By Kay Kerbyson, Special to the Herald
As a relative newcomer to the Tri-Cities, I guess I'm starting to experience your, so-called, termination winds. And my hair, if nothing else, wants to terminate!
A few weeks ago, I was waiting for the school bus, in what was probably a minus 2 wind chill, cursing that the hair style I had meticulously cultivated had literally gone with the wind, when it struck me that itwasn't so long ago that I had no hair at all, and that maybe I should be thankful.
My hair may be flowing now, but it's taken nearly three long years to get back to where I was pre-cancer.
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So as I stood there, I suddenly realized I should be happy that I have hair to get blown around. "What's the big deal you say? Isn't hair totally overrated? You've even said it yourself, being bald has its benefits."
That's true, but joking aside, hair really does matter. Those going through treatment know that getting into remission is important, but so is getting back your hair.
One of those awful things people used to say to me was, "But you look just as beautiful now as before." We survivors all know that's not true, and only people who haven't lost their hair say that. It's one of those lame remarks on the list of "what not to say to cancer patients," right up there with, "Well, you know you brought this on yourself."
Put it this way. Go shave you head and eyebrows. Don't want to? Protesting a little are we? Then don't tell someone else it doesn't matter that they have lost their hair.
You see, for a start, everyone knows you're ill. Wear a wig to hide hair loss and you can kind of get away with it. Lose your eyebrows too, and you get those sad pathetic looks. "Ah, poor dear, she's got cancer, how tragic" Suddenly you're a person with cancer, rather than just a person. There's no hiding it. It may sound trivial when you've not experienced it, but for many it's important enough that it directs their choice of treatment.
Hair defines who you are. It's not an accessory you change at whim. You don't get up and think I'll be a long-haired blond today. It takes months, if not years, to find your style, then you're likely to keep it for decades. It makes you who you are, affects how confident you feel, even determines whether you sit quietly listening or are the center of attention. It changes how you interact with people and how they interact with you.
Think about it. Imagine going into a crowded room with a bald head and no eyebrows. Feel like you would rather shrink into the wallpaper? Wondering if anyone is fooled by the zigzag lines you've drawn above your eyes? Wishing you would warn that bright pink head scarf a well meaning friend got you? Thought so.
So this spring, when the winds roar through, go throw caution to the wind and let your hair be blown by it. And when you come back inside, looking like a werewolf, thank your hair and eyebrows for sticking with you. Because you may have hair today but it could be gone tomorrow.
* Kay Kerbyson and her family live in West Richland. She is a local and national cancer advocate, an inspirational speaker and president/founder of Ovarian Cancer Together! Inc. Kay can be contacted at Kay@ovariancancertogether.org.