“Two little children were playing in a wide spot next to a country lane. A small rabbit crossed the road right into the path of an oncoming car. The children inched closer to the apparently dead bunny, tears filling their eyes. Suddenly, a man came running down the road, pulling a vial out of his pocket. He reached the rabbit, lifted its broken head and tipped the contents of the mysterious vial into the lips of the bunny.
Suddenly, the rabbit jumped up, waved to the children and hopped to the edge of the road. It hopped three times, turned and waved again. Over and over the rabbit hopped, waved, and moved on. After a few minutes, the rabbit was out of sight.
“Wow, Mister, what did you give that rabbit?” The man slowly turned over the vial in his hand to expose the words, “Hair Restorer Permanent Wave.”
Okay, not that funny, but the guy that told it to me was a balding, 6’3″ man who waved the part of the rabbit so enthusiastically, I couldn’t help but laugh.
The chemotherapy, Ironontecan, after only one infusion, caused my hair to fall out. On Tuesday, the day of my second treatment, I woke up late and scrambled to the bathroom to get ready. Looking in the mirror, I noticed that my neck looked like I had been rolling under the bed, (the place where all the cat hair migrates to). I reached up and pulled a huge handful of my now brown hair out. My hair has slowly turned from red to brown over the past 10 years or so. I miss the red. I threw it into the toilet; no time to deal with it that morning.
I went to my infusion appointment. The nurse was surprised that my hair was falling out already. I was careful not to scratch it, (my head was so itchy!), I didn’t want to leave a trail around the infusion center.
Quinn had come up with a plan. When my hair started to fall out, we would shave it into a Mohawk, and then dye it blue. By the time we shaved it the next day, it was falling out too quickly to use the dye. So both Quinn and Mac took turns shaving it. Yesterday, (Saturday), my beard started to lose its sticking power and red whiskers covered my shirt. I trimmed it very short this morning.
Originally when I was contemplating this post, I thought about everything that cancer has taken from me. I thought that losing my hair would be the culmination of loss, (well, next to death). It turns out that that isn’t true. I just don’t have any hair. Sure, I feel like I have a tiny head and a giant body, “Zippy the Pinhead,” comes to mind, but I’ve always felt that way. Maybe it will grow back. Maybe it will grow back red.
What I started to think about instead, are all the people I know who have been in the same situation as me. Not necessarily cancer, just situations that have not be chosen. I could fill many posts with profiles of the people I admire. I’ll just write the few that are on my mind today.
When my family and I traveled to Oregon last week, there were many people I wanted to visit. More on that trip in another post. But I did want to mention The Venice’s. I have written about them in a past post entitled, “A roof over my head.” In 1965, Becky gave birth to Monica, a baby with Down’s Syndrome. Over the years I have heard stories about how the Venice’s were encouraged to put Monica into an institution. They didn’t. And their family have educated countless people, (including me), on the beauty of diversity.
While we were visiting, we talked about a friend from High School. This friend moved to our school October of our senior year. Cottage Grove is a small town, where most of us went to kindergarten together. Somehow, this friend, fit right in with the kids I hung out with. He lived in foster care. When he turned eighteen in February, his foster family kicked him out, (no more money coming from the state), and he found a place, an extra job, and graduated with us in June. Today he has some great looking sons, a wife he loves dearly, and a good job. He impresses me every day,
As we sat in the sun on the back deck, it occurred to me that three of the six of us sitting there had or have cancer. Gina’s husband had just undergone a bone marrow transplant for lymphoma. Gina’s sister had finished breast cancer treatment. And me. There are so many other names I could list.
I have more than one friend that is raising a child with autism.
My own children have struggled. When their Mom, Erin and I were splitting up, she said that my gender transition would be the hardest thing they would ever go through. I sure wish that were true. I admire their strength every day. Their brains trying to grow and grapple with a reality that isn’t fair.
And then there is my wife. I apologized to her today. When we moved in together, this is not what we had planned. Our future was about self-sufficiency and farming. We’d spend as much time as possible with our kids. We’d create the life we had both always wanted. Now she takes care of me. Makes me broth, buys me Mexican Cokes and shaved my head. She always says it was meant to be… another scenario would have been okay with me.
So, it’s just hair. I am still myself. And I am grateful to all of you who struggle and fight every day. Thank you for sharing your lives with me.