I didn't expect my hair to come out in one day and it quickly turned from a novelty to feeling like I was in an unsettling dream. As a mum I was able to hold it together until the girls went to bed and then set about trying to restore order where we've all been away for almost two weeks. But my hair kept on shedding and by the end of the night I was bald.
It'snot what I thought it would feel like. I expected it to feel like the rest of my body but it doesn't. My head feels permanently cold and it's rough in parts where stubble remains - my vision of wearing a nice silk scarf is marred in reality by the sensation of it snagging as it goes over my scalp. It puts my teeth on edge. I feel exposed and dehumanised. It's not how I look that bothers me as such - I once used a make up free photo as my online dating profile so prospective suitors knew what they were getting in to. It's just the vulnerability of it.
On New Years Eve morning I took the girls with me to have the remaining wisps buzzed off and while I was out my sniffle developed into a full blown cold. I called the Oncology unit and they suggested I go to A and E to get checked over and by the time I arrived I was in full blown panic. The doctor who saw me couldn't have been kinder. A woman of my age, with children of similar ages to mine who could so easily have been dismissive after my bloods came back infection free. Instead she gave me all the time in the world to ultimately release all those worries i've been pushing down while I fix on a smile and pretend to be brave. I'm not brave. I don't want to die. I have small children I want to see become adults and I want to live for myself too. I want to go back to the time before cancer when I took being alive for granted, as a right. Now I think about dying a lot. I worry about the ripple effect it will have in my girls lives, I wonder who will sort my house, what will people say about me if and when they remember me. I now choose my words carefully in most conversations for fear they will be the words that haunt loved ones later on. I see my newly decorated bedroom and fear a day the bed will be stripped one last time .
I told the doctor all these things because I haven't wanted to see the heartbreak on the people I care about's faces and to feel their pain and know I can't do anything to make it better.
She told me I can do this. That given my circumstances it's very normal to be afraid. I asked if there were things they could do if I die to make me less afraid and not feel it and she assured me that for people whose cancer is ending their life that is absolutely what happens. But she reminded me my cancer is curable. That although the road ahead is scary and uncertain I stand a great chance of getting better. I told her I has stopped taking Diazepam as I was worried it would get taken away from me if I appeared to be depending on it. Again she assured me that won't happen and it's probably something that could help me through things. So Pam returns and i'm aware i'm only five days away from round two. I was going to put on a full face of make-up to unveil my new look to the world but the mask has slipped now anyway. Check out the not-really-that-ballsy-after-all baldy.