Before ‘breast bubbles’ my family and I had a running joke that if I ever were to lose my hair, I would look like Dobby the House Elf from Harry Potter fame, due to my bulging eyes and moon-like face.
‘Hahahahahaaaa, yeah, Dobby. Good one’ I would chortle, imagining people running behind me throwing socks in my direction trying to free me from my tyranny.
It seemed okay to joke about as I was never really going to lose my hair, was I?
But then I did.
And suddenly things weren’t quite so funny.
When faced with very real threat of chemo, sadly my very first thought wasn’t about the poisonous chemicals that would be coursing through my body making me weak and sick.
But about losing my hair.
I don’t think I’m alone with this either.
My hair has/had always been my ‘thing’. Long, blonde(ish) and always available to twirl around my finger when thinking, chew when nervous, cover over my face when feeling shy, flick about when flirting, tie back when hot (or greasy!) and just generally hang around my shoulders like a well-used flocculant comfort blanket.
But what were the options? NOT have chemo and imagine forevermore that cancer cells were whizzing madly round my body, looking for a place to settle and call home?
I’d already taken pretty drastic and decisive action by having both boobs removed and new ones put in their place, so not finishing the job seemed futile.
After all, it was only hair.
And just like that my decision was made. In my mind, losing ANY body part was preferable to losing my life, and suddenly the perceived earth shattering thought of losing my hair and looking like something from J K Rowling’s imagination didn’t seem so bad.
I put a positive spin on it.
I’d have such fun buying wigs. I’d learn fancy headscarf tying techniques and relish the chance to broaden my life skills. I’d try out edgy new hairstyles I’d never have had the guts to before.
(I actually loved wearing headscarves)
But deep down, in the very pit of my stomach I was scared. Scared my kids wouldn’t recognise me and my husband would no longer find me attractive.
But mostly I was scared I’d actually, for the first time, look like someone with ‘The Big C’.
I dreaded the stares, the head-tilts, the sympathetic smiles and people asking ‘yes but, how are you’ or ‘you look so well…considering‘.
As it turns out, it was NOWHERE NEAR as bad as I imagined. I tried the cold-cap in the vain attempt to hang on to as much of my crowning glory as possible – but it was absolutely hideous and I was secretly relieved when little nests of hair began to appear by my side a couple of weeks after my first cycle, as it meant I wouldn’t have to endure the torture again.
(Wigs – look good but V.V itchy)
And when it started to look like mice had been chewing at my head, my kids and husband took it in turns to shave my ratty mess off.
We laughed. We cried. It was LIBERATING.
Stripped from my hairy shield and with nowhere to hide, all that was left was me.
Jo was finally a free elf.