As the day approached for the BIG chop I had received two sets of good news at one of my routine hospital appointments- the liver scans had come back clear (AMEN!) the cysts they saw were benign. I had also been approved the new “miracle” drug (Pertuzumab) that my oncologist had spoken about when I first met her (AMEN!). It had thankfully been approved by the FDA a few days previously- and I would be one of the first breast cancer patients receiving it, alongside my chemotherapy, free on the NHS. After this appointment, I knew for certain I wasn’t going to die from breast cancer and once I knew that- I felt like I could do anything, including whatever chemo was about to throw at me during the next 7 rounds.
3 days later and here I was at the salon and although I cried throughout every step of the process including hitting good old Peckham high street a few hours earlier with my elder sister looking for a decent wig- gathering up my mum, friends and family to accompany me to the salon- leaving my home knowing id be coming back a different person- seeing the shavers my hairdresser was going to use- seeing everyone else cry as she started, I left the salon that night feeling, powerful and proud at the fact I was able to take a stand, take control and be part of an amazing group of women who have had to endure the same experience as me. I was also relieved I didn’t have to see it coming out on my pillow and in my comb, not to mention the horrific headaches stopped immediately.
Over the course of the next few days although I still felt powerful and proud of myself I wasn’t yet confident enough to walk about with a bald head- and as much as many people told me it looked good and suited me- this wasn’t something I chose because I wanted it, it had to happen in my own time as I got used to the new me.
Facing my niece, nephews and godchild for the first time after losing my hair was hard too- I was afraid id frighten them but we all know how resilient children are and although a little taken aback- as soon as they realised I was the same bubbly person- they couldn’t care less about what I looked like. Bless my 12-year-old niece who I lived with at the time, she made me feel beautiful every day by kissing my bald head and telling me I was cute. I still find it funny how I instantly became child like to her because I was ill and she thought it was her role to mother me.
What I found harder than losing my hair as the treatment progressed, was losing my eyelashes and eyebrows. I think it’s because I didn’t expect them to go so soon, before I lost them I admit they were some of the only things that were making me feel womanly and this loss along with my bald head made me struggle to look at myself in the mirror. I used to wake up and before I faced anyone including the postman, get a full face of makeup on, pop on a wig, draw on my eyebrows and stick on my eyelashes (im now a pro- might I add!!) truth was underneath the bravado, bravery and positivity I presented – I felt ugly, I felt inhumane and worthless. I forgot all the things I had come to know and all the teachings of my favourite authors in all the books I had read- I wasn’t silly, I wasn’t the most confident girl in the looks department before cancer, but I knew my looks didn’t define me or the person who I was but in those moments, all this went out the window and i knew i was slowly losing me.
Featured Pic: Top left: Me after my hair was shaved off, Top right: Me, getting used my new look, Bottom left: Me, getting ready for my church Christmas party Bottom right: Me, my new wig and my niece.