Christine is an Orthodox Christian, a wife, a mother of three little children, a daughter, a friend, and a sworn enemy of cancer. In February 2013, she was diagnosed with Stage 2 triple negative breast cancer. Within a few days, she began an online journal for her friends and family, to share news, stay connected, and process what was happening to even the smallest details of her life. We are bringing this journal to The Sounding so that we can all walk along with Christine, and so that each of you has a chance to meet the special, brave, funny woman who is taking this journey. We all have something in common with her.
Written Apr 17, 2013 — 11:44 a.m.
I’m feeling better! Pity party over, thanks for bearing with me. So, hair. This subject is just fascinating to me. As I mentioned earlier, I’m pretty darn bald. Not all the way smooth, which is really annoying. I have patches that are continuing to grow and won’t fall out that I keep having shaved down to create an all-over bald look. That’s right, this look is cultivated. My eyebrows and lashes are also hanging in there, which is nice.
Nurse Kevin said I would lose everything after the second treatment and certainly during the first round of chemo meds. Not during the second round, which I will start in about a month. Obviously, that hasn’t quite happened. So I’m left wondering if this is it for me, or if the loss will continue? Will I be in that small group of people that loses hair during taxol (Kevin says a lot of people actually start to regrow their hair while on taxol)? Does my hair not falling all the way out signify that I have super awesome strong hair that won’t give it up to chemo? Or is it the opposite? Come on guys, I think I’ve given you enough of a glimpse into my worrywart brain to know what my next question is…does it signify that the chemo isn’t strong enough? Remember three days ago when the chemo was so strong I couldn’t get out of bed? Ah, I’m the best at worrying.
My problem is, I really like my bald look, and my kids really don’t. I have actually felt empowered walking around with my bare head. I don’t exactly feel my prettiest, but I really don’t feel unattractive either. I wear hats or scarves when my head gets cold, but otherwise I don’t like them. They get hot and itchy after a while, to tell the truth. This is all at home, by the way, it hasn’t been warm enough for me to go totally bareheaded outside yet.
We went for a walk around the block last night, and I got a lot of stares. I had a scarf on, but I guess I wasn’t fooling anyone. The sight of me and my gaggle of children was a lot for people to process, I guess. One motorist rubbernecked us so bad I was worried HE was going to have an accident. I get it, I guess. The bald head, the scarf, it’s a pretty big tell–that mom’s got cancer. Walking tragedy, right? And it is a huge bummer, trust me, everyone in this house gets that. But I also feel like, it’s not. Certainly, there are far worse things that could happen.
Here in seattle, very close to our home, there is a family that was devastated by a drunk driver. A man lost his parents in the accident, and his wife and brand new baby are still in the hospital fighting. In Boston, I’m sure we’ve all read about the little boy who was killed in the bombing, and then we find out his sister and mother are also very badly injured. Another man whose family is changed forever in an instant. That’s a tragedy. This cancer stuff? Today it just feels like a drag.
While pregnant with each of my children, I marveled at how miraculous pregnancy and the creation of life is. I mean flat out miraculous. and yet, birth happens every single day. Routine. I could hardly wrap my head around that duality, still can’t. I kind of feel the same way about this cancer. Not that it’s a miracle, ’cause it’s a drag, a huge drag, and yet it happens every day. Every day a woman is told she has breast cancer. And yes, I’m young, but every oncologist I spoke to told me- I meet with someone your age at least every month. You’re not even the youngest. you’re not even the worst off. it happens. And that’s just a couple of docs in Seattle.
I think that’s a big part of why I like to be bald, because it’s a way of recognizing yes, this happens. I don’t think it should be hidden. Cancer happens, and I’m fighting it and I’m going to win and I want everyone to see it. And maybe that makes me a rock star, but maybe that’s also really terrible of me. I’ve been thinking an awful lot about me and how I’m feeling, but last night Brad (son) said something that made me think twice about my bald head.
He’s four years old. He’s not real big on words. Strong emotions are often expressed with tears or meltdowns. But last night, I found him gently holding a picture of our family from just after our youngest’s birth. He looked at me and said, “I like this picture. It makes me feel good to look at it because you have hair.” Boom. My kids are hurting. They don’t see my bald head as empowering. They just want their mom back. My big bald-headed statement isn’t doing jack for my kids. So, mama’s going wig shopping real soon. I feel like I am going to be a big disaster with the wig. I mean, I can’t even remember to reapply lipstick, how am I going to manage a hair piece? But I think I need to get one and wear it for my kids.