I’ve often compared the similarities of the side effects of chemotherapy with that of pregnancy or new babies, as both were filled with nausea, extreme fatigue, a brain that remembers nothing and strange cravings. In fact at the beginning of chemo, my sister joked with me about the persistent heartburn that appeared, wasn’t so much of a laughing matter by the last one I admit. However our bodies are an amazing thing, just as we stretch and expand to accommodate a growing baby and snap back into shape thereafter, the same can be liken after cancer treatments. That and the fact that once chemo is over you can’t remember how it was, there must be a block there preventing you from recalling how you felt at the time. That’s not a bad thing!
I am 6 months post chemo next week. Wow. My nails are growing back and lost the touch and go (drop off) look,my hair is long enough for people that don’t know me to think I’ve chosen to wear it short and spiky. I don’t have the ‘I’m recovering from cancer’ look, whatever that look is supposed to be. In fact I am constantly told how well I look, does this mean I did look awful before and no-one dared to say ? Hold that thought. My chemo bloat has gone, replaced with Tamoxifen pounds perhaps but the round steroid look has departed. I’m bigger and stronger, my muscles restored, the aches removed.My skin still softer and papery but a glow emerging, not just from radiotherapy.
My hair is definitely growing, sometimes I feel not quickly enough and yet when I consider I was still bald in January, it’s actually doing pretty well. The colour is coming back from the washed out beginnings and it’s thick enough to blow in the wind or pull between my fingers, which is comforting. Hair growing from scratch is interesting as it’s growing in it’s own direction – up and out I think is it’s preferred choice a la Marge Simpson and I’m willing it to start to bend over and hang downwards. It will – all in good time. On the whole I am used to staring back at my cropped hair and exposed face, but I can freely admit that I miss my old glamorous hair. My hair was important to me and along with my trademark bright lips it was very much part of my old identity.
With this in mind this week I considered the option of hair extensions and how long my hair would need to be to have them. It’s too short ultimately, it needs to be about 4-6 inches so the joins can be concealed. So no long tresses for me unless I wear wigs, but I actually went as far as enquiring this week. I rationalised afterwards having extensions wouldn’t necessarily work for the type of sports and activities I enjoy. My own thick and strong hair could cope with it and was pulled into top knots and pony tails, and pulled and tugged. Extensions …will they cope with being caught by an opponent rolling on the mats with me ? Or will I be tapping out as I can see a 20 inch piece of hair tumbling across the floor beside me. Being a sporty chick I want to look feminine, but the more natural look not the I’ve got beautiful extensions you can look but not touch look. Ain’t nobody got time for that !! So I think or rather I know I have to accept, for now that flowing locks have gone and I need to really really embrace the short and funky. Just for now. Hair colours and accessories will have to be experimented with.
Hair is a funny thing, to me long hair symbolises femininity and beauty. Queuing for toilets at Muse concert on the weekend, all of the women were preening and tossing their long hair, I stood with my scalped look not wanting to acknowledge myself in the mirror. Long hair enhances most people and short reveals everything about your face that you don’t always want to reveal. Late nights, bad diets, worries …every bag under your eye or blemish, all there on parade and inspection. Every angle of your face on display, no curtain of hair to soften or disguise things, to hide behind when you are embarrassed or hurt by someone’s words. People tell me all the time that it suits me to have short hair, that I look younger or that it’s out there and quirky. I smile and thank them of course. But it’s not me. People say you need a strong character to pull off short hair and you have that Alison…but I think I wasn’t one to stand out in the crowd before, and having short hair at times can make you feel like you do. I wonder if Ann Hathaway misses her beautiful long hair ? She made a brave decision to cut it all off in Les Miserables. I do think she has the kind of beautiful face that can carry it off, but even so, I wonder if like me she thinks I wish this would hurry up and grow back. Jessie J too. I noticed she’s had eyelash extensions and can appreciate why, when you don’t have much hair, you don’t feel as feminine (in my mind) softening the look with over sized lashes compensates, I considered them too. I actually even said to myself during chemo when I was feeling pretty down about my naked lashes that afterwards I would have the most ridiculous lashes ever and bat them continuously. Of course I haven’t done this..maybe I will, maybe I won’t. Vanity eh ?
Breast Cancer can turn you into the incredible detachable woman, I’d have Trading Standards chasing me and warnings of being flammable near naked flames if I had fake eyelashes, hair and a boob. Mind you I wouldn’t be the first, there are a lot of women sporting this look as favoured these days, the celebrities all with extensions, eyelashes, nails, boob jobs and botox, what hope for the average woman on the street.
Vanity is a bit*ch. This week there was a programme aired on CH4 and it took me back to life before diagnosis, where my time was stretched and spent running about and supporting others, in particular someone whose external appearance was their career, their everything. Looking back it saddened me. Things change and life moves on. I had to acknowledge that it had hurt me and disappointed me that certain people had left my life as my physical appearance and diagnosis didn’t fit into their lifestyle and thus made me undesirable. It also made me question their motives of being in my life in the first place, if was purely based on my external packaging and not as me as a whole person, then I’m better off without them. In fact a bit like my false boob, you can take them off and put them to one side too.
I’m alive, more than ever grateful for the second chance this has given me, losing the people that have gone has made room for the people that have and will arrive.
As The Prodigy said,You’re no good for me, I don’t need nobody. Don’t need no one, that’s no good for me.
And so we keep on living and loving life ❤