“He called a little child to him, and placed the child among them. And he said: “Truly I tell you, unless you change and become like little children, you will never enter the kingdom of heaven.”
~Matthew 18.2-3, New International Version
There is the one aspect of having cancer in which I was honestly not prepared. When it comes to cancer, smiling faces with bald heads tend to be the norm. Pictures of women with hip head pieces adorn so many cancer advertisements and news articles. Despite all of this, my heart was not ready when my own hair began falling out in large clumps. Personally, I think, despite all the publicity, nothing in this world can emotionally prepare anyone for the massive hair loss that accompanies cancer treatment.
I guess I can consider myself blessed, after all I have only lost a small portion, by comparison, but it still has been emotionally traumatizing. For the first time in my life, I found myself experiencing full blown panic attacks before I would shower.
Personally, I think, despite all the publicity, nothing in this world can emotionally prepare anyone for the massive hair loss that accompanies cancer treatment.
I began to go for longer and longer stretches before washing my hair to make the trauma that much less; but, regardless of how long I would wait, the results were always the same. Hair would fill the bottom of the shower, wrap itself hopelessly around the teeth of my comb, cascade down my back, and drift like tumbleweeds across our bathroom floor. There have actually been moments where it was impossible to choke back tears as I watched the hair just fall out on its own and collect in small masses on the floor of every room in our house.
Honestly, I am not too proud to admit that I have found myself curled up in a ball on the floor of our walk in closet, doubled over by hysterical tears, as I stared at the mass of hair accumulating in the comb and piling on the floor behind me. Cancer had already taken so much away, did it have to take my hair too? Something has be considered sacred with cancer, does it not? Unfortunately, the answer seems to be no, nothing is off limits when it comes to this insidious disease.
After my laparotomy, my brother and his wife came to visit me in the hospital bearing a plethora of gifts from my nephews, but the one that sincerely touched my heart was a gift from my 5 year old nephew, Max. While in the store with his mom, he saw a zebra dream light pillow pet (zebras are the mascot for NET cancer) and he just had to get it for me. See, Max still retains that incredible child-like faith and he firmly believes that the “magical, mystical” lights of this zebra have healing powers. All I have to do is turn on the lights, sit under them and my cancer will just disappear. Even though I’m an adult, I have to admit that I have turned on these magical, mystical lights, held tightly to this little stuffed zebra, and prayed to have the same faith as my nephew who gave this to me. I’ve even held it tight as I cried over the piles of hair on the bathroom floor…this silly little zebra, and the faith that is behind it, has helped me to overcome so many hurdles thrown at me by this stupid cancer.
So far, I have to admit, this little zebra has not stopped my hair from falling out. It is a side effect of the lanreotide and something I will more than likely struggle with for the rest of my life. It has not stopped the cancer from continuing to invade my liver and bone; but what it has done is help me to see life through Max’s eyes.
See, Max still retains that incredible child-like faith and he firmly believes that the “magical, mystical” lights of this zebra have healing powers.
It has helped me to actively seek out that child-like faith that says the “magical, mystical” lights of this dream light zebra will magically make my cancer go away. And you know what? In the moments that I hold this silly pillow pet and think of Max, all the cares caused by this cancer simply disappear, I’m no longer afraid, and I find the energy to keep on fighting. Now that’s power.