The Monster Inside Me

The Monster Inside Me: Hairless

head
2014
Charcoal on Bristol
14×17

One of the side effects of chemotherapy is loss of hair, for most of the drugs used in the therapy. For women that is a pretty big deal, as I saw with Mom. She was pretty crushed and embarrassed about the potentiality of going bald. Though we tried to comfort her by saying there are lot of women who purposely go bald (true) she isn’t convinced. Well what can we say? She’s already pretty touchy about the whole chemo process, in fact it’s made her MORE sensitive that it’s got us all walking on glass and being extra careful to not irk her in any way. Especially for me who’s living with her 24/7 that is like a walk in the treacherous Amazonian forest.

I remember the first time when she started the chemo back n 2010 she was crying about the impending hair loss, and she went to great lengths to find a hair salon where nobody knows her name to cut her hair real short. She was, and even now, adamant about not letting her friends and close acquaintances know of her plight; she’s not really the type to seek pity party with outsiders. And as weeks passed and more and more of the shortened hair came off slowly revealing her bare scalp, at one point she just broke down. All we could do is keep telling her she still looks beautiful, and that even her bald head was beautiful ( and it was; mine is pretty flat and I kinda look like a cone head ). Of course she got wigs and wore them periodically whenever she went out, but then you know that ain’t always the same.
But it was more crushing for Mom when she was told in 2012 that her lymphoma had recurred, and she had just barely gotten all her hair back to normal, and having to lose them all over again…it was harder on the second time. Luckily when she got the second recurrence just last year the new regimen of chemo would have no hair loss, and so she was relieved.
I’ve come to learn that One of the best things we can do for the loved ones struggling with chemo is to always give them warm words of encouragement, and show them love above all, especially when they are at their worst physically and emotionally. It’s like the old saying “beauty is only skin deep,” it doesn’t matter how much hair she has; warm words and embraces will always melt the ice of embarrassment away.

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