One of the main focuses of cancer, in particular for women, is hair loss. Which is no surprise if you think about how much a woman’s hair is integral to her identity and her power as a female. I could easily bang on about the importance of female head hair being an ingrained belief perpetuated by a patriarchal society obsessed with body image, but at the end of the day, going bald due to something completely out of your control is fucking shit. It can utterly strip away a woman’s sense of self, a sense that is already being poisonously eroded by the superabundance of other side effects. Treatment that is saving our lives is greeting us with a human ballbag when we look in the mirror. A small price to pay some may say, but those ‘some’ often still have all their follicles in tact.
I had no idea how I would react to becoming a baldy mc balderson. I’ve been a hirsute chameleon over the years; short, long, red, purple, massive emo fringe, bleached bits. But when it came to the ultimate chop (very kindly done by lovely hairdresser friend in the comfort of my own home) my only thought was ‘bloody hell my head’s cold’. It felt freeing, not only from a daily routine perspective, but in a psychological way. Perhaps helping in my precarious journey to ‘self discovery’ (something applicable to most thirty-somethings)? Maybe that was what Britney was attempting circa 2007? (Utmost respect to Britney, she is a shining sequin queen). I try to think about this aspect on days when I’m staring into the potato faced abyss. And I’m grateful that my twisty brain decided to see things from this point of view, because I know it can shatter some women.
When you are preparing for treatment you are indeed given options such as the cold cap, a science fiction-esque contraption that squats upon your dome during your chemotherapy session and freezes your hair follicles so the drugs don’t affect them as much. But it seemed an added (and non guaranteed, some hair loss is still inevitable) pain in the bumhole. And to anyone who knows me, you will understand what reaction I had to the word ‘freezes’. I had visions of being wrapped in fifty layers of scarves, mewling like pathetic cat left out in the rain. I did see a woman at my last session carrying off the process with style and aplomb, but when it comes to the cold, I am severely aplomb-less to say the least.
Even though I am so far unperturbed by my sphinx cat appearance, I did partake in the buying of a wig, because hey, when else can I fantasise about being a male drag artist? Cancer patients can pay a 60 odd quid prescription fee and get a wig worth double; I went to the incredibly helpful folks at Trendco in Hove and was sold on the first one the woman suggested. True trade mastery at it’s finest. And now I have a fetching brunette bob to accompany my emerald coloured velvet dress for the office Christmas do! Maybe I shall create a whole new persona on the night; say bonjour to Angélique, the 1920s French poet with a penchant for assassination. Maybe? Non?
NB: for those who want the nitty gritties, my leg hair, eyebrows and eyelashes are holding in there so far. Pits and bits as bare as a freshly sanded floorboard. You’re welcome.