When I heard the word cancer (actually even the doctors didn't say cancer at first they said Lymphoma), the first thought I honestly had was...I am going to have to do chemo-that means my hair will fall out. I know that wasn't the first thing I was supposed to think of but it was. Of course, later it sunk in that there was more to it than just my hair.
I wanted to share my story because the sad thing is: anyone can get cancer. I am no expert in health and medicine but I feel I am somewhat of an expert in fashion and style. I don't want to diminish the disease or make light of it. If you are looking for answers to health questions this isn't it. There are numerous websites and support groups out there that are great. I want to talk about how cancer doesn't have to effect your personal style.
I believe that attitude is everything when going through any trying time and cancer is no exception. I know how I get when I don't feel my best and losing my hair was one of the hardest things I have had to do through this adventure. There was nothing I could do about it so I had to just except it and make the best out of it. That doesn't mean that I didn't have my moments of frustration in the closet trying to find a scarf that would go with a certain shirt I wanted to wear. I would joke with people when they said "I guess it takes you less time to get ready with no hair?" I would say "The time I save on not doing my hair is made up in the time I take trying to match scarves and clothes." I did try on some wigs that looked really good but they just weren't me. I felt like I would be hot and kept imagining my two year old ripping it off in public.
So I had to get creative with my style. Before my hair fell out I searched the internet for stylish looking people wearing scarves, wigs or even going au natural. I didn't find much. I found some websites selling "cancer" scarves and hats but wasn't impressed. I am sure these companies are great and have many satisfied customers but again they just weren't me. It didn't help that every time I went to my oncology office everyone looked ancient. I just wanted to see someone young and fashionable with cancer. Is that a weird request?
So I rounded up all my scarves and even acquired some from my mom and sister. I actually didn't have to buy a lot of new ones (I bought a few solid colors) because I had plenty. It took some time but I got used to tying them, matching them and feeling less insecure. I even sported a fedora a time or to. I normally didn't wear a lot of hats before but I think I will start wearing them more from now on. See how a traumatic experience can open new fashion doors for you. I am now a "hat person." I am by no means happy with being bald but starting to except it. Even now I have some hair growing back so it gets me excited for whats to come in terms of hairstyles. I know that it will be years before I have long, luscious, Victorias Secret model hair (I never had this before but here's to hoping) again. I am determined to enjoy the growing out period and all it entails. The first style: the pixie cut. I would have never been brave enough to cut my hair that way before cancer.
So here are my tips if you are going through cancer or know someone who is:
- Wear what makes you feel comfortable. Whether its a scarf, a hat, a wig or nothing. I googled how to tie a scarf on your head and found some interesting ways. I settled on putting the scarf on my head like it was my hair close to my eyebrows and pulling it back to a low pony tail. Then wrapping it around like a bun and securing with a ponytail holder.
- Go to your local Sephora or makeup counter and get some new makeup. I got some great products for my eyebrows after they thinned out.
- Don't let yourself lay in bed all day in sweatpants. Give yourself a few days then get up and try to do what you normally would do.
- Keep up your normal beauty routine. It is easy when you don't feel so great to not care about washing your face at night, using moisturizer etc. I have been guilty of this but pay the price with a nice pimple on my face the next day.
- Try not to get discouraged if you gain some weight. I have gained weight (just a little but it seems like a lot to me) from steroids and let me tell you I wasn't happy about it (still kind of begrudged about it.) I even asked my doctor about it and you know what he said "I think it's great!" Are you kidding me? Not the answer I wanted to hear. I have gotten over it a little and know that when I start to feel better I can start working out. It's another thing I have gotten used to and I know it is whats best for my body right now. If anything its made me come to terms with: sizes and the scale don't matter, it's how you look and feel. I want to work out for my health not to have my 20 year old body back. Let's face it...that ship has sailed.
- Let people help you. This has been the hardest thing for me. If people offer to help let them. You need to rest so if someone takes your kids for an hour or brings you dinner....thank them and pay it forward one day.
Again, I know this subject isn't the most important when you have so much else on your plate when dealing with a cancer diagnosis but after the dust settles you just want to feel as normal as possible. For me it helped. If you want to read more about my journey through cancer on my blog you can find it here.