Thursday, February 6, 2014

I pulled a Britney Spears!

Many cancer survivors say that losing their hair is one of the hardest parts of the fight.   While anticipating it I was obviously not excited for it to happen but I wondered, can it really be that bad?  I would be lying if I said that I don’t care about my looks…and anyone who knows me would call me out on that one.  But really “it’s a small price to pay”. 

The phrase “it’s a small price to pay” can resonate poorly with us Cancer Folks when used too loosely.  I believe I would be speaking for all of us when I say… yes these are small prices to pay to stay alive…we get it…but we are sick of hearing it.  If I were to tell any “normal” pregnant woman that she won’t ever get to breastfeed or that for the first 2-3 months of her newborn’s life she will be unable to care for her baby herself or that this may in fact be the last child she ever will conceive…these would be hard things for her to swallow.  Now add the fact that you have to walk around bald for a good 6 months to a year and you get your boobs cut off and you may go into early menopause AND it’s very likely you will have a hard time with weight gain for the next 10 years…whew! No big deal right?  And really these things are not big deals to me anymore.  There are many people who are going through much more than I am.  Lesson learned.  I can’t believe I used to complain about my hair being too thin or about how easy it was to gain a pound in my 30s.  
The thing is these concerns should be small prices to pay whether you are living with cancer or not.  I wish I could go back in time and tell myself that I shouldn’t have made such a fuss about the little things and that when things weren’t perfect, when I wasn’t perfect, it wasn’t the end of the world.  The great news is that God has given me a second chance to live my life the way I should.  To focus on the small things in life that do matter.  I know, this concept seems so cliché.  You hear it every time someone has a life changing event.  But it never really seems to sink in does it.  You might be touched by someone’s story and remember to stop and smell the roses for a week or two but then you go on with your life, freaking out about the same small insignificant things.  I’m speaking from experience.  This time I’ve got it.  It hit me smack between the eyes thank you very much.  I need to change my
perspective in life.  And I have.

For the last 3 weeks I have been preparing to lose my hair.  Knowing that this is what they say, “going to be one of the hardest parts of the fight”.  I got the wig.  I made it fun by incorporating shopping because that always makes me feel better!  I bought head wraps and beanies and fake eyelashes!  I would tuck my hair into one of the beanies and walk around the house looking at my reflection. But, when my hair started falling out I found myself not prepared at all.  For me, losing my hair was not about appearance and vanity.  It was not about my diminishing looks or not feeling pretty.  For me, losing my hair was about the reality.  The reality that I am sick.  I have cancer.  It’s the difference of showing up to read lines versus having a dress rehearsal.  Now I’m dressed to play the part.  Now Cancer stares back at me every time I look in the mirror.  It’s a constant reminder. 
But it’s true, once you shave it there is a huge feeling of relief.  You come to terms, you move on.  By the time I had what I will call my “Shaving Party” I already had come to terms with the reality.  I just wanted to move on and stop going through the daily routine of pulling handfuls of hair out of my head and picking it off my clothes and counter tops.  And therefore, my party was quite a success!  I couldn’t be more thankful for my wonderful life-long friends that hold me up high and support me through these tough times.  I am so blessed with girlfriends of 20+ years that can make me laugh at what could have been a really crappy experience.  If you come to a point where you find yourself needing to say good-bye to your hair I suggest you do what we did and make it a fun event.  Go extravagant!  Have it slightly resemble your wedding even!  Prepare your wig (don’t let your husband see you in it) and invite all of your bridesmaids over.  Drink wine (or pretend wine if you are pregnant) and cut your hair into a ton of different fun styles because this is the one and only time you can.  Shave some lightning bolts and steps on the side of your head if you can and then get ‘er done.  And of course don’t forget to take lots of pictures!
 
Because I still have not figured out what I am doing I gave up on formatting and sizing pictures and made a video.  It’s a little long and quite amateur but I hope you enjoy it!  A big thank you to my wonderfully talented girlfriends, Shannon Jo and Hilary!  As a stylist, Shannon is crazy-good at short-dos.  Hilary offered up her professional photography skills to capture the moment.  Also thank you to my other life-long girlfriends, my father-in-law, and my hubby... who all came along for the ride. Love you guys!
 
 

14 comments:

  1. Thanks for posting. We're always thinking of you.....and heck what's a year with that awesome wig. It looks amazing!

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  2. Simply stunning, as always. Your outlook is inspiring, and if I do say so, you rock 'The Miley' better than she does! Thinking of you often,
    Nicole

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  3. Still one of the most beautiful women I've ever met. Your husband is a lucky man.

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  4. Just saying... you looked gorgeous in every look! I showed my sister and she LOVED you in the short hair. :) Truly inspiring.

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  5. I thought you look absolutely beautiful with no hair. You are always stunning Athena! It is the glow about you that shows through in all the hairdo's that makes you so pretty. Know that you and Ben are in our prayers always.

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  6. Two things: First of all you look just like my sister-in-law jenny when you had your hair short one side long on the other! Second, you pull Miley off better than she does :) Love you Athena

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  7. You are such an inspiration to us all. Thank you for keeping it real and speaking from the heart. We all need to slow down to truly take life in. Such a good reminder.
    The video was beautiful and so are you. :)

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  8. Athena~ You are a beautiful person inside and out!! Thank you for sharing your journey with us, your faith and strength amaze and inspire me!! Loved the post and video, you totally rocked the Miley!! :) Loved the pixie cuts! We continue to keep you, Ben, and Baby K in our prayers. ~Nicole Mages

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  9. Love Love Love you Beens! That was awesome

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  10. Youre beautiful and so amazing!!! Love you!

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  11. Thank you for sharing! You are such an inspiration to Lydia and I and Lydia stated that you are beautiful no matter what and I have to agree with her. Love and think of you and the family often. Prayers! Love cousin, Jenny & Lydia

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  12. You are an amazing women and beautiful to the core!

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