Monday, April 23, 2007

Bald is Beautiful?

It's easy to make a case for "bald is beautiful." Think Yul Brynnar. Telly Savalas. The Deltan aliens from Star Trek. Sinead O'Connor. My dad, who lost his hair shortly after I was born. Just don't think about Britney Spears.

It's tougher to make the case when it's your own head.

After my follow-up visit at City of Hope this morning, I walked over to the Image Center, a combination boutique and clip joint. I was tired of my unmanicured tresses, a hodgepodge of bald patches and thinning locks that looked like a lawn cut by a drunken gardener.

I thought about inviting friends to the "clipping ceremony" and documenting the event with photos, but, ultimately, I decided on a private affair and no cameras. The clip room was surrounded by mirrors, so I asked the "stylist" to spin me around so that I couldn't see my reflection. I closed my eyes as she sheared the remaining strands of hair from my itchy scalp.

When she was finished, I was still afraid to look. I pulled on a cotton night cap without glancing in the mirror.

It's not so much my hairless head that's troubling. It's the transition from cancer in the abstract to cancer in the concrete. Sure, I had the noticeable but nonthreatening-looking tumor that gave me the drooopy eye look. And I saw the evidence of cancer throughout my body on the PT scans. But now I'm sporting the most obvious sign of a cancer patient.

I know it won't take long to adjust to the concept or the aesthetic. I have a basket full of silk scarves that haven't seen the light of day since the late 80's. I have a new wig that's as cute as any cut I've ever had. And I'm on the prowl for non-clinging hats (think soft French beret) that downplay the skull.

But, for now, I'm avoiding looking at my naked head.


Marco said...

and let's not forget the wonderful bald star trek officer from Star Trek - the Motion Picture - you've got your persona all set up for the next Star Trek rave!

Karen said...

You could get some temporary tattoos and a muscle T in the meantime, and people might not think cancer.

suzy keleher said...

Words well written, Susan. You probably said what so many would like to say, in similar situations, but did not know quite how to word it. Reflection without your reflection. I see you, in my mind's eye, beautiful and having faith through this process. His strength is made perfect in our weakness. I have seen, and heard, that when your hair grows back, it will be even stronger and healthier than ever! Just like you! I love you. Love, Suze

Lisa Cooper-Keil said...

Susan, I have a great pattern for soft berets and would love to sew one for you - just let me know what color and the circumfrance [sic]of your beautiful head and I will get it to you ASAP. They are warm so they keep you toasty in the cold Chemo room. (I made about 50 of them for the American Cancer Society) All my love, Lisa (Mara and Natasha's sister)

Frankie said...

Don't know what to say today... just feeling your sense of loss.

Susan Carrier said...

Lisa, What a generous offer. I just spoke with Natasha this evening and she raved about your hats. I would LOVE to have one. My head size is 23.5.


JN said...

Jane said:

Don't think of yourself as bald. Think of yourself as a phrenologist's dream!