I loved and enjoyed my hair for the first time probably ever, when I was 17. I had finally figured out how I liked it. (For many reasons, as a biracial kid/teenager/adult, having issues a.k.a. "battles" with one's hair, is not a unique occurrence.) It took me another few years to figure out how to consistently get it the way I wanted. It took a few years after that to realize I was fooling myself about consistently doing anything with my hair. I have high standards and I'm low maintenance. I'm not actually willing to spend a lot of money or go to great lengths.
But I would say, that by my mid to late twenties, I had it figured out enough. So when cancer came calling, I had developed this really intense relationship with my hair. I did not want to lose it. Then I lost it. And it was terrifying. And it was freeing. It allowed me to do something I never would have done otherwise. Shave it off. And then it grew back after the chemo. And then I had radiation. And then it gew back again. Thinner in the more irradiated spots, but seemed generally to be my hair or so I thought.
My hair is the longest it's been since it started to fall out in 2010. There is a patch in the back that is dry, and tangled and feels dead. It is rough. It feels like something you'd just remove if you could. If it wasn't covering a part of your head or otherwise needed. There is a patch in the front, that to most looks completely normal. But when I comb it in the mirror and push the hair back, there is a clear half circle beginning at my forehead going back about 3 inches where the hair is more grey, thinner and simply, less of it. I am sure, because I have asked, that no one notices.
What is noticeable to people, is that I have lost my curls. A few noticed early on when my hair was very short and asked if it was straighter. I said, "No," believing that it just seemed straighter because of how short it was. Now people just say, "You're hair looks different." And in my continuing denial, I reply, "It's longer." What they mean is that it's no longer curly. It did not go back to being the same as it was pre-cancer. And it hasn't been until the last week or so, that this has started to sink in. Dayo recently reminded me of a picture of the two of us when my hair was shorter than it is now. In an instant, this image of myself with bouncy, springy curls came to mind and tears started to roll down my cheeks. It IS different. It took about 25 years to like and accept my hair, 1 round of Chemo to get rid of it, and 3 years to realize it would never be the same again.
It turns out I was waiting. I was waitng for it to get longer to look that way it use to look. I was waiting for it to go back to normal.
As it also turns out, I've been waiting for other parts of my life to look the way they used to look. I've been waiting for my life to go back to normal. I've been waiting for things big and small. For doctors to react to me like a typical patient. For a job with an office of my own. To catch up to my friends in their careers, home buying and baby making. To be relaxed about my health again. To not feel guilty that I might be making my body a haven for cancer when I don't exercise or eat right.
Waiting really isn't advisable, unless it's for the bus or something that's actually coming.