Its not about the hair

I have had many people ask me this question: “Why do you continue to shave your head even though you are not on any treatments?” And honestly, it is a good question that I don’t think I have addressed here on my blog.

First, I did not lose my hair from chemo. I took a pill form of chemo called Temodar. Temodar has all of the usual side effects of iv chemo (low platelets, loss of appetite, nausea, weight loss etc) except for losing your hair. I lost my hair due to high levels of radiation on my scalp that killed my hair follicles. I have thinning in large areas that will never be full again from where the levels were lower. I have a an “old man bald spot” on the top of my head where the levels were high:

Peach Fuzz2

Old man bald spot

Losing my hair was honestly the hardest part of having cancer. I was suddenly faced with the all too real fact that my life as I knew it was changing. My semi normal existence was disrupting right before my eyes. Yet it was up to me on how to face that change.

I was walking by a wig store in the mall and decided to go in and just try one on. I fell head over heals because it made me feel normal on the outside. Honestly they “concealed” my bald head, but they didn’t conceal what was going on inside of my heart. I was battling God with my pride big time, and God was winning…Big time. For about a year I wore that wig, (many- truth be told.) Then something inside of me changed and I realized that I wore it for everyone else, but deep inside I hated it. I hated that it made me feel “fake”. I hated that it made me feel like I was trying to “cover up” the fact that I had just gone through the worst time of my life and came out better despite it. People would tell me that I was a totally different person without my wig than with it on. That really hit home. Yet I still wore it because I had done so for so long, I was afraid of what people would think if I suddenly went without it.

There was that pride again.

Then came SheSpeaks. I cant begin to tell you the transformation to my heart that happened there. My pride was torn down and I was left with the real realization of how much my hair (or lack thereof) was effecting my spirit. When I stepped off the plane, I fidgeted with my wig constantly and was very self conscious the entire time.

I wore my wig to the first dinner that we had with all of the bloggers. I was quiet and insecure. I was not myself and I knew that. Lisa was my roommate and has become a dear friend to me. She noticed that when I was in the room after dinner and had my wig off, my demeanor completely changed. She told me to just go without it for the rest of the conference and see what happend. I reluctantly took it off for the evening seminar and I felt totally different. I felt as if some of the weight of being a cancer patient had been lifted off of my shoulders.


Photo Credit: Chatting At The Sky

I felt like part of the “old me” had returned. The better part. I felt more focused on the people around me, and less focused on my wig (and myself). I know it sounds crazy that a wig could be this pivotal in my life.. but it was.

I wrote this the day my hair started to fall out in my paper journal:
Lord, Please help me realize that this is not about my hair. It is about my heart. Do what you want with my heart and my hair. I give them back to you.

Yet I had fought Him the entire way.

The SheSpeaks conference was the turning point for me. It is not about my hair. It is about what the Lord is doing in my heart. It is about those lessons that I could not have learned unless He had taken my hair (and my sense of control) away from me. It is about His mercy in my moments of anger and despair. His grace when I felt all alone.

When I got home from SheSpeaks, I was concerned how my children felt about me going without my wig. My 9 year old son looked at me and said “Mom, we all know you have cancer, why are you trying to hide it?”

I love that kid.

(P.S. The picture of me in the left sidebar is right after SheSpeaks)

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  1. I find this so interesting. I felt exactly the opposite when I was dealing with cancer treatment–I felt like a cancer patient while bald and a “normal” person when I wore my wig. Of course, I never wore scarves or turbans on my head for the same reason: they just screamed “Cancer patient” to me. My scalp was sure a lot warmer with my wig. I still wear it today when i have impossibly bad hair days. (I was sorely disappointed that my hair did not grow in curly–I still had my baby-fine, stick straight hair.:biggrin: )

  2. Oh, Heather. When I met you at SheSpeaks, I made some idiotic comment about your hair. I KNOW better than that, and yet, in my travel stupor, I opened my mouth and promptly inserted my foot. I felt terrible then. But to hear you tell this story about how God was working on you and in you at THAT VERY MOMENT is incredible. (And I’m still sorry I was insensitive!!)

  3. @Pat:
    It amazes me that even though cancer patients go through the same things, it effects us totally different. I felt like a cancer patient while wearing my wig!

    I can attest to the wig being alot warmer! I live in sunny Florida and was so worried that it would slide lopsided because it was so hot!

    It must not have offended me because I have no idea what comment you are talking about! But thank you for the heart felt apology! I must have been in a travel stupor too!

  4. Thank you for sharing this. Funny how things that are minini (menial) to some are very important to others. You are right, it’s a matter of the heart.

    I am glad you had a blessed time at She Speaks. I wanted so much to go but was not able to. Maybe next year.

    May God continue to bless you, encourage you, empower you as you share your life with is on this blog.

    Liza’s Eyeview

  5. I am so glad to have met you at She Speaks. You’re a beautiful person, and it has nothing to do with your hair. :-)
    .-= Dawn @ My Home Sweet Home´s last blog ..9 Days of NAPP Day 9: LIVE from Photoshop World! =-.

