Tuesday 1 April 2014

Your Personality in Your Hands

The road through Cancerville was a little rocky last week. However sure I was that I didn't want to use the much documented Cold Cap, however prepared I felt for my hair falling out; the speed with which it all disappeared was shocking. In three days it was pretty much gone. What feels like chunks of your personality falling out in handfuls can only be described as distressing. The seventy year old, uncannily reminiscent male I glimpsed whenever I had the misfortune to catch myself in the mirror, a reflection in the window or glass of a cupboard door – I never realised quite how much we see our faces through the day – was not a sight which gladdened my heart.

My indoor headwear of choice (thanks Susie!)
But, like those before me and those who will unfortunately follow, I have come through the other side and am starting to embrace life with a bald head. A very cold, bald head.

Now I feel able to say to anyone going through this, or holding the hand of someone who is, don't feel you have to pretend that losing your hair is OK, because it isn't. You don't have to tell yourself you look better bald, unless you do. But do remember that hair loss due to chemo is only temporary. For some little understood reason, hair often starts to grow back in cycle four of chemo, not weeks after the end of the final cycle which I'd imagined. And that means that in six small weeks, we could be seeing some tufts of new growth and wondering what colour the baby hair will be. (Anything but Silver Fox for me, please.) Will it be curly or straight? If I get the additional chemo curl, I'll have an 'afro', something which would gain me great kudos with my teenage children. If I go straight, finally I'll have the sophisticated-together look us curly haired mops can never quite pull off. Alas, I fear suave sophistication doesn't come as a package but a first impression of decorum wouldn't go amiss.

Going out for the first time with my wig on felt like I was wearing a sandwich board to broadcast the artificial nature of my head covering to all. But it doesn't anymore. Wearing a Buff, a sporty headscarf, to the gym felt like I was screaming, Caution! Very poorly person on treadmill! Albeit in reality, some people smiled, others gave me a hug and most people didn't notice.

Nonetheless, I did hibernate for a couple of days while I re-adjusted. It's just how I like to cope with things. So I retreated to my office and did my part in the judging of the 500 Words 2014 children's short story competition, hosted by Chris Evans and Radio Two.  This is the second year I've judged and again, I immensely enjoyed the experience. Every one of my batch of 34 stories was entertaining in an amusing, exciting or poignant way but, similarly to last year, I noticed a common factor linking the stories to which I awarded most marks.

I decided to blog about this in the hope it might help our writers of the future move forward not only with their writing generally but also in this and other competitions. I've posted the blog separately here: Psst! Young Writers! Here: Psst! Young Writers! and would be grateful if you could direct your young folk over there if you feel it could be of interest. I explain the categories used in judging the stories and also include some links for other short story competitions for young writers.

As for my writing, alas I didn't make the long list of the Bath Novel Award. But my short story, A Life with Additives, was read during A Roof over your Head, an evening of reading and music organised by the wonderfully altruistic writer, John Taylor  an event which raised in excess of £470 for the homeless charity, Shelter. And so I class that as a great week for writing.

And the pain of last week's hair loss feels a lot further away.

Have a great week!

1 comment:

  1. Apologies to the kind people who posted comments. I had to disconnect Google+ from Blogger for technical reasons and they've all disappeared to the home for lost comments in the sky. It should be OK from now on, she says, optimistically. Thanks for reading though, and I do love reading your responses :)


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