I’m sure you have heard it said: “You never know what you’ve got until it’s gone.” Well, that was definitely how I felt approximately 16 days after my first chemo. I have always, ALWAYS complained about my hair. It’s too curly. It’s too frizzy. It doesn’t cooperate. It’s a dull brown. Why couldn’t I have Holly’s shiny, perfect hair? My mom has told me my entire life, that if I have a problem with it I can, and I quote “Take it up with God when I get to heaven.” I must have complained too many times. I am now bald.
The purpose of the chemotherapeutic drugs is to attack and kill fast-growing cancer cells. Well, it kills all fast-growing cells in the body. And can you guess what some of the fastest growing cells in the body are?
Honestly, losing my hair hasn’t bothered me too badly. For me, it is proof that the chemotherapy is working. I can’t see the drugs working on the cancer inside my body but I can see my hair falling out, and that is proof enough for me that treatment is working.
Maybe it’s all of the free time on my hands, but I can’t help but compare my diminishing hair to identifying a Christian in the world today. I’m not saying that I can tell who is and who isn’t christian. Only God knows who has truly accepted Christ into their heart, but there should be outward signs of an inward change. The world should be able to identify that we are Christians.
John 13:34-35 says,
“A new commandment that I give to you, that you love one another; as I have loved you, that you also love one another. By this, all will know that you are my disciples, if you have love for one another.”
Just as hair loss is a byproduct of my chemotherapy; we should have byproducts of Christ living in us. These are characteristics that you have probably heard more than once: the fruits of the spirit. They sound simple enough, and yet we (or maybe just me) seem to fail to display these attributes daily. Love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, gentleness, self-control.
These traits are rare in the world that we live in. A world where we argue nastily with strangers in comment threads on social media. A world where we are in such a hurry all of the time we scream at the person driving the speed limit in front of us. A world we complain about not having the nicest house, or car, or phone when there are people across the world that would be ecstatic with a tiny portion of our material possessions.
If we can display the characteristics in our daily lives, we will stick out like a sore thumb. Just as I am a walking billboard for cancer with my very bald head, if we live in such a way displaying the fruits of the spirit, we will be a walking billboard for Christ in a dark and jaded world.
Don’t worry I was preaching to myself on that soapbox too.
Back to my hair; or lack thereof.
It is a bizarre feeling when your hair starts to fall out. It started out with my head tingling. (weird, but I could deal with it) The next few days it turned into a slightly painful tingling but still manageable. I had some options. I could pull my fairly long, curly hair out in clumps, I could cut it short, or I could shave it completely. My sister talked me into to cutting it short so that I had an idea of what it would look like when it came back in.
I had my cute little pixie cut almost two weeks when one night while Jordan and I were watching tv, I had pulled and picked at my hair until there was a feline-sized ball of hair next to the couch. The painful but manageable tingling had turned into a feeling of someone yanking my hair out. It was giving me a huge headache… so I caved. It was an amazing and peculiar phenomenon; once my head was shaved the pain went away immediately.
One of my biggest fears going through this whole process is how to will affect my children. I don’t want them to see me as sick. I don’t want them to be scared or worry about their mommy. They are only two and three. Reed is a smart kid but still not quite at an age that he can grasp the whole picture. We have told him only that mommy has to take some medicine to make her better, but it will make her hair come out.
Much to my surprise, the kids haven’t been fazed at all by the Brittney Spears circa 2007 mental breakdown hairstyle. They look at me the same. They still want to cuddle with me. They do not seem the least bit concerned about my appearance. They know that I am still the same person that I was yesterday and the day before, and they trust that my love for them is the same.
If my children can trust me, a human who makes mistakes daily, so willingly, why do I have issues trusting a perfect God.
Hebrews 13:8 says “Jesus Christ is the same yesterday, today, and forever.” It doesn’t matter if my circumstances change. He still the same God.
I got a little bit ahead of myself. Let me rewind.
I decided I didn’t want to freak the kids out by walking in bald one day. We decided to let the kids be a part of my transformation. I was about to face the scariest part of my cancer journey. No, not being bald… giving my two-year-old and three-year-old a set of clippers and letting them help shave my head. I really wanted to try to make it fun. (I mean what toddler wouldn’t have fun when they are given a set of clippers and told to go to town)
The pictures that follow are not glamorous. They weren’t taken by a professional. I have no makeup on…holding my kids’ fruit snacks…in front of our bathroom. This is not staged to be Instagram perfect. This is documentation of our REAL life experience with cancer.
Jordan making the ceremonial first pass of the clippers
Reed getting his turn. (Notice the bald spot on my right side)
I would consider our head shaving party a success. The kids had fun!
Once we were done Ryanne even shouted it was her turn to shave HER head!
So naturally, we have locked up the clippers.