  6. So glad to have met you. For so many reasons.

    And the look on your face with the old man bald spot is priceless.!
    .-= emily´s last blog ..for the girls =-.

  7. I love that picture as well because it brings me right back to that moment when I was mesmerized with your story…HIStory.

    love you friend,

  8. Heather,
    For many of the same reasons, I could never bring myself to wear a wig at all during treatment–and I lost everything–eyelashes and brows, the works. I wish I had been brave enough to just let it all hang loose, but I mostly relied on scarves and hats (I was afraid of being cold and of getting my head sunburnt during soccer games!).

    Thanks for sharing. It really blessed me!

  9. Thank you for sharing your journey with us.
    You are amazing.
    .-= Jennifer´s last blog ..Please pray =-.

  10. I know, I KNOW, that if I ever had to deal with losing my hair, it would be a big issue for me, too. I would struggle with God over my pride for quite some time. Hopefully I would eventually come around to the same point where I told God, “my heart and my hair are yours.” (God may have to thump me in the back of the head a few times to get me to that point though.)
    Not that I’m that hung up on my hair, I just know how hard it has been for me to deal with my messed up teeth and how I don’t like to sing anymore because you can see the missing teeth. Clearly,I still have to hand a few more issues to Him.
    Beautiful post and I love the look on your old man picture too. Blessings!

  11. thank you
    thank you for an absolutely amazingly refreshing transparent heart….i love your story. not the part about dealing with cancer, because cancer’s just plain awful, but i love how the lord is using that cancer for his glory.
    i love what your son told you…..amazing

    you’re beautiful
    i’m so glad i stopped by to meet you

  12. I enjoyed this post. It was so raw and so real. I love that. Thanks for sharing your feelings about an intensely personal subject with us.
    .-= Julie From Inmates´s last blog ..Just Another Manic Monday =-.

  13. Hey Lady!
    Whew-I need to take care of my pride issues right now after reading that. My issues are body image and my sweet hubby told me yesterday that I need to get over myself and that I am beautiful. Get over myself…who wants to hear that?! Ha! Good thing it was said to me in love by my honey.

    When Lisa told me your wig situation at She Speaks, I was stunned. Why? Because it was so right on that it slapped me in the face. You did what you had to do (take off the wig) to be more comfortable and in a better position to hear from God.

    Hmmm…now what do I need to do to slap myself and get over myself about my weight issues…hmmmm…

    thanks sweet friend!
    .-= Sarah Martin´s last blog ..God Whispers =-.

  14. Well girlie, I like you with or without the wig. Although I think you are funnier and bossier without it. I like the boosy you. She’s a riot! It was a privilege meeting you at She Speaks. I hope our paths cross again in person cause you’re my kind of people!

  15. You know, I think you look absolutely gorgeous without the wig. Your strength and beauty shine through your eyes, not your hair follicles.

  16. Heather, thank you so much for sharing this.

    You know what’s kinda interesting… I always assumed you never wore a wig ever. Since you always have had your avator without a wig, I assumed you always felt confident without.

    I’m glad to hear you’re doing what is best for you.

    All the best!

  17. Sheri Hale says:

    Heather…I too, felt like that. I went thru, scratch that, still going thru ovarian cancer. Was diagnosed in Dec. 2007 at the ripe old age of 29…..I lost my hair and wore wigs and bandanas….I would wear them to work (I am a dietician in a retirement center) and felt odd with them on. I felt like I wasn’t being true to myself or giving my friends and coworkers the “real me” that they deserved. My intern told me to trust her, and let her see. I reluctantly took my wig off, and she cried. I was totally freaked out. Tears is not what I had expected. She then hugged me and said that I looked so beautiful and real….and was so glad that I trusted her. From that day forward, I went to work bald! The reactions were not horrific like I had imagined…and I felt sooooo relieved!

    Thank you so much for sharing your experiences….I just came upon this blog tonight…and I am a fan! :)

    God bless!!

  18. Oh my word, this is amazing! I am just in awe of what God is doing in you and through your family. I have cried all morning pouring over your blog when I should be packing for our trip to Atlanta. And now I’m considering shaving my head. Okay, not really but I just love how you are daring to be who God is creating you to be. I just love you and I don’t even know you!

  19. You are beautiful. May God Bless your family. My heart hurts for you. God is Good, all the time. Doesn’t mean he has to play fair. Praise God that He loves you! He will protect your family. I hope you find peace in all of your trials. You are so strong. <

  20. Hi Heather
    I have read your words a number of times but this is the first day that I read this post about getting rid of your wig.
    Thank-you for your honesty about it, it helps me deal with me.
    What I really wanted to say even before I read this was how beautiful you are. Yes inside, but I mean outside too. Your avatar is stunning.

  21. I like what you guys are usually up too. Such clever work
    and reporting! Keep up the excellent works guys I’ve added you guys to blogroll.