Posted September 5, 2016on:
Some have worried that my silence here and on social media is a sign I’m not feeling well. Quite the opposite! For the last 8 days, I’ve felt great. I’m not 100%, but a good 95% every day. All of that energy has been poured into work and home, rather than blogging. It’s been a very busy start to the fall, as we’ve had back-to-school events, major church events (requiring some big prep), and an attempt to unpack as many more boxes as possible before I get knocked down again today, when I go for my second treatment. There are several posts waiting to be written, but after my last post about hair, I figured I should follow up with the rest of the story.
A few days after my first treatment, I went over to the MacMillan Cancer Centre to meet with N, who is their wig expert. Everyone raved about her skills, and they were right. The NHS subsidizes one synthetic wig for every cancer patient with hair loss, which keeps the costs manageable. (One of the posts waiting to be written is about how great the NHS has been so far.)
The process of choosing a wig involves looking through a catalogue of beautifully made-up models wearing perfectly styled wigs, and choosing three you think might look decent on your not-so-beautifully-made-up head. Then, when they come, you try them on and choose which one to keep. N led me through the process. As I knew going in, there is no wig to match my hair. There were some curly wigs, but let’s just say they were not my style (see below for some hilarity on this point). I tried to go for something in a similar color, and with some volume, because I couldn’t imagine having straight, flat hair.
They arrived a week later, and I took my husband and son with me to help me choose. My husband J has a great eye for these things, and I knew my son B would tell me by the look on his face if it was all wrong. Pictures and descriptions follow, but note that I still had all my hair when we were trying these on, so they sat a little bit high and funny on my head at the time. We had to use our imaginations, and you will too.
We tried on the three that I ordered, and only one was even passable. However, N jumped right in with more suggestions. It turns out she had a closet full of wigs others had ordered and not used, so I could choose from those as well. She lived up to her reputation as an expert–she pulled out a several that were much better than the ones I ordered from the catalogue, including the one I finally chose. In the end, I probably tried on at least a dozen wigs. However, we only bothered to photograph the finalists–plus one bonus just because it made me laugh.
This first one is the passable one of the three I ordered from the catalogue. It looked just like my hair when I was a little girl, up until around age 10 or 11, before the curls arrived in full force when I was 12 or 13. I had a bob cut with bangs, and my mother rolled the ends under on Sunday mornings and picture days. When I looked in the mirror, I still felt like myself, though a bit reincarnated from an earlier version. I also thought I looked like Velma from Scooby Doo, who I always liked anyway. It could have worked.
The second one I really wanted to love. My paternal aunt Carol Ann had long red hair. Hers was thick and wavy, and a differently styled cut, but it was always a signature beauty. In addition to being my favorite aunt, she also had breast cancer, and it took her life 17 years ago. I know that the medicine I receive today may have been able to save her life, and her spirit feels very close to me in this journey. I wanted to wear this wig as a tribute. It was a look that made me feel the most pretty, unique and striking. However, it also was a wig that would draw attention to my hair, and I wasn’t sure I wanted that. The cut wasn’t quite the image I’m trying to portray. It was odd (and a bit annoying) to have all that straight hair running down my shoulders.
I couldn’t quite figure out what didn’t sit right about it, because it did look good on me and I felt quite beautiful in it. J named it: it’s a very Southern look. I recognized it as soon as he said it. Now, I’m from Virginia, and I can rock the Southern belle charm when I want. But I don’t want to do it all of the time, and this look makes me feel like I should. It felt fun, but like playing dress up. It just didn’t capture the persona I inhabit every day at the office or in the pulpit. It’s also a more casual look, and I wanted something more professional. However, if I end up wearing wigs regularly, I’d go get this one for those days when I felt up to the fierceness of my Southern roots and the spirit of my Aunt Carol Ann.
Where we ended up was with one of N’s suggestions. Something totally different from my normal look, but conveying a sense of being put-together, ready to focus, professional and neat. And blonde! I was blonde like my son when I was younger, so it works well with my coloring. J saw it immediately as the best choice, but it took me a bit longer to warm up to it. He recognized that it fit my face and my style, and communicated the person I am and want to be in the world. (I told you he was good at this stuff.) B nodded along with some measure of relief on his face, like I looked “normal” in this one. That’s exactly what I was going for.
Ta-da! Remember I had a full head of curls tucked underneath, so it sits a bit high on my forehead, but I like it. J was right–it’s just right to look good without drawing attention. It’s easy, professional and ready-to-go. I mainly want a wig so that my lack of hair is not a distraction from my life. This one fits the bill perfectly. I’m pleased.
Ready for some fun, though?
N had a wig in her closet that is an exact match for my hair. It’s my natural color, and it imitates my natural curl perfectly. However, it’s about the worst haircut I could imagine. It’s just… not me. Not who I want to be. If I was trying to be a successful country music star in the 1980s, this would have been perfect. Maybe if I worked at Dollywood now. One time, days before my college graduation, I went for a haircut and ended up with something similar. I cried and cried and went back and made them cut it all short to fix it as well as possible. Every single haircut since then, I have given very, very specific instructions to make sure it doesn’t happen again.
This time, I laughed and laughed, took pictures to share, and then happily removed it from my head.
Behold: the curly mullet.
Thus continues the cancer-fighting strategy of finding laughter when you can, because there’s plenty of suffering to go around. We all got a good laugh out of this one, and I hope you do too. This is TOTALLY like my natural hair, doing exactly what it would do if I ever cut it in that fashion. But no. Just no. Not ever.
Unless Dolly Parton herself comes calling for a backup singer. I’d do it for you, Dolly.