Sometimes things just suck. There’s no other way of saying it. They just suck.
After chemo number two, my hair started coming out. Of course, I knew it was going to happen, but the foreknowledge didn’t make the reality any easier.
You do have some options with hair loss. All the cancer preppers tell you these things. You can shave it all off and beat the chemo to it. You can cut your hair short first, then let it fall out on its own. You can just let it fall out. You can try some different preventative measures to try to save it. Some women decide to have photo shoots while they buzz their heads. They wear a fancy pink dress, full glam. Some have pink boxing gloves and look beautiful and strong. Some ladies have a party and surround themselves with friends and family while they do the deed. Sometimes loved ones join them and shave their heads too. Some people share Facebook lives or YouTube videos, commemorating the event and inspiring others.
All of this is so beautiful! But my day was nothing like this. I was more of a Burgen wanting to eat Poppy the Troll out of my jealousy for her hair.
Normally I would be all about turning lemons into lemonade, but I couldn’t with this. This just really sucked. I didn’t want to lose my hair. I loved it. I cut my hair once in fifth grade in an attempt to be cool. I looked like Elvis. I was called Elvis. Lesson learned. I didn’t want to be Elvis again.
So I waited as long as I could to lose my hair. I wondered how it would happen. Kind of like when you are pregnant and you wonder about that first contraction. I also held on to hope. There is a small percentage of people that don’t lose their hair with chemotherapy. So maybe that could be me? No, it wasn’t. A day after chemo number two, it happened. Handfuls.
Some Lessons are Hard
It all just really sucked. Some things just suck. This was one of them. Not only was I losing my beloved hair, but I had to ask for help to do it. Chemo was really hard for me. I was really sick and there was no way I could shave my head on my own. I had not learned at this point any of the lessons that cancer was bringing to me. I still defined strength as doing everything myself. I wanted cancer to have very little effect on my family. I did not want to be a burden on them, nor did I want them to suffer because of me. Well all of this went out the window.
My cancer was not just for me, but it held many lessons for all of us. So, reluctantly, I asked my husband and kids to cut my hair. They had to help me. They wanted to help me. They needed to help me. And we learned and grew together.
You don’t have to be happy all the time
We learned that sometimes, things just really suck. And that’s okay. Not everything has to be shiney and pink. We learned to just let it suck.
Normally I would have tried to put on a pretty face, but I had no energy or ability. Now I see why it needed to happen this way. It was all with a purpose.
You don’t have to be happy all the time. But joy can still live even when you’re not happy. Even when things suck, you can still have joy.
A little suffering is a good thing
Compassion for others is often birthed through your own experiences. As Birdie said, now she had something to talk to her counselor about. A little suffering can bring compassion and connection. My girls could now relate to so many other people that have suffered also. They knew hurt and worry and pain in a new way. So did I. So did Shane. Even Cedar. A little suffering can humble you. It softened me, rounded my edges. I lost more than my hair that day.
It taught us all about true beauty. Did beauty really come from the inside? Could you be a woman without beautiful hair and a pretty face? What if your body didn’t look like a woman anymore? All of these questions are so easy to answer until it’s you standing in front of the mirror. Until it’s you looking at your wife. Until you are worried about what your classmates will say. Now, I had to figure out where my beauty would come from – and my family had to watch me do it.
Could Beauty, from the Creator, shine so bright in me that it wouldn’t matter what the outside looked like?
For better and for worse
On this day, through all this crap, this manure, something grew. It was my love for my husband. For better and for worse became real through our cancer journey. Will you shave my head during chemo wasn’t something I thought to ask him before we married, but thankfully his commitment stood strong. Shane’s resolve and tenderness during all of this made me love him with a new kind of love. Like a wine that had aged, rich and full of flavor. My love for him had matured. Now, when he forgets to take the trash out, I’m a little more forgiving.
What have we built on?
It revealed our foundation. It was like a great shaking had taken place. We ran for cover. Finally coming out to see what was left. What had we built on? What was the foundation of our marriage, our relationships with our children, my own identity? Thankfully, we found Jesus waiting for us, brushing all the rumble away. The quaking had revealed Him to us all in such a new way. If ever we needed a Savior, it was now.
Our purpose revealed
We found our mantra, our guiding light. We resolved that no matter what happened, good or bad, mountains or valleys, life or death, God would get glory. Father, Son, and Spirit would be revealed and praised through our lives. God would get glory from this cancer.
This is so hard – to God be the glory. I have no hair – to God be Glory. Why is this happening to us – to God be the glory. I might die – to God be the glory. Finally, I am cancer free – to God be the glory! We are stronger now than ever before – TO GOD BE THE GLORY!
We Gain More Than We Lose
Through all of the sucking and crap and terribleness of this day, of this entire cancer journey, we learned some much needed lessons. I am sure you have been through tough times too. You may be experiencing them now. Things may just really suck right now. I am sorry, but I promise you, if you continue to walk through it, feeling it all, seeing it all, you will be so much stronger on the other side. Let others walk with you. Let God reveal Himself to you and through you.
Remember, the healing is always just past the hurt. Before we can gain, we must lose. The painful molting process – shed first.
Thank you for spending this time with me. I pray these words help you on days that suck.
To God be the Glory!
P.S. I absolutely hate the word “suck” and never use it, but it felt like the perfect word to explain how I felt.