“Home Team” – the people you can rely on no matter what, the ones who will answer the phone at 2:30am and drop everything to help you out. Or in my case, the ones that drop by the house at 6:30am to grab something out of Olivia’s room because she forgot to take it with her and she needs it for school, or have lilies planted in my patio pots by 8am on a Monday morning so they would bloom right around Mother’s Day. I could not have made it through the last two months without any of these people.
Saturday afternoon those that were able to come, showed up in mass quantity to support me buzzing my head. They have helped with meals, getting to appointments, loving on my children when I wasn’t feeling the best, visits and countless messages and phone calls…many of them aren’t pictured because it wasn’t feasible, and you all know who you are – my “Home Team” spans from one side of the country to the other!
You may ask why I had a party to “celebrate” this occasion. The answer is twofold –losing my hair was going to be on my terms, it is the only decision I’ve had a say in during this entire thing, and whatever I needed to do to make this easiest for my children (and let’s be honest, myself) was what I was going to do. So instead of shaving my head with merely my parents and Olivia and Jaxson, I thought it would be better to have distractions and a large group of people to lighten the mood a bit. And it seemed to do the trick!
The day was perfect, we couldn’t have asked for better weather, which allowed for everything to be done outside – the kids were able to play in between turns and there was plenty of room for everyone. Leading up to the moment I had to take a few deep breaths, followed by “Okay, let’s do this!” I had no idea Olivia and Jaxson would be o excited to grab the clippers and have at it…let’s just say they are very well hidden!
Olivia started the process, with Jaxson following. I hadn’t anticipated they’d want to just keep taking turns, but that’s what ended up happening. With the help of others the two of them literally divided and concurred my hair, with Lilly stepping in at the end. I was very proud of them you could hear me asking them “How’s it look?”, “Everything going okay?” or on most occasions, me reassuring them they were doing an excellent job!
https://youtu.be/vM73B6Y-hPc (link to video)
Although it may have appeared that I was on board by my smile and reassuring words, that was not the case. Leading up to Saturday, I was trying to convince myself it might not all fall out, you can wait a little bit longer. Let’s just say the brush at the salon earlier in the afternoon said otherwise…it was full of hair, which made me feel better about the decision.
The apprehension wasn’t so much about losing the hair, it was more that there wasn’t going to be a way to keep this to myself much longer. I was about to go public with the fact that I have Ovarian Cancer and I wasn’t quite sure I was ready. Would people look at me just a little too long or stare from afar? Would they run in the opposite direction, or hug me just a little longer than they should? Or would they avoid me and the fact that my Cancer diagnosis was staring them straight in the face? These are all things that ran through my head – for someone who HATES having the spotlight on her, it was something I was/am dreading.
I realize this was a difficult thing for some of my friends and family to watch – it made everything more real for them too. Up until that point I didn’t look too sick, minus the weight loss, dark circles and fatigue…oh, and the lovely port, can’t forget about the lovely port (more to come on that!). But they showed up, they showed up and put any feelings aside they may have in order to make sure I had what I needed in order to get through this process…I will never be able to thank them enough (including those who were there in spirit).
All in all, losing my hair wasn’t really that awful. I didn’t look as bad as I thought I might, everyone seemed to be holding it together pretty well, and all of the children seemed to be okay with what had transpired. It was exactly what I needed…I got through it with friends and family around me for support, with a smile on my face, all while enjoying a lovely evening.
And to answer the question you’re all dying to ask – “Are you going to tell us how you found out?” Yup, sure am! For the next couple of posts we’ll rewind a bit and catch up to the present.
Helpful tips if you, a family member or a friend find themselves throwing a party for this particular reason:
- Allow yourself enough time to prepare, if you have the luxury – I knew from the first appointment with my oncologist that I would be losing my hair. Ask, they will tell you, they don’t sugarcoat things at all!
- Customize something special – for me it was a stemless Tossware champagne flute I found on Etsy (You Got Personal is the “store” –https://www.etsy.com/listing/275635454/plastic-personalized-champagne-flutes ) . This gave everyone something to take with them, they were a huge hit!
- Go buy a new pair of clippers. Just do it, save yourself the worry of “What happens if the clippers I’ve had for the last 10-15 years can’t quite cut a whole head of hair?” Target has plenty to choose from at very reasonable prices.
- If you are able to, find a photographer, preferably someone who knows you well to capture the event. Amy (Farnsworth) Jackson didn’t bat an eye when I asked her to do so…I knew it was out of the norm, but she didn’t hesitate! Ask them to not only take photos of the actually hair loss, but also capture a few great shots with you and your loved ones with a full head of hair one last time – I’m so glad I did!
- Make sure others take photos and videos as well..you have no idea what is transpiring and it gives you an opportunity to see everything after.
- Do something special for yourself – get your hair done or a mani/pedi – by this point, you deserve it!
- Try to enjoy the gathering..as frightening as the whole process is, allow yourself time to smile and laugh and remember that you’ve got this and everyone is there for you!