Jon took this pic of me last summer. I’d been outside in the sunshine and knew my hair thin, but that’s often the way it is with cancer. I didn’t know it then, but my hair situation was about to change. After my recent zap of radiation, it went from thin to sparse. It was time to consider a new option. One I’d resisted considering – a wig. This isn’t a perfect poem – the meter may be off in places, but I’m okay with that. The more I tried to fix it and make it perfect, the less it sounded like me. So I quit doing that and am now doing this – sharing this part of the journey heart wide open.
Before & After
A Poetic Journey by Joy DeKok
Before . . .
I caught the shimmer in the mirror,
My balding scalp, my eyes full of tears.
The strands so fragile and skin so white,
A sad reminder of what’s not right.
Stiff little hairs standing up on end,
Brittle and broken, no way to mend.
I pat down the fuzzy texture there,
Detesting what some call chemo hair.
Is wanting a wig all kinds of vain?
Will wearing one be a daily pain?
What if I can’t stand the way it feels?
Good grief this is a really big deal.
I want to believe I’m worth the cost,
But I worry it might be money lost.
I want an improvement in my looks,
Right this minute all I am is shook.
After pondering the pros and cons,
Praying and talking it over with Jon,
The time has come for me to do more.
I’m going to visit a wig store.
When my style and color choices are made,
It will be time to have my head shaved.
I’ll cry tears of sorrow and of joy,
I will look even more like a boy.
It’s a given my scalp will get cold,
I’ll get a nightcap – goodness I’m old!
And a soft beanie for my home days.
Comfort and style in more than one way.
Most of the stages of cancer are hard.
I’m sad, fatigued, nervous, and scarred.
But there’s hope rising inside me too,
I might really love my fake new doo.
Others will know there’s a wig on my head,
But that’s not the thing that I most dread.
The thought that makes me almost wig out,
Is not fighting the fear and the doubt.
There is no shame in losing my hair,
Or in wearing a wig if I dare.
Maybe a writing hat would great fun,
Perhaps two or three instead of one.
I do enjoy pretty accessories,
And consider them almost necessities.
Earrings, purses, and now things for my head,
Helps ease back the worry and the dread.
It’s time for a cup of green jasmine tea,
And look at styles I might like for me.
Tomorrow is the day I’ll decide,
Blond for sure maybe on the short side.
Or perhaps a sassy angle cut,
I will need assurance deep in my gut.
What will it feel like to wear new hair?
Thank You, Lord, for the courage to dare.
(I’m a terrible selfie taker!)
After . . .
I went to get new hair by myself.
Wigs of all kinds lined the long shelves.
So many lengths, styles, and colors to see,
Which would be the right one for me?
As I walked quickly through the store,
I noticed wig accessories and more.
My heart told me I was in the right place,
And beat at a slightly happier pace.
Sarah asked me to sit in her chair,
Invisible trust flowed in the air.
She put the first wig over my head,
My mouth fell open; my eyes stared.
Who was that woman looking at me?
She looked like me, but could this be?
Could hair make a difference this big?
I felt so right in this dark golden wig.
To make sure we tried on a few more,
But that first one fit me in my core.
When she put my hair back on my head,
There were no tears – I smiled instead.
I watched Sarah cut bangs in my hair,
And saw an answer to my prayer.
I’d asked God to give me and her,
The wisdom to see and to be sure.
There was one more stop to make that day;
A salon to have my head shaved.
I worried this might be when I’d cry,
But once again, my eyes stayed dry.
The pile of hair on the floor was small,
Still, not a single tear rose to fall.
I felt oddly good and strangely free,
Changed and older but fully me.
Settling my new hair back into place,
A small smile eased across my face.
I pondered a new summer doo,
One shorter, sassier, and acrylic too.
Until Next Time,
This is me smiling at Jon today. It’s so much fun looking at him. And looking almost normal – whatever that is these days.