Why I’ve Been Taking Pictures of the Back of my Head…

I’ve been taking photos and video of the back of my head for around 8 months now. It began post chemo when my hair began to thin. Just the odd sneaky shot to see how things were looking back there. Scrutinized and then deleted for fear of being caught.

The weekend when I began to malt more than a siberian husky co-incided with a volleyball tournament at school. As I sat in the bleachers trying desperately not to run my fingers through my hair I thought about the people sitting behind me. Had they noticed that I was mid moult, that my hair was no longer shoulder length but yet there it was all over my shoulders, literally.

Each morning throughout the following week I’d collect clumps and lumps of hair and put it into a bag. It was a process I did completely and entirely on my own. I didn’t share it with my children or husband – it was something I knew I had to walk myself through. There would be no elaborate shaving ceremony. No today’s the day!

I’m a nervous giggler. If the situation gets serious I’ll be the one to crack a joke, or get the giggles. I giggled as I walked down the aisle towards G. I’ve run from danger in hysterical laughter. The rush of adrenaline that came with “we’re going to be in so much trouble” as a teen would have me snorting out loud.  Which is possibly why I giggled as the new me appeared in front of the mirror. I looked ridiculous with my patches of random hair. There was nothing empowering, just dread and fear. It was the beginning of being recognised as a person with cancer.

I was no longer one of those people who couldn’t imagine what it was like to hear the words.

“You have cancer.”

With the treatment now over, and an inch of growth, a new conversation has begun.

I’ve been stumbling across the explanation. Whether it’s for my very short hair, my absence at an event, or my lack of fitness. There comes a time when I feel an explanation is needed. That I’m hiding something if I don’t fess up.

I was diagnosed with cancer last August…

I had a little bit of cancer removed last year…

I finished some treatments in February…

The yoga teacher looked confused. The fellow parent suddenly understood why I’d missed the kid’s concert. The university clerk paused, apologised, and said she’d get back to me.

My hair will grow, my scar will fade, friends will forget.

Maybe one day the thought will disappear from the back of my mind, just like the pictures of the back of my head.

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