Posted by: fosteringcare | April 12, 2011

To Shave, or Not to Shave?

After reminding and joking with my kids for the past week about my hair coming out, I decided last night that I do NOT want to be bald.

Every night, I go through this ritual, pretending that I will close my eyes and fall asleep.  I turn off my book light, put down my Kindle and take off my glasses. I fluff my big, comfy body pillow and arrange all the other pillows, under the guise of preparing to rest, when in reality I know that as soon as I’m still…the thoughts I’ve been pushing away all day will be  unleashed.

So last night I began my ritual and got as far as arranging the other pillows. Oh, I also have a fan at my bedside…white noise, night sweats, whatever…it’s there…  I always face my fan. I love the air in my face, I NEED the air in my face, but for practicality purposes, if I turn the other way my hair blows in my face. So I rested my head on my pillow, facing my fan and hair tickled my nose. I reached to brush it back, but it wasn’t attached and it wasn’t just one.

I got out of bed. I needed to do something. I needed to be awake. I needed the light. I needed this not to be real. A true sob came out of me, like what I read in all the novels and I covered my mouth just like the heroine would. I walked out to my kitchen and back to my room, then crawled into my bed, cuddled up to my husband and wailed. Grief totally overcame me and I sobbed. He rolled over and held me. I told him, “I don’t want to be bald” and he said he loved me.

Letting myself cry and feel pain is ridiculously difficult for me. Shielding my children from seeing me sad was something sooo important to me, in a warped reasoning sort of way, and last night, my 16 yr old daughter heard me. She not only heard me but shared it with me.  As I lay there curled up and bawling, I heard my sweet, tender-hearted, care-taker girl say, “Mama?” I rolled over and opened my arms as she crawled into bed with us, crying right along with me. I told her, “I’m sorry, I just don’t wanna be bald”, and that precious women-girl told me, “It’s ok mommy, I don’t want you to be bald either” and we cried some more. 

Many women with Breast Cancer decide to shave their heads when their hair starts to come out. I’ve thought all along that I would also, it just seems like that’s the thing I’m supposed to do. Families make it a “big deal”, kids taking turns shaving mom’s head to kinda take the scariness out of it, or something like that.

 My children have no interest in shaving my head and really, would rather I didn’t. Quite frankly, I have no desire to either. I also have no desire to walk around looking like a “Cancer Patient”, with patches of bald head between patches of hair….  Thinking of all the amazing wigs I have just makes me wanna throw up. I do not want to wear wigs, I want my hair. I have no idea what I will do.

I know this is temporary. I know this will not kill me. I know my hair will grow back. I just don’t wanna do this.



  1. I read your post yesterday and now todays. I can relate TOTALLY as I went through and wrestled with the very same thing. I feel ANGRY that I have to lose my hair. I feel angry that I now LOOK the part of “cancer patient” and that makes it entirely too real for me now.

    I have a 13 year old whom is NOT doing well with my diagnosis… so having to cut my hair off is something she does not want to have happen. I didn’t either, but more and more hair was coming out. So, I went to my hair dresser and we cut it down… first it looked like a bowl cut, then like Justin Beiber, then a mohawk. Each step my hair would still come out at the touch of my hand. So, we shaved it. YES, I cried like a little baby. I was there doing it ALONE! My husband didn’t go, my 13 year old did NOT want to go and my 4 year old just didn’t seem to get it, yet.

    That is until I came home with my head shaved. I showed my 4 year old whom promptly and without censorship blurted out “mommy your bald.. put your hat on I don’t want to see your bald head”. My husband and 13 year old, though saying “it looks ok, not as bad as I expected” their body language was saying OH MY GOSH! Didn’t help my self esteem as I venture on this next part of the journey.

    Now not only have my breasts both been cut off because of the cancer I now have no hair. Oh, the feeling of being sexy is not even in existence for me, today. Maybe tomorrow… lol

    So, I get where you are at and support whatever makes you feel better through the process. Hugs and love to you!!

    Lisa Pettit

  2. Thank you Lisa, it IS a special bond we share, huh? My “big” surgery isn’t going to be until after this Chemo stuff is done…I’m sure I’ll be writing about it! Shopping for fun hats and pretty scarves….sigh…stay tuned.

  3. sign is right… I felt the same as I shopped for wigs, hats, do rags, etc… blech… an unfortunate reality to this cancer business!! You aren’t alone…

  4. This post brought tears to my eyes like I haven’t had in a while since my own diagnosis. It just seems so wrong. First to have to fight a monster growing inside of you, but then to have the dignity of your crowning glory taken away, too. I can handle the side effects and sometimes even pretend they aren’t as bad as they actually are. But when I began to look sick, too, its tough! Hats and scarves and even wigs are a paltry answer in a sad attempt to hide what everyone knows is actually going on.

    I pray for you every day, Jane! I myself am pretty quiet about where I am at in this whole business. its just who I am. But I cheer you on when I hear of your good days and I cry for you when things are tougher. This is a sisterhood I wouldn’t wish upon anyone.

  5. Though I do not understand but coming from the planner/organizer in me and being in love with my hair/afraid of losing my hair. I have already decided way before I ever turned 21 that if I ever get cancer and that happens it’s gone.

    But I have also have wanted to shave my head before. I find a bald head on a woman empowering, strong, brave and beautiful. And I’m not saying this to cheer you up. I seriously mean it. I feel lik shaving your head isnt putting you in the cancer patient look. Its saying im not going to be destroyed, i am strong. And this is the girl who loves her hair and it’s constantly changing it! If you didn’t want to do it alone, I would do it with you. And I’m not lying. I love you and you are beautiful!

  6. Oh Jane…. I just read this today… I’m behind… I’m so sorry… I wish I could be there…
    Tina says to shave it… then it’s just done and you don’t have to worry about it any more.
    I don’t begin to try and understan or tell you what to do, Tina has been there, I haven’t.
    I love you sweet lady, (if you have hair or not!) I wish you didn’t have to go through this. Please call me anytime… I will come up!
    I’m so blessed to have you as my friend, and I can’t wait to celebrate with you when you are cancer free and your hair is all growing back in!


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