One of the many side effects of chemotherapy is hair loss. Its one of many, like loss of appetite, nausea, neuropathy, and some days, feeling like shit — but I think losing one’s hair is the most traumatic (at least for women) because our hair is part of our identity.
Many of the patients I visit wear a scarf or wig — but lately a few have decided to show off their lovely bald heads. Some wear funky, fun earrings and lots of make-up. Another wears a headband with colorful silk flowers. But this one person who always wore her locks below her waist chooses to go “au natural.” It shouldn’t be a big deal and it isn’t for her, but there seems to always be that one person, she comes across in public, who makes a federal case out of her personal choice.
This person gave me her permission to share a few stories about what its like to be a middle aged, full figured gal who chooses to go bald…
First off, she is bald because she is going through chemo treatment and all the other side effects that go with it, yet she chooses to live her life to the fullest and keep her daily routine as normal as possible.
Pat is an artist and a very good one. She is also belongs to the same “smart ass” club as me. She likes to wear long, colorful dresses, and like I mentioned earlier, she is full figured. That being said — picture this…
Pat is washing her hands in the ladies bathroom and a woman enters and immediately leaves, thinking she is in the men’s bathroom. She returns a second later and informs Pat that this is the men’s bathroom, which Pat agrees it is. The woman repeats her statement and gets agitated that Pat is smiling and agreeing with her. Clearly this woman is not paying attention and mistakes Pat for a man because of her bald head; it doesn’t matter that Pat is wearing a dress and has large boobs. After listening to this woman’s rant for a couple of minutes, Pat tells her, “I am so happy the laws changed; transvestites can now use both bathrooms,” and then leaves. I love that response. I don’t think I would have had such a clever come back.
Another time Pat is shopping in a grocery store and feels a tug at her skirt. Its a small boy who asks if he can tell her something. She stoops down to his level and says “yes.” The boy goes on to tell her, ” I know you are a lady, but you look like Uncle Fester.” Can you imagine???!!! She almost fell over laughing.
While on another shopping trip, a woman tells her that she really should wear a wig because she is scaring the children. Pat gives her a ghost like response — “BOO! BOO!”
Pat is an inspiration and clearly doesn’t allow other people’s rudeness get her down. She has quite a sense of humor and I think that is what gives her the strength to go through the crappy stuff. And believe me, there is a lot of crappy stuff when it comes to fighting cancer.
I don’t know what it is with grown ups but they should know better. Kids, I understand will say the darndest things, but grownups? I was really taken back with the woman in the bathroom story. How dense can some people be?
Sometimes you can’t fix stupid.
* Pat is not her real name
Do you have any funny stories about your cancer treatment journey? Please share them in the comment section.