everyone associates with the 'big C'. Most of us would have to admit that if we saw a woman openly bald in public, we would wonder if she were undergoing treatment. Baldness seems to be synonymous with cancer treatment.
To be completely fair, in nearly all the cases I've known this is true. Generally speaking, most people who have cancer treatment lose their hair- myself included. And it is hard. Not only because it is such a physical reminder of the cancer, have I had plenty of those so I can deal with it.
The hardest thing about losing your hair is the effort of it all. The effort of having to deal with the hair as it falls out, because unfortunately you don't wake up one morning ad all the hair is POOF in a wig like mound on the bed. Losing hair, it falling out is MESSY. And gross. It falls out everywhere, and seems to have a staticy power that just won't allow you to wipe it off a pillow.
Being bald is an effort I some ways, even though easier in others. Sure I don't have to brush my hair, but I do need to work out a way to cover my head, stop me getting hypothermia, find makeup that makes me look less like an egg. Having hair, though more effort in styling had a lot simpler thought process involved with getting ready!
Losing my hair does affect me of course, and I hate that I'm bald again. It's irritating and obviously not on the agenda as 17-year-old, especially when I was finally beginning to like my pixie haircut, I was finally feeling like it looked good. It took a whole six months to get to that length and just five days to have fallen out to the extent I had to shave it. At first, it was just shedding, then rather heavy shedding, then full blown mass hair suicide/apocalypse where I adjusted a headband I was wearing and a whole lock fell on the floor. In public. Of course, being me, I covered the hair up with my shoe, and 'discreetly' picked it up, put it in my coat pocket and hoped no one had noticed, but my friend Natalie had watched the little episode with some disbelief. We later laughed at the strangeness of it all. Just to say though, I didn't pick up the hair to keep- I just didn't want to leave a random piece on my school floor!
If you haven't gathered by this point bar a few stubby strands all over, and some random hairs on my hairline, I am bald. Such attractive words for a teenager to describe herself with.
Being bald sucks. But there ARE worse things in the world. For one, if my eyebrows fall out I'll be a hell of a lot more upset than I am about the hair. The clique, frivolous worries of being bald, having a weirdly shaped head or looking like a man- they never apply to reality!
To channel the age old clique, it is after all's said and done only hair. Strands of dead cells compressed to form chains of keratin. The more dead cells push out hair grows. In reality it is hard to say that's it, but really that's all hair is. There are so many ways in which, yes having no hair is effort but only effort in the reaches of your imagination in what else to do with your head. Chemo does make you sick, and the thought of having to maintain it during treatment is horrendous. I have a Hickman line, so if I can't even wash my body fully, however could I jump in a shower and wash hair? Plus not having to buy shampoo when you run out is bonus too. It's also giving me amazing excuse to spend far too much money of silk scarves from Joules....
I have honestly accepted my hairlessness now, the reason I'm not sharing some baldy pics is my severe lack of photogenic appeal on a Wednesday night, not embarrassment etc. There are such good wigs about nowadays, baldness doesn't have to affect you socially.
If being bald is the worst thing to you in the world, you cry anytime you see your egg like profile or dread the possibility of one day joining those who are shiny headed, don't worry...
....You could always say this and enjoy the response!
You can read more of Emily's blogs about the life of a teen with cancer, find out more about her and get involved with her campaigns by visiting www.remissionpossible.org.uk<