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Monday, January 12, 2009


I was hoping that I would be lucky this time too.

Despite a few days of hair loss, most of my hair remained on my head during the past year or so of chemo. So, when my hair started falling out this time, I hoped that it would stop after a few days. (Never mind that my doctor said it would probably not fall out last time and that it probably would fall out this time -- feelings are not rational)

It has already been two weeks, and every day I comb out more hair.

A few days ago, I posted here about losing my hair. I cross-posted on Mothers with Cancer (here). My friend, Mary Beth Volpini, commented on the post:

I read a great saying a long time ago …
”If you don’t know what to do…don’t until you do.”

The simple truth of those words touched my inner soul.

I was not yet ready to say good-bye to my hair.

I was torn. Though I was not yet ready to "cut it all off," I wanted to save part of my hair. I wanted to save my braid, which was getting thinner and thinner every day. I did not want to wait too long.

The other night, I watched several YouTube videos of women with cancer who shaved their heads.

Several mothers chose to involve their children in the shaving/cutting. I thought this was a great idea. When I first suggested it to my girls, they were appalled by the idea. I let it go. Not every good idea is good for every family.

Today, after swimming, I had to ask a friend to help remove all the hairs that fell off and stuck to my back. That was it. When she asked me "why don't you cut it short?" I realized the time had come.

On our way home, I mentioned to A, who was the only child with me, that I wanted to cut off my braid tonight. We talked a bit about our feelings.

"It makes me sad," A said sweetly, "I like your hair."

"Me too," I admitted.

We were quiet for a few moments. Then I asked her, "Would you like to help me cut it off?" Without hesitating, she answered "yes."

When I got home, I told Y that I was going to cut off my braid and that A was going to help cut it. Then I asked her if she wanted to help cut it off too. To my surprise, she also answered yes right away.

I then asked MD, who answered just as quickly "I am not part of this." We all laughed.

I told Moshe, who asked, surprised, "You want to do this now?"

I was hurrying to get ready for a simcha (celebration), but the timing was right.

"I want to do this now," I answered, definitively.

I got our our barber shears and gave them to Y, who began cutting off my braid. Then, she passed them on to her sister. While A was cutting, Y came around to give me a hug. I felt surrounded by love and caring.

It took less than five minutes. I combed my fingers through what was left of my hair.

"It looks cute," Y said. Then she noticed that the ends were not even. She took the shears, studied my face, and evened out the ends. "There," she stated when she was finished. "You should put in some clips to hold the hair out of your face," she added, and ran to get some for me.

And then it was done. I went to get dressed for the simcha.

"Nice haircut," said one of my friends, later in the evening, noticing the short ends sticking out from under my scarf.

I smiled, and she realized why I cut it.

"Still," she said, acknowledging the loss, "it looks good on you."

Please daven (or send happy, healing thoughts) for RivkA bat Teirtzel.

With love and optimism,


Anonymous said...

That was a wonderful way to get out of your "situation" So much warmth and cooperation. As hard as it is for you you needed the family support and you got it in a very unique way

Strength always (how can I say this)

Aliza Zutra

Anonymous said...

A few years ago, when I was still living in Virginia, one of the members of a local band was diagnosed with breast cancer and lost her hair during chemo.

The band kept performing, albeit less regularly, and I was lucky to attend a performance one night at a local favorite venue when the band came out onstage, with Julie (the aforementioned) wearing a wig. They started to sing, and she stepped up to the microphone, pulled off the wig and threw it behind her. The entire room (500 people) stood and applauded.

A Living Nadneyda said...

RivkA, beautiful story.

(Your's too, Lena).

I'm thinking of one of our teenage girl patients who never went anywhere without her wig.... one day she changed her approach, and now she goes around with her beautiful bald head exposed for all to see. She truly is beautiful without her hair (at least, to us in the department, and to her family members, and probably to all her friends) but her loss is clear, too.

Gila said...

Talk about making lemonade.....

Okay--will give a call--now I have to see the new do!

Batya said...

Such an indescribably beautiful post.

Better to lose your hair than your life.