What bothers me most is not what I imagined in the beginning. Before the chemo and corresponding hair loss started. Of course it was devastating to see my long locks of hair falling out in clumps. Almost a whole ponytail fell out during one shampoo session, two weeks into chemo.
But the worst thing is having to cover up with wigs and scarves because society expects you to. Like you have something to be ashamed of.
Or because seeing your bald head makes people uncomfortable.
It upsets me.
There are more important things to deal with and I don’t think cancer is something I should be ashamed of or try to hide. I’m secretly proud that I am ok with my baldness. That my features can stand on their own even without hair. That I don’t look totally hideous like I imagined I would.
I’m starting to loose a lot of my eyebrows and eyelashes too, and that I’m not too keen on but we’ll see how it goes. Time helps you get used to and embrace situations you never thought you would embrace.
I’m grateful for the hairs that still cling on as weird as that may sound. Those are the strong ones defying the toxic chemicals. Hope the cancer cells are eradicated though and not resilient like those few remaining eyelashes.
The one who has embraced my new look the most is my 3 year old Niece. She even decided one day to touch my hair out of curiosity and with the sweetest smile said it was “nice”. That’s the best compliment I’ve gotten in years. I’m still me to the little ones in my life and that’s just so affirming and such a mental boost. And children say it like it is without any filter.
Recently I went wig shopping as I have to attend a wedding and I don’t want to draw attention away from the bride. People in my society tend to stare due to ignorance. But in the end the whole experience was unpleasant and my partner felt the wigs were just not me. They were super expensive to boot at $500 for a synthetic one and $1000 for one with real human hair. I’d rather the money go towards a recliner which I really need much more due to back issues, and a big ticket item that can last me for a decade at least. Also the owners selling the wigs were pushing me to buy one immediately and were not too happy when I needed some time to think about it.
My Friend E boosted my confidence by saying she loved my scarf look best and felt that even with hair I should use scarves. My Aunty C and Uncle A always tell me I look good. But they are my relatives and are always very sweet to me.
Sometimes I wish I lived in Australia where there is huge support from the Cancer Council. Also people in general are more aware of cancer. I too was ignorant before this journey so I hope to spread the message of what it’s really like and how we feel. If you’re out there and see someone with hair loss or a scarf just smile in their direction. A guy manning a coffee stall at a hawker centre here in Singapore smiled at me after everyone else was staring and it made a huge difference.